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Ciao’s biggest drawback as a product review site is we tend to review new things as soon as we get them, which I am about to do, and which we are encouraged to so. It’s a bit of a contradiction. Six months from now my review on this phone maybe very different, as it definitely would be for my last PAYG smartphone, hence me buying a new one. That was a brand new Nokia 520 on the Vodafone network, which I really liked but it soon began to freeze up, eventually totally frozen and unusable after 11 months use. Even with soft and hard reset and taking the battery out it remained frozen, and because you cant get in their and run virus protection to manually fix it there is nothing you can do but hope for a refund or a place locally that honors the guarantee and fixes it for free. The old style mobile phones maybe basic but they are way more durable. Phones are no longer for making calls and texting with though. Fortunately, Amazon were remarkably understanding and quick in giving me a full refund for something I had been using for 11 months and so I had enough cash to buy another smartphone on Amazon. That would suggest Windowsphone’s freeze up a lot and they aint going to argue the toss. I would highly recommend you use the online help center on Amazon to try and blag a refund. Just ask where the nearest under guarantee repair agent is.
So this time I wanted to try android software as I now know they have far more free apps than windowsphones and the only one to have the BBC app that runs live county cricket commentaries, a big reason why I bought a smartphone for work. Because of my low end price range I was limited on the smartphone model I could buy on Amazon to exploit my refund. My range was £60-£80 pounds and so a discount sort, which means an older model. But I’m not remotely influenced by brands and newness and won’t be paying an extra £100 for an Iphone that is no different to a £100 cheaper Sony. All that extra you pay to Apple goes straight in their top pockets anyway. Yes, you are mugs.
After a lot of uming and arring I narrowed it down to two models and chose the HTC Desire 310. I let other and more pedantic electronic centered product review sites like techradar.com put me off other models. The HTC was android, PAYG and Vodafone so need to worry about switching networks and numbers.
The android operating system looks more like the ubiquitous Windows PC operating system than the actual windowsphone operating system looks like a windows operating system. Part of my review will be comparing the two. Actually I quite like the simplicity of the windowsphone square stacking Jenga but not happy when that tower all falls down. If you imagine WindowsXP in a 4.5 inch by 2 inch space then that’s android on your phone. The 310 has a bigger screen than the Nokia 520 and another reason I bought this model. I’m not interested in the bigger screen showing off as I want the phone to remain a portable phone that fits in my pocket and not obvious for villains. The bigger they are the more likely to fall out off your pocket - and into somebody else’s.
Setting up the 310 from out of the box is quite awkward as you don’t get very good instructions on how to put the simcard in and deal with the padlock symbol when the phone is up and running. This model uses the larger simcard and you have to slide it under a metal bracket thing quite forcefully, not detailed in the instructions. My last phone had the smaller smart sim on it and so no transfer credit options. I wasn’t expecting the biggest sim size in this.
The phone shows you the battery charge screen on first boot so best get it up to 100% first to be on the safe side. The battery is larger than the Nokia 520 and so a heavier phone all around. Once you have the start screen you need to drag up the screen to the padlock symbol and it takes you to your google search. Its really awkward and no instructions how to do that in the box either. I decided to use a YouTube tutorial to set up and explore the phone correctly. I advise you do the same with all of your technology. Mistakes on the boot up can be a problem to fix.
I purchased a magnetic clip case to go with on Amazon as the screens scratch and crack easy. The Nokia 520 had a dreadful screen removal method involving your nails to get to the battery and cracked very easily. I had to buy a new digitized screen just to send it back after it finally shattered from trying to fix it. It’s much easier and safer to get to the battery on the HTC 310 and the back clicks back nicely.
It looks nice in the hand and a good clear screen. I left the thin plastic protective film on the phone screen as it kills that irritating reflection some. It’s like those peel offs in Grand Prix racing on the drivers helmets, splattered flies replaced with smudgy fingerprints. It also helps to stop the screen cracking so may as well leave it on. Its touch screen is sensitive enough and the apps only require one click to load. The buttons on the side of the phone for on/off and volume are a little fiddly when the case is on and if you are worried about battery ‘out and about’ you need to turn it off sometimes. From what I can tell of battery use it’s pretty good on this phone and far better than the Nokia. I fully charged it last Friday and still going. It also has a slot to add a STD memory card and an earphone jack.
It feels durable in the hand, and in the case would survive a big drop. For £55 (reduced £80) it already feels like a good deal. I’m not sure why anyone would want to pay £300 for an Iphone when lower range phones do pretty much the same things. Security wise this one does have face recognition but it does warn you that people with ‘similar faces’ could get access to your phone? I know some phones have fingerprint and retina display security but that’s pointless as the thief (or your partner) need only put the sim in another phone. You can also pin protect but more messing around there.
Good virtual keyboard on this one and way better than the Nokia version. My fingers tips actually fit the tabs and don’t press two at the same time. There is a slight issue with the 4.5 inch screen in that if you look at it straight-on it’s quite bright and loses resolution but if you tilt it up the color is even brighter and if you hold it down, much richer. It’s not so noticeable with general text website just color and definition stuff. You can customize that front screen the way you do Windows PC desktop software.
Video looks great and easy flip and rotate with the wrist to adjust for how you hold the phone (YouTube is preloaded). It has the standard 5MP camera with 1080p HD images and a powerful 1.3 GHZ processor that enables you to hop around apps quickly. The drag and drop thing to get rid of apps and files is a bit tetchy. The Blinkfeed software is cool and enables you to run stuff like Facebook and Twitter on your front screen at the same time in different windows.
On the whole it does everything you ask of it and if you are not pretentious about brand and spec great value although a little pedantic on things like shutting down and which browser to use. It’s hi-res and preload apps mean you are ready to go. Once you have registered with Google (G-mail address) it’s very easy to download free apps from the Google store quickly. Also there are lots of useful Vodafone updates available from the off. There are things to mess around with in the guts of the phone like games and calculators and you can also have the Google version of ‘Cortana’ where the voice talks back to you to help with searching and using stuff online. Remember that only 25% of smartphones are windowsphones and so most apps geared towards android.