Although Motorola's fortunes have been turned around lately thanks to the company's allegiance to Google's Android operating system, the industry veteran hasn't totally abandoned the so-called 'dumb phone' arena. Budget phones are still wildly popular in emerging territories such as India and Africa, and there's a burgeoning low-price market here in the UK that positively laps up bargain-basement blowers -- hence the launch of the Motorola Moto WX295, a mobile that offers core functionality for less than fifty notes.
In terms of design, it's clear that Motorola is mining its illustrious past when it comes to inspiration for the WX295. The clamshell form factor, one-piece key mat and circular direction pad call to mind the near-legendary Razr, a device that has gone on to become an iconic product in Motorola's back catalogue.
Although it's manufactured predominantly from plastic, the WX295 doesn't have the same creaky casing as other budget-range rivals, such as the Nokia 1616. In fact, it's quite an elegant-looking handset, and the one-line OLED display on the outer casing -- which only reveals itself when you get a call or text message -- adds a touch of class.
The WX295's key mat is fashioned from one single piece of plastic, with buttons concealed underneath. This prevents dust from getting inside the phone, but it can make distinguishing between individual keys difficult. Thankfully, the highly responsive direction pad suffers from no such issues, and is both accurate and comfortable to use. The only other physical interface on the phone is the camera button, which resides on the side of the device and grants fast access to the WX295's VGA snapper.
The ability to take images is a welcome extra, especially when you consider that many rival devices in this class lack such functionality. With a resolution of only 640x480 pixels, photos are predictably poor, and are only really suitable for sharing with other mobile users. Thankfully, the WX295 features both Bluetooth support and MMS messaging, so distributing your low-res creations is a breeze.
Despite the inclusion of microSD card support (up to 2GB), no card is included with the phone. Equally disappointing -- given the device's music-playback aspirations -- is the lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The WX295 uses a proprietary connection for both the bundled hands-free headphones and charger, which is unfortunate when you take into account the industry's current move towards standardised micro-USB ports.
Moving away from the hardware side of things, it's clear that the WX295 is an incredibly basic phone in terms of pure functionality. The menu system looks and feels old, but it does at least put all core elements at your fingertips, with the bare minimum of button presses required to access important options.
The lack of 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity means you'll have to make do with GPRS for your data-related amusement, and the rather crippled Web-browsing software makes hard work of rendering even the most basic page.
Don't fake it
As if to atone for this humble arrangement, Motorola has included the much-loved 'fake call' facility -- previously seen doing the rounds on Samsung's range of low-cost handsets. Simply put, this option allows you to orchestrate a bogus phone call in order to remove yourself from an unwelcome conversation or meeting.
The ability to use MP3 files as ringtones is a neat touch, but you'll need to purchase a microSD card as the phone's tiny 1.9MB of internal storage is unlikely to hold even a single song. Elsewhere, the inclusion of an FM radio is hardly groundbreaking stuff, but it does at least boost the WX295's status among other similarly priced handsets.
As with many budget phones, the WX295 sacrifices connectivity for stamina. The lack of 3G may cause headaches for those who simply have to be online 24/7, but it does wonders for the staying power of the phone. You can expect to get several days of standby time out of a single charge, making the WX295 the ideal device for people who are away from home for prolonged periods.
When judged against competing budget phones, the WX295 certainly comes across as an impressive achievement. Devices such as Samsung's E1360 and Nokia 1661 can be found in the same price bracket, but lack many of the WX295's key features. Granted, the VGA camera produces lacklustre shots and Motorola, rather stingily, hasn't included a microSD card in the box. But when you're dealing with such cheap phones, you have to be grateful for small mercies. For the price, the WX295 is excellent value for money and the perfect phone for younger or less demanding mobile users.
Edited by Emma Bayly