Sharp GX20 Review
Sharp GX20 is a neat little clamshell, launched in mid-2003,
featuring a 640x480 resolution digital camera, GPRS,
Java applications and a large 240x320 pixel 65,000 colour display.
We've had the GX20 for a few months now and found
that it's got its good and bad points.. and the good
points seem to be winning.
The Sharp GX20 is a fairly ordinary looking clamshell
phone - see the image on the right.
This is a shame because it's a pretty high-end
phone, and the looks are just a little bland
and this is just another silver coloured
phone, very similar to all the other silver
The first thing people notice with the GX20 is the
screen (which looks much, much better than in the photograph
on the right).
It's a very large screen, with over 4 times the pixels
of a "standard" 128x128 display, and it's
also a much larger display that the much hyped Nokia
N-Gage. The display is clear and bright, with very little noticeable
black spacing between pixels. The external display is
a 80x60 pixel colour unit of a much lower pixel density,
but it's still fine for a secondary display.
The display lends itself well to games, which can
be downloaded from the Vodafone Live! service. Although
it may lack some of the more advanced graphics features
of the N-Gage, and it hampered by its more conventional
layout, it's a pretty good games platform.
Video Capture and Flash
second strong point about the GX20 is the camera, which
has a native resolution of 480x640 pixels (i.e. VGA
resolution). At its highest setting, the image quality
is a little fuzzy and lacks detail. The image to the
left is a detail from a high-resolution image -
click the thumbnail to see the whole picture.
at 240x320 resolution, images are very sharp.. this
is also the native resolution of the camera's main display,
so it's a great way of taking a quick snap to show someone
later. The image below is an unretouched 240x320 pixel
image from the Sharp GX20.
The GX20 can also capture short video
clips that can be played back in Apple QuickTime. To
see an example, click
here. You need QuickTime
6.5 installed to play the clip (it's free). As you
can see, video quality isn't great but remember that
this is a mobile phone and not a digital camera.
However, you can send both the pictures and video clips
to someone else using the GX20's inbuilt Multimedia
Messaging Services (MMS).
the GX20 also has a macro function allowing
close-up photographs to be taken. The image
on the right was taken at maximum resolution
on "fine" setting with the macro
camera, with a small amount of processing
Pro to remove a yellow colour cast from
the ambient lighting. With a little more
work and care, the images taken by the
Sharp GX20 macro lens could be quite useful
to anyone who doesn't already have a macro
function on their digital camera. The camera
does come with built-in image editing features
of its own too.
interesting feature of the Sharp GX20 is
the built-in camera flash/torch which works
in seven different colours (you can even
make it do a "disco" effect).
Interestingly, when combined with the macro
function on the camera, it makes an excellent
mapreading tool for navigating at night.
Setting the light colour to red reduces
distraction for the driver, and the macro
lens enlarges the map to make it easier
to read. Maybe not the sort of thing you'd
think to buy a phone for, but it shows how
versatile the GX20 is.
underneath all the clever stuff with the
screen and the camera is a tri-band phone
(GSM 900/1800/1900) supporting GPRS data
transfers, and with infra-red and USB connectivity
to a PC (but no Bluetooth).
The phone is tightly integrated into
the Vodafone Live! service, so it's very
easy to browse WAP information sources and
download games and ringtones.
Talktime is quoted at a maximum of 3.5
hours with up to ten days standby, but in
practice the screen seems power-hungry and
battery life on a light mix of calls, WAP
browsing and games appears to be around
two days, which is a little disappointing.
The short battery life means that the GX20
isn't really suited for business.
Navigation is clear and straightforward,
helped by the GX20's excellent screen. The
circular navigation button makes it easy
to use too.
Accessories and Connectivity
Because the Sharp GX20 is exclusive to
Vodafone, getting accessories can be a bit
difficult. The best source seems to be eBay
which is always good for electronic gadgetry
- see current listing at the bottom
of this page.
Initially, we tried using a infra-red
link to talk to the phone. Although this
worked on machines with an inbuilt IR port,
we couldn't make a reliable connection with
a Belkin USB IR adapter, however after buying
a USB cable from eBay
we had no problems.
There's no Bluetooth connectivity on
the GX20 - if you want to connect to the
phone then you're stuck with infra-red,
serial or USB cables.
The Sharp GX20 is a great little phone,
slightly hampered by its high price, bland
looks and short battery life. The screen
and camera are probably the best in its
class, and it makes a pretty good phone
Current items at