The cheaper smartphones get, the harder feature phones have to try to keep up, by packing in features until the lines between the two blur. The Virgin Media VM720, made by Huawei, will connect you to Facebook, let you surf the web and harvest your emails. And yet it only costs £40 on a pre-pay deal. Let’s see if this purple wonder is too good to be true.
The Virgin Media VM720 might just be the only phone to come in purple and no other colour. Like Barney the dinosaur, it’s purple all over apart from its “tummy”, where the 3in touchscreen lives. This, of course, tells us that the VM720 is doing it for the kids. If you’re reading this as a mid-40s businessman looking for a phone to tide you over while your BlackBerry Torch gets its screen repaired, you’re probably backing the wrong share options.
Not averse to a bit of metallic purple? The VM720’s body impresses at this rock-bottom price. It feels slim at 11.2mm thick and while it’s an all-plastic design, the phone is well put-together. The VM 720 is smooth, sleek and costs less than two adult tickets to London Zoo. What’s not to like?
Connectivity-wise, things are predictably minimal. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack up top, alongside the microUSB charging socket. Given these are the only on-body interface bits apart from the volume controls on the right edge, it seems a shame manufacturer Huawei felt the need to jam two glossy black cutaways into the phone’s top and bottom ends. Purple is fun and friendly, glossy black is not. Underneath the full-length battery cover is the microSD slot, which supports cards up to 16GB.
The Virgin Media VM720 has plenty of feature phone rivals, but it also battles against slightly more expensive low-end Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy Europa and Vodafone Smart. In looks, the VM720 has an immediate upper hand because its screen is longer, giving it that more slender look. Bottom-rung Androids invariably have more squat 240x320 pixel screens, which can make them look a little pudgy.
Its claim to battle smartphones isn’t only based on looks and a touchscreen though. Internet connectivity is key – the VM720 has Wi-Fi built-in, and while it doesn’t offer high-speed 3G too it’ll be able to pick up emails and the like when out-and-about (albeit slowly) over GPRS. However, it’s the software, rather than hardware, that tries extra-hard to convince you of its smartphone cred.