- Great design
- Solid display
- Impressive customer service
- No 4G or NFC
- Non-expandable storage
- Average camera experience
For a fleeting moment, Kazam’s new Tornado 348 held the title of ‘the world’s thinnest smartphone’ (until Oppo pulled the rug out from under its feet), but as you’ll find out, being super svelte requires that you give up certain things…
Design: Fix up, look sharp
Arguably, the design work that’s been put into the 348 is its strongest angle. A Gorilla Glass 3 front and back surrounded by a lightly curved aluminium alloy frame feels decidedly Sony, although the Kazam trumps the majority of the smartphone market with its near-paper thin waistline.
At 5.15mm, the 348 is the world’s thinnest smartphone (with a headphone jack). It’s an impressive feat of engineering and at 95.5 grams it’s also one of the most unobtrusive smartphones of its screen size out there.
Naturally making something so distinctly thin does push it into ‘Bendgate’ territory, but so long as you’re smart about placing it in a side pocket as opposed to a back pocket, you shouldn’t encounter mangled metalwork and cracked glass anytime soon.
The keep its profile completely flat, the 348 uses three capacitive keys underneath the display, siding with the more dates settings icon to the left of the home button in place of an app switching icon. In white and gold, the full effect of the Kazam feels surprisingly iPhone-like with regards to build quality and aesthetic, making for a great alternative is high up on your list.
Screen: Backup plan
At 4.8-inches, the 348’s display is well proportioned to its body; its thin bezel not only looks good, but helps when trying to reach the more distant regions of the screen one-handed. Based on the price tag, we can’t fault Kazam for giving the Tornado 348 a 720p HD display (as opposed to a Full HD panel), but at that size, it’s no real hardship.
You still get a nice colour range, only a little distortion at more extreme viewing angles, as well as good overall brightness and clarity. The first half of the ‘Kazam Hook’ as we’ll call it, makes its appearance here too.
Chances are you’ve spotted somebody using a smartphone with a cracked display. Even if they take a tumble and go on working, nobody wants to Snapchat through fractured glass, but for most getting it replaced can be a costly affair. Kazam thinks otherwise and whilst we didn’t try their Cracked Screen Protection service out for ourselves, should your Tornado slip from your grip and face plant into the pavement the company will take it in and swap out your shattered display for free in the first year.
That’s a pretty compelling sales pitch, particularly for a phone that’s design leaves greater room for incident (think about those narrow sides and slick glass front and back).
OS: A slight learning curve
For the most part Kazam’s seen fit to leave the Android interface well alone. The default launcher features some quirky alternations to the stock experience, like a quick setting app where you’d typically find the full menu. There are some nice animation and transition options too, however we’d point you towards the Google Now launcher instead.
The second part of the aforementioned Kazam Hook is the Rescue app which comes pre-installed on the device. Similarly to remote access on your PC and Amazon’s MayDay service, should you run into any technical troubles whilst using the 348, you’ll be able to call upon a technician who, with your permission, can take control of your device remotely and analyse any maladies you may have encountered.
Even downloading a few partner apps such as Amazon’s Kindle reader will grant you an extra year’s warranty too. If Kazam has a message, it’s that you’re buying a service, more than just a phone.
Performance: A tight fit
Remember when we said that that sexy design might come with a few sacrifices? Here they are.
Whilst the general operation and performance of the 348 feels perfectly fluid, thanks no doubt to its 1.7GHz octa-core processor, the 1GB of RAM and 16GB of non-expandable storage are a little stifling in this day and age.
Android has never been very space efficient and it’ll only take a handful of apps, songs and photos to max out the Tornado’s internal space. Naturally, the answer then is to rely more heavily on cloud and streaming services if you’re that way inclined, but there’s no 4G LTE either, so don’t expect blistering fast buffering when you decide to Netflix on the train.
It’s also worth noting that NFC is absent as well – a shame when you consider many other mid-range rivals retain the feature. What that narrow frame does conceal, however, is a 2050mAh cell which should dole out around a day of general use if you’re not too heavy handed with gaming, video or any extended periods of screen-on time.
Camera: Better from behind
Kazam has packed a respectable sized pair of sensors in the Tornado 348’s body. There’s a 5-megapixel front-facer for selfie-taking and a larger 8-megapixel unit on the back.
Detail tends to drop out in low light and image stability isn’t fantastic either, but you do get additional shooting modes like Panorama and HDR, and it’s quick to focus. The rear snapper can also shoot Full HD video at 30fps too, which is par for the course with a device running hardware such as the 348’s, but a welcome inclusion.
Selfies are less impressive, partly because of our ugly mugs, but also as a result of sharpness, or rather a lack thereof, particularly when shooting in poor or artificial lighting conditions. We’d recommend flipping the phone around and using the reflective back to line up sharper shots.
Verdict – The bigger picture
For a brand you likely haven’t heard of, the Kazam Tornado 348 makes a pretty big statement.
Whilst there’s no doubt in our minds that Kazam will have a tough time trying to crack a competitive smartphone markets like ours, it shows that it can look beyond the specs, to the broader experience – something few companies other than Apple have readily highlighted, instead pushing for bigger and better specs.
The Tornado 348 isn’t a game-changing device, but it’s a wholly competent handset, especially in the looks department, with enough power to satiate the average smartphone user’s needs and a service that should appeal to the self-accepted accident prone amongst us, all for under £250.
You’ve created a strong jumping off point Kazam, more of this, please.
|Screen resolution||720p HD (1280x720)|
|OS||Android 4.4 KitKat|
|Processor||1.7GHz octa-core MediaTek|
|Bonus features||Free screen replacement service, 'Rescue' remote assistance|