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THERE’s a handful of Microsoft smartphones in the local market since the Mitac Mio 8380 made its debut here in September last year, followed by the O2 Xphone, Motorola MPx 200, and now the Sagem MyS-7 – the subject of this review.
The MyS-7 is a handsome phone with chiselled lines and a metallic-grey plastic casing that gives it a firm, solid feel. Its silver keys have good tactile feedback and its screen displays vibrant colours.
With the exception of configuration options, its response to menu selections was immediate while its T9 predictive text input into SMS (short message service), MMS (multimedia messaging service) and e-mail messages kept up well with the speed of my thumb.
This phone is made under contract by Mitac for Sagem and its specifications are similar to those of the Mitac Mio 8380, which I reviewed last year (see In.Tech, Oct 23, 2003), except for the operating systems and the amount of SDRAM.
For additional digital storage, the MyS-7 has a slot which accepts a Multimedia Card (MMC) and Secure Digital (SD) card, or an SDIO (secure digital input/output) WiFi (wireless fidelity) adaptor for wireless access to broadband Internet.
The MyS-7 is highly customisable with a choice of wallpapers, ringtones, logos and colour schemes. Users can also manage their contacts, schedules and tasks on the phone via Microsoft Outlook and ActiveSync a cable for connection to a PC is provided.
This phone has support for MIDI, WAV and MP3 sound files, as well as JPEG and BMP image files.
There is no Chinese language support only a choice of English, German, French, Spanish and Italian. This is attributed to the Microsoft language pack that comes with the Smartphone 2003 OS and Sagem’s expectation of a small market for the MyS-7 in Asia.
GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), MMS, and SMS functions on this phone worked as advertised.
To make configuring the phone easy for users, the local distributor has provided auto-configuration files for Maxis, Celcom and DiGi services in the phone’s memory. Users just need to select and run the relevant file and in seconds the Internet, GPRS and MMS settings will be automatically configured.
Less tech-savvy users may find navigating folders to locate these files a little daunting, though.
Searching the address book for a particular name is a breeze: Just press the keys corresponding to the letters of the person’s first name or surname till you get a match. There are also the usual calendar, scheduler and task management functions.
The MyS-7’s Pocket Outlook e-mail client retrieved messages from The Star’s POP3 mailbox smoothly and quickly. It also can access IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) based e-mail.
By default, the phone’s integrated CCD digital camera lets users take still pictures at 176 x 144pixels resolution, which is ideal for attachments to MMS messages since the file sizes typically are around 12K each.
Pictures can also be taken at 320 x 240pixels or 640 x 480pixels resolution, which produces image file sizes of between 50K and 60K – optimal for e-mail attachments.
Users can add special effects, text or a voice memo to a picture before sending it to another smartphone or e-mail address.
Unfortunately, picture quality is rather poor – even at maximum resolution and under bright sunlight. The contrast is so high that features in the shade appear too dark to be seen even when the camera’s auto-brightness control is enabled.
The phone also takes 15-second videos with soundtrack, at a fixed 176 x 144pixels resolution. Users have a choice of shooting Fast, Normal or High-Quality videoclips, which are stored in the .3gp format.
On the downside
The MyS-7 is not without its faults. The most annoying is that its five-way control button moves sideways too easily, especially when you are pressing it down to make a selection. Unless you have a very steady hand, the menu highlight tends to shift, resulting in erroneous selections.
This also makes keying in SMS, MMS or e-mail messages difficult and error-prone.
Fortunately, the phone enables shortcuts – like pressing the menu key followed by a number to make a selection – and this partly makes up for the above problem.
Also, the MyS-7 often locked up – sometimes a few times a day – especially when importing SMS messages from the SIM (subscriber identity module) card, retrieving e-mail, while taking pictures, or for no apparent reason. To unlock it, I had no other choice but to remove and re-insert the battery, and then switch the phone on again.
I found out later that this was due to memory shortage – as soon as I deleted some images and other large files from its memory, the phone speeded up a little.
The phone startup time was also unacceptably long: 45 seconds elapse from the moment you press the power-on button till the system asks for your PIN (personal identification number). On occasion, the phone takes a further 30 seconds to register with the network.
The speakerphone function worked fine once it was activated, but I had to hold down the Call button for nearly 15 seconds before the speakerphone kicked in, which is way too long especially when driving. A handsfree kit would be the way to go here.
Battery life is nothing to write home about. A full charge would only last about 18 hours with average phone usage (voice calls, SMS and MMS messages, e-mail, and picture-taking).