Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
2/2/2012 3:13:18 PM
BlackBerry looks for less than half of the price. Covers all the social networking bases
Small, fiddly touch-screen and no Wi-Fi
It's not difficult to see where Orange took its inspiration from when the Rio II was conceived. This cheap and cheerful BlackBerry Curve-a-like is firmly aimed at people for whom keeping in touch with their mates is the top priority. And with this handset, the original Rio has been contoured, given 3G and has as an improved camera to keep the kids happy snappers.
Above the keypad is a large central D-pad much like its fruity doppelgänger. On either side of that you've got call and hang-up keys, a Menu, Options, Back and Mail key. This might seem a little excessive for a phone with a touch-screen, but given that it measures just 2.4 inches and is the less-preferred resistive type, you'll be glad of those hard keys.
There's a customised OS with the usual splattering of Orange about it. It's based around five home screens and allows you a limited selection of shortcuts and widgets. As well as being resistive, the limited screen size means it's only punching 320x240 resolution so you'll be jabbing away trying to get it to respond. You'll find yourself relying more on the D-pad than the touch-screen – it's much less hassle.
The Rio II isn't going to win awards for the number of apps but for social networking it ticks all the boxes. Preloaded with Facebook, Twitter and Windows Live Messenger (branded as Orange Messenger), along with text, video messaging and push email, you could probably survive for the rest of the handset's life without opening your mouth to actually speak. The three-megapixel camera is reasonable for a phone in this bracket but frustratingly there's no way of uploading your snaps via the Facebook app.
The QWERTY keypad on the Rio II takes a bit of getting used to. The keys are very small and strangely contoured with no spaces between them so you're not actually sure what you're pressing. If you do happen to land on the right key, it feels well built and not as plasticy like many phones.
When navigating around the phone, don't expect things to move at Usain Bolt's pace, but for 70 quid we can forgive a small pause before launching an app. It's only got 80MB of internal storage so you'll need to fork out for a microSD card for your MP3's along with a pair of headphones to listen to them on – unusually they aren't included. Another omission for the Rio II is Wi-Fi, which is a shame. Given the phone's marketing as a social networking device, cynics will point out that it's a saving that's going to cost users in data plans.
As a handset to keep your finger on the pulse of social networks, the Orange Rio II is a cheap, neat option. It's got BlackBerry looks and a user-friendly OS, albeit slightly let down by an unresponsive touch-screen and lack of Wi-Fi. But if you just want to email and social network on the cheap, the Rio II is well worth a look.