What do Steven Fry, Elton John and the guy who played Sam Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings have in common? The answer is that they could be part of the reason why Orange's 3G network coverage is so poor. During testing of the Sanyo S750, I had great difficulty getting a steady 3G signal in the three main locations I was in, namely at home, in Hertfordshire, in the office, in Ascot and believe it or not, in central London. My thinking is that if Orange had invested the money into getting its 3G network right, instead of paying celebrities huge sums for ads, it might have a more reliable network.
These issues certainly made it difficult for me to come away with a positive impression of the S750, Sanyo’s very first phone for Europe. As a first effort, it’s not too bad, though it has to be said straight away that the large aerial is a real turn-off in the style stakes – and it certainly didn’t seem to improve reception.
What’s immediately noticeable about the S750 is its large screen, which totally dominates the front. It's an impressive 2.4in diagonally, the largest I’ve ever seen on a mobile phone. It also sports QVGA resolution and 262,144 colours and for looking at pictures and navigating it’s one of the best screens around.
The design is also notable for the fact that there's no number pad immediately visible with a central key surrounded by four directional keys and two keys either side sitting underneath the screen. The number pad in fact slides down from underneath the phone when required. However, it’s rather awkward and can’t easily be done one handed. It also makes the phone rather thick, and at 108 x 50 x 22 mm and 122g, it’s not the smallest phone in the world. It will definitely make its presence felt in a jeans pocket. The silver finish on the front is smart but the rest of it looks dull and it has a bit of a plasticky feel to it.
Navigation is straightforward. Down the left hand side of the screen are five icons that provide access to the address book, call list, messages, a schedule and a link direct to the Orange World home page, which (theoretically) provides access to the 3G services. Press the menu soft key and you get the usual arrangement of icons to choose from. The interface is functional and speedy but a little on the drab side, with no animations, which is not what you’d expect from a supposedly cutting edge phone.