Second thoughts about the Simvalley PICO RX-80

By Abhijit Menon-Sen <ams@toroid.org>

2009-08-24

After a few weeks of using the phone, I'm less thrilled than I was at first.

To begin with, the battery life is nowhere near the claimed 90 minutes of talk time and 100 hours of standby (which would have worked well for me, since I don't make many calls). A full battery lasts almost 48 hours with minimal use (messages only), but using the phone, even if it's mostly for messages, always drains the battery in less than a day. The display flickers occasionally, which may or may not be related.

The audio quality sounds fine to me, except that what I hear is mostly complaints about excessive feedback (i.e., callers hear their own voice after a delay). I don't know why it happens, but it's unpleasant.

When sending messages (which I do more often than making phone calls), it's annoying to always have to switch from the default German input mode, and the lack of a sensible English dictionary also rankles. In practice, I'm forced to type in "triple-click" mode most of the time. The keyboard, though very nice to use, is a trifle too noisy for my taste (enough to make people nearby look up).

Aside: the phone does seem faster at sending messages than any other I've used, but I can't imagine why or how that might be, and I'm not certain that it isn't an interface effect. It's also nice that you can cancel the sending—if you can hit the red button quickly enough.

One bug that does nothing more than amuse me: if you select "unlock" when the keypad is locked, it says «Press '#' \nkey» (i.e., the two literal characters \n, not a linefeed).

All told, the problems outweigh the advantages of having an extremely small phone. I'll try to get my old Nokia's screen replaced, and keep the RX-80 as a backup.