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BenQ-Siemens has not been around all that long as a handset manufacturer, but the company has quite a range of phones under its belt and its flagship at the moment is the EF81, a slimline, flip, tri-band GSM with 3G affair.
The EF81 is exclusively available through Phones4U as I write, but should be offered by operators before very long.
Inside and out the colour scheme is a mix of two shades of silver and black. A large proportion of the outer fascia is given over to brushed steel and the number pad on the inside is also made of this. Adonised aluminium forms the back of the casing, while the front display is protected by hardened glass. The overall impression is of materials that should handle the knocks a modern phone expects to encounter.
Design-wise the EF81 is a little blocky for my taste, but the flip format means it is small for the pocket at 94mm tall, 51mm wide and 15.9mm deep. It also weighs an acceptable 110g. If you are immediately thinking of it as a possible rival to Motorola’s V3x then a quick specs comparison in this department reveals that this is a smaller and lighter handset: the V3x’s dimensions are 99mm x 53mm x 20mm and 130g.
The outer display measures 1.3in diagonal and unusually offers a plentiful 262,000 colours in its 120 x 160 pixels. Compared to some others it is stunning. Beneath it are three buttons – a long rocker and two shorter buttons. Between them they allow you to use the camera for shooting stills and video, play music and take voice calls in handsfree mode. The rightmost of them allows you to lock and unlock all the front buttons. The loudspeaker is disguised in two long horizontal grilles towards the bottom of the front fascia.
There are no side buttons to clutter things up – the flexible front buttons mean there is no need for them. There is only a single slot, on the bottom right edge which is shared by mains power adaptor, headset and PC connectivity cable.
The clam opens into two positions. In a near 180 degree position you can hold it to your ear. Before it reaches full stretch it locks in at around 120 degrees. Lay the base of the phone flat on a table and this is the ideal position for making hands free video calls.