Panasonic X60

5 Aug 2004

Product: Mobile phone
Price: €199-€209

There’s a lot of fuss associated with buying a mobile phone today. After at least six years of mobile phones being commonplace in this country, you can guarantee that today’s mobile buyer is likely to be a very discerning customer with a full list of desires and needs. Does it support multimedia messaging (MMS)? Does it play polyphonic ringtones? Can I go on the internet with it? What size camera does it have? The list goes on.

As a journalist that gets to see many of the latest devices, the ‘wow factor’ just doesn’t really exist for me anymore – I only want a mobile phone that can do two things: make phone calls and send text messages. The advent of camera phones has certainly added a certain lustre to my jaded views but a phone is still simply a communications device to me. To the despair of marketing teams at many mobile phone companies I am, therefore, a hard-to-impress reviewer at the best of times.

When I unpacked the Panasonic X60 the first thing I noticed was that it was perhaps the tiniest clamshell phone I have ever used. This was swiftly followed by a fear of accidentally losing the device; you know, leaving it behind somewhere, dropping it and so on. I had a phone stolen once and for a few days I experienced the sense of loss, outrage and anxiety that the modern phenomenon of having a phone stolen induces.

A typical clamshell device, the X60 is almost identical to other manufacturers’ clamshell phones in the Vodafone Live! range, yet it is only about half their size and is just as features rich. Panasonic confidently trumpet it as the most compact camera phone in the world. Having seen little evidence elsewhere to contradict such a bold statement, I am inclined to believe it.

The phone combines a 65,536-colour display screen; a built-in digital camera; MMS; 16-polyphonic ringtones and Java capability. The device also offers access to the Vodafone Live! mobile content services so that users can download all the latest ringtones and games.

I have no complaints about operational aspects of the X60 as it does everything I would expect from a clamshell phone. My only problem was locating its T9 predictive text function for speed text writing. Sadly, I still haven’t located it as I write this review so that’s one black mark for the X60.

Otherwise, as the Panasonic spokesman I spoke to said, the phone appears to be a “massive hit with ladies”. Women are buying it in larger numbers than men as it’s not really a man’s phone. As a colleague rightly pointed out, men will struggle with this phone – typing on the X60 is potentially disastrous, with men’s sausage-like fingers requiring a lesson in dexterity and generating occasional frustration. For example, I sometimes hit two buttons at a time.

The X60 is a funky little device that is deservedly enjoying its enthusiastic adoption. The device can be bought at any Vodafone store for €209 including Vat or online for €199.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years