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(Pocket-lint) - 3G is supposed to offer you’re the world at your fingertips, albeit through a mobile phone, but when that phone happens to be the size of a house brick you have to question what is going wrong.

It’s early days for Toshiba in the phone market in the UK and unfortunately you can see it clearly from the TS 921. Like NEC when it launched its first 3G handset in the UK last year, the phone is a mammoth anti-mugging device. Its large rugged look may work in Japan where it was originally conceived, but we aren’t having any of it.

The problem seems to stems from a design and form factor that’s out of date to anyone outside an army. There is nothing overtly wrong with the phone, in fact it actually has some good things going for it, which we will come to later.

The problem is that since its conception the market has moved on like a speeding bullet train. Had this phone launched a year ago, I’m sure we would have patted Toshiba on the back and said “nice try, shame it’s a bit large, but then aren’t all 3G models at the moment”.

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As it is however, we’ve just finished playing with the two 3G phones that put this model to shame. The Sharp 903H with its 3 megapixel camera and the ultra small Samsung Z500, both of which only help date this model even more.

So what do you get? First off, you’ll probably be getting a feeling of déjà vu. Why? Because this phone, although Toshiba swear blind that there is no connection, looks incredibly like the Sharp 902H. There are a few subtle differences like the rotation of the swivel screen and the megapixel count in the camera, but the similarities are amazing.

Perhaps Japan KK - the Japanese arm of Vodafone, gave them the same brief and both companies just so happened to come back with virtually identical phones but the lay of the land for us doesn’t lie quite right.

Aside from the form factor, the phone sports a 1.92 megapixel camera (not the 2 megapixel found in the Sharp) and a crisp screen on which to view everything.

As this is another Vodafone exclusive (again like the Sharp), the menu system follows Vodafone’s usual format and it’s simple and easy to navigate around the phone’s features. There are so many features however, that sometimes you can get slightly overwhelmed.

Take the vibration settings for example. Surely one is enough for the average user, except the TS921 has four different options for you to select in case you want that authentic “hanging on by a pneumatic drill” feeling in your trouser pocket every time your phone rings.


All we can hope is that it's early days from Toshiba. Because if this is what we should expect in the future then the company isn't going to do very well.

The mobile phone market moves at an incredible speed, only last year we were getting excited about 1 megapixel camera phones and now that's so passé. This is a prime example of how a company can be outmanoeuvred before you can say “outmanoeuvred”.

I only hoped we had moved on from this.

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 21 August 2005.