We first encountered the Shine at CES 2007, where we named it one of the top 20 head-turning gadgets of the show. A few months on it has finally arrived in Australia, although the specs have changed slightly. The local version of this delectable device is 3G, with a customised version (the U970) available on Hutchison's 3 network.
Phone manufacturers have developed a penchant for glossy, shiny surfaces of late, and the Shine is the ultimate example of this newfound devotion to things that glisten and gleam. The phone has a polished-metal body, and the entire front surface transforms into a mirror when the 2.2-inch LCD is idle.
Of course, while there are obvious advantages to having a phone with a giant mirror on it -- being able to check for parsley in your teeth, blinding annoying siblings by angling the phone at the sun -- the downside is that you will need to spend a lot of time doing the old spit-and-polish. The surface quickly becomes tarnished with fingerprints, facial muck and unidentifiable grime, so keep a wiping cloth handy.
The mirrored surface is but one aspect of the Shine's sleek-and-sexy appearance. The phone looks and feels expensive, from the metal finish to the hefty 120-gram weight. The sliding mechanism is solid, and doesn't feel loose or flimsy like some other slider models we've played with. Flicking up the top section reveals a flat keypad, its numbers backlit with blue neon. It's a swish-looking set-up, even trumping the RAZR family's keys in the elegance stakes.
There is one major cause for complaint -- the scroller beneath the display may look cool, but it falls far behind the traditional five-way navigation key when it comes to usability. We found that both the scroller and the teeny buttons to the left and right of it gave us trouble when typing text messages and moving through long lists.