The French, by reputation, are no strangers to beauty. They speak a beautiful language, eat beautiful food and enjoy the company of beautiful French women (Audrey Tautou, anyone?). It comes as no surprise then that French OEM Sagem have produced a beautiful looking mobile phone in the my411x.
Made from a stiff, white plastic, the my411x looks similar to the 3 Skypephone we saw recently. However, unlike the flimsy 3 phone, the my411x feels far more sturdy. For interest, Sagem have added an attractive metallic-aqua coloured strip around the phone's edge which is disturbed only by the charging port at the bottom and three media control keys on the left side.
The keypad is tight-packed but easy to use, and again looks quite nice. On the back of the phone is the lens for the 0.3-megapixel camera. Overall the handset has a pleasing simplicity.
Out of respect for us hard working mobile phone reviewers, Sagem has given us the day off by including very few features to list. There's the aforementioned camera, an MP3 and AAC music player plus a few basic personal organiser type applications and games. For browsing and content downloads the my411x features GPRS data speeds and a WAP browser, and the internal memory can be expanded by adding a Micro SD card.
We know better than to judge a book by its cover. We quickly overlooked the my411x's lightweight features list when we opened the box to discover the cute, well-designed handset. We just as quickly looked past its attractive shape when the phone powered up and we were met with a dull, lifeless display and drab menu structure. Worst still, glare from the fluorescent lights in our office was bright enough to make it very hard to read the screen. Sacre bleu!
To be fair, for AU$99 QQVGA displays are pretty standard, and other poor performing features, like the 0.3-megapixel camera, are to be expected. Really, the only performance features to examine closely are the voice calls and the messaging, and when the call reception started uniformly breaking up during our tests, the writing was on the wall.
Each call we made suffered poor reception to some degree. At its worst we experienced "black spots" of several seconds during one particular call, during others we heard distortion and crackling. Messaging was much better, though, it's been a long time since any manufacturer struggled with messaging. Sagem employs a T9 predictive text system which is very similar to Nokia's system, allowing us to bash out SMS messages without having to re-learn a new process.
Battery life was excellent. Sagem estimate four hours talk time and 240 hours standby. Our experience was in the vicinity of five days between charges with light to moderate usage. Of coarse, this can be credited to there not being a power-hungry operating system or juice-sucking gadgets like fast data or GPS.
We can't overlook the price tag of Sagem's ultra-budget my411x. For AU$99 you can't expect the world or compare it to phones of 10 times its value.
You should, however, expect excellent mobile phone functionality, and without this the my411x doesn't pass the grade. There are plenty of phones in the sub AU$100 category that get the basics right.