The San Francisco runs a Qualcomm MSM7227T processor, which is the same as its predecessor but this time it’s running at 800MHz rather than 600MHz. The result is a slightly more fluid experience, though we’re still talking about a fairly sluggish handset overall. Scroll around the interface and there’s a slight stutter to the animations that accompany you, and some apps can take a good while to load. Nonetheless, assuming you have a modicum of patience you can get by.
Probably the two biggest problem areas are gaming and web browsing. The former is limited by the modest graphics processor. Basic games like Angry Birds play well (just) but more graphically intensive games struggle. Similarly graphically rich websites will require patience as they take a while to load and can be slow to scroll around.
To put some numbers against that performance, we ran a couple of benchmarks: SunSpider and Browsermark. Both are platform independent browser based benchmarks so give a good basic level of the general responsiveness of a handset. As you can see from our chart below, the San Francisco II trails high-end handsets, such as the iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy Nexus, by some margin but it’s the likes of the previous San Francisco that the San Francisco 2 is competing with, and here it puts in a respectable performance.
Helping to keep performance in check is that this phone runs the 2.3.5 version of Android. Android 2.3 added noticeable performance improvements over previous Android iterations and the difference is crucial here. 2.3.5 is not the latest version available (that honour goes to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which is currently only available on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus) but it packs in all the essentials and is easy to get to grips with.
The homescreen arrangement is typical Android with five homescreens ready to fill with widgets, apps and shortcuts arranged with two either side of the central default screen. All the usual widgets (message viewers, picture viewers, contacts viewers, RSS readers) are available with a few extra Orange branded ones thrown in for good measure. None are worthy of note except for the Orange tips widget, which displays handy little tips for how to use your phone – a useful addition if you’re new to Android smartphones.
The Orange San Francisco II has an orangey theme but in terms of functionality it’s mostly standard Android 2.3.5.
Thankfully Orange hasn’t tried to be too clever by mucking about with the arrangement of the four icons that run along the bottom of each homescreen. They’re your standard useful collection of app menu, messages, dialler and contacts. Tap the app menu and you get to the full list of all your installed apps, which (again thankfully) Orange hasn’t messed about with so it’s just a simple alphabetic list.
On the whole, despite an Orangey colour scheme, Orange hasn’t tinkered about too much with the phones’ functionality so those of you hoping for a straightforward Android experience will be pleased. That said, there are a few other Orange additions.
Gestures are a useful way to quickly open your favourite apps.
Orange Gestures allow you to open your favourite apps by simply drawing a shape on the screen. You could of course just ensure that all your favourites are kept within quick reach on your main homescreen but it’s always nice to have an alternative.
Orange Mail is a seemingly pointless alternative to the default email app. It adds a search tab and gives access to a number of different accounts, but it certainly doesn’t outsmart the default Android email app.
There’s also an app for keeping tabs on your Orange account, tracking your credit used and such like. It would be rather pointless for a premium contract phone but is a useful addition for this budget Pay As You Go handset. Also useful is Orange Signal Boost, an that app connects to your wireless router for improved