HP iPAQ Glisten Retrospect


Active member
Nov 12, 2012
Visit site
I thought it’d be fitting to talk about HP’s last handset to run Windows when the Elite X3 launched, but this writeup just languished in a folder until recently. Some time ago I picked one up to play with and this is what became of it.

2017-07-03 16.28.10 - Copy.jpg

It’s 2009 again, Microsoft’s smartphone OS is at version 6.5, and this is the HP iPAQ Glisten.

Largely known as just the “HP Glisten” or also the “HP Obsidian,” this phone was released at the end of 2009 to not much fanfare. The Glisten was one of the last phones to run Microsoft’s venerable-yet-clunky Windows Mobile 6, which was in dire need of a major reworking. I’m talking about Windows Mobile, not Windows 10 Mobile, just to avoid confusion, although that needs some work as well.

For some context, Windows Phone 7 would be launching in the Fall of next year. But in the moment, Microsoft needed to eke another year out of Windows Mobile before then and the facelifted Windows Mobile 6.5 is what became of their efforts. With an improved Internet Explorer, improved finger-friendliness and yet another fresh coat of paint, it was… an improvement.

At the same time, we were looking at Android 2.0.1 Éclair and we were midway through the life of iPhone OS 3 around the time this phone launched.

The smartphone wars were in already full-swing with 2009 having already brought us many notable devices such as the iPhone 3GS, the original Palm Pre, the original Motorola Droid, the Blackberry Storm 2 and many more including entrants from HTC and Nokia all duking it out for mobile dominance.

It’s 2009 again and…

The rejuvenated Palm was stumbling more than a little bit but otherwise looked like it just about back in the running as long as its fortunes held out.

“Droid Does” ads were on the air talking about the world of doesn’t.

The Blackberry Storm 2 was another valiant slate touchscreen phone attempt from RIM.

HTC was going to town cranking out phone-after-phone as they did back then.

And of course, the iPhone 3GS introduced us to the S modifier that would be used for every other iPhone generation since.

2017-07-03 16.28.44.jpg

It was a busy time when the ironically-named, conservatively-designed Glisten came into the world, and Glisten wasn’t one of those flashy new kids-on-the-block ready to start beating up the competition.
It was more of a soft-spoken white-collar man nearing retirement. He was certainly a tad out-of-touch with the times and he wouldn’t be doing the multitouch and multimedia acrobatics of the others; but he knew the old ways of doing things inside and out. He’d be watching the popular young phones roll around from his apartment window before retreating to his game of Blackjack, sitting between a Tylt 2 and a Treo Pro. As he peeks at his hand, he knows that if there was someone looking for familiarity and a phone that was “strictly business,” he would answer the call.

HP iPAQ Glisten. The last of the old guard.

2017-06-27 13.53.08.jpg

It’s not unlike the same business-focus HP had when creating the Elite X3. Unfortunately, both phones shared a Microsoft OS that was more than a little out of step with the market.
In terms of hardware design, it wasn’t anything that hadn’t been seen before. It was just another portrait QWERTY candybar phone meant to get things done, complete with a matte black finish.

Under the hood it packed a single-core Qualcomm MSM7200A clocked at 528 MHz and an Adreno 130 GPU, with power provided by a 3.7 V, 5.7 Wh Lithium ion battery pack which converts to just over 1500 mAh. Respectable.

It took full-size SIMs and microSD cards.

Connectivity included the fairly standard loadout of 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth.
On the face it has a 2.5” AMOLED panel with a stunning resolution of 320x240 pixels complete with a resistive touchscreen. No multitouch gestures here, we got a stylus instead!

I don’t know for sure what the subpixel arrangement is but I’m nearly certain it’s a standard RGB stripe.

Below the display is a fairly standard navigation key setup and physical keyboard. Those who used the “toolbelt” on a BlackBerry or Treo would be right at home here.
(at least until they start typing, I’ve found the keys on this unit warranted harder presses than I’d like.)

Worth noting that this keyboard also had application shortcut keys right in the bottom row. Up top is the earpiece, a red/green LED, a proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor.

2017-07-03 16.30.10.jpg

On the right side is a microUSB port and a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack.
(I believe the microUSB port the rectangular type-A. Either way, it doesn’t make a huge difference. Those who own a Dell Venue 8 Pro know what I’m talking about.)

2017-07-03 16.30.43.jpg

On the left side is just volume buttons.

On the top is a power button and a Wi-Fi button. The only other device I’ve handled with such a button was the Palm Treo Pro, which was a Windows Mobile 6.1 device.
Button feedback is subtle and shallow, but perhaps befitting of it's small, rubbery nature.

And on the bottom, is absolutely nothing.

2017-07-03 16.29.35.jpg

On the back is a stylus silo in the lower left, an indented HP logo in the center, a 3.1 MP camera and a speaker. I’m assuming this dot is a microphone and these letters weren’t on production units.

That’s right, this is a pre-production prototype! What’s different? I haven’t handled a production Glisten so I have no clue!

HP Glisten. The Ford Crown Victoria of Smartphones.
A competent workhorse of the day but with a platform that was already feeling like an anachronism amongst its peers.

Powering on this pre-production unit, I see that despite the AT&T exterior branding, the ROM has Telefonica Movistar branding. It’s in Spanish...and I found out that for many Windows Mobile devices, changing the language often means installing a device specific language pack or reflashing the phone. I’ve had no luck on either front so its stuck in Spanish.

Thankfully high school Spanish kicked in and made navigation less of a guessing game, but it’s not ideal.

The device doesn’t exactly hold up too well like most other aforementioned bits of software dating back to 2009. It doesn't help that not too deep under its attractive UI, dubbed "Titanium," it is still Windows Mobile 6, which itself is a patched up Windows Mobile 5. And that isn't too hot today.

But I still have a soft spot for that Today screen.


New member
Dec 31, 2012
Visit site
Amazing how phones have changed in such a short time. And how far Windows has come too. We struggle with Windows 10 Mobile, but since 2009 we've been through two further generations of Windows: Windows Phone 7,8,8.1 and then effectively 10,10.1,10.2. Had Windows been competing against only the iPhone, Windows Mobile would have great market share and likely be even more featured today, but Android was in the mix and that freedom of development and 'free' price gave it the edge that Microsoft were slow to respond to.

I wonder if the HP Elite X3 will be looked back on as the last of a mobile generation, and if so from what perspective? A new range of Windows mobile devices, or as the last Windows mobile device. I guess we'll know in 10 years.

And yes, the old Windows Mobile Today screen was something special that I miss. Tiles and the Glance screen have never replaced it's simplicity at providing a concise summary.


Retired Moderator
Apr 1, 2012
Visit site
Thanks for the memories. It really wasn't a bad phone as WinMo devices went. The keyboard was pretty good as I remember it. I loved the dedicated tab key that only HP saw fit to put in. Made for easier form filling. I still have its predecessor in a drawer (iPaq 910c) and it still works. If it weren't for the fact that no consumer release of 6.5.3 has updated sha256 certificates for email, I'd still take it out for a Sunday spin every now and again.

Sent from my Elite x3 on mTalk

Members online

Forum statistics

Latest member