Virgin VMX

The VMX is a phone with many shortcomings, but most of these are outweighed by the AU$99 price tag. For most people who just need the basics, the VMX will do the trick.


7.2
CNET Rating
8.4
User Rating

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


If you asked us, we'd have said a 3G phone for AU$200 is a pretty good deal. Though the faster data speeds of 3G are almost ubiquitous down under, thanks to our network structure, the cost of 3G handsets has still lingered at between $200-300, until now. Virgin has partnered with Chinese OEM Huawei and delivered a 3G capable handset for AU$99. For this low price can you expect more than a cardboard box with a 3G radio inside? We take a closer look.

Your fingers must be this big to ride

Absolutely every part of the VMX is tiny; from the buttons on the keypad, to the low-res screen, to the box the handset comes in, the VMX is like a mobile phone from Gulliver's Travels. This reviewer has tiny fingers by the standard of modern men and even I move my digits cautiously over this pint-sized keypad making sure I select the right key. In terms of overall size of the handset, the VMX compares to the Skypephone 3 released at the end of 2007, though thankfully the VMX feels considerably more solid than the flimsy Skypephone.

Designed for fans of the West Tigers, the VMX sports a matte black finish with slashes of electric orange trim along the edges and on the keypad. On the back is a simple-looking 2-megapixel camera lens, while a mini-USB port and 3.5mm headphone socket line up along the top. Virgin chucks a pair of cheap-feeling headphones in the box with the VMX, though we must admit these performed better than we expected — a little light on bass, but loud and clear all the same.

The screen is the big letdown in the physical aspects of the VMX. For AU$99 we don't expect an iPhone-like touchscreen, but the VMX's QVGA resolution screen is a bit of a shocker; at its highest brightness setting the image on the screen is unusually hard to see. We put this down to the display being set back behind the glass cover, so that reflections from overhead lights or sunlight mask the screen image in glare. The display also suffers from a poor viewing angle, with the image being even harder to see unless you hold the phone directly straight on.

Anything you can do, I can do

During our time with the VMX we imagined it was a spunky, grubby-faced kid standing off against the rich private school bullies from the big companies like Nokia and Samsung. Side by side with the new Samsung Preston Icon (the cheapest of Samsung's new Icon range), the VMX looks shabbily dressed, but in terms of functionality it holds its own. The 3G data speeds ensure that when you need the web you have it, albeit viewed through an average browser on a tiny screen. Likewise, the VMX is capable of managing POP and IMAP email which is handy; we set up a Gmail account without much fuss, though again the small screen meant we used the email client more like a notification board that informed us we had mail and then logged onto Gmail from a PC to see the full HTML messages.

The music player was the stand out for us during the testing process. Like the phone's facade, the music player isn't much to look at, but it works well playing MP3 music files. For a laugh we plugged in headphones worth twice as much as the VMX and listened to tracks we had stored on a SanDisk 8GB SDHC microSD memory card. To access the memory card slot you have to take the battery cover off, but you don't have to take the battery out, however, which means you can hot-swap cards without shutting down. If your music sucks, the VMX has an FM radio and an antenna on the bundled headphones.

The VMX also has a 2-megapixel camera mounted on the back of the handset, though for the entry-level price don't expect a flash or auto-focus. We took a bunch of photos with the VMX and saw the kinds of photos you expect to see from cameras of this calibre; the colour reproduction was fine, but the images were noisy and the highlights flared. Still not bad for a camera attached to an AU$99 phone.

Overall

On its own merits the VMX is a very average phone, but its bargain-bin price overshadows most of the handset's lacklustre features. If you spent a bit extra and bought a microSD card and a comfortable pair of headphones, the VMX would make a decent phone cum music player for anyone who really only needs the basics from a phone. The real disappointment is the low quality display. For AU$99 you can't expect a much larger screen, but we do expect better visibility. The poor viewing angle makes this screen hard to see under bright lights and this could be reason enough to look to a Nokia in the same price range, even if this means sacrificing the 3G data speeds.

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Robyn
10
Rating
 

Robyn posted a review   

The Good:Bought it for my 12 year old as an emergency contact, it's just his size, plays all his music, games, short vidios & his eyes are good enough to read the tiny type, at $39 I'm not stressed about what he does with it.

The Bad:can't think of anything yet & we've had it for a year

Excellent phone for kids small fingers, we don't browse on it & probably never will, camera good enough to take friends photos as number id's. Light weight & durable, battery lasts 4 days approx.

bbi
7
Rating
 

bbi posted a review   

The Good:price $39, 3.5mm jack, durable

The Bad:poor display, poor 3G features

Its hard to complain for $39 but I would not have paid $100....call quality (ear set) is not clear..(its not the network since my LG and Nokia are fine).... the ring volume is way too low, I rarely hear my phone ring even at the highest volume level...

my 1.3MP nokia takes clearer pics than this 2.0MP camera....

but I do like the multiple alarms...

also, I save EVERYTHING on my SD card but it keeps saying that my phone memory is full but I there are no photos or video or music stored on it???

KJ
7
Rating
 

KJ posted a review   

The Good:price, size, network,

The Bad:cant view youtube or the mobile tv channles on it

overall it a realy good phone but the one thing about it is that realy suck is its in ability to view mobile tv and youtube

 

njlhbihb posted a comment   

The Good:everything

The Bad:nothing

who thinks this phone is bad is so wrong

 

Ammmmmm posted a comment   

The Good:smells nice, tastes nice

The Bad:looks bag, feels bad

verry nice

da_rula
10
Rating
 

da_rula posted a review   

sorry i forgot to change the rating.

da_rula
6
Rating
 

da_rula posted a review   

The Good:cheap, 3G, expandible memory, bluetooth, 3.5mm jack

The Bad:good camera for the price of $40, didicated MP3 buttins

this phone is great for its price if you are looking for something basic and durable if you are in the market for something basic and durable this is the phone for you, also the fact that it is 3G makes it even better

me
9
Rating
 

me posted a review   

The Good:3.5 earphone jack, music player, 3g, price

The Bad:screen

its cheap its light it has all the stuff u need it has a fairly good camera for such a cheap phone (only $39).

newxr
10
Rating
 

newxr posted a review   

The Good:$39 for a 3G phone with bluetooth and MP3/Video

The Bad:Not Much

I damaged my 18 month old phone on contract for another 6 months. Rather than pay out the contract I bought this little GEM. Its spot on for the price

lostmyphone
8
Rating
 

lostmyphone posted a review   

The Good:3g, very light and easy to use, smaller than most similer priced phones out at the moment, easy to use, charges via usb, good battery life, the battery doesnt need to be removed to access the micro sd

The Bad:texting can be hard because of the small keypad, no multi tasking, no games, no micro sd, screen quality

For a 3g phone under $100 it is awesome, if all you need is a basic phone, no wifi or any of the special features, then you cant go wrong! i have dropped mine about 5 times from about waist height and it is fine only a minor scratch in the side. the screen quality is average normally however when in direct sunlight screen quality is terrible. overall i rate it very highly simply because there is a lot of bang for your buck, a cheap phone you can use overseas, its a basic easy to use and very durable phone.




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User Reviews / Comments  Virgin VMX

  • Robyn

    Robyn

    Rating10

    "Excellent phone for kids small fingers, we don't browse on it & probably never will, camera good enough to take friends photos as number id's. Light weight & durable, battery lasts 4 days approx."

  • bbi

    bbi

    Rating7

    "Its hard to complain for $39 but I would not have paid $100....call quality (ear set) is not clear..(its not the network since my LG and Nokia are fine).... the ring volume is way too low, I rarely..."

  • KJ

    KJ

    Rating7

    "overall it a realy good phone but the one thing about it is that realy suck is its in ability to view mobile tv and youtube"

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