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Orange San Francisco 2 review: Orange San Francisco 2

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The Good Simple operation; Android features; Decent screen; Pleasant design.

The Bad Poor processor; User interface looks ugly; microSD card slot is stuck inside phone.

The Bottom Line The Orange San Francisco 2 offers a decent screen, pleasing design and a simple user experience that belies its low price.

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8.3 Overall

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Not everyone is looking to spend half a grand on the latest smart phone. Many of you simply want a functional phone for a good price and spend all that saved cash on new scatter cushions or soap.

If you are so inclined, the Orange San Francisco 2 won't break the bank and offers a decent screen with a simple interface.

It's available now for free on contracts starting at £10.50.

Should I buy the Orange San Francisco 2?

Rather than offer the biggest, brightest screen, the fastest processor and the very latest software, the San Francisco 2 strips back the bling to offer a serving of Android 2.3 Gingerbread to those who don't want to spend top dollar on a high-end smart phone.

Gingerbread may not be the latest version of the Android operating system, but it offers great functionality. Orange has applied a bunch of tweaks to make it straightforward to use. It may not be the best-looking customisation we've ever seen, but it won't leave you with a headache from trying to figure out where your apps are.

The 3.5-inch screen doesn't have the best resolution we've ever seen, but it's bright and handles colours well so photos and YouTube clips will look as good as they can. The processor inside has enough grunt to tackle the essential functions and keep the phone ticking along without too much delay.

You also get a 5-megapixel camera on the back that produces adequate photos. You're not going to replace your dSLR snapper with it, but for capturing the odd hilarious moment, it'll do fine. There's a front-facing camera too for video calling.

With its decent screen, simple operation and cheap price, the Orange San Francisco 2 is a great choice for a smart phone beginner wanting to experience the Android world without decimating their children's inheritance fund.

Design and build quality

In the looks department, the San Francisco 2 is an improvement over the original San Francisco. Gone is the somewhat naff chrome trim and rubbery casing, to be replaced by rather sleek shiny black plastic.

ZTE -- the company that makes this phone, as well as the original San Francisco and various other handsets for Orange -- has clearly been taking style tips from Sony Ericsson. The curved top and bottom, as well as the three curved buttons below the screen, look very reminiscent of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo or even -- if you really squint -- the Xperia Arc.

Orange San Francisco 2 front

There's a definite Xperia style to the new San Francisco and we rather like it.

They're not identical, but you could probably trick someone into thinking you have a much more expensive phone than what you paid, so long as you don't give them a close-up view.

A 3.5-inch screen takes up much of the front of the phone, with the three buttons beneath it. Around the back, things appear less premium; there's a rather cheap-looking expanse of plain, shiny black plastic. It's a shame that Orange hasn't done anything to jazz it up -- even a random pattern in the middle would have given it a little more interest.

Around the edges you'll find a volume rocker switch, a power button, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro-USB port for charging and connecting to a computer.

Orange San Francisco 2 back

With its big expanse of plain black plastic, the back doesn't have the premium feel of the front.

Budget phones have a tendency to feel very cheap and flimsy but the San Francisco 2 offers a much nicer feel. The plastic casing offers little flex when we squeeze it and the physical buttons feel firm and secure. With a weight of 120g, it's reassuringly sturdy, without making it seem as though you're carrying a lead weight in your pocket.

At 117mm long and 58mm wide, it sits snugly in your hand and you won't struggle to slide it into your pocket, given its 10mm width.

Orange San Francisco 2 size

The San Francisco 2 will easily slide into a tight jean pocket or nestle in a tiny bag.

It accepts microSD cards, which is welcome as you only get 512MB of internal storage. Annoyingly, the card slot is housed inside the casing, which you'll have to remove every time you want to swap out a full card.


The San Francisco 2's screen measures 3.5-inches on the diagonal, so it's not going to be as easy to browse the web or watch videos on as smart phone goliaths like the HTC Titan or Samsung Galaxy Note. However, it's got plenty of room to show off the essentials and still let you enjoy some app fun.

The 800x480-pixel resolution isn't huge, so be prepared to do quite a lot of scrolling around web pages to see everything. Due to a pixel density of 267 pixels per inch -- which is up there with more expensive phones like the Motorola Razr -- icons and small text were reasonably sharp so you needn't worry about squinting too much. It knocks the similarly priced Huawei Blaze's 180ppi out of the park.

The screen is pretty bright and delivers rich, vibrant colours, which is really great to see on a budget phone. It will make looking at photos or checking out the latest YouTube clips a treat.

It's a capacitive touchscreen so you'll have to run those cake-covered fingers all over it to make it work. It's pretty responsive and accurate so you'll have no problems in swiping around.

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