Sharp 903

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Sharp 903
  • Sharp 903
  • Sharp 903
  • Sharp 903
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus and 2x optical zoom, large, crystal clear display, swiveling screen for camera operation, TV out, mini SD slot for memory expansion

Cons

  • Large and bulky, no external screen, only 8MB of internal memory, no included USB cable, below par music function and poor quality headphones, no 3.5mm standard headphone jack

Bottom Line

The 903 boasts an outstanding camera and display screen and has a wide variety of features.

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The Sharp 903 is a 3G handset exclusive to the Vodafone Live! Network, which boasts a stunning 3.2 megapixel camera with 2x optical zoom, TV out, and an intuitive swivel design. Unfortunately, in order to achieve what makes it outstanding, it sacrifices size to do so.

The most attractive feature of the 903 is definitely the camera and we can firmly say it lived up to all expectations. The camera is unique due to the 903's swivel-hinged design, which allows it to be flipped open, turned and then flipped back over the keypad to create a stand-alone digital camera with the screen on one side and lens on the other. Sharp have cleverly designed the phone so that once flipped over, the camera operation keys are on top of the unit for easy access and we were impressed with the entire process as it is simple and attractive.

The camera itself is exceptional and definitely the leader of the pack at the time of its release. Images taken were sharp and clear and suitable for a variety of conditions, including bright sun and overcast weather. The camera even has settings to shoot in different scenes, including night, sports, pets, against the sun and a portrait in the dark. On the whole, we were blown away by the plethora of options for imaging, starting with a variety of image sizes - from 120 x 160 up to 1536 x 2048. The 903 also boasts an option to adjust the image exposure (from - 2 to + 2), a five-second timer and a multi-coloured flash. We're not sure why anyone would want a red or green flash with their photos, but hey, it looks pretty cool and is interesting, if purely for novelty factor alone. The internal camera, which is designed for video calling, can also be used for still photography by selecting it from the camera menu.

In order to offer the out of the ordinary swivel function, the 903 has been built quite large and bulky. In particular, we didn't fancy the slope at the top of the unit, which is larger than the bottom. It's sleek, shiny back finish on the front (which is hard to keep free of fingerprints) complete with silver trim on the sides does go some way into compensating the units extra bulk, but the rear isn't so convincing with a dull matt black finish looking and feeling like a 20 year old camera rather than a modern mobile phone handset. Also, we were perplexed that despite the phone being fairly large, Sharp found no room for an external secondary display, which was disappointing.

The 903 makes use of a responsive 4-way navigational pad as well as two selection keys, Answer and End Call buttons and dedicated keys for Shortcuts, Back/Clear and Music. The keys are well blended into the design of the handset and at first glance they do look as though they aren't raised enough, but this thought was put to rest when we used the phone for an extended period of time. The keypad is separated into three vertical rows and messaging was quite comfortable, with no notable issues.

The 2.4 inch 903 display is large, bright, clear and was visible in most lighting conditions. We did note however, that the screen is highly reflective and this may put some people off. It is also hard to keep free of fingerprints and is easily smudged and marked, so you'll have a hard time keeping it clean. Other than that, the screen was largely striking and is definitely one of the better mobile phone displays we've seen for some time. The screen was particularly good for video calling and there is even a zoom function provided which allows you to zoom in and out of your video feed whilst in a video call. Overall, the video calling function was above average and certainly significantly better than most other 3G handsets we've seen.

The Sharp interface is delightful and very easy to use. It seems as though they have taken a leaf out of the Sony Ericsson book with the 903 with a simple 3 x 4 menu utilising the navigational pad, as well as the selection keys. The result is a highly user-friendly system that even those who are new to the mobile world should have no trouble in using.

The 903, as with most handsets at the time of writing, doubles as a dedicated MP3 player that supports MP3 and AAC formats with the ability to copy tracks direct from a PC or Mac to the handset. Unfortunately, there is no supplied USB cable in the retail package, so to do this, you'll either have to have Bluetooth connectivity or purchase a USB Cable. MP3 playback was surprisingly disappointing, with sound quality generally below par. We were bitterly disappointed that the 903 doesn't have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, as the supplied earphones are extremely poor and largely uncomfortable for extended periods of use. The music function does provides playlist support and there are tone settings including Bass, Surround and Surround Bass, although they don't make much of a noticeable difference to sound. The external speaker is average, but the volume even at higher settings, is far too low for music.

Surprisingly, the 903 only contains 8MB of internal memory, but thankfully there is a miniSD card slot on the left hand side of the handset and a 64MB card is included. This is still not adequate though, especially when you consider some handsets, such as the Sony Ericsson W550i provide a whopping 256MB of internal memory.

The 903 also offers TV out, similar to the Samsung D600 and the good news is, the image is not as pixilated as the D600. Photographs and other still images were quite clear, although video is still quite distorted and does tend to become unwatchable on larger screens.

In terms of other features, the Sharp 903 is well acquainted, providing voice recording, five separate alarm clocks, a convenient expenses manager, a plain text file reader and a stopwatch and countdown timer. Battery life was rather average, but this was always going to be the case with such a large display using precious battery resources. The handset is rated at 3.5 hours talk time and 260 hours standby time.

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