An iPhone 4 clone made of lightweight plastic, the Vivacity’s style and good looks aren’t matched by its grease-philic feel
Android Gingerbread is a powerful and intuitive OS, particularly for a phone costing £100, and startup menus get you synched with email and social network accounts. T-Mobile’s preloaded My Account app is an unobtrusive addition to help you
The five-megapixel camera is capable of some decent shots in daylight with the ability to share, crop or rotate images, while the full HTML browser produces a desktop-like experience
A lagging virtual keyboard cramps the otherwise breezy Android OS and makes typing long messages pretty frustrating. The camera and the browser are well implemented though
The Vivacity provides around 200 hours standby and 240 minutes talktime, so you’ll want to keep an eye on the battery if you’re using Wi-Fi, GPS and 3G
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 4:02:29 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
It looks like an iPhone 4 ? but manages to cost less than a quarter of the price, WVGA screen is clear and brilliant, decent camera with sharing, cropping and rotating tools
Slow touch-screen noticeably hampers typing, lightweight build is flimsier than similarly priced peers
Looks like it’s game season on iProducts. After Samsung got legal shrift for aping the iPad 2, T-Mobile has only gone ahead and launched the Vivacity, an Android phone that doesn’t just take design cues from the iPhone 4, it’s a full-blown design understudy. Of course, at £99 on prepay, you’re not going to get the real thing over an… iPhoney.
From afar – or even semi-close – this really, really looks like an iPhone4(S) with its squared, flat chassis and silver trim running round the glossy black fascia. It’s only when you get your hands on its inordinately smudge-friendly body that you can feel the gulf of difference – the Vivacity’s plastic build is incredibly lightweight and its 3.5-inch touch-screen responsive but slow. It’s also a tad chunkier, with a five-megapixel lens that protrudes about a millimetre from the back. Its innards contain an average 800MHz processor and 512MB of RAM. Something has to give, of course, when you cost less than a night out in central London, though for comparison’s sake, an extra £30 (TBC) would get you the 1GHz-packing, 3.7-inch incoming Huawei Vision. Still, kudos to white label manufacturer ZTE for fitting in a WVGA display at high-clarity 267ppi.
Powering this feather-light smartphone is Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a reasonably recent version of the OS and certainly the best you could hope for at this price point. Gingerbread offers lots of features that make this an easy email, web and social phone out of the box: at startup you’ll be prompted to link a Gmail account, followed by Facebook, Twitter and other email. Contacts can be synched and Google and Microsoft Exchange calendars can be loaded into the Calendar app. Facebook and Twitter apps are already on the phone, while both the Gmail and Mail (for non-Gmail) apps let you flag, reply/reply all, forward and save drafts.The usual five-screen setup lets you pop shortcut icons and widgets such as clocks, news or social feeds simply by pressing and holding. Like with all Androids, a handy notifications bar can be pulled down from the top of the screen to reveal all new alerts, from messages to updates in particular apps.Unlike its sister operator Orange, T-Mobile hasn’t loaded this phone up with its self-promoting bloatware – instead you get the standard Android interface with just two preloaded T-Mobile apps, ‘My Account’ for keeping track of your mobile spend, and the network’s Top Apps. The Android Market is there with some half a million apps available to amp up the phone’s power tenfold.
Unfortunately, where Orange’s San Francisco series packs a great touch-screen for under £100, the Vivacity’s capacitive – the good sort – screen is noticeably slower, particularly in the virtual keyboard. You’ll have to resist the urge to press harder to elicit a response, the problem here is that it’s just not fast enough.
So despite the fact that Gmail offers a better experience on this low-end phone than on much beefier handsets running other OSes, it’s seriously hampered by the speed at which you’ll have to keep your typing. The touch-screen lag is less evident in the web browser and general navigation, where swipes are recogonised with alacrity and feather-light touches can take you places. The Dolphin browser that comes with all Android phones is perfectly implemented, with all the modern accoutrements like pinch-to-zoom, multiple window support and the ability to load full versions of websites. You can copy and paste by holding down on a bit of text, but it’s a bit fiddly moving the sliders about to get the right selection.
One of the surprising corners left uncut is the camera, which took snaps of decent clarity and colour in daylight. There’s a VGA front-facer for video calls and self-portraits too, which produced somewhat washed out images – but it’s still an impressive inclusion for the price. The video camera works in both front and back lenses, though the quality is pretty noisy with slow frame rate.
With competition from the wallet-friendly likes of the Huawei Vision and Orange San Francisco II, the T-Mobile Vivacity largely stands out on design – copy or not, it does look great and though its build is lightweight, it’s not too flimsy. The camera and browser are excellent for the price, but the laggy touch-screen affects so much of your interaction with the phone that it could just prove too frustrating for some. You get what you pay for - but £100 goes further than this.