Sagem Puma Phone in-depth review -

Look and feel

The Sagem Puma looks kind of funky, with slick red accents and the leaping Puma logo, and it houses a solar panel on the back via which you can charge the phone

Ease of use

The sluggish touch-screen means texting is a very frustrating experience, but the Sagem Puma has a funky interface that could appeal to the younger generation

Features

The three-megapixel camera was a disappointment, taking pixelated snaps even in daylight, while the GPS fix was slow and unsuitable for in-car use

Performance

Its interface has a fresh twist to it, but the Sagem Puma's hardware isn’t anything special and the solar panel won’t be a must-havefeature for most

Battery life

The Puma Phone has a dismal battery life, with a talktime of just 240 minutes and standby of less than 24 hours

 Sagem Puma Phone Review -
2

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:59:13 PM

4

out of 10

Performance

6

out of 5

Look and feel

4

out of 5

Ease of use

4

out of 5

Features

4

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Some fun fitness apps, funky interface could appeal to youth market

Cons:

Sluggish touch-screen means texting is very frustrating, expensive yet feature light, mediocre camera and GPS features

If you were completely clueless about apps, and really wanted a phone that could measure your outdoorsy prowess, maybe you’d want the Sagem Puma Phone. It also looks kind of funky and is marketed in the sort of trendy way you’d expect of a 90s MTV show. So we can see where it might appeal. Actually using the phone however, is a slow, pokey experience – and its preloaded ‘sport’ apps are nothing unique.

Love me for my looks

The Sagem Puma is a compact black touch-phone with slick red accents and the leaping Puma logo. The back houses the solar panel via which you can charge the phone. At its sides are a volume rocker, a camera button that also launches the app, and a microUSB slot to plug in the charger and bundled headphones (that’s right, no 3.5mm audio jack).


Though there’s a VGA front-facing camera, there’s no option to make video calls.
Its packaging is worth a mention, coming as it does in a fancy cardboard briefcase with molded bits for the headphones, charger, and phone. All the accessories are a trendy red. The package is embossed with the words ‘I’m Not Like All Those Other Phones’ – and Sagem has gone to great lengths to prove this with an interface peppered with down with the kids lingo for usual phone functions.

For example, forget about a simple battery status bar – the Puma Phone will let you know when it’s Full, Happy, Hungry or Low. When the phone loads up it informs you that it’s ‘waking Dylan’ and ‘laying red carpet’. There’s a ‘sarcastic’ calculator that, every few sums, will amuse you with something along the lines of ‘ah, too easy’ before it gives you the answer. You’ll either love or hate this barrage of attitude.

Don’t touch

For £300 (SIM-free), we would’ve expected a better touch-screen. As is so often the case, the resistive screen was very sluggish when we tried to type. You can use a QWERTY keyboard when the phone is sideways, or a virtual standard keypad when in portrait. With either method, we had to go very slowly and press quite hard. Accuracy is decent, but the unresponsiveness means the phone is a no go if you type with any speed. The inbox displays SMSes in threaded view, and also supports up to five email accounts – if you’re masochistic enough to want to write emails on this thing.


Less contentious is the modern, all-text interface with big fonts on a red background. It’s probably the nicest thing about the phone.

Home screens and beyond

There are three non-customisable home screens on the phone. The ‘home’ home screen has just three large icons for texting, calling and a heart icon that leads to ‘Puma World’, essentially a Puma marketing page (more on that below).

There’s also a ‘sport’ screen, with largely indecipherable icons that link to fitness apps. A step and calorie counter can be found by pressing the sneaker, while a sailboat icon leads to the compass – because you need a compass when sailing, we guess. A loudspeaker is actually the alarm clock, while a trophy refers to news feeds. BBC Sport is preloaded, and you can see a list of headlines with previews. Tapping one takes you through to the mobile version of the site.

Though the Puma phone supports high-speed HSDPA internet, the browser itself is slow to render pages and doesn’t autofit even mobile-optimised pages. Even after a site had loaded, scrolling down resulted in a second or two of blank space before the page displayed fully.

The last homescreen is the all-programs screen, filled with cute icons for the phone’s other functions – video, favourite contacts, GPS, radio, and a digital turntable where you can ‘scratch’ music. It’s purely a gimmick and nearly impossible to use with any control thanks to the sluggish touch-screen. 

From the top of any homescreen, you can drag down to see a full menu showing phone statuses such as GPS, flight mode or battery level, plus voicemails or messages.

Puma World

Hit the heart icon on the main home screen or all-programs menu for Puma World, where you can see a whole lot of Puma marketing – branded apps, Puma’s online shop, news about Puma – and a page called Puma Friends, which is just a page with links to social network sites.

There are only two apps - Puma Pong, an extremely slow Pong style game, and the Puma Quiz. Supposedly there will be more to download in the future.

Luckily, the fitness apps are a little more useful. We liked the step counter which also gives you the calories burned and records best times. There’s also a stopwatch shaped like an old-time one with an analogue face – possibly not the most exact timer, but cute nonetheless.

The three-megapixel camera was a disappointment, taking pixelated snaps even in daylight, but we had fun with ‘photo booth’ mode, where you can use the front-facing camera to snap self portraits. There are zero features after you take a photo – you can’t send it, upload it or even save it to someone’s contact card.

The phone has A-GPS support, but the signal was extremely slow to fix. The preloaded navigation software, Navteq, has pedestrian and driving directions, but the phone’s 2.8-inch screen isn’t very comfortable for in-car use. And despite not using 3G and GPS, the phone wasn’t even able to last overnight on standby.

Conclusion

This is a very expensive phone for what it does. Its touch-screen is too slow for anyone who likes texting, it has no social networking features, and packs only the most rudimentary of browsers. At £300 you could get a smartphone with much better camera and sat nav features, and several thousand apps to download – including fitness apps, the phone’s only real USP. Its interface has a fresh twist to it, but its hardware isn’t anything special and the solar panel won’t be a must-have feature for most. If you own this, you must really, really like Puma.

Natasha Stokes