The Sharp TM150 represents a couple of firsts. Not only is it T-Mobile's premier 1-megapixel camera phone, it's also Sharp's U.S. debut in the GSM handset arena. The mobile is loaded with features, such as the highest-resolution display available, an SD/MMC card slot, and video-recording and playback capabilities. However, at a costly $349.99, the mobile lacked some key items. Most notably, a phone in this price range should ship with Bluetooth (or at least an infrared port) and a speakerphone. Still, for consumers looking for a quality camera phone with a few extras, the eye-catching TM150 is a welcome addition to T-Mobile's lineup. Our first impressions of the Sharp TM150 were that it looked more playful than serious, due to its friendly light-blue and silver casing and smooth, rounded edges. At 3.7 by 1.9 by 0.9 inches and 3.5 ounces, the flip phone isn't the most compact handset we've seen, but it fits snuggly in a jean pocket. Also, it's lightweight and comfortable to hold while you're talking, and it benefits from solid construction. A postage-stamp-size external screen shows the time, battery life, signal strength, and date, as well as caller and picture ID (where available). It displays 65,536 colors, but some of that beauty is lost on its low 64x96-pixel resolution, and it's difficult to see when the backlighting is off. We liked, however, that we could personalize it with different wallpaper and that it doubles as a viewfinder for taking self-portraits. Just above the screen are the camera lens and the speaker.
The real beauty of the TM150 lies within. Open the handset, and you're presented with a gorgeous 262,000-color display. You can't help but be drawn to the large 2.2-inch-diagonal screen, which shows off vibrant colors, sharp text, and crisp images but is somewhat difficult to view in direct sunlight. Still, it's great for displaying photos and the user-friendly menu. Navigating the menu is made simple with the spacious but slippery four-way toggle and the volume rocker on the phone's left spine. From the main navigation keypad, you have one-touch access to your calendar, profiles, contacts, and content, and we liked the dedicated OK button in the center. Surrounding the toggle are Talk and End buttons, as well as two soft keys and a dedicated T-zones control just below it. To activate the camera, you can press the right soft key, while the OK knob doubles as the capture button.
On the right side of the phone, you'll find a slider switch to toggle between normal picture mode to macro mode for close-ups, a 2.5mm headset (included) jack, and in a new twist, an SD/MMC expansion slot. Unlike other phones that hide the slot behind the battery, the Sharp has it on the outside, making it easily accessible. Our only complaint was that the slot cover is attached by a flimsy rubber piece, leaving us to wonder about its long-term durability.
We had no trouble dialing numbers with the well-spaced kidney-shaped keypad buttons, which are flush with the surface of the mobile. While the backlight isn't particularly bright, the controls are a different color from the phone itself, so misdials were rare.The Sharp TM150 comes with a solid set of features. There's a 500-name address book with room in each entry for three numbers, two e-mail addresses, a home or business address, and notes (you can store 250 additional contacts on the SIM card). You also can assign each contact to a caller group, pair it with a picture, or match it with any of 40 polyphonic ring tones. Other goodies include text and multimedia messaging, a calendar, a calculator, a currency converter, an alarm clock, voice memos, a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser, and vibrate mode. Business users also will be pleased by the presence of conference calling, e-mail support (POP3 and SMTP accounts), and PIM functionality but may be disappointed by the lack of a speakerphone, an infrared port, and Bluetooth.
The integrated 1-megapixel camera takes pictures in four resolutions: 1,144x858, 1,024x768, 640x480, and 320x240. You can choose between Normal or Fine quality settings and macro mode for close-up shots. You also get a delay timer, a brightness adjuster, a night mode, continuous shooting (up to four pictures in succession), and a 4X zoom. Be aware, though, that the zoom function isn't available at the two highest settings. If you're feeling creative, you can edit pictures with different touches, such as Sepia or Oil Painting, add any of six frames or 27 stamps, and rotate the image. You also get a choice of three shutter sounds, but there's no silent option. For the director in you, you can shoot 15-second video clips with sound, and you can edit your films with night mode, the delay timer, and zoom. Once shot, your pictures and videos can be sent via multimedia messages or saved to My Album or My Journal. You can use your photos as wallpaper or assign them to contacts for caller ID. There's 6MB of memory onboard, and as a bonus, T-Mobile includes a 32MB SD card.
The mobile doesn't come with a ton of personalization options, but you can download plenty of ring tones, wallpaper, news, sports, and more from T-Mobile's T-zones. The TM150 supports Java (J2ME) games, but again, they must be downloaded from T-zones.We tested the triband (GSM 900/1800/1900) Sharp TM150 world phone in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Call quality was good for the most part, and we rarely had trouble finding a signal. Sound quality was loud and clear on our end, but callers said they heard a faint echo and could tell we were on a mobile. Calls using the included headset were diminished a bit, but that's to be expected.
Battery life fell a bit short of our expectations. We eked out 2.5 hours of talk time, compared to the company's rated 3.3 hours. Standby time also was less then we hoped. We managed 7 days on a single charge, compared with the promised time of 8.3 days. According to the FCC, the Sharp TM150 has a digital SAR rating of 0.82 watts per kilogram.