Dubbed as another Facebook phone, like HTC’s ChaCha, the Vodafone Blue 555 seems to be designed to cater to just the hardcore FB fans and no one else. Being far more affordable than HTC’s smartphone, this Java-based handset offers a USP that really isn’t for everyone. But, will it nevertheless appeal to the Facebook fans? Here’s a closer look to help you clarify that.
The Vodafone Blue 555 is not quite unlike any other QWERTY-enabled handset. It’s lightweight, but a tad on the bulky side. The Silver and White coloration gives it a catchy look. The 2.4-inch display sports a 320 x 240 pixel resolution and it’s easily visible in all ambient lighting conditions. Vodafone has gone with an optical track pad system for navigation that also includes a couple of menu buttons on either sides, followed by separate call take and call end keys at the extreme ends. The keypad buttons may seem a little too close together, but will take no longer than a couple of minutes to get used to. The soft-raised keys make for comfortable typing. Quick access keys to the camera and Facebook functions enhance the functionality of the design.
A 3.5mm handsfree socket is placed at the top of the handset with a cool blue volume rocker on one side and a micro USB port on the other for PC connectivity and charging. A microSD (supports up to 16GB) hot swap slot is available under the rear panel just below the SIM card slot.
With strict regard to the design, the Vodafone 555 is quite well-balanced and offers a comfortable form for typing and overall usage.
Features and Performance
Unlike HTC’s ChaCha that has a smartphone OS backing it up making it much more versatile compared to the 555, this device will still manage to cater to almost all facets of Facebook-ing that a fan can think of. The entire UI and functionality of the handset has been customized to the Facebook way of life from the theme to the various apps and features incorporated. The touch sensitive navigation system is relatively easy to manage, but it isn’t the most responsive or speedy.
Easy access right from your desktop
The dedicated Facebook button can be assigned to any one of 5 preset options available via the settings. You can update your profile right from the desktop and the messages section neatly integrates your text messages, emails and Facebook mails into one space while segregating them with tabs. The contacts section allows you to view all of your FB contacts’ information with the option of adding more details. The 555 allows you to merge your FB contacts with those stored on your handset. A shortcut bar is also available on the desktop that allows you to assign contacts or apps to it for quick access. It's quite handy.
Simple and very FB-centric menus
Essentially, every aspect of the UI is directed toward connecting you to your Facebook account, from the Search option, a dedicated FB chat app, and the calendar app that also lists all your friends' birthdays as on FB. Oddly though, there’s no option to upload an image to FB via the camera or the photo gallery directly. The way to do this is to go to your profile page, click on the options tab and then select 'Take or Insert a picture'. You can, however access your Facebook photo albums and download images from there for wallpapers, etc.
On the whole though, the layout of the interface is quite average in terms of speed and accessing apps.
The 555’s music player is loud, but not really too strong on the quality. Irrespective of the earphones that were used to test it, overall quality was not impressive. EQ presets are available, but don’t prove to be too effective in controlling quality. There was always a significant amount of distortion audible and even more recognizable with the EQs switched off. Although you won’t see it, the Blue 555 does have a video player. Via the Apps section, you can access your videos from the file manager and if supported (MP4 and 3GP low res) files will play from there. The FM radio that's available from the Music menu worked out quite well providing decent reception in most places. It also features a record function.
Although the handset might bear the Vodafone marking, the Blue 555 seemed to work just fine with others operators, as well. The one thing that the handset lacks is Wi-Fi connectivity, which would have boosted its overall appeal considerably. As is, EDGE speeds will not leaving you wanting. Opera Mini (enhanced by Vodafone) works as the default browser. Obviously in terms of social networking, Facebook is the dominant option. A few extras like Palringo for chatting, a weather app and an RSS news feed reader are also thrown in. The 555 also has support for multiple email accounts with easy set up wizards for Yahoo! Mail, Gmail and Hotmail, as well as other POP accounts. For Facebook-ing, the handset offers an almost real-time push service that gives you all relevant updates. The handset also supports Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and USB 2.0. Just like all other budget Java-based handsets, you'll also be able to use the device as a webcam while connected via USB.
FB News feeds
In the Apps section, a few extra features that are available are standard mobile phone apps like a calculator, stopwatch, Notes and a Converter. Under the Java section, a couple of trail games like Tetris, the SIMs 3 and Sudoku (full) are available. A world clock and alarm option are also on board.
The 2MP fixed focus camera (with LED flash) features extremely basic settings that includes no more than Night mode and brightness settings. Image quality is not too bad as low budget 2MP camera phones go, but pictures often appear just a little on the darker side even in bright surroundings. If you’re not too picky about what you upload to your FB profile, then it won’t bother you much. Videos record at 320 x 240 pixel resolution.
Image quality is not bad at all
Loaded up with a 1000mAh battery, the Vodafone Blue 555 still managed to perform exceptionally well in our tech2 Loop Test. The first loop consisted of 2 hours of video, 2 hours audio, 1.5 hours of talk time and 2 hours of audio streaming. We also managed to run a second loop in entirety with a few minutes more of audio streaming thrown in after. In real-world terms, the handset, on a single charge ran for two days without needing to be charged with quite a decent amount of usage thrown in.
The Bottom Line
The price tag on the Blue 555 is just Rs. 4,950, making it one of the more affordable QWERTY-enabled handsets in the market. With a seriously well-managed power source at your disposal, you can be connected 24/7 updating your life away all you want, without the need for a specific app and still enjoy all the benefits of a budget handset with great features.
Facebook key for quick access
However, all that aside, the handset does lack a few key features, which considering the price should have been part of the deal. Things like Wi-Fi and a better audio player should be kept in mind while making a purchase and the fact that there slightly better handsets available that cover these factors. They might not give you the same level of Facebook relevance, but with the Java FB app at your disposal, you can very easily get by.
If you’re a hardcore Facebook fan looking to flaunt that sentiment, then it doesn’t get any better than this as almost all you’ll ever need, FB related, will be at your fingertips in quite an easy to access, well designed shell.
You can contact your service providers to avail your Facebook plans.
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Oct 22, 2016
Oct 22, 2016