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Sharp 904 / Vodafone 904SH (now Softbank 904SH)

 Vodafone 904SH / Sharp 904 Discontinued
1st March 2006

The Vodafone 904SH is a high-end 3G handset built by Sharp, exclusively for the Vodafone network. Initially announced for release in Japan, it is quite likely that the 904SH will reach Europe bearing the Sharp 904 name. (Editor's note: at present, Vodafone have not confirmed any release of the 904)

The Sharp 904 clearly follows on from the excellent Sharp 902 and Sharp 903 devices in design, with a swivelling screen in a quite large clamshell design. It certainly looks to be a better presented handset than the somewhat disappointing 903 model, but the most significant improvement with the Vodafone 904SH / Sharp 904 is the screen.

Amazingly, the display in the Sharp 904 is a VGA resolution device (480x640 pixels) measuring 2.4" diagonally (61mm approximately). This has more than four times the pixel count of the QVGA (240x320 pixels) display found in the 903 and 902 models. We believe that this is the highest density display so far on a mobile handset.

As with the 903, the Sharp 904 / Vodafone 904SH features a 3.2 megapixel camera with 2X optical zoom. There's Bluetooth and expandable memory using miniSD cards, twin speakers and a secondary camera for video calling.

There are a few other unusual features with the Sharp 904 / Vodafone 904SH though. One of these is the 3D motion sensor which can work out which way the handset is pointing and moving. Vodafone say that this is useful with services such as their Vodafone Live! NAVI service, available in Japan, which allows for location-based services - although it is not clear how this actually works. One obvious application for motion sensors would be in gaming. Vodafone will install Japanese versions of the handset with an application that will help identify star constellations. Quite how useful this feature will be in real life is debatable.

 Sharp 904 Another novel feature is an inbuilt security system that works by face recognition. The Sharp 904 / Vodafone 904SH can scan the user's face using the video calling camera and this can help to prevent unauthorised usage.. assuming that the system works.

The Sharp 904 also supports local area chat using Bluetooth, comes with a WAP browser, email client, e-wallet, various games and multimedia playback applications, plus some rather more esoteric features such as a comic book viewer and karaoke application.

The feature set on the Sharp 904 certainly looks a bit strange to European eyes, and it's probably the case that Sharp have included a lot of these applications simply because they can. This is not a new thing, the Sharp 902 includes a barcode scanner and optical character recognition package, and the Sharp V602SH included a dog bark translator. It's quite likely that any European release of this handset will be a little more conservative when it comes to applications.

The Vodafone 904SH certainly seems to be a nicely designed handset. In our view, the 903 was a bit dull, but this phone appears to be a much more attractive design. In Japan, the 904SH will be available in a pale Blue, Violet and Black colour scheme.

Physically, the Sharp 904 measures 104x50x28mm and weighs 151 grams, so it's quite a large device. Talktime on 3G is around 3 hours with 15 days standby time. In addition to UMTS 2100 (3G), it supports GSM 900/1800/1900 with GPRS, meaning that the Vodafone 904SH can be used pretty much anywhere in the world.

Vodafone say that the 904SH will be available in Japan from April 2006. There's no word on a European release, but it is very likely that a version of this handset will be made available there, following on from the 902 and 903 devices.

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Sharp 904 / Vodafone 904SH at a glance

Available:

Q2 2006

Network:

UMTS 2100 + GSM 900/1800/1900

Data:

UMTS (3G)

Screen:

480x640 pixels. 262k colours (main)

Camera:

3.2 megapixels (main)

Size:

Carge clamshell
104x50x28mm / 151 grams

Bluetooth:

Yes

Infra-red:

Yes

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Yes

Battery life:

3 hours talk / 15 days standby

 

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