Mobile Phone Review Round Up: Vodafone 555 Blue, Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini, HTC Evo 3D, BlackBerry Bold 9900, Samsung Galaxy Pro, Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro
Perfect for those who want a nice-looking handset and minimal networking capabilities without any contract commitment – plus love to spend as much time as possible on Facebook. For those looking for a more media-based experience, however, you won’t find it with the Vodafone 555 Blue.
In today’s smartphone-enlightened times, we’re expecting more even for the price. Unless your three favourite things are Facebook, phoning and texting, you’ll want more from your handset.
We’re pleasantly surprised at how usable and responsive the Xperia Mini is. The 1GHz processor means web pages are drawn and scrolled pretty quickly, while gaming and app performance is also good.
The user interface customisations are really nice as well, with Sony Ericsson’s sweeping visual changes bringing the best out of Android – and adding in plenty of new usability and social options.
In terms of value for money, it’s a decent option. The 3" screen is a little limiting if you’re into mobile media and gaming, but the phone itself is a glitch-free, user-friendly little marvel you won’t end up hating.
There are more capable Android phones available for less money, but none that are as pocketable and enjoyable to use as the Xperia Mini.
It depends how you look at the HTC Evo 3G when deciding on a rating; in a vacuum it’s a tremendous phone with a cool extra 3D element. It’s pricey, sure, but it’s only the same price as the iPhone 4, and on some contracts, a bit cheaper than that.
But then you notice the HTC Sensation, which in every way is its superior (except for maybe battery life) – thinner, lighter, more stylish, brighter screen… the list goes on.
With that in mind, and HTC’s reticence to give us any indication of how to use the 3D for gaming or movies, plus the higher cost, we’ll have to say we’re hugely disappointed with the Evo 3D. If HTC decides to bless us with decent content via Watch or a download 3D games, we’ll bump it up a star or so – but if that never happens, this phone will fall quickly into the ‘cool, but not much point’ category.
If you’re desperate for a 3D phone, check out the LG Optimus 3D – and it’s been a long time since we’ve recommended an LG over an HTC phone.
The Bold 9900 is likely to have plenty of appeal among existing BlackBerry fans. It’s undoubtedly one of the best phones RIM has made, thanks to its robust design, speedy processor and fast OS. Essentially, it’s a quicker and more refined version of what has gone before and, for many BlackBerry fans, that will be enough.
But the 9900 just isn’t that exciting compared to similarly priced Android handsets or the iPhone 4. Its text-heavy menus are likely to be a turn-off for those not used to the BlackBerry OS, and its so-so camera and small screen mean it’s no multimedia star. The lack of compelling content in the app store is also a downer. Overall, you get the sense that RIM is preaching to the converted with the Bold 9900.
While the Samsung Galaxy Pro’s keyboard is a joy to use, the rest of the phone feels like an exercise in compromise. The low-resolution screen makes small text almost unreadable, and the handset’s overall performance is anything but sprightly.
Arguably, the most successful Android Qwerty phone is the Facebook-focused HTC ChaCha. The ChaCha offers better software, looks and build quality than the Galaxy Pro. It’s also more expensive, but the additional cash is worth it if you’re absolutely hell-bent on having the BlackBerry feel with your Android phone.
If you’re shopping on a budget and still crave those lovely buttons, then the Galaxy Pro is one of your best options, but we’d recommend you seriously consider jumping fully into the realm of the touchscreen. Even physical buttons aren’t enough to justify the concessions you’re forced to make with a phone like the Galaxy Pro.
Sony Ericsson has done a good job with the Mini Pro. The company has clearly gone and learnt some pretty serious lessons from mistakes made with prior hardware releases. Just about every single niggle and problem the old Xperia range had has now been cleared up and Sony Ericsson now finally has a few decent handsets to be proud of.
Those in the market for something affordable, fun and QWERTY-packing can’t go wrong with the Mini Pro, it performed admirably in day-to-day Android tasks. We can’t help but feel, however, that Sony Ericsson now has too many value-orientated handsets in its lineup. Short of wanting a physical keyboard, it is difficult to know why exactly you would choose the Xperia Mini Pro over any of the other similarly performing and priced Android offerings. The handset feels slightly like part of a larger, feature phone family rather than something unique. We think that if Sony Ericsson had really devoted lots of time to the Mini, it could have been a really brilliant and affordable piece of hardware.
The Mini Pro comes so close to being one of the best affordable Android phones out there. It’s a shame then that it falls short in the materials and design department. Things are just the wrong side of plasticky and the handset itself needs to go on a bit of a diet in order to feel like it is truly mini.
Faults aside though, the keyboard is great and those in need of a device with a proper physical input could do a lot worse than the Xperia Mini Pro.
The best BlackBerry Bold ever? Perhaps it is. The core features of BlackBerry are still compelling, the keyboard will let you skip over keys rattling out messages, with a rock of the thumb here and a glancing prod there, in ways that only BlackBerry users understand.
The addition of a touchscreen does make a difference, but the overall experience isn’t a huge evolution from BB6. Whilst BB7 is familiar, there isn’t much here that really drives things forward into the competitive arena. The camera results are behind the rivals, the app offering still has holes in it and sometimes the touch response slopes off. It isn’t a multimedia timewaster in the way that the latest phone from Samsung or HTC is, it’s core offering is communication, in which it mostly excels, but it’s in the extras where it doesn’t make huge progress.
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is a device that will appeal greatly to die hard BlackBerry fans, returning the Bold to a premium look and a size that makes a little more sense than the 9700 models. Business users will find themselves with a more interactive device and a better browsing experience, but outside of keyboard and email experience, consumers may find they get a lot more smartphone for their money elsewhere.
The Bold 9900 is a very fast, very capable BlackBerry, but it’s essentially still the same device that RIM has been selling for years, with a few improvements to keep it up to date. If you like BlackBerry handsets, you’ll love it, but it’s unlikely to win over many new fans.
Powerful, slim and great to use, the Bold 9900 is outstanding, with touchscreen and QWERTY working together well