Orange Rio 3 Stars

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While we’re all used to the latest handsets that have all kinds of capabilities – able to perform everything from super sat-nav to advanced email functions – it’s easy to dismiss any handset that doesn’t have the high speed of HSDPA. But even now the more rudimentary handsets still boast features they wouldn’t have a year or so ago. So it is for the Orange Rio, a BlackBerry lookee-likee that has a touch display, QWERTY keyboard and EDGE web access.

Screen test


The Rio does have a touch-screen, but it is of the cheaper, resistive type. This means you won’t be using feather-like swipes as you would on an iPhone – but instead you have to press a bit harder. However, it’s responsive enough, despite the fact that it has a resolution of just 320x240 pixels and offers only 256K colours.

You won’t want to be watching any movies on the screen, as it is not too bright and is somewhat blurred. Plus the 5MB of onboard memory will hold little else but texts and contacts. However, you can expand this by up to 8GB thanks to the microSD slot.

Along the bottom of the display, you’ll find six buttons, including those for the snapper and browser, along with the D-pad.

Plastic fantastic

For a plastic device, we found the Rio quite well put-together. Below the 2.5-inch screen sits a full-size QWERTY keyboard. The keys are rather hard and you’ll need to use a bit of pressure on them, but it’s still a decent keyboard. Letters and most-used symbols are arranged as you’d expect, plus there’s a function key for a second symbol and a shift key for capitalising letters.

 

Back to basics

While the Rio doesn’t pretend to be a smartphone, there are two toolbars at the bottom of the home screen – one for apps, one for widgets. Plus you can pick up email using the (slower) EDGE net access (there’s no Wi-Fi). Windows Live Messenger is also present (though it is here called Orange Messenger), but we don’t like the fact that it will cost you 5p for every message, rather than being part of your phone plan data allowance.

Texting is simple (something some smartphones could learn from) – just input your contact’s name in the To: field and a list of contacts will appear. Input your message and send it by hitting the centre button.

Multitasking is present in a basic form – when you leave a program the device asks if you want to minimise to close it – but the handset gets slower the more programs you leave open.

 Internet

The touch-screen comes into its own when browsing the net – it’s far more user-friendly to look through websites using your finger than the D-pad on offer from other handsets with QWERTY keyboards but no touch-screen. The onboard browser is the excellent Opera Mini, which does a sterling job of presenting non-mobile sites.

Snapper

The included snapper is pretty mediocre – it’s a two-megapixel model with no flash so don’t expect anything other then pretty average photos. Even in daylight, we found the colours rather faded, and a tad blurry when zooming in, while in low light our images proved dark and lacking colour.

 

Our conclusion

The Orange Rio does a good job of all its basic capabilities, and the combination of touch display and keyboard is a pleasing twist for a phone that is far from smart. It offers a Blackberry-like experience at a low price, but you have to bear in mind that you can pick up a budget Orange Android smartphone for not much more – so a Stockholm or Barcelona is a more likely choice.

 

Pros:
User-friendly apps for texting and calling; smooth navigation from touch-display and QWERTY keyboard; neat home screen offers widgets and shortcuts.
Cons:
Average snapper; fee for Windows Live Messenger.
Rating:
  • Look and Feel 3 Stars
  • Ease of use 4 Stars
  • Features 3 Stars
  • Performance 4 Stars
  • Battery life 3 Stars

Final verdict: 3 Stars

Review by Mobile Choice