Not content with producing a spiffy little GSM mobile phone, Panasonic has teamed up with nightclub and dance music specialists Ministry of Sound to promote the G50 to the youth clubbing market. The G50 is packaged in a reusable square metal tin with a display window that shows the handset and an accompanying ten-track Ministry of Sound compilation CD, Sonic Sessions . Also in the package is a metal chain belt clip that attaches to the top of the G50 and a clear protective case.
Consumer mobile phones do not get much smaller than this -- the G50 measures a teensy 80 mm x 40 mm x 18.8 mm, smaller than the sliding Siemens SL55. At this size and a very light 74 grams, the G50 fits unobtrusively into the smallest of pockets. Unfortunately the G50 has an external antenna that looks relatively large poking out 2cm at the top -- still, there is no denying this is a small phone.
The miniature size of this mobile phone does not allow for a very large screen -- it has a resolution of 128 x 96 pixels and can display 4,096 colours. While we can cope with the screen, the numerical keys are tiny, raised slivers. Although the keys skew slightly on the outer two columns, the close proximity causes trouble when typing text messages (the G50 does not support MMS). A gripe we have while texting on the G50 is that the T9 input does not recognise apostrophes in words, which interrupts the flow of typing a message as you must multitap the punctuation mark in every time. Thankfully, you can add words to the T9 dictionary.
Above the hyphen-shaped keys are two soft keys (attached to the answer and reject keys) and an up-down navigation key in the middle. Keylocking the phone is easy enough (by pressing the left soft key three times) but the soft keys are very sensitive and the G50 often unlocks by accident when it is in a pocket.
For a phone touting the Ministry of Sound logo, the earpiece is surprisingly quiet. Even set to the highest volume it is difficult to hear callers on a busy street, let alone in a nightclub. However, switching on the G50's hands-free speakerphone makes callers more audible in loud environments.
Flippit and Classic Rally are the two games featured on the G50. The first is an animal platform game and the second is an enjoyable racing game; both of them run quickly and have accompanying polyphonic sound.
The G50 lacks high-end features such as a camera or MP3 capabilities but there are a couple of handy applications -- scheduler, calculator, currency converter, melody composer and a WAP browser.
Panasonic claims a battery life of 2.5-6 hours talk time or 80-200 hours standby. In our testing, the life of the supplied Li-ion battery averaged about three days, although we expected the G50 to last a big longer considering its small display and the lack of high-end features.
While it is certainly a charming mobile phone, the Panasonic G50 will be too impractical and too much a fashion accessory for many people. The size of the G50 can make it eye-catching or unnoticeable, and coupled with the Ministry of Sound branding it will pull a youth and clubbing niche that primarily need a mobile phone for voice calls and to send the occasional text message.
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