A decent screen and camera, and a more customisable version of Android, but the highlights are the pay-as-you-go tariff and reasonable price.
Android 1.5, 3.5in 320×480 display
T-Mobile’s Android-based Pulse is one of only two phones here that you can buy on a pay-as-you-go tariff.
It costs £176, and you can pay £1 per day or £5 per month for unlimited internet access (which is subject to a fair-use policy). If you top up by £10 each month, you’ll also get free text messages.
The phone itself is fairly bulky and, considering the size of the screen, the resolution is quite low. The Palm Pre’s screen has the same 320×480 resolution but is only 3.1in compared with the Pulse’s 3?in display. It’s bright and clear, however, and fine for browsing the web or watching movies. Image quality from the camera is average. There’s no flash, but it’s acceptable for taking quick snaps to share on the web.
The rounded case has a glossy carbon fibre-effect finish that picks up greasy fingerprints. The ports and buttons around the edge are unobtrusive and include a memory card slot, dedicated power and camera buttons and USB and headphone ports. The latter is a 2.5mm jack, but T-Mobile includes a short adaptor cable. Battery life isn’t great, but it’s better than that of other Android phones.
T-Mobile’s installation of Android is fairly simple, with none of the sophisticated merging and importing functions of HTC’s Hero. However, it’s not a standard setup either; T-Mobile has extended the home screen to allow more customisable areas, with widgets and larger ‘widcards’, which can show dynamic content. A customisable favourite contacts screen is also available from an icon bar on the home screen. Office viewing and synchronisation apps from Dataviz are installed, and these can be upgraded to allow document editing too.
The Pulse is a bit of a hodge-podge of free and trial software, but at least T-Mobile has gone to some effort to make it more interesting than the standard Android OS. It may not have the polish of more expensive models, but for the price – and on a pay-as-you-go tariff – it’s a bargain, and wins our Budget Buy award.
|Main display size
|CCD effective megapixels
|Video recording format
|Bluetooth, WiFi, USB
|Memory card support
|Memory card included
|GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 900/2100
|EDGE, HSDPA, HSCSD, HSUPA
|Microsoft Office compatibility
|Audio format support
|MP3, AAC+, WAV
|Video playback formats
|MPEG4, H.264, H.263
|data cable, charger
|Tested battery life (MP3 playback)
|Price on contract
|Free on £23-per-month, 18-month contract