With its slim flip design, rotating camera and external multimedia keys, the U310's looks hark back to those of the , which we reviewed in August last year. Measuring 94mm by 49mm by 18.3mm and adding 89 grams to your palm, it's lighter and more compact than its predecessor, but shares some of its frustrating quirks.
For example, as with the U890, it is damn near impossible to take a decent photo using the rotating 1.3-megapixel camera. Self-portraits are easily achieved, but spin that sucker around to face the outside world, and things become exceedingly difficult due to the angle of the lens and its recessed position in the clamshell's hinge. If you want a phone that does double duty as a digicam, this is not the model for you.
On the outside of the clamshell is a 96 x 96 pixel display above three multimedia keys which control music playback and navigation. Of course, these keys would be of greater use if there was actually enough memory to store music, but we'll come to that niggle shortly. The left side of the U310 has a port for charging and connecting the included stereo headset, as well as dedicated volume control keys and a camera shortcut button. On the right is a microSD slot for your expansion desires.
Opening the phone -- an operation that nail-biters will find more difficult than their long-fingernailed compatriots -- reveals a flush keypad topped with an array of shortcut and navigation buttons. The number keys are well-proportioned, and will not cause grief for the large-thumbed.
While the U310 feels hardy overall, the hinge is a little loose, and the top section of the clamshell moves slightly when the open phone is wiggled.
As with all other glossy-surfaced phones we have reviewed of late, the U310's outer shell is a smudge-fest after about four seconds of being handled. As our review model was black, fingerprints were especially noticeable, but the white version of the phone shouldn't show so many smears.
The U310's release coincided with the launch of Big Brother for 2007, and 3's relationship with the show means advertising for the phone has centred on the ability to watch live streams from the house 24 hours a day. If the notion of absorbing the inane conversations of housemates on a 176 x 220 pixel display fails to entice, there are a few other features to pique your interest.