Also, videos and stills shot using the front screen are forced into landscape mode. You can zoom and change brightness using the front screen, but can’t change any other settings from it. Not that there are many more settings available. There is a self timer but no sepia or other filters, and few settings for different lighting conditions – just auto, indoor and outdoor.
The camera shoots stills at up to 1.2megapixels. It lacks a flash for indoor use, colours are not as vivid as they could be and I had trouble producing shots that were not blurred. It is below the quality I would expect from a high-end handset like this.
Video calls, on the other hand, were fine in quality. The music player too, didn’t disappoint with good quality playback through the handset’s loudspeaker and to the provided headset. It is annoying that BenQ-Siemens doesn’t support a 3.5mm headset connector, and that the handset’s memory is limited to 64MB. You can expand on this using microSD cards but they live under the battery so they can’t be hot swapped.
If you are after a phone that can share contact and diary information with your PC this handset comes with what you need in the box – software that will share this information with Outlook and a cable. You can also make a Bluetooth connection if you prefer. Document readers cope with PDF, Microsoft Word and Excel files and the mobiPocket reader is installed for ebook reading. Business users can even use the EF81 to control a Bluetooth device via Microsoft Bluetooth Remote Control.
On the fun side Star Wars fans will like the suite of goodies that includes a game, video screen themes and sounds. Several other games are also included. Bizarrely, there is also a cocktail database among the extras, complete with pictures of the drinks.
BenQ-Siemens suggests you should get around 3.5 hours of 3G life from the battery and 4.5 hours of GSM life. I did a fair bit of video calling and Web access on the move as well as making voice calls and a little music listening while testing this handset. It coped OK, but I certainly wouldn’t want to carry this as my main mobile and be away from a mains power socket in the evening.
BenQ-Siemens’ EF81 could be an alternative for anyone considering buying Motorola’s RAZR V3x. But you shouldn’t expect a great deal from the camera when shooting stills.