2006 is all about being slim -- mobile phones are getting so skinny that soon you'll be able to stuff them in the credit card slots in your wallet. Sagem, which in the past has focused on entry-level handsets, is following the big mobile players and launching a range of slim, low to mid-range phones this year in the UK.
The my401x is not only slim but good value for money. This is an upgrade of the my301x with an added VGA camera and a noticeably different design layout. It does have some flaws, but overall it's a good buy, if you want a basic camera phone with Bluetooth for under £100.
The my401x is a standard candybar handset with a 0.3-megapixel (VGA) camera and a 65k colour screen. You will be able to get the my401x in black with T-Mobile in April and a silver version will be available on Orange and Vodafone some time later in the year. According to sources at Sagem, pricing will be around the £80 mark on pay as you go. We found it online for around £100.
The Sagem my401x is a candybar handset with a retro 80s look and feel to it. Sagem describes the my401x as ultra-slim and at 14mm thick it's not exactly chunky, but compared to the , which is only 11mm, it's not the thinnest we've come across either. It is however, shorter than the Slvr by 6mm and less wide by 3mm (105 by 46mm), so while it's not as slim as its abbreviated competitor, it will definitely fit in your pocket nicely. It also feels very light, weighing only 85g, which is probably down to the almost hollow interior.
On the front of the phone is a 65k colour screen with a 128x160-pixel resolution. It's nothing to write home about, due to the lack of brightness and sharpness, which makes everything look washed out. Underneath the screen is a standard keypad with two programmable soft keys at the top, send and end keys for calls and a new metal-like rectangular navigation key.
The keypad is made up of rubber keys that are large enough to press without having to fiddle around. They are noisy, however, making a clicking sound with each press that isn't suitable for covert texting. Also, the keypad has a blue backlight that unfortunately doesn't illuminate the centre of the keypad properly, as we soon found out when the sun went down. Our last and final niggle with the keypad is the out-of-place brushed aluminium-style navigation key that doesn't match the general look of the handset. In all fairness, it is easy to use.
On the right of the phone is the charging port, which is uncovered. This may bother some people for aesthetic reasons, but it means you don't have to fiddle with a cover just to charge the phone. On the top left is a dedicated shutter button and further down an infrared port, both of which are unobtrusive. We don't like the battery cover that clips precariously on the back, which is not only flimsy but will probably fly off in a fall, due to the bizarre clip-on attachment system.
The 0.3-megapixel camera is on the back of the phone. When you turn the phone into landscape mode, the lens ends up at the bottom right, just in line with where you place your fingers to take a photo, so expect a few blacked-out snaps. We like the fact that the shutter button is unusable when the keypad is locked, which stops unwanted photos of your pocket being taken.
This is an entry-level handset, so don't expect all the trimmings, but for under £80 this phone has an easy-to-use menu interface and is pretty well featured. For instance, it can play polyphonic ringtones, and it has an amplify option during calls that puts the caller on loudspeaker.
It has Bluetooth and infrared, which means that you can transfer pictures and data to a plethora of devices. It even has GPRS support and a WAP browser, so you can browse the Web. We found the WAP browser slow, however, and the screen was too small to view pages properly. You could, though, always use the my401x as a GPRS modem with a handheld or laptop via the infrared or Bluetooth connection.
This is the kind of phone you should buy if features are secondary and having a relatively cheap phone to make calls on is what you're really interested in. Take the camera for instance: with only a VGA sensor you're not going to take great photos, but it is useful to have for contact shots or sending the odd MMS, which this phone can do. With only 3.2MB of internal memory it's unlikely you could do much else, however. If you already have a digital camera and an MP3 player then this shouldn't be a huge problem.
The my401x also features an organiser, an alarm clock, a timer, a calculator, a to-do list, a currency converter and two fun games to keep you entertained.
We were impressed with the my401x's voice quality, since we expected the worse, but actually it isn't bad at all. Calls are clear and loud and people at the other end could hear us clearly.
The battery life isn't bad either, and lasted over a week on standby. The talktime is average at 4 hours, which is good for two to three days of medium to heavy usage.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide