T-Mobile Vairy Touch II review: T-Mobile Vairy Touch II

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Typical Price: £30.00
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2 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

2.5 stars 8 user reviews

The Good Compact and eye-catching design;. Good features for the price.

The Bad Terrible touchscreen;. Poor video recording;. No 3G or Wi-Fi.

The Bottom Line Impressive features such as upgradeable storage and a camera with video-recording capability are undermined by an unresponsive touchscreen and lack of 3G connectivity. The T-Mobile Vairy Touch II is billed as an entry-level touchscreen device, but could potentially end up putting people off button-free phones.

4.5 Overall

T-Mobile's mandate to bring touchscreen technology to the masses has spawned this ultra-cheap device but, sadly, the Vairy Touch II suffers very much the same fate as its lacklustre predecessor. The need to maintain a low retail price has forced the designers to rely on largely unsatisfying materials, making this a hard device to recommend wholeheartedly.

The T-Mobile Vairy Touch II is available for around £30 on pay as you go.

Touchscreen on a shoestring

The recent proliferation of high-end touchscreen devices -- such as the iPhone 4 and HTC Desire HD -- has led to a spate of 'me too' arrivals at the lower end of the mobile phone scale, with budget manufacturers looking to capitalise on the popularity of buttonless interfaces with their own products. Mid-range devices such as the Huawei Ideos and T-Mobile Pulse Mini have given way to even cheaper phones, and the T-Mobile Vairy Touch II is arguably at the vanguard of this cut-price revolution.

The Vairy Touch II's glossy, rounded back calls to mind the design of the iPhone 3G.

The sequel to the rather uninspiring Vairy Touch, this new model boasts a massively superior design. The 2.8-inch touchscreen has allowed the designers to keep things compact, and at just 83g the Vairy Touch II will slip into your pocket almost unnoticed. The rounded casing, silver edges and glossy back understandably call to mind Apple's iconic iPhone 3G design, albeit with a more pronounced reliance on cheap plastic. Despite the modest materials used, this is quite a looker.

Low on buttons, high on frustration

The Vairy Touch II's visually appealing shell features just three physical inputs -- a power button, volume controls and camera button. All other interactivity is channelled through the phone's resistive touchscreen display, which extends all the way down to the 'call' and 'call end' buttons at the bottom of the phone's face.

Resistive screens are commonplace on pretty much all budget touchscreen phones these days, and don't offer anywhere near as much accuracy as the capacitive types of expensive devices like the iPhone and Samsung Omnia 7 . The example seen on the Vairy Touch II is especially problematic.

The bundled plectrum-like stylus attaches to the phone via a lanyard, rather than docking in the phone itself.

At times it appears to be ultra-responsive, to the point where it picks up even the slightest of finger contact, leading to unintentional selections. Other times, however, it stubbornly refuses to acknowledge your input. The flaky nature of the display is likely to be the reason that T-Mobile has included a strange plectrum-style stylus, which is supposed to be secured to the phone via a lanyard. It improves accuracy, but looks like an especially awkward phone charm when attached to the Vairy Touch II's casing.

More than meets the eye

Considering the Vairy Touch II's low price, it comes packed with a surprising amount of technology under the bonnet. There's a microSD card slot (complete with 2GB microSD card), 2-megapixel camera, MP3 player and FM radio. The phone is even capable of shooting 3GP-format videos, which can be shared with other phone users via Bluetooth. Sadly, there's no 3G connectivity or Wi-Fi capability, which means you'll need to use the much slower GPRS data link to perform tasks such as sending MMS messages and surfing the Internet.

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