We have to admit that we weren’t expecting much from the phone in terms of performance given its rock bottom price tag, but it’s actually snappier than we though it would be. Its 600MHz Qualcomm processor certainly isn’t the fastest you’ll find on an Android phone, but it does make the handset very responsive to use. Menus are zippy, applications are quick to open and the browser is very responsive. Even with a few apps open in the background things keep rollicking along at a decent pace.
Naturally, with just 256MB of ROM, there isn’t much in the way of built-in memory for storing files, so Three has sensibly included a 2GB microSD card in the box and the card slot will accept cards up to 8GB.
The phone can’t be faulted on the connectivity front either. Unlike many cheaper handsets, it’s not left reliant on the slower 2G network for data access on the go. Instead, it has full support for faster HSDPA speeds. There’s also Wi-Fi on board and naturally GPS too. The latter is actually quite fast to get a lock on your position and performed well with the Google Maps application, which now also includes the beta version of Google Navigation with turn-by-turn sat-nav instructions.
And despite the Racer’s tiny power pack, the phone’s battery life isn’t actually too bad. In fact, it performs pretty much on a par with other, more expensive Android handsets we’ve tested, as we got just under two days from it before it needed a recharge.
For music playback, the phone has a standard headphone jack on the top and although the supplied headphones are a bit below par, the audio quality from the jack is surprisingly rich and deep when you use it with a decent set of cans.
The phone’s camera isn’t too bad either considering the handset’s low price. It’s got a fairly standard 3.2-megapixel resolution and also has autofocus to help you avoid talking blurry shots. It’s not the best at capturing fine detail, though colours are fairly accurate when you’re working outdoors. As with most of these budget camera sensors, however, it really struggles indoors under low light with the result that images tend to look very grainy and dark.
The Racer is obviously not in the same league as the likes of the HTC Legend and Samsung Galaxy S, but given its rock bottom price tag it’s fairer to judge it against feature phones like the Samsung Genio Touch and LG GM360. And while the screen isn’t as good as the ones on those phones, it beats them hands down in every other department. It’s faster, has more features and benefits from both the easy to use Android interface and access to thousands of apps via the Android Market. For this price, we think it’s a bit of steal.