So what’s this month’s hottest new phone? The Nokia N90 camera phone? Mmmm. The Apple Motorola ROKR? Don’t make me laff! Nope by some clear distance the gadget phone for September has to be the Sharp 903 available via Vodafone.
I managed to get my hands on one the other day and have to say that if the 903 is anything to go by the days of the budget digital camera are numbered. It is fairly similar to the equally groundbreaking 902 but with some neat additions.
Sharp has tweaked the style a bit so now it comes in black (haven’t seen the red in the UK yet) and has slightly bevelled edges. It doesn’t sound like much of a makeover but it is one that’s actually pretty impressive. The SD card slot is gone replaced by one of those annoying mini SD ones. Though at least the phone does come with an SD card adaptor.
The big change however is that Sharp has upgraded the camera from 2.0 mega pixels to 3.2 mega pixels and judging by the images the handset takes that is one huge leap. Colour is enhanced, contrast level are significantly better but obviously the big difference is that you see levels of detail that on the 902 and all other camera phones would have just been something of a blur. Sharp has also worked hard on the camera’s facilities which now include a very effective auto focus, a highly useful 2x optical zoom and a variable exposure option.
The rest of the phone is every bit as good as the 902. In particular I like the MP3/AAC player which is not only one of the best I have heard so far on a phone, but also sounds great through the 903’s integrated speakers. The phone’s two and half inch 262k colour screen is also a wonder – still the benchmark which rival phone makers have to aspire to. There’s also person to person video calling, video capture and access to Vodafone’s Live! 3G services. The downsides, well the interface is fine but nowhere near as elegant as say a Nokia Series 60 handset. Also while Sharp has included POP3 email, it is a bit tricky to set up and use. There’s also a web browser on board, which, to say the least is fairly basic. Finally the phone is, just like the 902, a bit of monster. If you want something small and slinky to pull from your pocket buy a Moto RAZR or a Nokia 8800. Finally Voda hasn’t been at all generous with the storage, the phone is bundled with a 64MB card which, given the size of 3.2 mega pixel images, should fill up in moments.
Overall though this is a cracking phone. Forget your iTunes and Walkman handsets, they are just trying to sucker you in via their branding, this is the real deal. If you want a better camera, better screen, tons more features and a pretty good music player to boot the 903 is for you.