Perhaps the most important addition to the V7 Flasher is the VGA camera. It includes a 4X digital zoom and a flash, but the image quality is nothing you would want to print out. Still, it performs adequately for casual snapshots. The LED-based flash is good for a few feet but not much more. The Flasher V7 can also take pictures when closed, and unlike many phones at this level, it offers an image preview on its external display.
Once you take a picture, you can e-mail it, upload it to the Virgin Web site, or store it on the phone's memory. The amount of storage for pictures depends on the resolution. You can save 100 shots at the 160x120 setting, 75 at the 320x240 setting, or 50 at the 640x480 setting. There is no IR port or PC-syncing capabilities, so the only way to get the picture off the phone is to send it via Virgin's service for 25 cents per image. There is no other multimedia-messaging support, which could limit the phone's appeal.
As you would expect from a Virgin phone, the V7 has some quirky offerings. The quality of the 32-chord musical ring tones is particularly good, and you can download them from VirginXL, Virgin's new online data service. The V7 is the first phone to use VirginXL, which also offers downloadable games, a WAP 2.0 browser, and an online photo-album service. Virgin has also done an impressive job of signing up brand-name content providers that will appeal to younger users. Exclusive content from MTV and Comedy Central includes TRL Video Voting, the Rock Paper Schizzle game, and ring tones from Crank Yankers.The call quality on the Virgin Mobile Flasher V7 was excellent. We tested the dual-mode (CDMA 800/1900 and AMPS 800) phone in the New York City area. We had no trouble finding a signal, even indoors, and nearly always made static-free connections. The speakerphone worked reasonably well, with callers only occasionally complaining that they couldn't hear us. Once we taught the phone to recognize our voice commands, the various voice-dialing features were easy to use.
Though we beat the rated talk time of 3.5 hours by a half hour, that performance was a bit underwhelming, even for a compact phone. On standby, however, the phone lasted almost eight days--a full day longer than the promised time. Keep in mind that using the camera and multimedia applications will drain the battery more quickly. According to the FCC, the Flasher V7 has a digital SAR rating of 1.15 watts per kilogram.