Virgin VMX review: Virgin VMX

Typical Price: $99.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good 3G for under $100. Decent music player. 3.5m headphone jack. microSD card slot (but no card).

The Bad Dismal display. Nothing exciting to use the 3G with. Keypad will be too small for some.

The Bottom Line The VMX is a phone with many shortcomings, but most of these are outweighed by the AU$99 price tag. For most people who just need the basics, the VMX will do the trick.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.2 Overall

If you asked us, we'd have said a 3G phone for AU$200 is a pretty good deal. Though the faster data speeds of 3G are almost ubiquitous down under, thanks to our network structure, the cost of 3G handsets has still lingered at between $200-300, until now. Virgin has partnered with Chinese OEM Huawei and delivered a 3G capable handset for AU$99. For this low price can you expect more than a cardboard box with a 3G radio inside? We take a closer look.

Your fingers must be this big to ride

Absolutely every part of the VMX is tiny; from the buttons on the keypad, to the low-res screen, to the box the handset comes in, the VMX is like a mobile phone from Gulliver's Travels. This reviewer has tiny fingers by the standard of modern men and even I move my digits cautiously over this pint-sized keypad making sure I select the right key. In terms of overall size of the handset, the VMX compares to the Skypephone 3 released at the end of 2007, though thankfully the VMX feels considerably more solid than the flimsy Skypephone.

Designed for fans of the West Tigers, the VMX sports a matte black finish with slashes of electric orange trim along the edges and on the keypad. On the back is a simple-looking 2-megapixel camera lens, while a mini-USB port and 3.5mm headphone socket line up along the top. Virgin chucks a pair of cheap-feeling headphones in the box with the VMX, though we must admit these performed better than we expected — a little light on bass, but loud and clear all the same.

The screen is the big letdown in the physical aspects of the VMX. For AU$99 we don't expect an iPhone-like touchscreen, but the VMX's QVGA resolution screen is a bit of a shocker; at its highest brightness setting the image on the screen is unusually hard to see. We put this down to the display being set back behind the glass cover, so that reflections from overhead lights or sunlight mask the screen image in glare. The display also suffers from a poor viewing angle, with the image being even harder to see unless you hold the phone directly straight on.

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