My Impressions of the Mitsubishi G310
The following review covers the Mitsubishi G310 phone offered by Fido.

Last Updated: 26-Oct-2001

Disclaimer: The following review represents my personal opinion. No bench testing was performed on this or any phone reviewed on my web page. If you don't agree with something I say, you are certainly welcome to politely bring it to my attention (in public or private). However, any out-and-out insults or flames will be ignored.

For better or for worse, the new Mitsubishi G310 will inevitably be compared with the G75 model that Fido offered in 1999. Even I began my test of the G310 with a certain degree of skepticism, brought about by the extremely poor showing of the late (and rather unlamented) G75. However, I would like to begin this review by saying that the G310 is light-years better than the previous Mitsubishi model.

General Features

In terms of size, the G310 is remarkably similar to the Nokia 5190/6190. When placed side-by-side, the phones are the same height, the same width, and virtually the same thickness. The G310 tips scales at approximately 5.1 ounces, which is virtually identical to the 5190. However, I found the rounded contours of the G310 to be more comfortable in my hand than the Nokia.

The phone comes with a 1000 mAh nickel metal hydride battery, which is slightly more capacious than the 900 mAh nickel metal hydride battery that Nokia ships with the 5190. Battery life on the Mitsubishi is excellent, and slightly better than the 5190 (which one would expect from the slightly larger battery). During my evaluation of the phone, I was never able to run the battery down in a single day, even after large quantities of on-air testing. 

The phone features a pixel matrix display of approximately the same density and dimensions as the one on the 5190. Like the Nokia, the Mitsubishi makes heavy use of icons and proportional fonts. However, I don't believe that the fonts used in the Mitsubishi are as handsome as those used in the Nokia, but under many circumstances I found them much easier to read. Most of the icons on the Mitsubishi are animated, as is now common with many new phones, but I did not find that particularly useful.

Unlike the 5190, the Mitsubishi includes a standard 2.5 mm headset jack. That means you can buy virtually any industry-standard headset, and use it with the G310 without also having to buy a balky adapter. Your only other option with the Nokia phone is to purchase a headset designed specifically for it.

User Interface

The menu structure on the Mitsubishi is very similar to the menu structure of the Nokia. However, Mitsubishi failed to provide numeric shortcuts, which means that you have to work your way through the menus to find a specific item. The Nokia excels in this area, since you can quickly go to any menu item using a 1- to 4-digit number.

After getting used to the 4-direction navigation button, I found it much easier to whiz through the menus, and make selections than on the Nokia. This ease-of-use somewhat offsets the lack of numeric shortcuts, but I still believe that the G310 would benefit greatly from their inclusion.

The G310 provides the familiar inbox/outbox/write message approach to SMS. It provide a quick single-key access to that menu, so text messages are easier to reach on the Mitsubishi than they are on the Nokia. I also liked the arrangement of the inbox and outbox better than I did on the Nokia.

Each message is displayed in a summary form when you first enter the inbox or outbox. That summary gives you the first line of the message (along with the date, time, and senderís phone number), thus allowing you to more readily identify it. The Nokia only provides a summary list of the phone numbers from which the messages were sent. If all your messages arrive from the same location (such as Dogphone) then they will all look alike on the 5190.

I was extremely pleased to find that the Mitsubishi phone provided separate TALK and END keys. I have never been a huge fan of the single-button concept as executed on the 5190. That same concept is used on other phones, including the new V2282 from Motorola. It is supposed to help beginners, but I know from watching my parents struggle with it that it only confuses them. However, I will grant you that it's more a matter of personal taste than anything else.

Perhaps the most glaring omission in the G310 is the lack of a clock. Not only does that mean you canít use your phone as a watch substitute; it also means that entries in the call log are not date-and-time stamped. Note that SMS messages do include dates and times, since these are sent from the network. The call log does record the duration of the call, however.

Sound Quality and RF Performance

Everything I've said up to this point is, in my opinion, only a minor consideration when it comes to purchasing a phone. I always given phones top marks if they perform well in two specific areas: RF performance and audio quality. Although the original G75 had fairly decent RF characteristics, it sounded utterly horrible. The new G310 was an eye-opener for me, since it is probably the best sounding phone I've ever placed against my ear (up to the time of the original test).

The G310 also does an exceptional job of taming background noise. Now before we both end up on completely different tracks, let me explain what background noise I am referring to. Microcell Connexions has an unfortunate habit of transmitting strange raspy hiss-like sounds in the background of many calls. I once believed it was a fault in my 6190, but I have since heard it on every other Fido phone that I've ever tested, to one extent or another. The G310 does a better job of suppressing that noise than any of the other GSM phone tested.

I have since handed the "best audio" honor over to the Motorola P280, which also has marked better RF and handoff handling, plus is has much higher earpiece volume. However, the P280 costs $550, so it isn't in the same ballpark as the G310. For its price, the G310 is a fantastically good-sounding phone.

In the RF department, the G310 appeared quite good at first, but a few problems cropped during long term testing. It seems to have trouble reliably receiving calls when the signals are weak (though not non-existent). Other phones do a markedly better job in this respect. It also produces some of the messiest handoffs I've heard in a long time, and it appears to handoff more frequently than other phones. In countless side-by-side comparisons with a 6190, the G310 handed off at least 100% more often, thus subjecting its user to the annoyingly poor handoff interruptions more than he needs to.

Although it is no more capable of pulling in weak signals than is the 5190, it does a markedly better job when it is placed in your pocket. The 5190 and 6190 have a horrible problem when they are placed in a shirt pocket. Both can lose upwards of 10 dB of signal when you do that. This can make an enormous difference between getting service, and getting no service. The G310, while not absolutely perfect, only loses a couple of dB when placed in a shirt pocket with a retracted antenna. Now that's assuming it doesn't miss an incoming call even though it says there is service.

Summary

So, do I think the G310 is the best thing since sliced bread? Absolutely not, but I do believe it is a far better phone than many people will ever give it credit for, especially for its price. Fido is practically giving these phones away (to new subscribers, they actually are), so in terms of price-performance ratio, it's really hard to find anything that comes remotely close.

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