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Smaller than a credit card the VX1i is light on the purse too with fully unlocked pay-as-you-go phones retailing from as low as £20. The pictures looked promising so I decided to take an in-depth look at this miniature mobile phone.

VX1iThe VX1i is being promoted as a secondary mobile phone to be taken when you can't be asked to carry a bulky or expensive phone around. Manufactured by a company called BlueChip, the phone boasts a tiny size (50mm x 80mm x 10mm), light-weight, glossy black front with crisp plastic buttons, 5-button joystick, a mini (30mm x 15mm) monochrome display, white backlight for the display and cool blue backlight for the buttons, phonebook, alarm clock, calculator, profiles, 5 hours talktime and a sturdy build.

The phone comes boxed in a clear flexible plastic shell.

Inside the box you find the phone, the charger, instruction manual and the battery. The phone measures 50mm across and 80mm vertically, which makes it slightly smaller than a credit card. However it is 10mm thick, which is slightly disappointing for a phone this size. The phone feels sturdy and light. The build quality is good and in no way feels cheap.

The phone provides a mini-USB charging port, which means it can also be charged from any USB port if the supplied charger is not available at hand. Unfortunately this USB port is only for charging and a computer does not detect the phone as a USB device. So there is no USB data connectivity.

The battery compartment opens at the back where you can insert a SIM card and the battery. The SIM card slot itself is not idiot-proof and you could insert the SIM the wrong way round, but a helpful picture guides you in getting it right. The battery is rated 450mAh, 3.7v and fits in snugly.

Press the power button for a few seconds and the phone quickly comes to life and in less than 10 seconds you are ready to go. The device has no problems picking up carrier signal and shows signal levels at full strength.


The software on the phone seems extremely responsive. The display while small is very crisp and well spaced out making it easy to read the text. The phone does not feature automatic initial setup, so you must navigate and correct the date/time yourself initially. All of the buttons are well spaced out and reassuringly crisp. The joystick has 4 directional buttons and the centre button doubles as an accept button making it easy to use with the thumb and very comfortable overall.


The software on the phone adds good value to the basic set of features the phone has. The phonebook holds 100 numbers plus SIM card memory is also available. Search and speed dial functions are provided with the phonebook. SMS allows comprehensive customization with ability to define message centre, validity period and status reports. SMS storage is however limited to SIM card capacity of around 25. SMS composition uses predictive text which can be turned off by pressing the # key. Call records save outgoing, incoming and missed calls and also call durations. A basic calculator and three separate alarm slots are also available.

The settings menu allows changing phone, network and clock settings. You can change LCD contrast, backlight timing, language (English or French), PIN code, date format, keypad autolock timing, setup call waiting and choose from and customize four different profiles (Standard, Conference, Outdoor and Mute). There are 9 ringtones and 4 SMS tones built-in to choose from. The phone does not have a vibrator but the ringer is pretty loud. The ringtones also double up as alarm tones for the alarm clock. The 4 directional buttons on the joystick can be customized to lead quickly to Inbox, Phonebook, Calls or Alarm.

In terms of call quality the results were good. The call could be heard clearly by both parties. I did find that the listening volume on the VX1i was a bit low and would be easily drowned out in a noisy environment. The only way to combat this was to switch it to speakerphone (handsfree) mode.

What was missed

The phone claims to be small, which it is, except for the 10mm thickness. For the slim featureset it provides it makes you wonder if it could have been thinner. Besides it lacks additional memory for SMS storage, relying on the SIM card for memory. There is no way to adjust listening volume during a conversation (A reader has pointed out this can be done using the left and right navigation keys). Presence of Bluetooth support would have been a major plus and perhaps a colour display may not be too much to ask for.

Features

Talktime (upto) 5 hrs
Standby (upto) 90 hrs
Size 50mm x 80mm x 10mm
Weight 47g
Display Size 30mm x 15mm
Touch Screen No
Display Colour Depth 1-bit (black)
Bandwidth GSM 900/1800
Vibration Alert No
SMS Yes
MMS No
Memory Card Compatible No
Calendar No
Internet Browser No
Email No
Calculator Yes
Speakerphone Yes
Bluetooth No


Conclusion

The VX1i is designed for making calls. It is a phone and absolutely nothing else. It will suit those who do not want all the hyped features of today's phones. It is conveniently sized and easy to use without any complex controls or extra buttons. In terms of hardware it feels slightly lacking. The software on it however is brilliant and provides a host of settings and customizations. Overall the phone provides excellent comfort combined with ease of use and can be easily recommended as a backup phone for emergencies plus is fun to carry around on night outs.

Where to buy

This phone is currently available from MyMemory for under £20 here.

Competitors

Price wise you wont get a better deal than this. But if you are looking for more features for the same size check out the LG GD510 POP.




Comments


  1. by Anonymous (not verified)

    You say in the 'what was missed' that "There is no way to adjust listening volume during a conversation" I have discovered that while on a call, you adjust it by pressing the left or right of the d-pad, this also applies to the speaker phone function (which incidentally is accessible by pressing 'options' while on a call). An in-depth review - Thanks.


  2. by Anonymous (not verified)

    I've just bought one for £9.45 at Tesco. Really like its simplicity.