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Sagem’s latest clamshell mobile phone my501C is a user-friendly phone with enough features to keep most people happy.

Sagem claims this phone is all about Paris-fashion, it being a French company and all. However, the design of this phone, while petite, compact and not unattractive is not as fashionably eye-catching as say, Motorola’s D&G phone. But then, it is about a third of the price.

The phone, while not as slim as Motorola’s v3 series of clamshells, is not as wide or long and fits quite easily in the pocket and feels quite comfortable in the hand. The mini-display on the outside of the clamshell is quite hardy and displays the time and any missed calls or message alerts. Presumably, to save battery life, this display switches off automatically after a couple of seconds, but switches on again by pushing the shortcut buttons on the side of the phone.

These shortcut buttons give you one-touch music player access (so you don’t have to open the clamshell to start it up) and also volume control. The wired headphones supplied with the phone are also a little slicker than your average in that they feature a little control pad for the music player as well.

In fact, shortcuts seem to be the name of the game with this phone – there are plenty for you to memorise. Most, however, are fairly intuitive. They are handy because they allow each control key to have a number of different functions depending on whether you give it a long or short press. The keys are nice and precise – not over-sensitive, so it’s hard to press the wrong key accidentally.

The main ‘desktop’ display is quite minimalistic, meaning all the phone’s functions (including your contacts) are accessed via the Menu key. However, you will learn, that there is a shortcut (i.e without selecting menu, then messages etc) to accessing some functions such as writing an SMS or accessing your contacts. You will probably discover these through trial and error (rather than going back to the manual) though as they are, as mentioned earlier, fairly intuitive.

It seems that user-friendliness was a main priority with this phone, because almost each folder (of messages, connectivity, etc) automatically opens up a little help window which briefly describes what you can do in the connectivity section, for example, and how you can do it. In fact these messages are almost a little daggy in how helpful they are!

Connectivity-wise, no problems were encountered – connecting up a Nokia and Motorola Bluetooth headset went off without a hitch (a little helpful message tells you how to do it, if you’re unsure).

The 1.3 megapixel camera worked as well as you might expect – the phone does allow you to shoot in a couple of extra modes such as negative, sepia and black and white. The screen is a reasonable size, considering how small the phone is – with phone numbers displaying quite boldly (no squinting required).

If you want the extra memory, the phone does support microSD memory cards – but you have to lift off the back cover and battery and so on to put it in or remove it. So it is a bit fiddly if you have to do it on the go somewhere.

In terms of battery life, the phone seemed to last about two – three days with mid-range amount of calling, sporadic camera use and some music player use.

Overall a nice-but-basic-looking, compact low – mid range phone that will appeal to those who like things pretty simple, with lots of instructions, and a nice big screen that displays text and numbers largely and clearly.

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Sagem my501C | $300 or $200 with Telstra prepaid | | www.sagem.com.au
For: Quite neat and compact design; full of lots of helpful tips
Against: Have to learn the many shortcuts to save time accessing functions
Verdict: A neat phone that will appeal to those who like things simple

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