Review: Vodafone Live! Sharp GX20 phone

One of three handset models designed exclusively for Vodafone’s Live! mobile Internet service, the tri-band Sharp GX20 phone is proof that mobiles are no longer restricted to voice.

At 102g, this lightweight, stylish phone boasts a plethora of features ranging from digital and video camera facilities to the mobile Internet.

Vodafone claims the GX20’s combination of digital camera resolution, at 310 pixels (or 350 kilobytes), and its 320x240-pixel screen resolution surpass those of other models currently on the market today. In fine quality mode, this shows. The pictures are crisp, and with the added benefit of different flash colours (including a funky disco lights mode), photo frames and touch-up features, users can modify their images to suit a variety of situations and locations. The handset supports JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP image formats.

The GX20 is the first handset from Vodafone to include video capabilities, allowing users to record up to 20 seconds of multimedia footage. The phone is also PXT messaging capable, meaning images and video files can be sent to other MMS-compatible phones or e-mail accounts.

Despite being loaded with functions, it’s surprisingly easy to navigate through the GX20’s colour onscreen menu. Users should be able to work out most of the basic features on the phone without consulting the instruction booklet, although advanced features such as sending a multimedia message to multiple users are a challenge to work out without the guide.

The phone has a dedicated Vodafone Live! button, which connects the user straight to the Live! main menu. The speed of accessing the Internet via Vodafone’s GPRS service will test your patience, but is fairly reliable.

As well as access to news, entertainment, sports information, and weather, Vodafone Live! gives subscribers the choice of ringtone downloads, wallpaper images, stacks of games (the GX20 is Java-enabled), and real-time chat rooms. I particularly enjoyed the polyphonic ringtones, which are strikingly similar to 1980s’ Casio keyboards’ preset sounds. For those who want something closer to the original, there are also plenty of tunes from Realmusic to choose from.

On the downside, downloading content from Vodafone Live! can get pricey, with ringtones between $3.30 and $4.50 each and games $7. There’s no ‘try before you buy’, either, which makes choosing a ringtone or game even more difficult (unless you opt for a classic game such as Pacman or Space Invaders). However, users are forewarned about the exact charges for accessing content prior to downloading data to the phone so you won’t find any unexpected fees on the monthly bill.

In addition, battery power doesn’t compare with that of standard GSM phones, but this is to be expected given the high resolution of both the handset’s main screen and smaller external display. Using the digital and video camera and playing games will also sap the battery power more quickly than simply talking on the phone.

Overall, those who don’t mind forking out $1049 (RRP) for a feature-rich handset won’t be disappointed.

Price: $1049 (RRP)
Vendor: Vodafone
Phone: 1300 30 30 30

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Nadia Cameron

Nadia Cameron

PC World
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