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T-Mobile Pulse review

Posted by Dark Legion 10/23/2009 ,

The Android race really is hotting up now, and T-Mobile has brought us the Pulse, the world’s first budget Android offering. In fact, it’s the first on pay-as-you-go and only costs £180, which means it will be much lighter on your pocket than the likes of the HTC Magic or Hero.

And although it does feel a little bit cheaper than its bigger Android brothers, it still outperforms its £180 price tag. The weight of 130g and the plastic chassis aren’t the best quality in the world, but much better than some more expensive phones out there.

The physical layout of the phone is pretty good - the standard call / terminate buttons, the menu screen and a clever back / home combination key, with a long press from any application sending you back to the home screen whenever necessary.

The lock / power button is nicely placed on the top left of the phone, within easy digit reach. However, the volume button is placed exactly on the other side, meaning every time you go to lock / unlock the Pulse, you accidentally turn the ringing volume up.

Bringing the phone in and out of lock mode is also a pain - the phone seems to struggle terribly to rouse itself, and you can be left waiting a couple of seconds in some instances.

However, a big negative point is the headphone jack on the top - it might be something that’s necessary, but Huawei (the manufacturers of the re-badged Pulse) decided to put a 2.5mm rather than 3.5mm option.

T-Mobile clearly realises this is a problem by putting a 3.5mm headphone adaptor on board, but it’s still pretty frustrating.

The screen is a 3.5-inch resistive effort, which we understand given the price point instead of putting a more sensitive capacitive choice, but it feels very plasticky and can be a bit inaccurate at times.

The Android overlay on the T-Mobile Pulse is another feather in the cap for the device, as it has completely re-designed the home screen format. While the Android widgets are all the same as usual, the way the homescreen is laid out is completely different.

It’s divided into three home screens as before, with a swipe left and right taking you to each one, and three more below, accessed by swiping upwards. It’s a neat trick and really let’s you keep track of your favourite sets of applications and widgets.

Talking of widgets, T-Mobile has decided to make use of all the extra screen space by adding in ‘Wildcard Widgets’, meaning larger icons with extended functionality - fancy seeing your calendar? It’s there. Email to view? Available at a glance.

Speaking of email, T-Mobile has also included Datawiz Roadsync application for Exchange ActiveSync mail - despite the pay-as-you-go tag, the company clearly believes that the mobile worker will make this his phone of choice.

Messaging on the phone is a mixed bag, as the screen doesn’t always allow the most accurate text input. We frequently hit the wrong letter in portrait mode, but thankfully the Pulse has a good range of keyboards on offer, and the landscape view version is a lot easier to use.

While we like the Android OS - and the way it’s used on the Pulse - the phone itself doesn’t like running as swiftly as its bigger brothers, with a considerable amount of time taken to move between applications in some instances.

Video and music are handled in an easy way, and using most file types won’t be a problem. The lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack does detract somewhat from the overall experience as we negotiated reams of cable from the phone - we’d advise upgrading to some Bluetooth cans for a better experience.

The 3.2 megapixel camera is a bit of a worry though - we took a number of test shots and only one managed to come out without any blur. We were shocked at how many photos were just unusable, despite a decent-looking focus system. We don’t expect the phone to help us rival David Bailey, but this was a real head-scratcher.

But overall, the T-Mobile Pulse ticks the right boxes. It’s got Wi-Fi, GPS for location and geo-tagging of photos, a decent Android implementation and a fairly pocket-friendly design.

While there aren’t too many more options for budget-friendly Android phones on the market at the moment, the T-Mobile Pulse is still a decent enough effort for £180.

Link: T-Mobile


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