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Vodafone 830 review: Vodafone 830

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The Good Speedy HSDPA; decent 3.2-megapixel camera; straightforward user interface; reasonably good looks; plug-and-play sync software.

The Bad No camera flash; flimsy plastic casing; occasionally crashes.

The Bottom Line For a cheap pay-as-you-go handset, this budget phone has good features, including a 3.2-megapixel camera and HSDPA for fast Web browsing. But, if you can go on contract, you can get older but higher-spec phones for the same price

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6.5 Overall

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Own-brand handsets tend to be the black sheep of the mobile-phone world -- no-one wants to take the credit for producing them, while potential users might be put off by their mysterious parentage. The Vodafone 830 does have some quirks, but its combination of a good range of features and a low price tag could convince you to dip your toes into the own-brand waters.

The 830 is free with Vodafone on a £15 monthly contract, and around £70 on a pay-as-you-go deal.

The light and the dark
The 830 is a bargain phone, and it feels like one. The plastic case feels flimsy, especially on the back, and the slider on our sample wobbled slightly when it was open. A substantially sized handset, the 830 also has the unexpected lightness of a cheap DVD player, at only 90g. But, with sober dark-grey looks and a pseudo-brushed-metal finish on the buttons, its appearance is nothing to be ashamed of, and it wouldn't look out of place in the presence of Nokia slider phones like the N81.

The 830 looks decent enough, but feels rather flimsy, especially when slid open

The 3.2-megapixel camera is covered when the phone is closed, which is good for protecting the lens, but it means that you have to take photos with the phone open. We found that takes some getting used to. Worse is that the volume button, which also zooms the camera, is opposite the shutter button, so we sometimes activated the zoom by accident with our thumb while gripping the phone to press the shutter.

The results from the camera are acceptable for quick snapshots, with bright colours and good white balance. Typical hand-held shots in indoor lighting are good enough for emailing or posting on Facebook. But we found our photos tended to be blurry around the edges unless we held the handset stock-still, and, without a flash or an LED photo light, our snaps in low light were blurry and noisy. The 830 also takes video, but the resolution is so low that it's hardly worth it, unless you run into the Loch Ness Monster and you're desperate to record it.

Surfing safari
The 830's 61mm (2.4-inch) screen is bright and benefits from clear anti-aliased text. Text looks especially good in the Web browser.

The five-way navigation key can be programmed with shortcuts, but the homescreen doesn't display any

The 830 has HSDPA for faster surfing, and we found downloading to be snappy. The browser is functional but basic. For example, it can only zoom to a handful of preset levels, and you have to navigate through a couple of menu options to get them. We also occasionally found the browser unresponsive while a page was loading, even when we tried to stop the process.

Smooth use
The browser, and the rest of the user interface, will be familiar if you're moving from a Sony Ericsson or Samsung phone, with the 830's menus and predictive text similar to the offerings of both brands. Along with a five-way navigation key and six function keys, the innocuous user interface makes the 830 feel easy to use right out of the box.

We uncovered a few hiccups in the handset's software, though. For example, if we hit the cancel key while typing a text message, the phone sometimes crashed and restarted automatically -- but at least it saved a draft of the message.

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