The first colour GSM phones from Panasonic, the GD67 (Europe) or GD68 (Asia-Pacific), makes no fuss in trying to feature-pack itself. Its main design objective is to probably satisfy users looking for a basic phone with colour screen - at an affordable price. The GD67/68 has certainly does this well.
The GD67/68 adopts most of the basic features on the GD75 - but with the addition of a 256-colour LCD screen and GPRS connectivity. There are several minor improvements in the phone’s menu interface, while retaining a similar structure. And, of course, not forgetting the “Image-in” transparent back cover which allows a picture to be displayed on the phone’s backing.
One thing very different with the new GD67/68 is its looks. The conservative one-colour metallic-based paintwork has finally been given a bit more flavour in around the screen and 5-way joystick areas, and the bottom (IO) cover. Four colours are available in the GD67/68 - blue, pink, titanium (unit reviewed), and white.
I also noticed that it retains some of the round curves and corners found on the GD75, as well as the very flat back - probably necessary on the GD67/68 because of the “Image-in” feature.
Keypad tactility was one of my concerns, in conjunction with how flat they were. One would have to be aware of whether their keypresses have been accepted by the phone. There were moments when I had pressed the button physically (confirmed by the very soft click of each press), but the phone didn’t register some of the keypresses at all.
User Interface & display
The GD67/68 adopts a similar menu system found on previous Panasonic GSM models, including an iconic main menu and the use of lists in sub-menus. Colour for the menus can be adjusted by selecting the colour theme that best suits your tastebuds.
Navigation is done through the two soft keys and the 5-way joystick. Moving around the GD67/68 menus are pretty straight forward - where the joystick is used for going up/down the menu lists and confirming selections by pressing down, and the right soft key taking its user back to the previous menu level. Wherever there’s a chance to use icons (or little pictures), the GD67/68 takes up every single opportunity in doing so - since pictures are a universal language! :)
During standby, moving the joystick will bring up the phone’s menu, while pressing the left or right soft keys will bring up the phone book and messages menus respectively. Longer depresses of either buttons (plus the joystick) results in different functions as well - including the opening of the Service Dial Numbers list and WAP browser for left and right soft keys respectively, and the keyguard/phone lock menu when the joystick is held down.
If you’ve used other mobile phones with colour displays, the 256-colour one on the GD67/68 is nothing fantastic. Since there’s no support for content such as MMS (multimedia) messages, it’s probably not necessary to have more colours anyway.
Making and receiving calls
The GD67/68 provides three ways you can take a call - either using the phone directly, via the built-in handsfree speakerphone feature, or using a headset (sold separately as an accessory). Audio coming through the earpiece and speakerphone were quite clear and with enough volume.
Also, the loudness of the polyphonic tones was sufficient when placed on the maximum setting. Enabled along with the very effective vibrating alert, you should have no problem picking up when a call does come in.
Again, with the problem of not knowing when your keypresses have been picked up by the phone or not, I found at times slightly difficult in keeping up with the phone’s lack of pace. For people who’ve reached “touch-typing” levels with T9, most will find a problem here. Also, I found the keypad not being designed well enough physically - in other words, “not a very nice keyboard to type on”.
When looking at previous Panasonic models, the GD67/68 lacks the same build quality as previous models. The GD92 would be a very good example of how good Panasonic phones were made. When I wrapped my hand around the GD67/68 and apply a slight bit of pressure, there were creaks from the joining areas around the phone (you wouldn’t find these on the GD92). Although secure, I feel that the IO cover at the bottom of the phone could have been designed better - so that it can be opened and closed easier.
On average use, I was able to get approximately 2-3 hours talk time and around 3-4 days standby on the GD67/68 based on a full charge.