By >Daimaou - G.G-B
[Review] Fujitsu F-07C, the first ‘real’ Windows Phone 7?
Face it, Microsoft lost the mobile war and despite its best efforts, the company still has a lot of catching-up to do! Don’t take this the wrong way, but even if Mango is a nice update, Windows Phone 7 came two years too late, with fewer noticeable changes to make it a worthy competitor to both Android and iOS smartphones.
So while many manufacturers moved away and went “Android” crazy, Fujitsu decided to take matters into their own hands to fix once and for all this Windows Phone 7 fiasco by creating the F-07C, the first TRUE phone capable of running Windows 7.
The F-07C was introduced for the first time in early May during a Docomo Press conference in Japan. Only available via NTT’s Docomo network, the F-07C is a phone like no other that comes powered by an 600MHz Intel ATOM CPU with 1GB of RAM, running on Symbian and a virtualized version of Windows 7. Yep, there is no dual boot here, but thanks to the wonders of virtualization, Fujitsu was able to offer a fully functional Windows 7 desktop OS on a tiny Symbian phone.
The F-07 is not what we can call, “compact.” I mean sure, if you compare the F-07C with any other Windows 7 Netbook, this new “smartphone” is way smaller than anything you can compare it with, but with a size of 125x61x19.8mm and weighing 218g, the F-07C is by far one of the bulkiest smartphones available nowadays in Japan. Still, no pain, no gain, the F-07 is the only ATOM powered smartphone we know of in Japan and the only one capable of running Windows 7.
Once you get used to the size of the F-07C, you have to admire the amazing work that Fujitsu and its team of engineers put into it. The F-07C is a pure technical marvel, extremely well-built, and solid. With zero tolerance for second-guessing, the F-07C shows how good the Japanese are when it comes to building compact devices and showing how ahead they are in this area.
But as usual, Fujitsu did not develop a simple “smartphone” and decided to bring the full “Windows Experience” by adding one of the most compact QWERTY keyboards I had the chance to play with. Designed to be mainly used with both thumbs, the F-07C keyboard is surprisingly quite easy to get along with, and typing a short message or entering a url is rather unpainful.
Still, the most frustrating part of this keyboard is definitively its “tiny” trackball that is quite difficult to master and can bring a sudden burst of unimaginable frustration forcing you to quickly give-up using it and jump on the F-07C 4” SVGA touchscreen whenever you need to point and click.
Intended to replace your laptop on-the-go, Fujitsu had the brilliant idea to offer its F-07C with a nice little “Desktop Kit” including a USB mouse and keyboard, as well as a docking station that will let you connect your F-07C to any external Display via HDMI plus offering you four useful USB ports.
Here as well, there is not much to complain about, the docking station is compact enough to be carried around and if you’re not too crazy about the Fujitsu USB mouse and keyboard combo, you can also use your very own or even invest in a nice Logitech wireless combo.
Before we move on to one of the most important parts of this review, I have to warn you that we are not going to spend any time reviewing the “Symbian” part of this phone. There is actually nothing here to really talk about and the “dumb” phone side of the F-07C works pretty much like any of the other Symbian-powered phones available worldwide. So instead of wasting any further time, let’s jump directly on the “netbook” part of the F-07C.
When you power-up your F-07C for the first time, you will immediately be thrown to the rather dull Symbian experience (I can’t wait for Symbian’s death), but thanks to a little button placed on the side of your phone, you have the choice of swapping between the OSs, jumping from Symbian to Windows 7.
As I said earlier, the F-07C does not offer a real dual boot experience, but it will in fact run a virtual Windows 7 machine on its Symbian OS. While this process is in fact totally transparent for the user, it makes however a huge difference when you are swapping from one OS to another, giving you an almost seamless experience whenever you have to jump between them.
Still, to achieve such “bliss” you will have to boot Windows 7 like on any other device and as you could have guessed, running on a CPU clocked at 600MHz, the F-07C is rather “slow” to boot-up. Still, once fully loaded, the F-07C is rather snappy, or as snappy as you can get with such an entry level CPU.
Being limited to the rather small size of the screen, you will quickly find yourself doing basic tasks like checking your email, viewing attached PDF, Excel or Word files, surf the web, chat online, update your Facebook profile page and even edit a few docs, but not much else.
Having the F-07C with me for about a week, I tried to force myself to dump my iPhone for a while and use the F-07C as my only device, but to be honest, it did not really work for me. And despite what you may believe, the most frustrating thing that forced made me to turn back to my iPhone was the F-07C’s tiny four-inch SVGA screen, that way be big enough for the average smartphone, but way too small for your basic Windows 7 needs.
Once at home I also tried to “work” with the F-07C for a while by installing the F-07C on its docking station hooked-up to one of my screen.
I knew that here as well, I should not expect much, after all the F-07C is a rather underpowered PC, but I was not expecting so much frustration here neither. Don’t get me wrong, I knew what to expect, but once plugged to a real screen with a keyboard and a mouse, you quickly forget that you are working on a mobile phone and expect the F-07C to behave as well as any other nettop or netbook available on the market.
Add to this the rather disturbing fan noise that your F-07C will continuously make once plugged into its cradle, plus the fact that it cannot even handle the most basic DivX movie you are throwing at it, and you quickly realize that despite its amazing build quality and impressive achievement of being the first phone to run Windows 7, the F-07C will only be able to offer you a very limited “Windows experience,” destroying your dream of an extremely capable working station away from home.
Now if you wonder how the F-07C handles the Microsoft Office Suite, I’ll say that it will of course let you open four DOCX, XLSX and other MS Office files but don’t even think about having Outlook and Word open at the same time. The same is true for pretty much everything. The F-07C is only capable of handling one thing at a time efficiently, killing any hope for multitasking-addicted people like myself.
Now, there is the question about battery life. Yep, the F-07C is a greedy little buddy and it will only be capable of running Windows 7 for an hour and half on the go, which is, all things considered, not that bad at all. In an hour and half a lot can be done, but running out of juice so quickly when the F-07C is your only phone could become annoying rather quickly.
Another problem I ran into was the rather stubborn WiFi module that Fujitsu installed on the F-07C that would not connect to certain WPA2 access points, weird, but really annoying.
Well this is a tough one, I mean, yes, the F-07C is not as amazing as one would expect and it definitively needs a better tweaked Windows 7 installation for a snappier experience by first removing all the pre-installed crap like Norton for example, but the F-07C is also an impressive little device. I mean, where can you find a totally autonomous Windows 7 compact PC with 3G and WiFi that can fit in your pocket and just weight 218g?
When you think about it, the F-07C is a really impressive piece of engineering and you have to admire the work that has been done here, but against an iPhone or an Android smartphone, the F-07C has a lot of difficulty justifying itself.