The latest Orange-branded phones have arrived in the Recombu office; the Stockholm and the Barcelona.
Both running Android 2.2, we decided to give the QWERTY keyboard-packing Barcelona a what’s in the box treatment. We’ve been looking forward to seeing how the Barcelona stacks up against other keyboarded smartphones; especially at a fraction of the price.
The spritual successor to the slow-burn hit that was Orange’s San Francisco, the Barcelona is another Android phone with Orange’s own branding- this time, underneath the Orange paintwork is Huawei’s Boulder.
The phone is split into the physical keyboard and 2.6-inch capacitive touchscreen, and there’s the requisite Android staple features, like FM radio tuner, and a rear-facing camera. This one is a 3.2-megapixel offering, though there’s a conspicuous lack of flash. The phone itself weighs under 120g, and is just under a 1cm thick, and bares a passing resemblance to the forthcoming BlackBerry Bold 9900.
As could be expected from one of Orange’s own branded phones, it has all the latest features including Signal Boost, which taps into your own WiFi network to boost your phone signal for calls and texts, and Orange Gestures which we had a sneak play with about half a year ago.
The gesture system has been done before, but we admired the convenience of almost instant access to menu options or making a brief squiggle to call a regular contact.
Priced at £109 (but including £10 credit) on pay-as-you-go, it looks to be a bit of a steal on-paper, but will have to compete with older cut-price phones and new phones similarly pitched at customers looking to move across to a cheap smartphone from their ageing feature
We’re currently giving it a rigorous testing, so you can expect a review to appear next week. Click on for our unboxing gallery and comparison pictures.
Here’s what arrived alongside the handset. highlights include a 2GB microSD card, though you can upgrade up to 32GB.
There’s an instruction booklet too, explaining how some of Orange’s more complicated features, like Signal Boost, works.
Here’s the QWERTY keyboard. The Alt-key leads to semi-colons, numbers and the like, whilst you can switch between upper and lower case with buttons found in either corner.
The central home button acts as both a cursor navi and enter button, embedded into the four typical Android keys.
Here’s the Orange Gestures setup screen. It’s simple to assign a gesture to most functions on the San Francisco. We adjusted some of them to suit our typical phone use. Note that Game Dev Story comes first. Always.
The gesture system works by tracing a shape on the touchscreen. The system picks it up even if you draw it small, and sends you to where ever you assigned the gesture.
At the top of the phone you’ll fidn the typical headphone and microUSB charger ports. There’s also a tiny power switch. We’d liek to stress how much this phone betrays its cheap and cheerful price-tag. It doesn’t have the weight of a BlackBerry, but we may not want that much heft anyway.
You’ll find the volume rocker on the right edge of the phone. Nothing on the left edge.
The 3.2-megapixel camera lacks a flash, but is capable of recording video and sending MMS.
Taking apart the Barcelona you can see the slots for both the SIM and microSD cards. (Ignore the NFC SIM, it’s our own review card!)
There’s a 1200mAh battery, which should be more than enough for a phone with a slightly smaller screensize. Putting it all back together again…
….we compared the Barcelona against the competition, the HTC ChaCha and BlackBerry Torch 9800.
There’s a big price difference between the Barcelona and both HTC and RIM’s keyboard offerings.
The Torch is certainly the weightiest, no surprising given the slide-out keyboard hardware. The Barcelona manages to carry a slightly larger screen size than the ChaCha.
Keyboards. It could all boil down to personal preference here; we prefer the raised keys of the HTC ChaCha, but many thousands of customers swear by the BlackBerry way. May be best to try in-store.