For a sandwich, £50 may be expensive, but it's dirt cheap for a phone. The Orange Vegas is the least expensive touchscreen phone currently available, costing only £49 on pay as you go. It's cheap alright, but you get what you pay for -- not much. With few features and a clunky user interface, the Vegas feels like a cheap own-brand phone you might pick up on eBay, which is essentially what it is. But it does have the basics, and its tiny size reflects its tiny price tag.
plenty of problems
The Vegas bucks the current trend for bigger and better phones by offering a neat little package that fits easily in the palm. The baby-pink colour of our review model didn't float our boat, but it could be a winner for the kiddies that are the likely market for such an inexpensive device. It's also available in black.
The touchscreen is fairly responsive, and we had no trouble dialling a call using the on-screen keyboard. One big drawback is that the beep noises and haptic vibration feedback aren't great, so, when we tapped quickly, we didn't get a beep with each number dialled. The taps were detected, but the lack of feedback made it confusing and left us wondering if we'd made a mistake.
Texting using the on-screen keyboard is a hit-and-miss affair. The alphanumeric keyboard is fast enough, as long as the predictive text is turned off. But the predictive text is difficult to use, since it doesn't correct for capitalisation or punctuation, suggests long words when you're after short words, and makes it hard to reject suggestions. Switching between number mode, predictive text and capital letters is made harder by mixing in those options with several language choices. We're all for language alternatives, but there's no need to have ten of them cluttering up the keyboard all the time.
The on-screen Qwerty keyboard is so ridiculously tiny that the memory of it still makes us smile. It's like a tiny kitten in a sombrero: adorable, but not very useful. There's a stylus stashed down the side of the handset, but, even with that, you'd have to have the stabbing skills of an Olympic fencer to use the keyboard.
Despite its touchscreen, the Vegas doesn't skimp on the buttons, with a five-way navigation key, call and end buttons, and two context-sensitive buttons that back up the options that you can tap on the screen. We tend to wonder about touchscreen phones that include so many buttons, since it implies that the designers don't trust the touchscreen to do the job, but it's an affliction that high-end phones like the HTC Magic share.
Unfortunately, the keys don't help much with a user interface that's full of niggling irritations. For example, looking up a contact is a multi-step process. Opening the address book doesn't present you with a list of contacts, but rather with a list of options. You have to select the search function and then start typing a name, without the choice to just browse your contacts. Also, the available options are often too small for a finger to select and too close to their neighbouring options for easy tapping.