The Sagem MyX-8. The Ferret has been playing with one of these new phones for a while now, and thought you might like to find out what it’s like in everyday use. It’s the first so-called ‘designer’ phone from French manufacturer Sagem, and they’re clearly proud of the trendy white device they’ve produced, and not without some justification. More pics and stuff after the…why do they call it the jump anyhoo?
First impressions. The Ora Ito design is something that you’re either going to love or – as in the case of the Ferret’s better half – hate, in a “bit of a brick” kind of way. In fact it’s not that bad if you’re into all the current white iPod chic. It’s thicker than some at 20.8 x 47 x 115mm, but the design manages to offset the clunkiness a lot better than say the P9xx range from Sony Ericsson. The phone comes with an averagely useful manual, a headset for listening to sounds, comms software and charger. Pretty standard fare. Set up is a matter of walking through the menus and tweaking the usual bits, but the real surprise comes once the handset is up and running.
Hardware. That’s one amazing screen. The specs say it’s an 11 line, 262K colour TFT screen with 240×320 QVGA resolution. The eyes say wow! It’s just about the brightest and most vivid screen this Ferret has ever seen, and that includes the rather nice Sony Ericsson s700i that we played with a month or so back. There’s absolutely no problem in using this puppy in daylight, believe me (the photo doesn’t even begin to come close to showing it off).
The handset also incorporates a Mini-SD slot behind the battery, although thankfully there’s no need to remove batteries to remove the card, just slide off the back cover and the slot is revealed. Is it hot swappable? Seems to be, I removed the card several times with no ill effects. Unfortunately the slot is not that easy to access, nimble fingers (or fingernails!) are needed to latch and unlatch the card. The expansion capabilities of the card complement the 40MB of internal memory nicely, although it is a bit of a pain to have to buy yet another card format. One nice feature is that the SanDisk 256MB card we bought for testing came with a free full sized SD adapter in the packet, to let you continue using your existing card reader. Nice touch!
The battery is a 125g, ‘extra flat’ Li-Ion with a rated talk time of 5 hours and standby of 350 hours. Whatever. In use, the battery does OK. Better than OK in a lot of ways. It’ll last a good weekend if you’re careful with the multimedia features, and that’s not bad for something with this spec.
The camera, ah yes, you were waiting for the camera weren’t you? Well it’s 1.3 megapixel all right, and with a real working flash (i.e. it flashes when you shoot just like a ‘proper’ camera). The quality? Well let’s just say I’m not going to throw away the Exilim just yet. And a majorly annoying design feature is that there seems to be no way to move files around inside the handset, e.g. from memory to card. This makes it much harder to transfer photos (which are automatically stored in the internal memory) to a PC via the card and a card reader. This is a royal pain. Bad design, guys!
The keyboard is perhaps the most contentious part of the handset really. The design has squished the whole keypad so that sending text messages means once again that you’ll need nimble, tiny fingers. I constantly use the tips of fingernails to hit keys when composing SMS messages. Luckily the keypad does have a pretty good clicky ‘feel’ about it, which makes it a tad easier to use.
The final thing which needs to be mentioned is the internal speaker. It’s loud. Very loud. In fact playing MP3 songs through the speaker transforms the phone into something very close to one of those tiny transistor radios that used to be everywhere. It’s that loud. Which the Ferret believes is probably a good thing (especially if you forget your headset on the way out of the door).
Software. It’s a Java phone, although it seems that Sagem has a bit of a reputation for making typically quirky French products which are not that easy to port to. Indeed the first application I tried to install, WebViewer from www.reqwireless.com failed completely. And WebViewer works on a huge set of other handsets. So you may need to check whether your favourite application will work with this puppy before plunking down the hard cash. Apart from that, the inbuilt apps seem to be quite a conventional bunch. Messaging (obviously), WAP browser, Organiser, MP3 player, Currency Converter, Calculator, Alarm. and Timer. You get the picture. The MP3 player would be infinitely better if it played a folder worth of music, since as far as I can tell it needs you to manually add each song to a playlist before you can string tunes together, which seems stupid. Unfortunately the sparse manual is zero help.
In use the Sagem is OK, not brilliant and not duff either. There are two ‘soft buttons’ on the front panel which give access to a variety of context sensitive functions, and it is possible to set up your own customised hot keys. Again nothing really radically new here, but the tactile feel of the buttons make it easier to use this function compared to the s700i for example. The joystick is also more responsive and way better than the Siemens SX1, so that’s a bonus.
Connectivity is great, with Bluetooth, Infrared and serial options, although I do wish that more manufacturers would adopt the SE s700i one button Bluetooth access, because it makes using a headset a joy. With the Sagem you have to cycle through menus or use and lose one of your custom key settings. Ah well, maybe next firmware release.
Conclusion. The Sagem MyX-8 is a nice phone in some ways, particularly in respect of the screen and large feature set. However, as grizzled veterans of the mobile phone scene know only too well, a good set of specifications do not necessarily mean a great phone. And while the Sagem is not terrible, there are a number of areas which could really do with improvement, like the cramped keyboard layout, lack of file management and crippled MP3 player. Sagem is one of the ‘also ran’ companies which have always had an uphill task trying to break the Japo/Korean, Scandi/Baltic market dominance, and this handset is probably not the one that will propel them to global prominence. But it’s a start, and who knows, their next might!
Pros: Fabulous screen, interesting candy bar design, full set of connectivity features and software.
Cons: Keyboard, missing file management, compatibility issues?
- Tri-Band GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz, built-in data fax/modem, GPRS Class 10, Instant Messaging (IMPS) Chat, EMS (R5)
- 40MB internal memory, phone book up to 1MB, miniSD card slot
- 1.3 megapixel camera, LED flash, progressive 8x digital zoom, video recording.
- Screen – 256K, 240×320 pixel QVGA, 11 line colour LCD with backlight.
- 64 note Polyphonic ringtone, audio recorder, MP3 player, MPEG4 video player,
- Built in hands free, vibrating alert, WAP browser, MMS, Java MIDP 2.0, Infrared, Bluetooth, T9, serial/USB option.
- Java Games, Currency Converter, Alarm, To-Do, Organiser/Calendar, Calculator, Timer.
- Up to 5 hours talktime, up to 350 hours standby time.
- Interface available in 8 languages.
- 20.8 x47 x 115 mm, 107 cm3 volume.