While T-Mobile, Orange and O2 tend to make a big deal of their own branded handsets, Vodafone prefers to slip them in under the radar. The 810 has arrived with little fanfare, yet it boasts a decent spec and a slick-looking design. But does its low asking price of just £45 on pay as you go make this phone a hidden gem or an embarrassment that's best kept out of the limelight?
At first glance you could mistake the 810 for any number of handsets from prolific manufacturers such as Samsung and LG. This is mainly because it's got a similar glossy exterior and sliding design to those found on many of the phones from those two brands.
But the handset is not just attractive, it's also relatively small, measuring just 98mm tall and 48mm wide. And seeing as it tips the scales at a shade over 100g it won't exactly weigh you down when you drop it into your pocket.
The sliding mechanism feels pretty sturdy when you flick it open and the keypad hiding underneath is a decent size, with nicely spaced keys that are easy to use for texting. The menu system is based on the standard Vodafone theme, so it's instantly familiar and navigating it via the large direction pad under the screen is a cinch. The placement of the navigation pad and buttons, however, does mean that you have to be careful not to accidentally hit them when you're sliding the phone open and closed.
The phone supports 3G for faster download speeds of music and themes, and there are cameras on the front and rear so it can be used for video calling. Budget handsets generally don't perform so well in terms of battery life, but the 810 manages to do a decent job. You'll get over 3 hours of talk time from it and it'll keep running for around 12 days on standby.
The 810 only sports a 2-megapixel camera so the shots it takes are relatively low-res. But even bearing the quality of the sensor in mind, pictures tend to look rather washed-out, because colours aren't rendered as vibrantly as they should be. It also lacks a flash, so it's pretty much useless for taking snaps in low light settings such as pubs and clubs.
The phone's Web browser is also disappointing. It's quite fiddly to use and lacks common features now found on the browsers on other mobiles, such as the ability to zoom in on pages. The result is that you're only likely to use it when you're really desperate to check something on the Web.
The 810 is a winner in terms of style, thanks to its slick slider mechanism and glossy finish. Its camera is below-par, however, and its browser is pretty limited. There are plenty of budget handsets available at this price point and unfortunately the 810 doesn't really offer anything special to make it stand out from the crowd.
Edited by Nick Hide