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At last I got around to calling Virgin Mobile for an upgrade to my now a bit shabby Samsung. I wanted a Smartphone but had plenty of experience of various mainstream devices, thus the iPhone was not going to be a contender, both on grounds of price and usability. I recently had my work phone upgraded to an HTC but that one is running Windows Mobile and research led me to choose an Android system. The upgrade arrived, I plugged it on to charge and put in my SIM. The first thing I noticed was that I could get a signal in places where my old phone wouldn't.
The touch screen takes a bit of getting used to, it is no good being too tentative, a positive touch seems to work better. The WiFi connection is very positive, it found my home AP in a matter of seconds and repeated the trick in the public bar of the Red Lion, just around the corner. This lead to a session at the Android Market.
The trouble with most smart phone reviews is that they often fail to reference the primary function of a phone, namely the phone itself. there is a lot written about the camera, the MP3 player, the FM Radio and all the other stuff but nobody ever mentions the phone. My friend Hazel called my when I was setting the phone up and, in a place where the phone signal is notoriously bad, namely Dorchester Town Centre, I was able to hear and be heard with wonderful clarity. 10/10 for the phone bit. When I installed the PC software and connected the phone to my laptop it synchronised all my Facebook friends that had phone numbers in their profile, thus I have loads of numbers of people who I probably won't ever call, but it is nice to know that this kind of functionality exists. It will also synchronise any Outlook contacts it finds on your PC.
I have also set up Googlemail and the android Kindle app and they appear to work very well. The smartphone does take a bit of getting used to as it does so much more thanmy old phone. The MP3 player is very respectable, and while I had the earphones plugged in I tried the FM radio, which also performs well, using the leads as the antenna for receiving broadcasts.
This phone seems to have all the options for internet and telephony well covered, without the known drawbacks and associated price tag of the iPhone, so if you aren't a slave to brand names give this one a try. It is available as a free handset on a £16 per month contract with Virgin Mobile, which includes 100 any network minutes, 300 virgin to virgin minutes, 500 texts and 1Gbyte of data which seems to be plenty for my purposes. All in all, if you are looking for a well-specced smartphone but don't want to spend a lot of money this is well worth a try.