Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
12/12/2011 3:54:48 PM
Cheap, easy to use and a solid sounding music player
Poor camera, no video recording and finger print attracting facade
Virgin Mobile’s own brand of crustacean monikered handsets have always inhabited the low end of the budget market and its latest model, the 621 is no exception. At £15 on prepay, this music phone is ideal for these credit crunch times and, while it may be light on the pocket, it actually weighs in with some pretty decent features.
This Lobster is essentially the Alcatel OT-S621 re-badged. At 69g, it’s incredibly lightweight with a slimline 10.9mm profile. Thankfully, despite lacking any solid heft it doesn’t creak like some phones at this level. The mirrored finish also gives it a funky look – although it does attract finger smears like shopaholics to the January sales – and its soft rear cover has a satisfyingly tactile feel.
The 1.8-inch screen is a standard issue 128x160 pixel resolution and is bright, but lacks clarity. The menu system is also straightforward and has no unexpected quirks to confuse you. Similarly, despite looking fiddly and highly reminiscent of the Sony Ericsson W880i arrangement, the 621’s tiny, tab like keypad proved great to thumb.
The 621’s main attraction is its music player with dedicated controls integrated into the five way navigation pad. The left sided soft key fires up the player and also lets you sort through your library by all songs, playlists, album, artists and genre – all pretty straightforward, really. However, we do have one gripe, and this is that songs in the album option are played in alphabetical order as opposed to tracklist order, which is the norm.
With no bundled USB cable, transferring your tracks onto the phone is down to a microSD. If you have a card reader and slot on your PC then this won’t be a problem as you can just drag and drop your existing tunes onto the card.
Unsurprisingly, the 621 doesn’t come with a microSD card, so you’ll need to invest in one. You can pick up a 2GB version (that’s around 500 good quality MP3s or AAC files) for around £7 on Play.com, and we’re pleased to say that when we tested the 621 with an 8GB card it didn’t slow down its performance.
With the songs now on board you can tinker with its eight mode equaliser to adapt the sound. We found the bass option gave the audio more meat and it sounded surprisingly rounded through the supplied headphones, if a tad quiet with certain genres such as acoustic music.
As anticipated, there’s no integrated 3.5mm headphone jack or adapter so you’re stuck with the bundled pair. However, it does support Stereo Bluetooth for wireless streaming of music to compatible headphones.
Despite packing some cool photo mods like timer, night mode, white balance, colour mode and hotkey shortcuts, the fixed 1.3-megapixel snapper is just mediocre. It’s woeful in low light and indoors, and really only good for MMS duties – emphasised by the phone automatically asking if you want to send one after every capture. Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t stretch to recording video. Web browsing is confined to a basic WAP setup and although download speeds only reach GPRS, it’s perfectly adequate for snappily rendering simple pages.
Considering its low cost we didn’t really expect much more than a basic talk and text phone. However, the Lobster 621 proved otherwise, with excellent music performance and a cool design that will appeal to the pocket money strapped, younger crowd.