Sharp 903 review: Sharp 903

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There are plenty of features to be had on the 903, but first among them has to be that camera. We've already noted some of its features. Up to 24x digital zoom augments the 2x optical, there are different settings for shooting in a range of situations from sports to night shots, shooting into the sun, portraits or taking photos of your pets. There is a macro mode for shooting close ups, and you can choose between auto and manual focus. Opt for the former and when you hold the shutter button half down, the focus adjusts before your very eyes.

Picture quality is certainly plenty good enough for snaps, and we are pleased to report that even at the highest resolutions pictures saved quickly to our miniSD card. Videos not intended for MMS are automatically sent to the card, and also save quickly.

The music player supports AAC, AAC+ and MP3 formats, and you can play tunes copied across from a PC as well as any you download. You can manage three playlists.

There is just 8MB of internal memory, which isn't much for a handset with a 3.2-megapixel camera. In some cases, there are limitations as to how much of the memory you can use for different things, for example you can have a maximum of 300 calendar entries and 500 contacts.

The good news is that this internal memory can be boosted by a miniSD card and Sharp provides a 64MB card. This isn't overly generous, and you may well find yourself buying additional cards, but, joy of joys, you don't need to lift the battery to swap cards as the slot is on the left of the casing. It is protected by a hinged cover, which is fiddly to remove and even more fiddly to replace.

There is a lot more on offer, including a voice recorder, the ability to set up to five alarms, a stopwatch, count-down timer, a little expenses manager and even an e-book reader that can cope with plain text files. You get some software for exchanging data with your PC, but you'll have to make a wireless connection or spend more money on a USB cable.

This is a lovely handset to use, thanks to the neat design features already noted. Video calling and using Vodafone Live! were both fine with the video image of the caller remaining crisp and smooth during testing. Battery life seemed adequate too. We went for a couple of days between charges without feeling we were sailing close to the wind.

The images taken were clear and well defined. If going on a serious photography trip we'd want to carry a digital camera, but we got some very passable snapshots. We weren't so delighted with video quality, which displayed too much pixelation.

The music performance was very disappointing, and this matters more and more as music becomes a key feature for many of us when buying new handsets.

There are four tone options that let you emphasise the bass content of music and use simulated surround sound. They do make some difference to sound quality, both through the stereo speakers and Sharp's headset. The problem is that sound output in general is below par. Unfortunately, the headset's proprietary connector means you can't substitute a better one of your own.

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