Apart from Nokia and perhaps Ericsson, phones are becoming rather bland. Bland in that they are not only grey, but are all starting to look the same. Panasonic's latest phone the x70 unfortunately suffers from the same fate.
Following on from the GD87, the x70 purports to be 20% smaller than its predecessor, but still looks like a cross between Sharp's GX10 and any of Samsung's flip phones. It's so similar that the x70 doesn't really pack that much of a punch in the style ratings. The front offers a camera with "photolight", and a thin mono LCD screen that when it's not presenting info on battery life and caller id doubles up as an analogue phone.
Flip the lid and you'd be forgiven for thinking you were using one of the aforementioned models by a different manufacturer. The colour screen is visually bright, large (132 x 176 pixels) and easy to see. Shortcut keys for quick access to the camera, menu and contacts book are all there and everything is controlled with a D-pad and two option buttons.
Open the menu system and whilst you won't see any operating system that you recognise like Symbian or PocketPC, it's easy to navigate around with icons clearly representing what they do. However delving deeper finds strange categorisations. For example the Bluetooth connectivity options are found in the Organiser sub-menu.
The camera's low light feature is supposed to illuminate the subject in low-light conditions and while this helps a little, it it's hardly as powerful as a flash. Likewise images were fine when viewed on-screen, but do show their weakness when displayed on a desktop.
On the surface the games area seems brimming with games to play and all have been chosen to show off the screen's strengths. However, the phone isn't enabled with java and so can't play the latest games you can download. It's a strange omission to a phone that is trying to be cutting edge and this combined with the lack of a mainstream OS will surely only hinder the phone in the long run.
With the GD87 and GD88 forging such a strong place in the market when they were launched the x70 comes across as the next step rather than something that will blow you away. Unfortunately while as a phone this unit performs okay, in this current market, okay isn't really good enough.