If you want a touchscreen phone, but your finances won’t stretch as far as budget smartphones like the ZTE Racer and Orange San Francisco, then you might be interested in the Vodafone 543 instead. The handset has a small touchscreen display and packs in most of the basics such as a web browser and MP3 player, yet will set you back just £20 on pay as you go. That’s cheaper than a round of drinks in a London pub and surely makes it one of the cheapest touchscreen phones on the market right now.
The handset is actually made by Alcatel Mobile, and looks to us like it’s a re-badged version of the OT-706 with a slightly re-designed case. Either way, it’s not a bad looking phone as the pebble design helps it fit comfortable in your hand. It’s very small for a touchscreen phone standing just 95mm high, but this does mean that it’ll fit into even the smallest of shirt pockets.
Naturally, the handset is driven primarily by its touchscreen, but it has a few hardware controls too. The front is home to a call answer and hang-up button and between these two you’ll find a small joystick that you can use to move through the menus, or push down on to select menu entries. On the right hand side there are volume up and down controls, as well as a play/pause button for use with the handset’s music player. It’s nice to see that the 543 has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack at the top next to a microUSB port that’s used for both charging and syncing the phone with a PC. There’s a wall charger included in the box, but no USB lead, unfortunately.
It has to be said that the touchscreen really is tiny. It’s a 2.8in screen with a resolution of just 240x320 pixels. It uses resistive rather than capacitive technology, so it’s not always that accurate at registering finger presses. This isn’t a big problem in most of the menus, as the icons are very large. However, it is a bit of a problem when using the phone for texting or when you’re entering details for new contacts, as the phone often registers the wrong letter on the virtual numerical keypad. It can get very frustrating very quickly, especially if you’ve used a phone with a more responsive capacitive screen lately.