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T-Mobile Vivacity review: T-Mobile Vivacity

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The Good Simple operation; Android 2.3 Gingerbread; Decent screen; Looks more expensive than it is.

The Bad Weak processor; Juddery scrolling.

The Bottom Line For a budget Android phone, you can't get much better than the T-Mobile Vivacity. It's got a lovely bright screen, a dashing, if not completely original, design and enjoys all the benefits of Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

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8.3 Overall

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If you fancy grabbing yourself a decent smart phone without having to take out a second mortgage, cast your eye in the direction of the T-Mobile Vivacity.

The Vivacity has taken design tips from the iconic iPhone, mimicking its black and silver rectangular body down to the finest details. Its innards though, are closer to another budget smart phone, the Orange San Francisco 2.

It will set you back £90 on pay as you go.

Should I buy the T-Mobile Vivacity?

While the Vivacity's appearance may ape the iPhone, it has the guts of the San Francisco 2 (which, confusingly, looks like the Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo). And when we say similar, we mean identical, as they were made to the same specification.

Both the Vivacity and the San Francisco 2 were built by ZTE. Both are good, solid options for first-time smart phone buyers. Choosing between them could come down to something as superficial as design preference. T-Mobile's Android operating system skin is definitely prettier than the drab grey and tangerine-hued one that Orange has slapped on the San Francisco 2, but the latter's handset design arguably has the edge over the Vivacity.

The Vivacity carries a decent enough 5-megapixel camera, as well as a front-facing 640x480-pixel resolution camera, which is perfect for video calls to rellies around the world using services like Skype.

It comes packing Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which means you'll have access to all the apps on the Android Market. Day-to-day tasks are handled with aplomb, including playing YouTube clips on the vibrant 3.5-inch screen.

If you're fond of the minimalist iPhone design but price is an issue, the Vivacity may well be the right phone for you. Of course, while it may look like the iPhone, an iPhone it is not. It won't provide you with the same power or functionality, but it will do the trick if you want to convince people that you've got a more expensive blower than you actually have. From a distance, at least.

Design and build quality

The Vivacity design team quite clearly had a mood board full of Apple mobiles for inspiration when they set about creating this phone. You'd recognise the oblong shape, rounded corners and flat sides anywhere. It even has the same lock/unlock button and silver rim running around the edge.

As the Vivacity is constructed almost entirely from plastic, it doesn't have the same expensive feel or comforting weightiness that you get when cradling the glass and metal slab that is the iPhone 4S. That's to be expected as it's around £400 cheaper. The shiny black plastic is a magnet for fingerprints and the phone began to look grubby and smudged with minimal amounts of handling.

The phone feels sturdy enough, but take off the back panel and you'll see that the plastic casing is pretty thin and flimsy. There's little to no flex in the phone though, which is helped by the lack of physical buttons.

T-Mobile Vivacity back and side
The shiny back panel is a touch flimsy and cheap-looking.

There are four touch keys on the front of the phone, which provide standard Android handset controls -- home, back, search and options. On the side of the device is a volume rocker and on top is a 3.5mm jack, where you will inevitably plug in your own headphones rather than the naff-looking ones that come bundled with the phone. The front-facing camera perches next to the slim speaker grill.

T-Mobile Vivacity front
Have we met before? The Vivacity bears an uncanny resemblance to the iPhone.

Instead of the iPhone's docking port on the bottom of the handset, the Vivacity sports a micro-USB socket on the left-hand side of the phone for charging and connecting it to a computer. Inside you'll find a micro-SD slot, which you can access without removing the battery. This will allow you to expand the memory by up to 32GB.

The Vivacity weighs in at a featherweight 118g, and at a mere 10.5mm in depth, you won't find it too cumbersome to slide into your pocket.


The Vivacity boasts a 3.5-inch screen on the diagonal, which is the same size as the iPhone, although when we compared the two, the Vivacity has a thicker bezel, which definitely makes its screen slightly slimmer. A display this size isn't ideal for perusing the web or watching videos, but if you do choose to indulge in these activities, you'll be rewarded with rich, vibrant colours.

T-Mobile Vivacity horizontal browser
The Vivacity's bright, colourful display makes CNET UK look delightful.

The 800x480-pixel resolution isn't huge, so be prepared to do quite a lot of scrolling around web pages to see everything. For a budget phone, a pixel density of 267ppi is much higher than we would have expected -- it even beats the pricier Motorola Razr's 256ppi -- and renders text and images sharply.

The Vivacity's touchscreen is capacitive, meaning it's lovely and responsive when pinching yout digits to zoom in on pages, although we did find typing and texting on the narrow screen a tad fiddly compared to other smart phones.

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