Call me on my gigaphone

Once you've had a gig, you can't go back

    Sanyo 5600 3G smartphone

    Telecom, www.telecom.co.nz

    RRP $899; cheaper with some plans

There's a big problem with Telecom's new 3G phone — it's too damned useful.

The Sanyo 5600 is the successor to the hugely-successful 7400 — Telecom's first ever good-looking phone. The prosaically-named 5600 loses the cool rubber grippy material that made the 7400 so nice to hold in favour of the bog-standard silver finish that all phones seem to sport these days, but that's a minor flaw and really comes down to personal taste.

What the phone does have is a miniSD slot with — and this is a first — a 1GB card already installed.

I've often taken charge of a new phone with a memory slot only to discover a dummy chip and a jaunty note telling me I can use the slot for all manner of storage but only after I pony up several hundred dollars for a chip. Well done Telecom for bundling the card and for picking such a useful size — none of this 16MB nonsense.

In fact, having a gig to play with in your phone is quite intoxicating. My phone currently has the complete works of Shakespeare (5MB), every word I've ever written, my CV (just in case) (indeed –Ed.), my Lotus Notes login ID file and a large number of passwords and PIN numbers and I've barely scratched the surface.

The one thing I haven't done is put music on the phone. Not only are the ear buds too large for anyone who's not a rabbit but I figure the battery drain will be stupendous. Besides, that's what iPod Shuffles are for, right?

Better to fill the chip up with photos. Because the built-in camera boasts 1.3 megapixel resolution, that's not the annoying challenge it once was. The camera is actually quite nice and with the good screen size gives surprisingly good results. Set the shutter sound to the cheesy "Say Cheese!" if you're photographing small children. It also works as a video camera and with 1GB of storage you can take up to 90 minutes of footage. Given recent events overseas, cameras like this are going to turn law enforcement on its head. Instead of insisting you don't use the camera in public places, perhaps we'll see authorities suggesting you do.

The phone has the usual silliness — Push to Talk, which thankfully isn't going to set the world on fire — and the only real operational drawback I can see is the limited range of vibration settings for the ringer.

That aside, the battery life is great; it doesn't get too hot; it has an extendable antenna which I like and it let me integrate photos with my caller ID so when the office calls a picture of a mushroom cloud shows up on the tiny external screen. Nice.

How much did I like this phone? Put it this way: Telecom Mobile has a new customer.

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