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Sharp GX40 Rumours

23rd October 2004

Vodafone's arrangement with Sharp to be the exclusive distributor of Sharp handsets in regions where Vodafone has operations has been a significant boost to Vodafone's range, first with the GX10i then GX20 and GX30.

However, the GX30 has been around for a while now, and even though it has the best screen of any phone outside of Japan, one of the best cameras and a good feature set, people are beginning to wonder when the replacement for the GX30 will be announced. Vodafone and Sharp are soon to announce an upgrade to the GX30, called the GX30i which will address issues with Bluetooth and add MP3 ringtones and other software enhancements.

However, the technology is certainly available to make a much more impressive phone, as Sharp have demonstrated with their Sharp 902 and Sharp 802 handsets designed for the 3G market in Japan and worldwide. And some months ago we looked at the Sharp V602SH (pictured - image source Vodafone KK) 2.5 phone made for Vodafone Japan's PDC network, which has broadly similar specifications to the Sharp 902.

There's very little definite information on the specification of the GX40, however it does seem that there will be one. Looking at the V602SH and 902 models, it would be logical to assume that the GX40 would have the same 240x320 pixel 262,000 colour rotating display, 2.0 megapixel camera (perhaps with optical zoom), Bluetooth, SD removable memory, quad band GSM, and MP3 and rich media playback.

Bluetooth has always been an issue on the GX30 models, in that it was essentially a crippled implementation meaning that the GX30 could only be used with Bluetooth headsets and not with a PC. This proved to be the GX30's biggest problem, and both the newer GX15 and GX25 handsets come with better Bluetooth, plus the new GX30i, so it's fair to assume that the Bluetooth on the GX40 should be normal too. The GX25 takes some design cues from the V602SH and 902 too, so we're likely to see a shift away from the silvery sharps of old to something that looks much more like a digital camera on the outside. Really, the upgrade path from the GX30/GX30i looks obvious. As the GX30 platform is already pretty highly specified, then any upgrade would have to be very impressive in design terms, and the smart money seems to be pointing to a handset very like the V602SH (basically a GSM version of the 902).

However, it's likely that the real issue is timing. It's pretty clear that it wouldn't be difficult for Sharp to have something impressive waiting to be rolled out, but a GSM phone based on the V602SH would compete head on with the Sharp 902 3G phone - and the 902 is a phone that Vodafone and relying on to give their 3G launch a boost. As a result, it's highly unlikely that Vodafone would want to announce the GX40 until well after the start of the 3G rollout, which means that we could be waiting until late Q1 or Q2 before the GX40 is actually announced.

It looks as though Vodafone can sit on the GX40 for as long as they need to, and this is true. However, Sharp also has a distribution agreement with SmarTone in Hong Kong, who sell the Sharp GX12, GX22 and GX32 handsets (functionally identical to the GX10i, GX20 and GX30), plus the Xera GZ100 which is the same hardware as the GX15. SmarTone is expected to start it's 3G rollout much later than Vodafone, perhaps sometime in mid-2005, and given the highly competitive nature of the mobile phone market in Hong Kong, it's quite possible that they may be acquire the Sharp GX42 (or perhaps a Xera-branded handset) much earlier than Vodafone.

In any case, the Sharp GX40 and GX42 is likely to be one of 2005's most anticipated handsets. We'll let you know the details as we get them - please subscribe to our newsletter for updates.

  • For more up-to-date information, please see this article.
     

Sharp GX40 anticipated specifications

Available:

Q2 2005

Network:

Quad band GSM

Data:

GPRS

Screen:

240x320 pixels, 262,000 colours

Camera:

2.0 megapixels

Size:

Medium-large clamshell
99x55x25mm / 130 grams

Bluetooth:

Yes

Infra-red:

Yes

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Yes

Battery life:

Not known

 

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