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The 710 is Vodafone’s first attempt to produce an own branded 3G handset aimed squarely at consumers. It isn’t available on Pay Monthly tariffs, only on Pay As You Talk, will set you back £72 and incorporates tri-band GSM.
As such the Vodafone 710 might have its greatest appeal among those for whom 3G is uncharted territory, who aren’t sure whether they really want or need the speed and services 3G offers, or who simply use their handset so infrequently that Pay as You Talk seems like a viable option.
Whatever the reason people are drawn to a handset, they are going to get something rather neat with the Vodafone 710. When closed this phone is very small and tidy in the hand and pocket – 91.2mm tall, 46mm wide, 23.5mm thick and weighs 99g. Open the clamshell up and it grows to just over 160mm tall.
Its fascia is pretty much entirely black, with silver trim and some silver side buttons. The Vodafone logo is a dot of scarlet on the front. The black parts of the casing have that slightly rubberised feel that makes phones comfortable to hold, and the edges are rounded so that it has a ‘bar of soap’ feel reminiscent of Motorola’s PEBL. It all adds up to a phone that is comfortable to carry and to use.
There is a small front greyscale display, just 96 pixels wide and 64 pixels tall. Also on the front is the main 1.3 megapixel camera and its flash unit.
Inside the clam the main screen manages just 176 x 220 pixels in an area measuring 2in corner to corner. It is about as wide as the casing can cope with, and couldn’t be a lot taller either. I can’t say it is especially impressive, though it does display 262,000 colours.
The number pad is fairly large, with the rows of keys separated from each other and raised enough from their surroundings to make them easy to find. The navigation button incorporates shortcuts to Vodafone Live!, SMS creation, contacts and a file manager when you press its north, east, south and west points. Add in dedicated buttons for video calling and launching the phone’s music player, and the configuration here seems to provide access to a reasonable proportion of what the phone has to offer fairly easily.
On the right edge is a covered slot for a miniSD card. You’ll probably need cards to augment the internal memory. There is 18MB built in, which is not going to be up to much if you are keen on using the Vodafone 710 for music playback or for shooting pictures.
Music playback quality is quite variable depending on how you are actually listening to tunes. If you are using the loudspeaker the volume and quality is noticeably lower with the clam opened than with it closed. A covered slot for the provided stereo headset sits on the left edge of the casing. Using this ratchets up the music quality another notch, but probably not far enough for those that are looking to ditch a dedicated player and use a phone instead.