While at its core the Hiptop Slide is a mobile phone, it's the additional communications abilities that will have the strongest pull to a younger market. Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger are given dedicated space in the top menu. Standard SMS and MMS functionality is extended with push e-mail. In addition, exclusive carrier Telstra has partnered with MySpace to include a mobile version of the social networking site on this latest Hiptop, though MySpace junkies beware, the service is available for a an additional AU$5 per month subscription fee. Text and instant messaging addicts depend on immediate responses, not just from their square-eyed counterparts but also from the technology. The Hiptop Slide is definitely fast and responsive. The top menu gives immediate access to each of the key messaging features, separating SMS and MMS from instant messaging, e-mail and MySpace. Aside from the excellent messaging functionality, the rest of the phone is standard or below average. Making and receiving voice calls is good, but not great. During our tests we found the built-in speaker produced muffled results during calls, and again, the tiny keys on the keypad are less than ideal for regularly dialling 10-digit mobile numbers.
The 1.3-megapixel camera is another underachiever. The photos taken were lacklustre at best and these were snapped under bright florescent lights. Without a built-in flash, this camera is essentially unusable without decent exposure to natural light. This isn't such a big problem when you consider the usage it might get with the targeted teenage market, but you wouldn't want to take it on holidays.
On the plus side, battery life in the Hiptop Slide is quite good. During some light testing we were pleased with approximately five days standby, including some calls, messaging and photos. You can expect this figure to reduce significantly with heavy usage of the messaging services, but overall it's sufficient. As a phone exclusive to Telstra, pricing will definitely be a consideration. AU$30 per month for unlimited data is good value but only covers instant messaging, MMS, SMS, e-mail and Web browsing. Voice calls and any extras you may want to download from the BigPond catalogue are an extra expense, as is MySpace at AU$5 per month.
The Hiptop Slide shares some similarities to other smartphones available, but the Slide shouldn't be considered as an alternative to a business ready PDA. This is one for the kids, who will love this phone if only for the messaging. The dark colours of the faceplate lack excitement, but shouldn't deter too many eager instant messenger users from the allure of always being connected. As a phone it's about average, and as a camera we wouldn't recommend it.