ASUS P527 Review

Features at a Glance

The ASUS P527 is a quad band GSM world phone with EDGE/GPRS for data. It’s sold unlocked for use with any GSM carrier. The PDA phone is powered by a 200MHz TI OMAP processor, with 64MB of RAM and 128MB of flash ROM. The smartphone runs the Windows Mobile 6 Professional operating system and has integrated Bluetooth v2.0 +EDR and Wi-Fi 802.11b/g. The ASUS has an integrated 2-megapixel camera with auto-focus lens and the camera application uses the 2.6” LCD as its viewfinder. For road warriors, the P527 offers built-in GPS with the SiRF III chipset, navigation software. Additional features include a microSD card slot supporting SDHC, an FM radio and Business card reader.

In the Box

The ASUS package includes the P527 PDA phone with standard battery, AC world charger, mini-USB sync cable, wired stereo headset, protective case, P527 bonus CD and a printed getting started guide and full manual, 2GB microSD card with maps and navigation software pre-installed.

Design and Ergonomics

The 65K color LCD takes more than half of the front real estate, and the number keys and menu keys below are not big but not cramped either. The Call send and end keys require precise presses as they are not as big. The Left and Right shoulder keys and the Home and OK keys are even smaller. The ASUS has a thumb-stick control instead of a 5-way d-pad, and it’s hard to use. The P527 is wider than most candy bar feature phones, and the extra width efforts 2 additional columns of dedicated menu keys that launch Travelog, FM radio, Bluetooth, Message, Voice Command and the application switcher. Side buttons are minimal thanks to the extra front menu keys. You will find the jog dial and OK button on the left, the key/screen hold slider, soft reset hole, camera launcher and microSD card slot on the right.

The phone’s rear-firing stereo speaker, 2 mp camera lens and battery door live on the back of the ASUS. The SIM card slot is underneath the battery. The power button is on top of the phone, and headset port, charge/sync mini-USB port and the stylus silo are on the bottom of the device. The stylus fits tight in the silo and it won’t fall out accidentally.

Phone Features and Reception

The ASUS P527 is a quad band world phone that works on all GSM bands (850/900/1800/1900MHz). Reception is great for GSM and EDGE. The call quality is good with clear audio and good volume. The speakerphone sounded good in calls as well and voice through the included wired stereo headset was excellent. The ASUS P527 has integrated Bluetooth and supports both Headset and Hands-Free profiles. The ASUS P527 has Windows Mobile Professional standard call management features. It offers smart dialing (matching the first few letters in names to provide a list of contacts), speed dialing (press and hold any number key you have assigned as a speed dial), dialing from call history and more. The ASUS also bundles the excellent Cyberon Voice Commander 2.0 software which not only handles dialing by voice but also can read messages out loud, launch applications and announce the date, time, my next appointments, etc., all without any pre-recorded voice tags or voice training. The voice dialing and voice command worked very well in our tests, and also worked via Bluetooth headsets.

Horsepower and Performance

The TI OMAP850 processor running at 200MHz is an unsuitably slow brain for a richly featured Pocket PC phone, especially when it comes to CPU and memory intensive applications likevideo playback and GPS navigation.. When you quit applications the device doesn’t free up the expected amount of memory, and only a soft reset will get your memory back. As result, the ASUS not only runs video slowly, it also runs less-power hungry applications like music playback sluggishly as well. We got frequent out of memory messages while running 3-5 applications. The P527 comes with 128MB flash ROM with 29.32 MB free to store programs and files. The ASUS comes with a generous bundle of OEM and third-party applications which use up a good chunk of flash storage. You will likely need a memory card if you install additional software, and the P527 has a microSD card slot that is compatible with SDHC cards.

Display, Sound and Multimedia

The ASUS P527 has a smaller display than mainstream Pocket PC phones (2.6” vs. 2.8”), but it’s as bright as the LCDs on the Tilt and the Glofiish X800. The ASUS screen can display 65K colors and is in portrait 240 x 320 resolution. Pictures and video clips look good on the screen and you can set the display to landscape mode for easier viewing of documents, spreadsheets and web pages. Like all Windows Mobile Professional phones, the screen is bit hard to see outdoors unless the brightness is turned to max. You will want to turn the brightness to max if you are taking outdoor pictures using the display as a viewfinder or checking out maps while geocaching.

The ASUS P527 has a built-in loudspeaker that sounds good in calls. The smartphone supports MIDI, WAV and MP3 ringtones and comes with several MIDI classical pieces as ringtones. First time Windows Mobile users should know that unlike many feature phones currently on the market that support AAC files, Windows Media Player Mobile phone still does not support AAC/AAC+ format music files (the default iTunes format). Music playback sounded good via the speaker, and obviously better using the included wired stereo headset.

In addition to Windows Media Player for music and video playback, the ASUS also comes with an FM Radio which seems a popular treat on import smartphones. The FM radio on the ASUS uses the included headset as antenna and got a large number of stations. The radio offers preset list where you can add, delete and change the listing order. The audio quality was good through the headset.


The ASUS P527 has the SiRF III GPS chipset that has excellent performance and does not require fees like aGPS services.The SiRF III chipset offered very good performance with cold start times under a minute and warm/hot starts within half a minute to get a 3D fix. The GPS receiver tracks up to 12 satellites and keeps a solid fix on 4 satellites for the 3D data. The ASUS Go navigation software offers the standard route planning including fastest, shortest distance and avoidance of road conditions. The routing was right on target and route recalculation on the fly was quick and accurate. The map has decent zooming and scrolling speeds running off the microSD card and the POI (Point of Interest) database has a large number of entries which are as fresh as those in most other map bundles (some POIs might not be there if they are newer than 6 months). Both the GPS menu and route/voice guidance support several languages. The voice guidance seems to be on target and is very loud through the phone’s built-in speaker. Overall, the GPS experience is excellent on the P527.


The ASUS P527 comes with a 2 megapixel camera with an auto-focus lens and 5x zoom. The camera lens isn’t terribly wide angle and the auto-focus is quite fast by camera phone standards. You can take still images in one of six resolutions and in super fine, fine and normal quality settings. The camera has multi-shot mode with 4 or 9 pictures per shot options. It also has macro mode for close-up shots. Image quality is a bit above most 2 megapixel fixed focus camera phones on the market and on par with HTC and E-TEN’s current auto-focus offerings. The photos are sharp but not harsh, colors are generally balanced with an occasional color cast that turns blue sky violet, and has good depth of field. Even indoor shots with good light are reasonably sharp and have good color balance. Macro shots look a bit soft.

WiFi and Bluetooth

The ASUS P527 has both WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth v2.0 +EDR, which competes well with the also unlock E-TEN Glofiish smartphones. The P527 has a wireless manager that you can use to turn on or off any or all of the triple wireless radios (cell, Bluetooth and WiFi) on one screen. Both WiFi and Bluetooth have their own manager where you can find and connect to access point in WiFi or pair with Bluetooth partners in Bluetooth Manager.

The ASUS P527 has integrated Bluetooth v2.0 with EDR support, and in addition to the headset, hands-free, A2DP and AVRCP support, it also support ActiveSync over Bluetooth, FTP/OBEX as well as PAN and serial port profiles. The Bluetooth manager can search for and pair with discoverable computers, headsets and other devices, and the P527 had no trouble pairing with all the Bluetooth devices we tested.

The WiFi manager on the ASUS can find nearby access points and offers 6 types of authentication (Open, WPA2-PSK, WPA, etc.) and AES and TKIP data encryption. We connected the ASUS to our D-Link 802.11n router in G mode using WPA2-PSK, and the P527 worked well with the WiFi router and range was good by Windows Mobile Professional phone standards.

Battery Life

The ASUS P527 comes with a 1300 mAh 3.7V Lithium Ion battery (model number SBP-06) which is a good capacity considering the device has only a 200 MHz processor. The claimed talk time is 4 hours and claimed standby time is 4-8 days. In our tests, the claimed standby time was on target but talk time was shorter than the claimed time at 3 hours. Having all three wireless radios turned on will drain the battery more quickly, and if you are using EDGE and the GPS receiver frequently along with moderate phone calls, PIM access and some MS Office work you will need to charge the ASUS daily. There were some bugs on our test unit – it launched GPS applications on its own, which drained battery life unnecessarily. We hope that these problems will get ironed out with firmware updates.


The ASUS P527 comes with the standard Windows Mobile Professional applications including a mobile version of MS Office (Word, Excel and a PowerPoint viewer), Internet Explorer, Outlook (Messaging) with email, calendar, contacts, notes and tasks that sync to Windows desktops and MS Exchange, MSN Messenger and Windows Live, Windows Media Player 10, Pictures and Videos viewer, calculator, File Explorer and two games (Solitaire and Bubble Breaker). ASUS adds a large number of value-added software titles. In addition to the GPS applications, the P527 also comes with several business-oriented applications (on CD) including Remote Presenter (controls PowerPoint on laptop/desktop remotely via Bluetooth, Business Card Scanner and Meeting Time Planner (different time zones- this one is on the device). Other software include NewStation (RSS newsfeed), a Java runtime, Streaming Player and ASUS Zip (compression tool).

Pros: Has a slim form and sleek look. Good phone reception and call quality. It has a good keypad. GPS has great performance and the software bundle completes the GPS experience. Good camera. Solid WiFi and Bluetooth performance.

Cons: Slow performance, memory leaks, not a multimedia powerhouse.


Display: 65K color transflective TFT LCD. Screen size diagonally: 2.6”. Resolution: 240 x 320.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1300 mAh. Claimed talk time: 4-5 hours. Claimed standby time: 150-200 hours.

Performance: TI OMAP850 200MHz processor. 64 MB SDRAM with 24 MB free at boot. 128 MB flash ROM with 29.32 MB free at boot.

Size: 4.45 x 2.28 x 0.6 inches. Weight: 4.55 ounces.

Phone: Quad band GSM world phone 850/900/1800/1900MHz bands with GPRS and EDGE. Unlocked for use with any GSM carrier.

GPS: SiRF III chipset with internal antenna.

Camera: 2 megapixel camera with auto-focus lens. Photo resolutions: 1600x1200, 1280x960, 640x480, 320x240, 160x120, and 80x60 pixels. Can record video with audio in 3gp or mp4. Video Resolutions: 176 x 144 and 128 x 96 pixels.

Audio: Built-in speaker, mic and 2.5mm audio output jack. MP3 and WMA files.

Networking: Integrated Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth v2.0 +EDR.

Software: Windows Mobile 6 Professional operating system. Microsoft Mobile Office suite including Word, Excel and PowerPoint (View presentations only). Also included are Internet Explorer, Outlook Mobile (email, contacts, calendar, tasks and notes), Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, Photos and Videos, Windows Live and MSN Messenger. Other software includes File Explorer, Internet Sharing, Remote Desktop Mobile, calculator, Cyberon Voice Commander 2.0 and Voice Recorder, Solitaire, Bubble Breaker as well as handwriting recognition. 3rd party and ASUS software: Travelog, FM radio, Remote Presenter, Business Card Recognition, Meeting Time Planner, Newstation, ASUS Zip, Location Courier, Backup, GPS Catcher and Auto Cleaner. ActiveSync 4.5 included.

Expansion: 1 microSD card slot supporting SDHC cards.