The Virgin Media VM202 is a compact and rounded candybar phone with a comfortable keypad and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard
The home screen is fairly sophisticated for a basic phone, while texting and making a phone call are equally intuitive. Scrolling with the D-pad can be sluggish though
The 0.3-megapixel camera produces expectedly pixelated photos with faded colours, and there's a token video camera for those short minute-long clips
With a widget toolbar, slide-out QWERTY keyboard and customisable shortcut keys for favourite apps, the VM202 performs well for such a budget offering
The VM202 will last awhile between charges - but then again, it’s not exactly up to much battery-sucking activity
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:59:16 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Widget toolbar, QWERTY keyboard, can customise shortcut keys for favourite apps, contacts and websites, 3.5mm audio jack
Keys are a little hard to depress, phone is slightly slow and texting can be sluggish
Basic phones just aren’t basic any more, are they? The Virgin Media VM202 may look like an average candybar handset, but it’s beefed up by home screen widgets, a slide-out QWERTY, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Made by Alcatel, the VM202 could easily be one of those Sony Ericsson or Nokia candybars of yore – compact and rounded, with a comfortable keypad. Except, surprise! There’s a slide-out QWERTY keyboard hiding behind the 2.2-inch display. The home screen is fairly sophisticated for a basic phone, with a widget toolbar that you can customise with widgets for calls, messages, emails, social networking, clock and more. The toolbar then shows the latest calls, messages or emails. The sides are button-free, with no dedicated camera key or even a volume rocker, but, surprisingly, there’s a 3.5mm audio jack so you can plug in your own ‘phones to listen to music. It only packs 2MB of memory but you can add up to 8GB of memory in the microSD slot.
As you might reasonably expect from a simple phone, the call function works well – and in fact, better than some other smartphones we can think of. Along with simply dialling the number directly, you can type the first few letters of a friend in the contacts book, and even add a favourite friend to a shortcut key. That’s actually one of our favourite features - you can assign shortcuts to the 2-9 number keys so that they lead to a program, a contact and even a web link. Texting is equally intuitive – you can either type the first few letters of a friend’s name in the To: field, or if it matches no-one, it’ll automatically be entered as a number. Unfortunately, we found both the QWERTY and standard keyboards a little unresponsive, and it’s hard to type quickly. It’s a pity, because this could really have been the ideal texting phone. Even with predictive text on in the keypad, adding punctuation is a bit of a pain, with a certain amount of clicking back and forth between different menus required. Scrolling with the D-pad can also be sluggish, for example, when going through a list of contacts.
There’s a social networking ‘widget’ – but it’s really just a list of links to the mobile sites of Bebo, Friendster, hi5, MySpace and Flickr, not that you’d expect a full blown app on a phone at the price. No Twitter or Facebook, which is perhaps indicative of the younger age of the phone’s target market. A nice addition is the preloaded Opera Mini browser, still the fastest and best for basic phones. With support for slower EDGE internet only, you won’t want to load any picture-heavy sites, but it’s fine for mobile-optimised sites and quick Google searches. The 0.3-megapixel camera produces expectedly pixelated photos with faded colours. You can MMS, email or Bluetooth them to friends though, or set as a contact picture or the home screen wallpaper. You’re limited to snapping photos with the phone in landscape orientation (otherwise the pictures come out on their side), but you can rotate pictures when you enter the gallery. The same goes for video – yes, there’s a video camera! It’s fairly token and you won’t be able to keep up with fast-moving scenes, but if there’s ever some minute-long clip you need to capture, at least it’s there. To round off your entertainment options, there’s an FM radio, which ponied up decent sound quality through our Sony headphones. You can save favourite channels quite easily.
We welcome the introduction of widgets and a QWERTY keyboard to the VM202. Unlike a lot of low rent phones that try to take on high-end features, this one is executed well.