Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
2/2/2012 3:12:58 PM
For a phone of this standing to have a video camera deserves some credit
Though you can top us the measly 11MB of onboard memory with a microSD card, you will need to remove the battery to do so
Orange has received all manner of plaudits for its credit crunch-busting San Francisco handset. Continuing the American city theme, they’ve followed this device up with the equally affordable Orange Atlanta, which again is built by Chinese manufacturer ZTE. However, while the Android-powered San Francisco packed a touch-screen and offered an array of features, the Atlanta takes a far more simplistic approach.
With its classic candybar form factor, the Atlanta reminded us of our first ever mobile. This is no bad thing, leaving us with a real sense of nostalgia. Taking up just under half of the front of the device is a traditional alphanumeric keyboard, which sits underneath the D-pad that acts as the central navigation tool with a four-way directional movement and a central button that acts as the Confirm key.
The keys are plastic but don’t feel as tacky as on other low-cost handsets. They’re only slightly raised but enough pressure is needed for each key press to make for an enjoyable and accurate typing experience. All the keys are self-explanatory, though it’s worth mentioning the multitasking key that sits just above the number ‘1’. No matter what feature or application you are using, press this key and you’ll bring up a row of seven shortcuts to various features (such as the camera or browser) that can be scrolled through via the D-pad. Unfortunately, you can’t edit which shortcuts appear in this list, but it’s a nice time saver all the same.
Sitting above the keypad (with a centimetre gap between them) is the display. At 2.4 inches, there’s plenty of scope for text to be squeezed in when you’re bashing out your emails and SMSes. Despite its entry-level billing, the display impressed in terms of clarity. It’s not the most colourful and the ‘green’ theme left us feeling slightly nauseous (we quickly reverted back to the default setting that is predominantly orange, of course) but text and icons are clear. Before we delve under the bonnet of the phone, we should also highlight how light the Atlanta is, weighing in at just 84g. This is one handset that won’t weigh you down.
The internet experience is a mixed bag. You’re limited to browsing at 3G speeds with no HSDPA or Wi-Fi and though we’ve just been lauding the size of the display, its thinness and lack of accelerometers means it’s not ideal for browsing the web. That said, if you’re after a quick news update then it serves its purpose admirably. You can also save specific webpages, enabling you to read the latest football report on your commute on the London Underground, for example.
As you might expect from a phone of this calibre, features are few and far between. There’s a music player that packs a punch in terms of sound when played through the loud speakers, and there’s even a 3.5mm jack nicely positioned at the top of the handset for a more personal experience. Our only gripe is that with just 11MB of on-board memory, if you’re serious about using the phone as a music device you’ll need to invest in a memory card. However, since you need to remove the battery to access the microSD slot, you won’t be able to hot swap.
The other noteworthy feature is the camera. We say noteworthy, but in truth it’s mediocre at best. The two-megapixel snapper struggles to maintain colour and it merely reminded us how far camera phones have progressed. Yet it was refreshing to find a video camera – something usually omitted from a phone at this price point. Again, the quality’s not great, but props for including it nonetheless.
Orange is fast becoming the network to turn to in the affordable prepay market. The Atlanta may be lacking the OS and features found in the San Francisco, but when you take into account that it’s available for half the amount, it more than holds its own.