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Virgin Media VM621i (Alcatel OT-600) - Virgin Media VM621i (Alcatel OT-600)

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

Looking at the VM621i's software, it's based on quite an effective if very simple operating system. On the homescreen (the background for which can be changed) you get battery and signal strength icons across the top with time and date shown just below. Along the bottom are customisable shortcuts to the camera and message folder. Meanwhile the D-pad also has four customisable shortcuts assigned to each direction and pressing the central button opens the main menu - all very simple and intuitive stuff.

Once in the main menu, you're greeted by an initial grid of options while further menu levels are simple text-based lists. It can take quite a few menus to get to the options you want but everything seemed to be where we expected and navigation, though not lightning fast, was sufficiently speedy.

In terms of messaging features, you get the ability to send and receive text and picture messages but there's no email facility and messages aren't arranged in conversations but are instead just stacked in the order they arrived. Likewise, contact organisation is limited with no social messaging integration or Outlook syncing or anything so fancy. What you can do, though, is arrange contacts into groups so you can, say, keep your colleagues and friends separate.

There is a web browser but it's pretty slow and limited and due to the very low resolution of the screen it takes a lot of scrolling around to read anything. As for graphically intensive websites that don't have a mobile version, like TR, it will often fail completely to load them. It does, however, have its uses in an emergency such as looking up the number of a hotel you're staying at.

Other tools and features include a file manager, which is always useful for organising your music, photos, and videos. Incidentally, there is a video player but we couldn't find anything that would play on it and considering the incredibly slow refresh rate of the screen we think it would be unwatchable anyway. You also get a calendar/organiser, calculator, unit converter, voice recorder, a contacts backup tool (contacts are saved to a memory card), and Bluetooth connectivity is supported. Overall connectivity, however, is limited. It doesn't support 3G or have Wi-Fi and is a dual-band handset (limited mostly to working in UK and Europe).

Call quality is acceptable though there was a slight hiss to the received signal and the microphone seemed sensitive to picking up background noise (especially birdsong). As you'd expect for such a simple phone, battery life is very good and just using this for the odd text and call should see you easily get a week's use, if not more.

Verdict

With a light, slim yet attractive body, colour screen, intuitive operating system, relatively speedy operation, adequate call quality, and impressive battery life, the Virgin Media VM621i ticks all the essential boxes for a basic phone. Sure, its web browser is very poor, it lacks volume controls, and the screen isn't great but for £15 we can find no major reasons not to consider this for a cheap backup, emergency, or child's phone.

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speedyg2012

April 12, 2010, 7:09 pm

Surely such a cheap phone would have a value rating of 10 rather than 9? I've seen any phones for that price point that betters the spec (meagre tho it is.)





Also the price is reviewed as £10 but in the video review £15 is the asking price. Which one is correct? Or is it £10 + £5 Min. Top up?





Such a phone would be expected these days to have a budget screen but it's unusual to see a camera, particularly one at 1.3mp. I suspect dropping a camera for a better screen may have been a better option as it (The camera) looks pretty rudimentary with no flash or anything else of use.





On another note, I'm thinking whether more awards or special mentions could be made over a variety of budgets? E.G. Ultra Budget (10 - 39.99)/ Budget (40 - 79.99)/Lower Mid Range (80 - 129.99)/ Upper Mid Range (130 - 199.99)/ High Range (200 - 299.99) / Ultra High Range (£300+)





Maybe smaller catergories but something that tell a prospective buyer which phone(s) are top of a certain price class.

speedyg2012

April 12, 2010, 7:19 pm

*I've seen = (I haven't seen).

Ed

April 12, 2010, 7:22 pm

I wouldn't strongly argue against it getting a 10/10 for value. Ultimately it's still great value.





When I shot the video the cheapest I could find was £15. By the time I finished the written review I found it for £10.





We'll certainly look into expanding our awards to include best budget/design/etc.

speedyg2012

April 12, 2010, 9:38 pm

I wouldn't strongly argue against it getting a 10/10 for value. Ultimately it's still great value.





When I shot the video the cheapest I could find was £15. By the time I finished the written review I found it for £10.





We'll certainly look into expanding our awards to include best budget/design/etc.


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Cheers for the reply Ed. I'm not sure what the full criteria is for the prices but I'm thinking it would take top marks for been the cheapest I've seen tested. I guess the Price has to reflect airtime added to the price, as the sim-free price would be more I would have thought.





I'm thinking awards like you see in Computershopper/Which? magazines et al mainly.





Hope this helps.

peter-the-hat

August 21, 2010, 2:23 pm

having bought one for £10 at tesco's, mainly to recieve free calls from home, having registered with virgin for the simply 8p per minute call rate it becomes better value than the 20p per min it ships with

fanofstig

January 27, 2011, 12:02 am

Very underrated phone. you don't list the Video camera in the features.


The Mp3 play better on this phone than standard MP3 players, sort by artist album etc, and as for camera, it has night setting for low light conditions, timer to include yourself in the shot, and a host of other function to change whether its taken under 50hz or 60 hz electric light, a white balance, and colour settings, and the phones are good when viewed on a PC, which is very easy to do with a standard micro USB lead

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