Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Supports Telstra i-mode, loud and clear talk as well as handsfree
- Low battery life, no MP3 support, grainy images,
A budget phone with a basic feature set
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
Sagem's SG343i mobile phone is stylish slide phone, similar in design to Samsung's D600, although lacking extra features such as MP3 playback and a high resolution camera. What the SG343i does provide for is a cheap solution for users who wish to subscribe to Telstra's I-Mode information network.
On first look, the SG343i is a striking phone, with simple lines and an intuitive interface. At 81 x 41 x 24 mm and 85 g, it is light and unobtrusive in a pocket, although with the slider down, the pointy antenna can become a nuisance. The top half of the slider contains shortcut buttons to menu items (including I-Mode access and email access buttons), as well as four cursor keys and a menu access button. With these nine menu buttons, the interface does seem quite complicated, even though the buttons are self explanatory, the interface looks and feels cluttered. We did find some lag present between pressing a button and the phone responding. This lag did slow down the process of accessing menu items such as the mail inbox.
The screen is a fairly decent colour 128 x 160 pixel LCD, capable of displaying 65000 colours. This is adequate for general phone use as well as photo viewing, but we did have some trouble viewing the screen in direct sunlight. The screen is capable of displaying 6 lines of text, which is fine for viewing messages, although is quite limiting when reading more data, such as when using the I-Mode service.
Sound quality was impressive, with the internal speaker being loud enough to provide clear audibility even in noisy environments. The microphone also provides clear reception for the caller on the other end, and the included hands-free kit boosted our ability to hear. We did find the speaker phone lacking in both its volume and ability to pick up a voice, and we were only able to have a clear conversation within a 50cm radius.
The internal camera is a 640 x 480 CMOS sensor, with a 2x digital zoom. This is a very basic camera when compared to phones such as the D600,, with its 2 megapixel CCD. Accessing the camera function is both easy and fast, taking just two button presses. We did find that once the photo has been taken, saving it can take up to 7 seconds. We were able to take acceptable shots, as long as we had adequate lighting and there was enough memory left on the phone. This was a primary concern, as the internal memory is limited to just 3.7MB and there is no memory expansion slot. If shooting in high-quality mode, the phone can store up to 35 photos.
We had a couple of issues with the battery life of the unit, where we could only achieve up to three hours of talk time. This falls short of the specified four hrs. When the battery is completely low, the phone requires some charge (even when plugged in) to turn on at all. This was very frustrating, as in an emergency, the phone still requires a five minute charge before it can be used.
In all, Sagem's SG343i is one of the cheapest phones which supports the Telstra I-Mode service, although it falls short in its extra comfort features such as its camera mode. It performs well for basic phone functions such as calling, messaging and basic I-Mode use.
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