If instant communication is what you need, you might prefer to use the Orange Messenger app, which is built on Windows Live Messenger. Setting up the service is, however, incredibly frustrating -- Orange forces you to sign up for an account with Orange World by finding an obscure page via the phone's browser and registering an account under the 'chat and flirt' section. Ew.
Once you've dragged yourself through this gruelling, laborious process, which involves filling in the sort of 'about you' section you'd find on a dating site, you'll finally be able to sign in. It's a shame that the sign-up process is so information-hungry -- we imagine it will leave all but the most ardent chat addicts and sexters cold.
Any typing you do -- sexy or otherwise -- will be done on the Qwerty keyboard. Thankfully, this keyboard is extremely simple to use. The keys feel responsive and, even though every button is tiny, a slim space between each one means you won't end up hitting the wrong letter by accident. Feeling your way around will quickly become second nature. A dodgy keyboard could so easily have ruined this phone, but we're glad to report that tragedy has been avoided.
The Rio is bereft of Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity. In the case of a Web-focused phone such as this, we'd have liked to have seen some support for speedier data services. But we can't complain too much when the Rio costs only £55.
On the back of the phone, you'll find a 2-megapixel camera. As with other mobile-phone cameras, you can't expect to take any prize-winning shots, but the software is remarkably snappy -- you can get from the home screen to having taken a photo in under 2 seconds. Captured video is extremely grainy.
A 3.5mm headphone jack on the right-hand side of the Rio means you'll be able to plug in your own lovely cans rather than the rubbish ones that come in the box. We're always pleased to see this jack. There's also a microSD card slot on the outside edge of the phone, rather than under the battery. That's great for quickly swapping memory cards, so you can look at a friend's photos, for example. There's also an FM radio, and a voice recorder too.
The call quality is good, and the battery will probably last you around two days with normal use. It will last for less if you're downloading tonnes of data and playing plenty of media content.
Oh, and the Rio has Tetris. That's right. Tetris.
There are aspects of the Orange Rio that we dislike. The display is rather lacklustre, and some of the features are poorly implemented, such as Orange Messenger. That said, the interface is intuitive, the keyboard is decent, and, above all, the Rio only costs £55. Any gripes we have about the phone itself more or less evaporate when we recall its price tag. If you're into texting and emailing but don't have the cash to splash out on a high-end smart phone, the Rio is a good choice.
If you happen to be checking out the Rio because it's very cheap, you might want to take a look at the extremely basic Tesco VX1 Party Phone, which is available for only £9.49. On the other hand, if you have a little extra to spend and like the Rio's Qwerty keyboard, peruse our review of the BlackBerry Curve 8520.
Edited by Charles Kloet