Sharp FX Review
Much like other mid-range feature phones, the interface found on the Sharp FX doesn't deviate from others found on AT&T's lineup since it's basically straightforward. However, the homescreen UI is rather confusing and lacks the personalization found with something like Samsung's TouchWiz interface. Instead, we're presented with the usual set of finger friendly sized icons toward the bottom. Then you've got a confusing homescreen layout where you can perform left/right and up/down swipe gestures to access Mobile Web, AT&T Social Net, IM, and My Stuff. One would think it would extend the homescreen, but rather, it simply launches those applications – something that can be done instantly with a touch of an icon. Regardless, the main menu layout is your typical looking one as you're presented with three screens filled with icons with dots found toward the bottom to instantly get you into a specific panel. The platform doesn't suffer from any speed issues, but the unresponsive touchscreen does make the navigational experience rather frustrating.
Limited to only 500 contacts, which is a tad low versus the competition, you'll be asked before adding a contact if you want to save it to the SIM or the phone. From there, you'll be able to provide the usual mix of information for each contact.
It's rather shocking to be displayed with an on-screen message telling you to open up the QWERTY to compose a message – especially when it packs on a touchscreen. Unfortunately, you're restricted to using the QWERTY for all your text messaging, but it's difficult to fathom why it doesn't provide any on-screen input methods. However, we did find that you can access a typical on-screen keypad with the Notepad app, but it's just strange to see it not offered for text messaging.
There's nothing special with the Sharp FX in regards to social networking since it relies on the AT&T Social Net app that aggregates content from a myriad of social networking accounts – which is offered already on other AT&T phones. You'll find an icon for Facebook in the main menu, but it simply opens up the mobile web version. Setting up email is pretty straightforward as it will automatically set up popular clients, such as Gmail, by simply inputting your email address and password. In instances when you want to set up a custom account though, you'll be required to enter additional stuff like server data. Finally, the same instant messaging client is offered which will allow you to chat using AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger.
Just like all other AT&T feature phones, the Sharp FX includes third party apps like Loopt, Mobile Banking, MusicID, My-Cast Weather, Where, YPmobile, and Mobile TV. Additionally, they are supplemented with AT&T's set of apps like AT&T Navigator, AT&T Radio, and AT&T FamilyMap.
Camera and Multimedia:
In this day in age, it's almost revolting to see mid-range handsets sport anything less than a 3-megapixel shooter, however, the Sharp FX falls flat behind the pack with its 2-megapixel camera. However, increased numbers always don't necessarily provide for better looking images. Thankfully, images captured outdoors produced some decent quality with their reasonable amount of detail and subtle looking colors. Conversely, image quality did take a drop with indoor shots since they generally looked fuzzy with drab looking colors.
On the other hand, video capturing is downright dismal since it is limited to only QVGA resolution and a capture rate of 15fps. Not only is it pixelated looking, but there is a steady amount of jerkiness to the video.
Sharp FX sample video at 320x240 pixels resolution.
Putting presentation to the side, we were greeted to a functional music player that provides the most basic operations. Audio from the rear speaker when playing a song sounded sharp to the ear and somewhat hollow. It didn't sound strained on the highest volume, but considerably lacked any powerful tones to make tunes sound vibrant. Unfortunately, we could not find any equalizer settings to modify the monotone sounds from the speaker. Additionally, music would instantly stop playing when you exit all the way back to the home screen.
Regrettably, we were unable to load any of our test videos on the Sharp FX since it only supports 3GP videos – just like the ones produced by its camera. When we did play back those videos, they looked extremely choppy and slow, while the washed out look of the display made for a poor experience. Thanks to YouTube, we were able to load a video in HQ mode and experienced the same performance – stuttery looking videos. The handset is Mobile TV and Video Share capable, but unfortunately, we were unable to test out this feature. As long as you're in an area where FLO TV is offered, you may find the $9.99 add-on feature to cure your television appetite.
With 80 MB of internal storage available, it can prove to be adequate for light users, however, the Sharp FX will accept microSD cards up to 32GB in capacity if you plan on being media heavy.
Internet and Connectivity:
The Sharp FX is a global capable device since it boasts quad-band (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) GSM and tri-band (850/1900/2100 MHz) UMTS connectivity – so it'll suit global travelers wherever they go. As an alternative wireless connection, it features Bluetooth 2.1 to get a mix of headsets to connect with it or transfer files.
As usual, we're presented with Opera Mini as the default browser on the handset – which naturally provides for a gratifying experience. Pages are rendered correctly with text being automatically re-sized to fit the width of the display – so it'll reduce any strain of navigating through long passages of text. As an alternative, you can opt to use the POLARIS Browser which is, and if not, a very usable one that manages to offer a smooth experience. However, while Opera Mini compresses data on their servers before sending it off, POLARIS downloads everything in full fidelity – which resulted in frequent “insufficient memory” messages. Nonetheless, the overall web browsing it good on the handset, but there are still concerns about the accuracy of the touchscreen when recognizing a touch.