If you're shopping for a smart phone on a budget, but don't want to compromise when it comes to features, then the MWg Atom Life could hop into your cart and end your search. It features a fast processor, oodles of storage space and it runs Windows Mobile 6. Perhaps more importantly, though, it's available for just £199.95 without contract from expansys.
Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform is certainly impressive when it comes to features, but it can also be a demanding operating system that can cause cheaper phones to grind to halt under its weight. Thankfully, the Atom Life is well equipped for the job with an Intel XScale PXA 270 processor running at 624MHz. It feels snappy and responsive when faced with any task.
You'll find plenty of storage available, so if you want to load it up with some music files you don't have to worry about running out of space. There's 1GB of internal storage, of which around 800MB is available for storing your own files. There's also a miniSD card slot that supports high capacity cards, so you can easily add more storage if you fill up the internal memory.
When it comes to connectivity, the Atom Life boasts HSDPA for fast downloads, plus Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. There's even infrared thrown in for good measure.
In addition to being able to play audio and video -- thanks to Windows Media Player -- there's also a built-in FM radio. The radio will only work when the supplied headset is attached, though. The built-in speakers do impress, despite their small size, especially when combined with the SRS WOW HD equaliser, which made Galvanize by the Chemical Brothers sound like it was coming from a much larger system and not just from a phone.
Although the Atom Life has plenty of processing power and storage, it's limited in terms of actual memory to run applications, with only 64MB available. You'll need to keep an eye on the list of running programs if you want to get the best from it.
The display is bright and clear, but it only runs at resolution of 240x320, not the higher 480x640 seen on other devices. As there's no physical keyboard, you're solely reliant on the display for input. It's fine for navigating and tapping in the odd Web address, but it's small for using the on-screen keyboard or handwriting recognition for composing messages longer than a few words.
The Atom Life's camera can take snaps up to 2 megapixels, but the images are on the grainy side. Although the LED flash does its best in low-light conditions, the results are only passable rather than great.
You'll find the handset's design is basic, but inoffensive. However, it's constructed out of very shiny plastic that picks up greasy finger marks in no time at all.
The Atom Life has a couple of niggles, but given its low asking price you can forgive most of them. More memory to run applications would be an improvement, but most of its other foibles aren't dealbreakers. If you're after a cheap smart phone without having to start a new contract, then it's definitely one to consider.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday