The Orange San Francisco is the latest budget handset from the network. We recently reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Apollo which was a bargain at £150 and now we have the San Francisco at a mere £99!
The device is actually made by ZTE and their version is called the Blade. As you will see below you get fantastic specs for £99 and this one could well be bargain of the year.
Interested in the device? Then read on for an insight into what comes standard on the device and a few extra apps you may want to download.
What’s in the box?
- USB Cable
- Quick Start Guide
The ten second review:
Device: Orange San Francisco
Summary: A very low cost Android device running 2.1 and with pretty good specs. An all round winner!
Best of: Value for money, Browser, Android 2.1
Worst of: Lack of camera flash, Orange UI (although an alternative)
Buy it now from: Orange
Orange San Francisco Specification:
- Android 2.1 Eclair OS
- 3 Megapixel Rear Camera
- FM Radio
- 3G+ Connectivity
- 150 MB Internal Memory
- 2 GB Pre-loaded MicroSD Card
- MicroSD Card Slot Expandable Up To 32 GB
- USB Port
- POP3/IMAP 4 Email Supported
- Orange Maps, Messenger, App Store And Orange Wednesdays
On the left side of the device is the MicroUSB port.
Over on the right is the up/down volume rocker and also a speaker grill.
The top housed the power button and also the headset jack.
The camera lens is all that is on the back. No flash in afraid.
On the front we get a speaker grill at the top. Under the screen are three buttons. Home, Menu and a back key.
The Orange San Francisco is a solid feeling device. The handset is a great size too. Not too small and not too big. It feels good in the hand and if you expected a bad quality phone for your £99 your will be wrong. Oh, I nearly forgot – It looks real nice too.
Once you have the Orange San Francisco up and running the first important screen you may well encounter is the lock screen. Like we have seen before on may Android devices this will display some important information such as the time and date. Under this you have two large buttons. The once on the left you can slide to unlock the screen. The once on the right controls your sound. Swipe to turn to silent.
Once the screen is unlocked you will be greeted with the home screen. There are two options for the home screen on the San Francisco. The first one and this will be set by default it the Orange themed one. Although in the screen shots below I have added my own live wallpaper you will see that the onscreen icons all have an Orange theme. I’m not very keen on these so it is a good job you can change them.
Using the switcher in the menu you can switch from the Orange theme to a more vanilla Android one. This process only takes a few seconds so is pretty painless.
Once done you will have the more familiar Android look. The home screen is made up of five screens so you can scroll twice both left and right to reveal more. Each screen can be totally customized to house your favorite apps and widgets.
At the top of the home screen besides the battery indicator and signal strength you will see some other icons. This is your notification bar. Drag it down and you will see any notifications you may have received. These will include messages, downloads and any changes that have been made to the phone.
At the bottom of the home screen is a small grid icon on the screen. This is where you can access the main menu. As you can see the menu is made up of a one continuous screen and the icons are listed in alphabetical order.
So lets have a look at some of the apps that either will be pre loaded on the device or ones you will want to download.
Facebook is one that most people will want on their smart phone. The Android version of the app is pretty good. The main menu is where you can choose which section you wish to visit and also where you will see any notifications.
Once in the news feed this is where you will see your friends updates etc. Like on the web version you can comment or like these updates. A long press on that particular update will give you this option.
The photos section is quite cool. Here you can view all your uploaded pictures and then share, comment etc.
The music player on the San Francisco is above average in my opinion. As you will see below the music tracks can be displayed by artist, albums, songs or playlists.
Once a track is selected you get some nice on screen options such as repeat and shuffle as well as the standard forward, back and play keys.
In terms of sound quality the external speakers deliver a decent volume and sound ok. The supplied earphones sound great but are not the most comfortable. As the device has a 3.5mm headset jack you can always use your own. Bonus.
On to pictures. Lets have a quick look at the picture gallery on the San Francisco. This is the standard Android gallery and as you can see the photos will be displayed in sections depending where they have come from. For example I have only got pictures on the phone from the camera so only one folder is displayed. Give the folder a tap and it will expand to display all the pictures present.
Once the picture is full screen you again have options to share or delete. Press the more icon and you can then crop, rotate or set that picture as either wallpaper or a contact icon. Zooming is done one of two ways. the first is buy using the on screen zoom icons. I find this a waste of time as multi touch is supported so option two is to pinch and zoom. I suppose the first option is useful if using the phone one handed.
The camera on the San Francisco has its good points and bad. During good lighting it takes a reasonable shot although the time it takes to focus is rather long. In low lighting conditions i really wouldn’t bother. It is useless and without a flash it is to be expected. Video is much the same although it looks okay on the handset but once on a PC its quality takes a nose dive.
Running the Google OS the phone would not be complete without Google Maps. Like on most platforms now you have the options for either map mode of satellite. Delving a little deeper will allow you to enable Street View and it seems to work perfectly on the San Francisco.
Want plenty of apps? Well you can get as many as you like from the Android Market. If you have not used this before it is similar to the Apple iTunes store which you must of heard of?There are over 100,000 apps in the Market consisting of both paid and free. Downloading them is only a click away.
Orange Maps comes pre installed on the handset. Unfortunately it did not offer me a free trial which I thought was a bit rude. You can see the cost options below. I have used maps on a previous device and it did work very well. £5 a month is a little heavy if you ask me. There are other alternatives so if you want to use your phone as a sat nav I would look in the Market if I were you.
Skype is not pre installed but its a must have download in my opinion. Just like on a computer you can call and chat to your Skype contacts for free over Wi-Fi. You also have the option to make calls to mobiles and landlines at a cheaper rate than not using Skype. Video calling is not supported but that is much the same on all other platforms currently.
Like on all Android devices there are various options when it comes to emailing. You have a messaging widget or a separate Gmail one if you are a Gmail user. I also downloaded a Yahoo one which I found to work very well.
This would be a good point I think to mention the onscreen keyboard. With a touch screen device the text input is pretty important. Due to the San Francisco having a 3.5 inch screen using the on screen keyboard is fine. The device is just big enough. Clearly things are much easier once in landscape mode and here I really found myself speeding around the keyboard. It would have been nice to have some haptic feedback. If it was there I couldn’t find it!
With an OLED screen on the San Francisco this makes colours pretty rich and there is no better place to see this than the YouTube app that will be pre loaded on the device. This is the standard Android app and as we have seen on other devices one of the best when compared to other operating systems.
One of the most important features with any smartphone is web browsing and I am pleased to say that the San Francisco handles it very well. The capacitive screen reacts well and with pinch to zoom present it makes browsing a pleasurable experience.
Bookmarks are nicely laid out and you are given a small screen shot of each which I always prefer to a list. Multi window browsing is available and as you can see in the photo on the right it is nice and easy to jump to another open web page.
Although not the most important, the device does come with an alarm clock, stopwatch and voice recorder. All seemed to work perfectly.
I have to say that the Orange San Francisco is probably my bargain of the year. Although not as well specced as some of the top of the range Android devices you must remember that it is a quarter of the price. In terms of value for money the San Francisco is a top notch device and i am sure that the other carriers are pretty gutted that they are not selling it. Nice one Orange.
Posted by: James