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Reviews Editorials

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Alexander "Lexx" Zavoloka(alexander.zavoloka@mobile-review.com)

Published — 21 June 2004

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Rambler's Top100

Review Sharp GX30

Package:

  • Charger
  • Manual
  • Headset
  • Handset
  • CD with software
  • 16mb SD-card

Sharp GX30 live photos

Sharp is known for supplying its products to European operators, it took quite a while until Sharp decided to enter the local mobile markets without any operators help, promote its phones with original software, and not the menu whichs appearance is made in favor of any operator. Russia became one of these markets, the company will start selling Sharp GX30 in the middle of summer. Some of Russian users already know this model, since theyve bought operators version of this phone, which was brought to Russia illegally. There was no sign of localization, not to mention the lack of Russian letters on the keyboard. Lets review the strong and weak sides of this model, rate its potential.

The first glance at Sharp GX30 shows us the way how the classical clamshell phones should look like: silver color, external antenna (unlike the majority of phones it is located on the left, instead of the right side). The phone looks rather big, its size exceeds the average size of this segments phones. The weight is heavier than usual as well, this allows considering the Sharp GX30 as phone developed for males, since women will not be satisfied with its size unless they are afraid of losing their handset. According to our predictions the percentage share of men will be 95%, meanwhile only 5% will be women. Because of the phones size we can define that majority of users will be aged from 25 to 40, this is partly same group of people that are using Motorola v600, which is more democratic though.

The constructions quality is at top-notch, the phones parts does not have backlash, the assemblage is reliable. The impressions can be compared with Panasonics phones (GD87, X70), the same feeling of reliability, click when you open and close the phone. On the whole I can say that GX30 is a typical Japanese phone, it has a lot in common with the models which were popular in Japan about a year ago.

You can see the will to shade in the silver color, break the monotony in this phone, this is reached with the help of nickel-plated setting ins on the side edges, decoration around the camera in front. The speaker is located near the camera, it is used for playing back the ring tones and various occasions. Such construction became possible because of the phones size, otherwise the developers would do joined speaker like a lot of clamshells have.

Right under the camera LED is placed, it also plays the role of flash in this phone. The LED can change its color to one of the 7 offered (white, yellow, red, green, blue, violet, light blue), plus there is additional mode - disco (change between various colors). In the flash mode the LED will work in temporary mode, but you can also turn it on to work constantly. Of ourse in that mode you can choose any of available colors, except for disco. You can also make the brightness level of the LED smaller, but there is no real use for that.

In the stand by mode the LED can be turned on by pressing the side volume control buttons for some time, it will turn into a small flashlight. The LED can act according to various events incoming calls (flashing) for example.

The external screen can display up to 65k colors according to the manufacturer. The screens resolution is 64x96 pixels, but due to vertical orientation it does not display the information completely (for example the callers ID). The text scrolling is used actively on the external display. The service indicators are located on the sides. From the Settings menu you can set the contrast level of the external screen, remove displaying of service icons. Curios fact that those who are not experiencing the requirement in such display can turn it off completely, in this mode the phone will work in a more economic mode. You can also turn off the backlight of the screen, it will not turn on even when theres an incoming call, but this looks more of an exotics.

You can select one of the six types of clocks (3 digital, 3 analogue) for stand by mode, and choose the one you like most. Whenever theres an incoming call one of the four pictures can be displayed, but the photo is shown as well, though its possibilities are poor, you will have to turn on your imagination.

Subjectively speaking the pictures quality on the external display is poor, this is STN-display, and not one of the best ones. You can compare this one with Siemens S55, there is something in common between the two displays. The screen behaves badly when it is outdoors, mostly due to its small size. Perhaps they should have installed monochromic display, in that case the power consuming would have been less and the usability of the display would raise.

The joined volume control button is located on the left side, meanwhile port for connecting the headset is located on the right side. Here you can also see the switch between the Macro and Normal shooting mode for the camera, this is typical only for Sharp, exclusive. In the button you can see the SD/MMC-card slot. The slot is covered with plastic covered which is glued to the case. With time the cover can be damaged a bit, especially in the place where you touch it in order to open. The card gets inserted inside the case without any additional efforts, though there is no special mechanism for getting it out. You will have to hock the card youre your finger. On the whole no problems were experienced, there is no mechanics and this means that the reliability is maximal.

You can use various capacity cards in this phone, we were testing the card with 256mb capacity and everything was working perfectly. Later on we will tell you about the file management, but for now lets continue the story about the phones outlook.

The interface connector is located in the bottom, it is covered with rubber cork (it is glued to the case as well). In the top you can notice the IrDA window.

Once you open the phone you will see the huge internal screen, which has the resolution of 240x320 pixels (diagonal is 2.2 inches). The display is made by CG-Silicon technology, it can display up to 262000 colors. The quality is the best at todays market, there are no analogues. The closest analogue is Samsung D410, but here the colors do not have such thin transfers, although the picture is looking lively and bright.

The weak side of the CG-Silicon technology is screens behavior when it hits direct sunlight and GX30 was not an exception. In sunny weather it becomes unreal to see the callers id, despite the screens physical size. The cause for that is partially fonts size which is used in this model, the letters are thin and nicely drawn (for all menus languages). Up to 8 text lines can be displayed, two service headings and line for icons. After the phones suage Ive got dual feeling, on one hand it is convenient to work with it outdoors, but on the other the information can turn invisible sometimes. Hard to decide, really.

The things that should be mentioned when we are speaking about the external displays settings are: selection of the wallpaper, including your own pictures. Brightness setup has four positions, but the energy consuming varies as well. There are only four preinstalled wallpapers. Curious fact that qualitative display and good camera allow reaching live color transfer in your photos, it is not a shame to set one of them as wallpaper.

The keyboard is made of plastic, the keypads buttons are rough, and this allows not looking at them while typing. The navigational key is four-positional, OK button is a part of it. Due to the phones sizes the keys became big and nicely placed. It is convenient to work with the phone. The backlight color is green, it is not spread equally. In the local version (Russian and English letters) upper row of symbols is seen better, the Cyrillic became more pale. Indoors the symbols are sometimes not seen at all.

The battery is covered with the cover, unlike the majority of models it is placed non-symmetrically. If you look at it on the right it takes up part of side, meanwhile on the left it does not even reach it. The unusual construction or its unwonted do not affect the quality, the back cover does not have backlash.

The battery is li-ion with 780mAh capacity. According to the manufacturer it can work up to 3 and a half hours in the conversation mode and up to 250 hours in the stand by mode. With active usage of this model it will work only for one day (about 15 phone calls with 3-4 minute length each, some games, other functions, 10-15 pictures, possible usage of Bluetooth). With less active usage (20-25 minutes of talks in total, minimal amount of other functions used) the phone will work for 2 and a bit more days. The effective usage time of this phone does not exceed two days, the energy consuming of the external display is the cause. Actually after playing with various settings you can achieve up to 20% of energy saving, which is not a small number at all (disable the external screen, key backlight, echos suppression during the talk, zone tracking etc). Such measures will be handy when you will be forced to extend the life time, they cannot be suited for normal usage.

If you use mp3 player the phone will not work more than one day, 2-3 hours of music playback, plus 25 minutes of phone calls, a bit of other functions and thats it. The batterys full charging time is 1 hour and 40 minutes. I recommend orienting at one, maximum two days of usage, you will not be able to gain more. But if you use only five % of the phones functionality, perhaps you should think again before buying it?

You can buy the extended capacity battery (Li-Ion 1100mAh). The phones size will become bigger (7 grams heavier as well), and there will be a new cover supplied as well. But the working time will increase significantly. The phone will work for about 2 days if you use it intensively, or up to 4 days if you do not use it so actively, but normally. Unfortunately it will not be easy to buy the battery in Russia because this brand is not so famous yet and the accessories will remain rare.

Menu

You can enter the main menu by pressing the OK button. Inside the menu you can use the fast number navigation. In our phone, just like in all non-operators versions the original appearance of the menu is present, it is a lot more interesting than the interface from Vodafone. The sub-menus are presented with lists, everything is pretty traditional, there is nothing special. The unusual moment in the interface is that all actions are assigned to left soft-key. For example if you miss some calls, receive SMS. The proper icon will appear on the screen, but you will be able to see the info only by pressing the left soft-key. It will not take long time until you get used to such system, it is convenient.

Call manager. Several functions are included here: phonebook, call lists, fast dialing list.

The numbers from both, SIM-card and phone are displayed in the phone book, the memory type icon is seen in the common list. The first peculiarity of the phone is that the fast search can work not only by one letter or three of them, but by full fields length. I do not think that anyone will decide to type up to 10 symbols in order to find the required contact, but such feature is present anyway.

The groups icon is displayed on the left from the contact, in the top you can see the default number, photo (if present) and e-mail address. After you press OK you will see all details (three phone numbers, for each one you can define the type, it is possible to have three cellular phones for each contact). Each contact can contain two e-mail address, the addresss type is specified as well (home, work, mobile, other, unknown). The address is not spread into separate entries, you can enter up to 100 symbols. The text note can be filled with 60 symbols as well. The groups can be named as other possibilities (there are 6 of them). You can assign custom ring tone for every contact.

The contact groups can be powered with custom ring tones, LEDs color, and vibrating alerts type (enabled, disabled, enabled in tact with the ring tone). Up to 500 contacts can be saved in the phones memory (with all fields entered as well, it does not matter).

Whenever theres an incoming call the callers id will be displayed in the internal screen, as well as the type of the number and the number as well, small icon. After few seconds this information will be replaced with the photo displayed in fullscreen mode (if there is any). The function is made on the highest level so far, you can see all what you are interested in. From the phonebooks menu you can also send SMS no matter how the number is defined (mobile, home, office).

By summing up the phonebooks possibilities it is possible to say that it has all the required features, on the other hand it is not overloaded with unnecessary functions and is rather flexible. It can be suited for both business and common users.

Call lists. Traditionally all three lists of calls are present: incoming, outgoing, missed. In each list 10 entries are displayed, date and time can be viewed for any of them. From the stand by mode only list of dialed numbers can be accessed. The peculiarity of the lists is cased by the fact that all equal calls are not summed up, but recorded separately.

The fast dialing is possible for 9 numbers, the choice can be made not only for default numbers, but for any of them.

Profiles. The phone has 5 profiles, for each you can setup basic stuff, and some additional as well: reduction of echo during the talk (unique feature), LEDs backlight color. From the stand by mode there is a possibility to change profiles quickly.

Settings. Main settings of the displays contrast level, wallpapers, clock types (three analogue ones, three digital ones), wallpaper during incoming call. There is minute-timer, which can be used during the phone call. Finally this menu has all settings for MMS, GPRS, WAP. Plus Bluetooth settings. Id like to make a note that the phone supports voice only profile, it can be used with car-kit or the headset. The Bluetooth cannot be used for data transfer, you will have to buy the data-cable or use the IrDA.

Messages. You can create joined messages up to 1024 symbols. While entering the text you can use the T9, which cannot be filled with new words. The icons or ring tones cannot be added for SMS messages, because the phone is not supporting the EMS. Since the presence of MMS is here, you will not experience big difficulties. The work with messages is simple and plain, you can create several slides with various objects.

The phone has text templates, which can be used in various messages. The phone is missing e-mail client, which looks rather strange.

Gallery. Here you can view all images, sounds and Java apps, as well as the video stored in the phones and memory cards memory. The list gets displayed only for one memory type. The important peculiarity of this phone is that almost all files which are used in the phone (for example photos for the phone book must be located in the phones memory. Perhaps this is the reason why you cannot set the mp3 ring tone as incoming call tone, this is the other side of the hotswap feature. This looks logically, since you can remove the memory card which contains the ring tone. Copying the ring tone into the phones memory is not logical, since there is only 6mb for you.

Id like to make a note that the phone supports such audio-formats as: Midi, Wav, SMAF, MP3.

Camera. I shall not speak about the camera again, everything was reviewed in separate review.

Organizer. Up to 8 alarm clocks can be setup, they can be used for certain date or for daily usage. The calculator is convenient, the same can be said about the currency converter.

The ring tone editor allows creating 8, 16 or 32 chord ring tones. Everything is pretty traditional, nothing special.

The calendar is showing the whole month, but for a certain date you can enter up to 3 small text notes. There are no warnings around, these are the real notes (up to 40 symbols each).

The Dictaphone allows recording files with up to 30sec length. The number of such entries can be limited only by the amount of free memory.

Help curios section, here you can read short information about each section and keys, ways of navigating around the phone. I am desperate to find out, if a person reached this section by himself will he need the section?

MP3 player. The interface is pretty, but the functions are not so reach. Tags are supported, as well as repeat mode. The files can be added from the phones memory or the storage card. Unfortunately all files must be gathered in the root of the storage, or in a special folder. The software cannot view all folders in order to search for the songs. You can get used to it, but there is some injustice towards the user. The mp3 playback quality via the headphones is nice, when you will listen the songs via the speaker you will notice that the volume is low.

WAP. This phone has WAP-browser 1.2.1, it works pretty fast. Unfortunately in case if GPRS connection will be unavailable the phone will immediately start CSD-connection without any warning.

PC Sync. At the moment the only way to sync the data youre your PC is via the data cable or IrDA (here we face the lacks of poor Bluetooth realization). The software comes from Mobile Action, this solution became popular among manufacturers, for example in case with Panasonic X70 we can see the same software. The software allows uploading new wallpapers (both displays), fit their size, edit them. The same thing can be said about the ring tones. You can also synchronize contacts and messages. Actually this software provides the required amount of possibilities.

The performance. Once again we were testing the performance with the help of JBenchmark v1.0 (The phone has Java MIDP 1.0). The result was as follows:

  • Overall score 1840
  • Text 509
  • 2D Shapes 404
  • 3D Shapes 274
  • Fill Rate 135
  • Animation 518

The results are rather nice, they can be compared with the best models from the competitors. However the smartphones have better performance. You should also take in mind the QVGA resolution of the screen, if you do you will notice that the performance of Sharp GX30 is one of the best around.

Impressions

The network reception quality does not raise any problems, the phone is working as it should. The volume of polyphonic ring tone is average, it cannot be heard all the time when you are carrying the handset in your pocket. At the same time, whenever the handset is opened you will hear how clear and loud the ring tone is, but once you close it the volume will decrease rapidly. The power of the vibrating alert is average, there is nothing special.

By summing up the impressions from the phone I can say that they were the same as for first meeting with Panasonic GD87. The phones are somehow equal, each for its time.

The functional possibilities of Sharp GX30 are not business ones, this is a typical fashion solution. There are strong sides common for such solutions, good internal screen (probably one of the best on the market to date), perfect 1mpx camera (the competitors are losing the battle), average polyphonic ring tones, here the phone is not setting the new records. Those who like their hands free can use the Bluetooth headsets, or the loudspeaker, but there is no ability to send the data via it, this disables the business functionality of Bluetooth (only via the cable or IrDA). The disadvantages are: the size (although the size is typical for 1mpx phones), poor external screen and pretty high price. When the phone will be released it will cost about 700$. At the moment you can buy unofficial phones from Vodafone for 600-650$. The price is very high and it should be paid only in case if you need good 1mpx camera and amazing internal display. The mp3 player function in the phone of such class is interesting but will never be in demand. By cutting the long story short if you have enough money to spend them on a fashion mobile buy Sharp GX30. This model is not suitable for business, because of the poor working time, lack of many common functions such as e-mail client, since it became the standard recently. We can also state the phones imbalance, it does not have loudspeaker which is strange for Japanese phone. But as the fashion solution Sharp GX30 is interesting and unique, you should take a look at it.

Ring tone samples (mp3, 580 kb)

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