Orange Barcelona in-depth review -

Look and feel

The Barcelona is an Android 2.2 powered hybrid beast, packing both a QWERTY keyboard and touch-screen. It's slim and light thanks to its plastic chassis, while still feeling firm and solid.

Ease of use

The tiny 2.6-inch screen is a bit cramped, but it's capacitive so doesn't demand strong fingers to use. The keyboard is tightly packed and it'll take a while before you're writing fluff-free emails, but soon enough you'll be jumping back and forth between the two interfaces with ease.

Features

Impressive for a phone in this price range - with email, web, GPS, FM radio, 3.2 megapixel (flash-less) camera, Wi-Fi, 3G, UMA signal boost -and 400,000 apps to download. You get a lot of bang for your buck.

Performance

A solid show indeed - the QWERTY keyboard in particular is excellent for email, but the tiny screen is a bit cramped giving an unsatisying web experience.

Battery life

It's a smartphone so it's not going to last an eternity - and the Wi-Fi and GPS will suck the battery senseless. You'll get about a day with average usage.

 Orange Barcelona Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,2/2/2012 3:13:03 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

6

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Nice build, good keyboard, most of the key Android features at a lower price

Cons:

The screen, while capacitive, is just too tiny to serve all the phone?s features

The range of phones combining a touch-screen and QWERTY keyboard is a fairly new one, but these days we can’t even visit the loo without returning to find a new contender in the field sprawled across our desk, shouting at us to “touch me!” and “type me!” like two lovers inviting you in for a Ménage à trois.

Acer recently unleashed the beTouch E210, a low-end Android phone that did an admirable job but one that floundered due to the finicky, resistive screen. And here we have Orange’s tilt at the genre, a Huawei Boulder dripped through Orange’s branding filter. Like most Android handsets in this bargain-bucket price range, it’s stirred using the 2.2 Froyo OS, so you’ll be able to download all of the 400,000 apps available (that might take you a while, though).

 

Structurally sound

The Barcelona measures up at 63x115x9.9mm and, thanks to its plastic suit, weighs a feathery 115g - this is a phone so trim it’d squeeze into a size zero dress. Connectivity is phenomenally impressive for a phone that costs £100 – signal boosting UMA connects it to your local Wi-Fi to beef signal clout, 3G and GPS.

Screening process

Unlike Acer’s effort, which houses a cheap resistive touch-screen that demands heavy pressure to activate, the Barcelona comes with the much-preferred capacitive sort for a more light-fingered experience. But like the beTouch E210, the screen is a piddling 2.6 inches, a size that is just too small for most of the features this phone coughs up. If you’re used to swiping your fingers across an iPhone or a full-screen Android handset then you’ll find this a cramped and restrictive ordeal, almost like trying to play an accordion while handcuffed and trapped in a coffin. But if this is your first venture into smartphone territory, you’ll clearly be less alarmed by the cramped conditions.

Just below the screen is a panel housing the standard Android quartet of Home, Menu, Back and Search, plus the Call, Send and End keys and a fluid navigation pad, all solid and nice enough to use. The keyboard is good enough for writing the emails it was built for, but with barely an atom between keys, it does take a bit of practise before gobbledygook creeps into your intended literary masterpiece. The keys are domed to help your thumb tips find their own way around.

The Barcelona also comes with a 3.2-megapixel camera, which unsurprisingly doesn’t have a flash. To expect more at this price range would be ludicrously naive, and it’ll come in handy as back up if your normal camera runs out of juice.

The verdict

Although we remain unconvinced that a touch-screen serves much purpose at 2.6-inches, if you’re after a budget phone with high-end connectivity, a tidy (if tight) QWERTY keyboard and want to get yourself on the Android ladder, for £100 you simply can do no better.

Dan Curley