Bluechip VX1

The VX1 from Bluetooth manufacturer Bluechip arrived on my desk this week. Retro built like a 1980's calculator, it measures 80mm x 50mm x 10mm and is smaller in profile than a credit card. Solely for voice and texts, it's been available exclusively from Tesco during the Christmas and the New Year period, priced at around £18. It's marketed SIM free as a backup or emergency phone and works on any network except 3's.

It gained a bit of interest in the office, and again on Friday night when I took it out with me. It attracts by being a little strange and different to the current range of huge glowing smartphones out there, but it didn’t hold anyone’s attention very long. The battery has lasted for 4 days so far, and voice quality has been fine, but I wouldn't want to use the fiddly buttons to text anything beyond 'ok' or 'cu l8r'. As an emergency replacement it did the job, but I missed being able to take a few pictures of friends during my night out.

A year ago I'd have been really keen on the VX1 as a cheap and cheerful stand-by phone. But now I think it's missed the window of opportunity. It’s low build quality and utterly basic functions don’t compare well against the alternatives you can find on prepay for any network at under £20. For example, I picked up a Samsung E1120 as a temporary Orange phone for my Mum, for £14.95 at Asda.

If you’re looking for a bargain, I’d check out the clearance stock in supermarkets and office suppliers first. Being SIM free is an advantage for the VX1, but shopping around will bring you better results.

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