Fashion phones come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from the jaw droppingly expensive Motorola Aura to the more modest Onyx Liscio. One thing generally brings them together though; they tend to get a hard time of it here on TrustedReviews. This is because they often offer poor value in terms of features, performance and usability even though they can look the part and tend to be well built.
The Sony Ericsson Jalou F100i, then, is a tiny clamshell fashion phone aimed squarely at, well, anyone that might invest in a clutch bag and care about their make-up routine. It's certainly no smartphone but packs in a respectable number of features and, in its non-Dolce & Gabbana branded guise, it's available for a respectable £130.
When we first set eyes on the Jalou we were simply flabbergasted. With dimensions of 73 x 45 x 17mm, when closed, this is one of the smallest phones we've seen in years. It is a little thick so is less suited to slimline pockets but it should leave ample room for all the other life essentials that find home in a handbag.
It's also a rather glamorous looking device thanks to its cut-gem lines and super shiny deep-gloss finish. At least that's the case for the top surface; sadly the bottom doesn't have the same quality finish and is instead just metallic paint. Indeed, if you open the phone up and look at the back, it's clear the two purples shades aren't quite the same. (black and blue are also available along with a gold finish used on the Dolce & Gabbana branded version). We're somewhat baffled by the decision to use clashing purples. Surely either a matching or completely different finish on the bottom would've looked classier? Still, fingerprints aside, the Jalou F100i does play its fashion phone part rather well.
We also love the hidden outer screen. This monochrome LCD display sits in the dimple on top of the phone where it's completely invisible when off. Close the phone or press the side volume button while it's closed and suddenly white lettering just appears on the top. We have seen these displays before but this one is particularly striking. It shows all the usual basic information like time, battery level, signal strength, and whether you've got a new message.
Open the phone up, however, and things take a turn for the worse. In particular, the keyboard looks decidedly tacky and in terms of performance has few merits. The single piece of malleable plastic that makes up the surface of all the keys is wobbly and generally cheap looking. This combined with the slightly bunched up navigation section meant that we frequently pressed the wrong button. Admittedly, the number keys are okay to type on but overall this is one area where Sony Ericsson really should have spent a bit more cash.