BenQ Australia M315
- Navigation, Bluetooth, Design, Good value for money
- Mixed case predictive text input not supported, Keypad does take a bit of time to get used to
An intuitive and well-designed navigation system is combined with Bluetooth and strong design in this great value camera phone.
Price$ 179.00 (AUD)
Just prior to Christmas, GoodGearGuide editor Nigel Freitas handed me the BenQ M315 mobile phone to "play with". Somewhat animated at the time thanks to some pre-Christmas lunchtime cheer, I didn't realise that the words "just give it a go" actually meant "write a 400 word review with photos and specifications".
Like any good professional I have taken on the challenge with gusto. I've taken off my Online Director cap, and grabbed my well-worn fedora with press badge in its band. Slotting back into the role of a qualified technology journalist was easier than consuming three free schooners, a glass of bubbly and a dozen salmon hors d'oeuvres. So far I've missed the deadline, the product's due back tomorrow, the editor's on my case and I've really got no excuse. (Editors note: Will you please talk about the phone?)
My initial thought on picking up the BenQ M315 was "hey, they've named a phone after me". Maybe it was just wishful thinking, however, after using the device for a month I am not so convinced that there is not something in the similarities between my name and that of my GSM tri-band, Bluetooth-enabled counterpart.
For a start, this phone is not expensive (I don't want to use the word "cheap" but lets just say it gives you great value for money). The words stylish and rugged also come to mind, and while modesty forbids me going further into this, let me just say that the M315 looks like a far more expensive model--you can take it out with you and not be embarrassed in the company of more costly or feature-packed units.
And--I am blushing now--but this phone goes, and goes, and goes and goes. [Editor's note: Dream on!] The Ben(Q) boasts between 65 and 142 hours of standby time, and three to five hours of talk time which is a good result for this 85 gram compact communication tool.
Of course, nobody is perfect. I'm big enough to admit I'm not, and the BenQ M315 is not either. I found the primary omission was in the iTap predictive text input. It's not that iTap doesn't work, quite the opposite--it operates with precision and even includes more obscure words like "linux", place names like "paris" and brands like "hilton". It's just that there is no mixed case option. In other words, I can use iTap to type "HILTON" or "hilton", but not "Hilton". While the available letter input mode can achieve the desired result, it's far more cumbersome.
More minor gripes are a keypad that does take a little getting used to (which, unfortunately, is probably true of the writer as well), it has an almost unreadable on-screen clock when the phone is in automatic sleep mode, and no speakerphone. These are countered by the well-designed menu and keypad navigation system that includes the extremely functional five-way navigation controller. The controller is used to access most functions on the phone: press left and a new SMS message is started; press up for shortcuts (speed-dials which can be used for numbers or phone functions); right to select profiles; down for the album; and OK for the full menu.
The 4x digital zoom camera works well, but like many basic camera phones only offers 100K resolution. Seven effects including negative, embossment and sepia are present and multi-shots are supported. There is a self-timer but it is only fixed at three seconds.
Overall, the BenQ M315 is a well-designed, stylish, low-resolution camera phone with Bluetooth. Good value for money, the M315 can also be purchased with optional Bluetooth headset, hands-free headset and a travel charger. Really, I couldn't ask for more.
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