Virgin Mobile have committed to expanding their own branded line of mobile phones in the second half of this year, under the name ‘Lobster’. These are designed to appeal to youngsters who eat seafood, or are on a budget, or something. Anyway, the 544 is another one of those "for music lovers" phones that everyone is so keen on at the moment.
The design of the phone is great. It’s got a fairly average rounded clamshell shape, but the finish, which is a kind of high shine dark silver colour, makes it look much more expensive than it is. It’s also got an external screen under which is one MP3 control – play/pause.
The MP3 player has a dedicated button on the internal keypad, which takes you straight to your list of tracks. It will also play in the background whilst you’re doing something else, which is essential if a phone is claimed to be for music lovers – music lovers write text messages too.
Crucially, this phone can be loaded with MP3s simply by dragging them and dropping them. That means there’s no need for additional software, or anything to frighten off first time MP3 owners. The phone appears as a separate drive, thanks to the USB cable, which even the least experienced computer owner must be ok with. There’s also a 64MB MicroSD card included, which can obviously be increased as required.
It’s got a 1.3 megapixels camera, which has a light. It’s got a surprising number of settings, including 6 different white balance ranging from cloudy to incandescent (oo’er), as well as the ability to take three different shots in quick succession to make sure you get the best one. The pictures are also on the removable disk, meaning they stand a better chance of eventually getting off your phone.
Although the drag and drop MP3 player is good, it still has the potential to confuse a first-timer. Two drives appear in your Explorer window, and the instructions don’t tally with what you see on your screen, which spells the beginning of a tedious few trial and error minutes. There’s also absolutely no word on what file formats it accepts, but after more trial and error, I can tell you it’s not WMA files, but is MP3 files. So, essentially, the manual sucks.
Being a budget phone, the connectivity is limited. There’s no Bluetooth, which means despite being a music-centric phone, you can’t pair it with Bluetooth headphones. The menu screen is also ill designed, being grey apart from the highlighted icon you scroll through. Bearing in mind it’s a bright 262k colour screen, it seems a waste.
In our opinion
The Lobster 544 costs £70 on Pay As You Talk, which sits below most other PAYT phones with these features. The big draw is the MP3 player, with an interface that is about as simple as you can get (if you can navigate the minefield that is the instruction manual). Overall, it’s good value for money and although is no great shakes spec wise, will suit the budget consumer.