Virgin Mobile VMX mobile phone

Virgin's VMX is one of the cheapest mobile phones on the market with 3G connectivity

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Virgin Mobile Australia VMX
  • Virgin Mobile Australia VMX
  • Virgin Mobile Australia VMX
  • Virgin Mobile Australia VMX
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • Cheap, compact and well-built, decent features list, 3.5mm headphone jack

Cons

  • Small keypad and controls, poor display

Bottom Line

The Virgin Mobile VMX doesn't offer anything to get excited about, but its budget price makes it a bargain buy -- provided you can handle the mediocre display.

Would you buy this?

Retailing for $99, Virgin Mobile's VMX mobile phone is one of the cheapest 3G-capable phones on the Australian market. It's manufactured by Huawei but has Virgin Mobile branding and is sold through the telco's store. The VMX has plenty of shortcomings, but it's hard to argue with its cheap as chips price.

The Virgin Mobile VMX is surprisingly sturdy and feels well built despite its small size. Its matte black design with bright orange sides is rather attractive, and the non-glossy surface means it copes with fingerprints.

The controls of the Virgin Mobile VMX mobile phone are straightforward but far too small. The keypad is particularly troublesome — the keys are easy enough to press, but because they are so small it's easy to accidentally press the wrong one. The five-way navigational pad, selection buttons and shortcut keys aren't much better — in particular, the selection keys are annoyingly close to the edge of the navigational pad.

The display of the Virgin Mobile VMX is perhaps the worst aspect of this mobile phone. It's clear and reasonably sharp, but the viewing angles are among the worst we've seen on a mobile phone. Its performance in direct sunlight is also poor; you'll find yourself shielding the display with your hand when outdoors just to check the time on the home screen.

Provided you can get past the poor display and small controls, there is actually quite a bit to like about the Virgin Mobile VMX. The menu system is straightforward and clearly labelled, there is no keystroke lag when messaging and the mobile Web browser is capable though not outstanding. The VMX also handles basic e-mail accounts, including Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo.

We were surprised by the VMX's multimedia capabilities. For the $99 asking price the VMX comes with an impressive music player, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack, an FM radio and a microSD card slot for extra storage. This makes it a capable phone for handling music and puts some more expensive devices — particularly those without a standard 3.5mm headphone jack — to shame.

Other features include a basic 2-megapixel camera and video recorder as well as a range of PIM functions (alarms, calendar, memo, calculator, unit and currency converters and a stopwatch). Virgin Mobile rates the VMX's battery life at up to 3.5 hours of talk time and 350 hours of standby time.

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