The E2121 is the most recent addition to Samsung's growing stable of sub-£50 handsets, and is sure to raise a few eyebrows thanks to the sheer amount of options included within its sleek frame. It's unlikely to win over seriously dedicated mobile users, but as a starting point for newcomers both young and old, it's just the ticket.
The Samsung E2121 is available for just £25 on pay as you go, or SIM-free for around £50.
Welcome to the cheap seats
Samsung's recent line of budget phones has provided a cheap, if technically unspectacular, route into the world of mobile ownership for plenty of consumers. The E1150, E1170 and E1360 are hardly going to have Steve Jobs and Google quaking in their boots when it comes to raw functionality, but for the incredibly humble price you're getting a commendable amount of tech for your money. At first glance, one would assume the E2121 continues this frugal trend, but this phone actually comes with a few additional surprises that set it apart from its brethren.
The candybar form factor instantly calls to mind the unfussy design of the Samsung E1080. With an overall weight of just 74g, it's not what you'd call a heavyweight, but the 15mm thickness gives it a substantial quality, and the texture of the casing -- which features tiny raised dimples -- grants the E2121 a considerable amount of grip. You're unlikely to find this phone slipping from your grasp any time soon.
Build to conquer
Constructed entirely from plastic, the E2121's exterior has obviously been made on the cheap, but just like Samsung's other low-cost phones, this hasn't resulted in a loss of quality. It feels sturdy, with no annoying creakiness during handling. The coloured areas of plastic at the top and bottom of the phone do come across a little tacky, but they're not overpowering. Another element that doesn't exactly scream sophistication is the one-piece rubberised key mat, but we can appreciate that it makes sense from a cost perspective. It will also prevent unwelcome dust and grime from reaching the innards of the device.
There's an awful lot to like about the aesthetics of the E2121, from the recessed camera lens to the friendly and inviting music player control button, which is situated in the middle of the direction pad. Granted, this isn't a product that is destined to stride down the technological catwalks of the mobile phone industry, but you have to admire the amount of effort that's gone into its appearance.
Music to your ears
Compared to its rather stunted relatives, the E2121 packs in an impressive amount of functionality. The presence of dedicated music controls are some indication of the phone's key selling point -- this is a music-playing mobile for the thousands of people out there who don't fall within Apple's great plan, simply because they can't afford an iPhone or iPod touch. MicroSD card support (up to 2GB) is on hand to further bolster the E2121's audio credentials, although the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack does rain on the parade ever so slightly.
Unlike so many cheap and cheerful handsets, the E2121 is capable of going online, albeit via a painfully slow GPRS connection. There's no 3G, so don't expect your surfing to be super-speedy. Many data-intensive websites won't play ball with the phone's rather primitive Web-browsing software, either. The inclusion of Bluetooth file transfer softens the blow a little, as you can at least download files onto your PC and share them wirelessly with the phone itself.
In addition to all of this, the E2121 also sports a camera -- although before you get too excited, it's of the VGA variety, so it's only really good for taking photos to send via MMS messaging.
When you look past the numerous enhancements, the E2121 is actually a very similar phone to the likes of the E1080 and E1170. The operating system is near-identical, and the 128x128-pixel colour super-twist nematic (CSTN) display is washed out, suffering from a considerable amount of blurriness. It's a long way from the gorgeous Super AMOLED screen we've recently been blessed with on the Samsung Omnia 7, but it's a necessary evil when you consider the low price.
When you're mulling over the purchase of a phone that costs less than your average return train ticket to Heathrow, it's obvious you're not going to be tremendously fussy when it comes to features. That said, the Samsung E2121 provides a startling amount of functions for such a low price point. The music playback focus is augmented by Bluetooth connectivity, a VGA camera and access to the Internet, and you can use a microSD memory card to increase the phone's limited internal storage.
Combine these points with the phone's ergonomic and visually pleasing design, and the E2121 becomes an even more enticing proposition for those shopping on a budget. If you'd rather have a more compact form factor, the clamshell Motorola WX295 is worth considering.
Edited by Emma Bayly