The Sharp 902 is currently the flagship of Vodafone’s 3G line-up. At £170 it's not cheap, but we can see why Vodafone has put this handset at the top of its list. Add to the iPod-white phone front a 2-megapixel camera, a stunning screen, Bluetooth, a host of software and the ability to synchronise with a PC, and it looks as though the Sharp 902 marries style and substance.
Your first thought when picking up this phone may be to ask whether it's a 3G phone or a proper digital camera. If you don't need a sophisticated camera, the 902 could function as both. Its 2-megapixel capability is a first for a UK handset, and it comes complete with a flash unit and up to 20x digital zoom.
Open the clamshell and you'll be wowed by the 240 x 320 pixels, 262K colour screen which, at 61mm (2.4 inches) offers stunning definition and clarity. To make the most of this the application icons are large, and nicely animated. There's also a rather special hardware trick to get used to. You can swivel the screen around 180 degrees and lay it back down on the keypad facing outwards. In this configuration the screen becomes a viewfinder for the camera. Side-edge mounted shoot, zoom and options buttons are at your fingertips.
These camera buttons double as general phone controls, so you can dial calls and access on-phone applications while the screen is outermost. Of course you could do things the old fashioned way and use the number pad that lies under the clamshell. There's also good news here, as the buttons are large and well spaced. In addition to the number keys, two softkeys and a navigation key, there are three special keys. One is a clear/back key, another provides shortcuts to five applications and the third starts the media player.
There are two speakers on the brilliant white front casing for stereo output, a covered slot that doubles as a connector for video output and the provided stereo headset, and a covered SD card slot. Yes, you did read ‘video output’. Unusually, you can make a wired vonnection to other devices and show movies or stills without needing to physically transfer them from the phone itself.
You’ll need a reasonably sized pocket to store the 902 as it measures 50 x 102 x 26 mm, and you’ll feel its 149g weight. But on first impressions, the phone seems to be able to justify that overall size and weight.Features
One of the advantages of the large, well-spaced keyboard is that texting is relatively easy for all -- including the stubby-fingered. That and the sensibly arranged menus, which allow you to set up shortcuts to your favourite applications, make this an easy phone to use.
A lot of clamshell phones have a small display on the outer cover that allows you to identify incoming callers, so you can send them to voicemail. Even though you can swivel the main screen to the front, the Sharp 902 follows this trend, with a second display on the camera side. This tiny, narrow LED constantly shows the current time, signal strength and battery status. Incoming callers are identified by name if they are in the phonebook, by number if not, and the nearby camera flash unit doubles as a visual alert to incoming calls by blinking wildly.
Getting on to Vodafone’s Live! service involves a single button press, and the delivery of streamed video clips was smooth and, thanks to that already noted superb screen, eminently watchable. Video calls were solid too -- there is a smaller secondary camera inside the clamshell for video calling. You can break away from the Vodafone Live! service on to the wider Web.