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Sagem my850v

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Sagem isn’t one of the best known handset producers, but it does churn them out at a steady old rate. Most recently I looked at the my215x which, while it didn’t pack in the features, was an absolute bargain for £20 on Vodafone Pay As You Talk.

Vodafone also has the scoop on this week’s handset, the Sagem my850v. It’s a 3G mobile, and a flip phone. Online you can find it at Vodafone’s business store and not its consumer store, though I don’t see why it shouldn’t be offered as a consumer phone. In fact its front facing music controls lead me to think it is more¬ of a consumer handset than a business one.

As flip phones go this example is rather large when closed - 96mm tall and 49mm wide but at least it is thin at 16mm, and pretty light at 95g. It’s tall when opened – 180mm, and like some other flip phones it does feel like a bit of a giant in the hand.
Inside there is plenty of space for a large screen but Sagem hasn’t given us one. Above and below it are vast tracts of unused space. Its two diagonal inches look a little lost. Still, it manages 240 x 320 pixels and 262,000 colours.

There is a large number pad at least. The number keys are possibly the largest I’ve ever seen on a mobile, and the central column key is massive. The navigation pad and its associated keys are also large. These are the Call, End, softkeys, a video call key and the music key.


Sagem my850v

When the phone is closed, small indents on both left and right sides let you slip a thumbnail between the upper and lower sections of the phone and open it one handed – this is good.

I like the rounded edges and the blue and silver colour scheme on the back of the handset. While the front of the phone looks blue in the photography accompanying this review, in real life it is dark enough to appear black, and I don’t find it as visually appealing as the back. Its glossy finish also attracts greasy fingerprints really easily.

However, embedded in the front is a small black and white LCD measuring just 1.1 inches corner to corner and offering 96 x 64 pixels. It shows the time and date, information about incoming calls, and can be used in conjunction with the volume rocker on the left side of the phone for quick profile switching.

When you are playing music it provides track information and three touch buttons beneath it enable you to skip tracks and pause/play. The screen and ‘buttons’ fade to nothing after a few seconds, but a quick tap of the volume rocker springs them back into life.

The phone has a rather paltry 16MB of internal memory, but supports microSD cards. The slot is under the battery cover but not under the battery, so you can get to it at least, without turning the phone off. The music player automatically picks up MP3 and AAC tracks stored in either location. It doesn’t care where on a microSD card they are stored. So you can drag and drop folders from your hard drive without any fiddling around with the storage location on the card.

My review sample didn’t come with headphones, though the power slot on the side of the casing has a headphones logo on it, so I assume that you get a set and that the connector will be proprietary.

There are two cameras on this phone. One just below the screen is primarily for video calling though it can also be used to capture stills that include yourself at two resolutions – 320 x 240 and 640 x 480. The main camera has a 2-megapixel lens and so can shoot stills up to 1,600 x 1,200.


Sagem my850v

Without autofocus or flash it is a bit limited in terms of range and capability, though I found the lens let in a surprisingly large amount of light and results were generally quite pleasing under the auto setting I always use to test phone cameras.

The coloured dish, for example, which is my standard reference photo, taken indoors under household lighting displays vibrant colours that are well reproduced. The phone captured colours outdoors well too, with the pinks and yellows of the flowers pretty much spot on. You can see evidence of over exposure in the yellow flowers, but this image also shows that the phone does fairly well at capturing detail.

I said at the head of this review that Vodafone is selling the my850v out of its online business shop. It isn’t a high end smartphone for business users, though. Despite being 3G, it is only tri-band GSM, and you don’t get any PC connectivity software or leads in the box, though Sync ML is supported.


Sagem my850v

There is no push email support, though you can pick up POP email in the messaging centre which also caters for MMS and SMS. There is also a web browser, calculator, alarm function, to do list manager, diary, voice recorder, stopwatch, timer, and currency converter. There is Bluetooth (Vodafone provides a Bluetooth handsfree kit with the phone), but no Wi-Fi. You can use the phone as a modem.

As for battery life, Sagem suggests four hours of GSM talk, two hours of video calls, six hours of music and 300 hours on standby. I didn’t get the time to do a full battery rundown test as I normally like to with mobiles but experience using the phone day to day suggests these estimates are pretty near the mark and I’d be inclined to plan on topping this phone up every other day if you want to use it for business.

Verdict

The my850v is a middle of the road handset, but those touch sensitive music playback controls and better than expected camera lift it above the rest of the crowd. I'm not sure why it's being sold as a business phone though.

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