BenQ Siemens EF81
- Industrial design, Display, Solid features list
- Sluggish interface, Long load times, Poor hinge, Flat keypad, SIM card slot,
The EF81 is a decent 3G offering with a solid features set, but users will be frustrated by its slow user interface and sluggish load times.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
Prior to their purchase by BenQ, Siemens produced some good quality mobile phone handsets, so we were looking forward to seeing some new units. The EF81 is BenQ's first effort after the acquisition, and while it offers a few interesting elements that may attract certain buyers, it is plagued by a sluggish interface and long load times.
One of the most notable features about the EF81 is that it comes preloaded with a set of Star Wars themes. Everything from the ring tone (Yoda telling you to answer your phone) through to the message alert (Darth Vader breathing menacingly) follows this theme, and while we can see how it may appeal to Star Wars fans, we just found it plain embarrassing! Nobody wants to open their phone on a peak hour train to have it make the sound of a lightsabre firing up. Of course the tones can be changed, though some may appreciate the added character.
Sadly though, the phone doesn't seem to be powerful enough to cope with the included interface. It takes anywhere from 20 to 40 seconds to power up and can take as long as two seconds just to open the menu. There is a noticeable lag when navigating the menu icons and the overall process of using the phone can be quite frustrating.
Speed aside, the interface is fairly good. Everything is clearly marked with animated icons and it looks quite snazzy. All the usual functionality is there, including a media player, calendar, sound recorder, alarm clock and stop watch.
It's interesting to note the EF81 only has a single two megapixel camera. Most 3G mobiles have two; a VGA internal camera for video calls and a second, higher resolution sensor on the exterior, for taking day to day snaps. This means the camera can only be used for regular photographs with the unit folded up. The quality of the camera's pictures is quite good, comparable with other two megapixel camera phones in this category, although not up to the standard of a standalone digital camera.
With a reflective silver chassis and black back plate, the EF81 has an industrial design. It is about average in size for a 3G flip model and doesn't weigh too much. It's quite sturdy too, with the entire front being constructed from metal; however the back plate is just regular plastic and could be a point of weakness. The hinge is another area of concern - it's quite stiff and poorly constructed. Additionally the SIM card slot is located below the battery, making it extremely difficult to put in. We had to use a pen to click the card in and out of place.
The keypad sports the increasingly popular flat design, with imprinted keys on a single sheet of metal, rather than individual raised buttons. It's comfortable to type on and quite responsive, although some people dislike flat designs.
The internal 256K colour screen is impressive, and handled the opening Star Wars animations and our video calls very well. What was more surprising however was that the smaller external screen also looked quite good, probably because of its use as the viewfinder for the camera, though it's a little small for this purpose.
The EF81 has 60MB of inbuilt memory, which is about average for a 3G model, and thankfully supports microSD cards for further capacity. The phone supports most of the usual connectivity options including proprietary USB and Bluetooth (although infra-red is absent), and has full T9 dictionary functionality for text messaging. The quoted battery life is rather impressive, at 300 hours stand-by time and a whopping 4.5 hours talk time. Our tests were consistent with these figures, with the phone going four or more days without needing a charge.
All up, the EF81 is a great offering with plenty of functionality and features that should entice the avid 3G buyer. Especially if you like Star Wars.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- 2 Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- 3 Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- 4 LG G6 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Fake heads and robot probes: testing smartphones prior to launch
- Rumor suggests the Note8 will be a bigger S8+ that adds a missing feature
- Xiaomi's Mi6 has the Galaxy S7’s looks, the S8’s power, and iPhone 7’s camera for half the price
- Samsung DeX turns your Galaxy S8 into a shockingly good desktop PC
- Find My iPhone helps nab a thief at Coachella with 100 phones in his backpack
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- TPProject Reporting DeveloperSA
- FTFront End .Net Developer. Permanent jobACT
- FTPHP / WordPress DeveloperQLD
- CCPersonal AssistantNSW
- FTPHP DeveloperNSW
- CCApplications Support/ DevOps EngineerQLD
- TPReporting AnalystQLD
- FTSenior Sales Operations AnalystNSW
- FTElectronic Payments POS Business Analyst - Permanent - North Ryde areaNSW
- TPSolution ArchitectVIC
- TPInfrastructure ArchitectQLD
- FTSecurity AnalystACT
- FTTIBCO DeveloperVIC
- CCSenior Process Specialist - TelcoVIC
- CCSAP CRM Functional AnalystACT
- FTSecurity and Technical Risk ManagerQLD
- FTBusiness AnalystNSW
- CCSAP CRM Functional AnalystWA
- TPPrincipal Project Officer - ReportingQLD
- CCSenior Project OfficerNSW
- FTSecurity ConsultantVIC
- CCTechnical Business AnalystSA
- CCPMO AnalystVIC
- FTService Desk AnalystNSW
- FTSenior Network EngineerACT