Remember the Brando V10 cellphone which we covered in the beginning of June? Well, I had the privilege of holding one in my hands, and here’s my 2 cents on it. Let’s start off with the size – it might measure 118mm x 60mm x 17mm which is pretty hefty by any standard, but surprisingly it weighs a mere 120 grams and won’t be too much of a burden on your pocket. The V10 TV Phone comes with fairly ordinary specifications, and as the name implies, there is a TV function built into it for those living in countries without any form of DMB. Check out the rest of the review after the jump.
The V10 TV Phone is a GSM 900/1800 handset, so you won’t be able to roam through the world with this. Strangely enough, it comes with a TV configuration for most countries around the world, but I’ll get to that later. Let us start off with the features – it boasts a 2.6″ TFT touchscreen display that is extremely bright indoors, but I found it to perform rather poorly in the presence of bright light. Even when compared to an ancient (for cellphone standards anyway) Samsung SGH-D600, the much older Samsung was more legible under direct sunlight, whereas the V10′s display could not be seen at all. Indoors, however, the 2.6″ of real estate is welcome, although the resolution count of 240 x 320 pixels could have been increased for greater detail. Those with oily faces will find themselves wiping the screen all too often, as it seems to pick up dirt and other grime pretty easily. The rest of the phone’s body isn’t a fingerprint magnet despite the silvery exterior, which is always a good thing.
Sadly, the V10 comes with a 1.3 megapixel camera that took fairly standard photos, although it would have been nice to see a higher megapixel count as 2 megapixels are surely the minimum for today’s standards. Not only does it capture still images, you can also use the V10 to record video clips in the 3GP format. Needless to say, the V10′s storage is limited by its 36MB internal memory, but thankfully there is a microSD memory card slot that supports memory cards up to 2GB in size.
One thing I must say about phones from China though – the speaker inside the V10 is really, really loud. In fact, it even beats the Sony Ericsson line of Walkman phones when I put them side by side, although sometimes the V10′s speaker tends to crack when playing really loud tracks. I wouldn’t settle for the internal 64 polyphonic ringtones that come with the handset, since its speaker works great with MP3s, announcing to everyone in the room that you’re a very busy person (while annoying them in the process).
Other than MP3 and video playback, the V10 also comes with an audio recorder for you to take down voice notes, although don’t expect the recording quality to be on par with that of a dedicated voice recorder. What I found interesting was this functon known as “In Call Background Sounds”, where you can choose to play certain pre-recorded sounds such as a crowded sidewalk, at the subway, in a pub or restaurant, or even some white noise to let the caller know that you are “busy”. Definitely an interesting way to make up an impromptu excuse to not speak to someone. The TV function would be the main attraction of the V10, and the antenna is stored as an extension of the stylus. This makes the stylus extremely short and thick, and if you pull one end of the stylus further, it will reveal the antenna. All you need to do then is choose from a list of supported countries and run the auto scan. The V10 will pick up all the relevant channels in the area after a short while, listing them via channel options. The pictures that I got were often grainy, so I suppose I’ll have to live beside a TV base station in order to get crystal clear images. You can choose to turn the V10 sideways and watch the show in widescreen format, enabling you to keep up with the latest serials even when you’re on the go.
Although there is a dual SIM slot inside, I find no real practical use for this since you can’t run both lines simultaneously. What’s the point of having a number that cannot be used? Anyone who calls the secondary line will probably be routed to your voice mailbox, and since there are plenty of budget phones out there in the market, why not pick up one of those and ensure your secondary line can be reached?
Battery life is pretty impressive – a full charge gave me approximately 3 hours of talktime before making another trip to the charger, which falls well within the 150 to 280 minutes of talktime as specified on the product page. Of course, this includes watching some TV occasionally while listening to some MP3s while traveling. You can also hook it up via USB for a quick charge, whereby the V10 can also be turned into an impromptu webcam for you to carry out your video calls with family and friends.
Bear in mind that I had to figure out this handset without the help of the manual, especially when the manual comes in just Chinese. Thankfully, the V10 shipped with English as the default language. While the user interface has improved by quite a fair bit, there is still plenty of work to be done. For example, the text prediction when composing a text message still does not record new words on the fly, and choosing between auto-complete or not can be quite a hassle. At $305 a pop, this handset comes across as expensive when compared to other more established brands, but it looks set to remain an Asian-only cellphone as I can’t see Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC, iPhone, or Sony Ericsson owners ditching their respective brands just to pick this up for its TV function.