The Vodafone 555 features a 2-megapixel camera on its back. Even by budget standards, this is a low-powered sensor. However, one of the big surprises of this phone is that it has an LED flash. Many phones with higher megapixel cameras fail to include a flash. This phone’s single-LED flash may be fairly weak and have a short throw, but it’s better than nothing – making night-time shots of people possible.
Other than this though, the camera is poor. It uses a fixed focus, ruling-out being able to have any control over the subject of your snaps. Other control options are also very limited. There’s a night mode and some exposure compensation, but that’s it – no fun effects, no digital zoom. This being a Facebook phone, it will let you upload your snaps directly to the social network – although over its slow sub-3G connections this will be a slow and laborious process.
Realising this, perhaps, the Vodafone 555 doesn’t let you do the same for video. It’s captured in 3GP, and is of pretty low quality.
The 2-megapixel camera in action
Not having super-fast connectivity does come with one pleasant side-effect though. Its 1000mAh battery doesn’t need to be charged every day – as it almost certainly would if the Vodafone 555 used Android and had 3G built-in.
However, the importance of that hole where 3G should be, should not be understated. This is a Facebook phone. Facebook happens on the internet. The Vodafone 555 isn’t very good at the internet. When downloading simple text updates, it will only take a few seconds, but try to browse through pictures and the pace drops down from languorous to something approaching torture.
Here lies the problem – while the segmentation of Facebook into separate apps is nice, given the slow connectivity, something like the Samsung Galaxy Europa or Vodafone Smart arguably offers a better overall Facebook experience. Those phones don’t cost all that much more than the Vodafone 555.
It’s not a device without merit – you won’t find a smartphone with a physical Qwerty keyboard for just over £60, and we appreciate the interface’s calm, cool blue look. We can’t help but imagine the disappointment on the faces of buyers as they realise quite how much slower the Vodafone 555 is at navigating Facebook’s wares than their friends’ iPhones. If you’re in love with the form factor, you’d be better off searching for a bargain deal on the Nokia C3, which offers Wi-Fi to make browsing through pics at home much, much quicker.
The premise of the Vodafone 555 is sound. It’s a cheap phone for Facebook fans not keen on splashing out for a fancy smartphone on an expensive contract. The interface, although basic, does a pretty good job of splitting-up Facebook content intuitively, too. However, as there’s no fast connectivity, any online exploration – whether on websites or within a Facebook gallery – feels horribly slow. Too many phones around the same price offer this quick connectivity. It may be part of a cutting-edge new wave of “social networking phones”, but in use it feels distinctly behind-the-times.
Score in detail