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March 2004

   Dynamoo 2004




Sharp GX20 Review

The 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 coloured phones.


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.


Camera, Video Capture and Flash

The 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.

However, 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).

GX20 macro closeupUnusually, 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 in PaintShop 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.

GX20 mapreadingAnother 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.

Phone Functions

Sharp GX20 compared with 1/1 coinSomewhere 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 too!

Current items at eBay.co.uk


 Subj: Shopping and Services


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