Portugal's nice this time of year -- the beaches, the climate, the orange sun. Speaking of Orange, the company's curiously named Lisbon handset is testament to how little it knows about phone design, as it's possibly the most unusable handset ever.
The Lisbon is available direct from Orange for £30 on a pay as you go plan.
Every word for infuriating
The Lisbon is a decent-looking phone, resembling the small Palm Pre, but its good looks come at the expense of functional design. The screen itself is rather small and doesn't lend itself well to touch sensitivity. The on-screen keyboard (there's no physical one) has to be alphanumeric as a result. Even though it dominates most of the screen, making it hard to see what you're typing, the keys themselves are still insufferably small. The touchscreen is frustratingly unresponsive and only registered our presses about half of the time. As a result, composing text messages is practically impossible.
Orange has tried to remedy these issues by including directional buttons on the front of the phone, but, given that there are no physical selection buttons or keyboard, using the directional buttons requires constantly alternating between button and screen, which is just frustrating. There are substantial gaps between the screen and the buttons on the front of the handset. We feel this space could've been put to better use, perhaps by adding select buttons to accompany the directional buttons and allowing the user to feasibly forgo the touchscreen entirely.
In a quaint throwback to the Nokia handsets of the late '90s, the Lisbon has interchangeable back covers. Unfortunately, they come in the most vibrantly gaudy colours the human retina can safely perceive -- horridly vivid pink and an orange that makes the Lisbon look like the Palm Pre's ginger little brother. We really wish Orange hadn't wasted time and money on these back covers when it could've been working on improving the touchscreen.
Nothing to write home about
We do like the fact that the Lisbon has a 3.5mm headphone jack rather than the crummy proprietary ones that most handsets in this price range come with. Sound quality through the speakers is surprisingly good thanks to a distinct speaker grille on the back.
The camera is of a reasonable quality for photos but recorded videos are extremely choppy. The operating system is Orange's own blend, with useful shortcut keys to frequently used tools like messages, the camera and contacts. These are completely customisable, so you can rejig the idle screen's shortcuts to your needs. Alas, the orange-white colour scheme used in this OS gives the otherwise vibrant screen a slightly washed-out appearance.
The meagre 10MB of on-board storage can be boosted with a microSD card in the slot under the battery. Thanks to the good sound quality and headphone jack, this makes the phone an ideal music player, as the multimedia features can be controlled with the physical buttons as well as the touchscreen. If listening through the speakers, you may need to place the phone upside down, with the grille up, otherwise sound can be severely muffled. The volume rocker is a spindly little thing that felt like it'd snap in twain before altering the volume.
Addicted to sushi
Battery life is reasonable, standing up to a few days of abuse in our testing. Orange claims the phone is capable of approximately 6 days of standby time and 4 hours of talk time. It's particularly lightweight at 80g, and the handset feels fairly robust, despite the back cover being extremely susceptible to scratches and showing up fingerprints faster than Sherlock Holmes. We found ourselves hooked on one of the games that comes pre-loaded on the phone -- Magic Sushi. Essentially, this is Bejeweled, with morsels of sushi instead of semi-precious stones. It's a fun time-killer that can quickly become a raging addiction.
The Orange Lisbon is like a bug zapper. It lures you in by looking good and sounding alright, then shocks you as soon as you get close enough to touch it. For a phone of this price, you can't expect much, but you can expect it to be usable, at least. This handset is not. It'd be good value for money if it were free. There are no rewarding features that set it apart from its competitors, such as the easy-to-use and similar-looking Huawei U7510.
Edited by Emma Bayly