In this, the third generation of mobile telecommunications devices, manufacturers are under increased pressure to perform. Some prefer to break exciting new ground, producing handsets that amaze, shock and even repulse due to their “uniqueness”, while others prefer to simply tweak classic standards to suit new purposes. Sharp seem to have a hint of both approaches in mind and that is shown clearly in the new Vodafone Live! enabled GX20.
The very first thing that you notice about the GX20 is how similar it is in appearance to the GX10. For the uninitiated, the GX10 was the original clamshell designed Sharp phone specifically engineered for use with the Vodafone Live! service. It was meant to be: a very capable user friendly phone combined with on online service to cover most mobile needs. If you’re still interested see the
GX10 review. So the vibe raison d'être on picking up the GX20 is a very similar one to that of its predecessor but its differences are many.
In leaping over the highly successful GX10, the GX20 has more than proved its worth. Obviously it shares a fair bit with its younger brother, including three quarters of its name, but the phone has been added to in all the right areas to make it even more comfortable to use. But enough rambling, lets take a look.
The feature that could most easily be described as outstanding is the in-built digital camera. Quite simply an extremely impressive camera, set apart by the number of parameters that can be controlled by the user making it much more versatile than the average built in camera.
The integrated mobile internet and entertainment service, in the form of Vodafone Live!, has also been well improved, giving a very comprehensive service offering everything from news updates to Java games and ringtones.
The CD included in the box installs a program on PC that allows transfers between the phone and the PC. Ringtones, pictures, wallpapers, contacts and even videos can be backed up onto a PC or downloaded to the phone.
What totally amazes me is the internal screen, and oh what a magnificent screen it has got! The GX20 uses twice the pixel found on basically any handsets in the market and clam it all into the same average size screen you found on other handsets, although its screen is still bigger than the GX10. The quality of the screen will blow your breath away, where you might sometime imagine that your screen has a hole through it when the camera mode is on, using your screen as a view finder.
Its external screen now also has 65K colours, which also adds to the pleasure of using this phone. It could also be used as a viewfinder, which is extremely useful for taking your own portrait photo.
A built-in torch, which also acts as the flash for digital imaging, has also been included in this neat package. An extremely useful tool for anyone indeed, especially when you need to find a torch to use at night! Although it would never beat a normal torch, it’s still also handy to have around in the dark.
The integrated digital camera could now also serve as a video camcorder, allowing those happy moments to be capture not only as still, but as live action! =)
On the outside the corners have been more rounded for a subtle yet noticeable smoother feel. The outside screen is now bigger, displaying 60x80 pixels at 65K colours, enabling it for other uses… The camera lens now has a macro or micro dial for greater options in photography and there is a strange circular protrusion that could also be useful for some sinister purposes.
On the inside of the shell the screen appears to be bigger (from memory… maybe I’m just getting smaller) and there is a dedicated button bearing a Vodafone logo, but apart from that all appears to be the same as the GX10.
Great to hold in your hand and light in general, the GX20 is simply a pleasure to be processed as your personal handset in this area of the product! =)
User Interface & display
As with the GX10 the keys and general layout is top notch. The feel of the phone is very solid and the key presses are very definite; epic messages are no problems. The dedicated Vodafone Live! key, the only real button that has been added, is handy but the two key presses previously needed on the GX10 were not overly tiresome. The screen is perfect for the application and is clear and bright even in sunlight.
The menu structure and navigability is almost exactly the same as the GX10 with only a few minor changes. It also should be noted that there is a fair bit of memory for saving tones, pics and videos, and SMS/MMS. It would take at least a month worth of heavy usage to fill it. The predictive text input is up to scratch for moderate to fast typists, but lags a bit when given to a teenager in a maths class.
Making and receiving calls
Making calls is a very simple affair, as with most modern phones. Scroll through the phone book and press the green phone. Receiving calls is also easy. You can store a photo with the contacts in the phone book, so when your boyfriend/girlfriend calls you can set the phone to display a beautiful picture of him/her (or alternatively perhaps a picture of a ball and chain if you happen to be married…). Audio quality is average and the speakerphone is reasonable in volume and quality.
Typing with the GX20 keypad is breezy and attaching pictures and other files to MMS is all part of the process of sending the message, making it very simple to do. The process of sending a blank message with no bells and whistles is slightly frustrating though having to go through 4 or 5 menus just to get through options you don’t want to use. Receiving messages is a standard thing as well.
The phone is engineered around its connection to the Vodafone Live! service. This is via GPRS and thus it is a very strong feature of the phone. The phone can also communicate with a PC via infrared (IrDA) or serial cable. The phone even comes packaged with software for managing your data.
You could also use the GX20 as a wireless modem for connecting your notebook computers onto the Internet, but watch your GPRS fees mind you! =)
The build quality of the phone is generally very high and the new more rounded corners make for a better overall feel to the phone. As always with flip phones, one must be wary with the spring action in the flip. The GX20 does feel like it would have a fair amount of life to it, with a reassuring click open and shut.
Sharp quotes the battery life of the Li-ion battery at up to 220 hours standby and up to 210 minutes in talk mode. In practice, in the time that I had it, with moderate usage, I could only get about 2 days without having to recharge. With such a magnificent colour display found inside and outside, I guess that’s the trade off sacrifice we would all have to take! =)