Review: Lobster 544 budget music mobile

Mobile phones, Reviews

The Propaganda

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 Good

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.

The Bad

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.

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  • My 544 developed a problem about 6 months after we bought it – it refused to charge. No matter what we said, we couldn’t convince Virgin Mobile that it wasn’t the charger that was at fault. They eventually sent us a battery, too. That didn’t work either. It recently culminated in me getting my trusty old screwdriver out – I’m in no way endorsing this, by the way – and unscrewing the back, pushing in the tabs etc to open the case and looking inside. Once I’d removed the dust and the ‘tat’ of tissue paper, it worked perfectly. Get it repaired under warranty, if you can. And, RE: Ronald, my Emblaze Sting 6 failed after about the same amount of time too…


  • I’m afraid the “caller can’t hear you” problem is a terminal one. Theres nothing which can be done about it in the long term. However, by restarting the phone, the problem goes away for a bit. I’m on my 4th, trying to convince virgin that they broke the terms of the contract in selling em a defective phone. The phone charger also breaks very easily. DO NOT GET THIS PHONE. IT HAS SO MANY GLITCHES AND PROBLEMS, IT BECOMES UNUSABLE.

  • Hello,
    Me too, pauncy. I am on my second 544 and it has developed the (no-one can hear me) problem, same as the first one.
    Anyone know of a fix foe this?
    Cheers, p

  • have had same problem with lobster 544 as Laurence Farrell want to know if he managed to find new battery colour black specifically?

  • I bought a lobster 544 august 2006 from the link
    got a problem with the battery only worked for a month then died and the link went broke so could not get guarentee sorted.
    So all i want to know is where do i get a new battery for the 544.
    Thank You

  • I bought a lobster 544 august 2006 from the link
    got a problem with the battery only worked for a month then died and the link went broke so could not get guarentee sorted.
    So all i want to know is where do i get a new battery for the 544.
    Thank You

  • I’ve not had many phones, before this one I had the Emblaze Sting 6 phone since Jan 2005 till it broke. Now I’ve got this phone and its a great little phone. it hasn’t got a pretty menu interface, but what it does has is a multitude of features, the phone is good at playing MP3’s and vid movies in 3GP & MP4 format. the phone can display animated wallpapers & screensavers. things that i like about the phone.

    The phone hasn’t got bluetooth which I don’t need so it doesn’t bother me not having it.

  • battery runs down very quickly
    case scratches easily
    hard to read screen
    i have had two which have malfunctioned: callers can’t hear you speak! something of a problem…

  • im getting the lobster 544 and i was just wondering has it got in-frared????? and does it support itunes music files??

  • What this reviewer fails to mention is that the MP3 player doesn’t work if you drag and drop the files into the Audio Directory. What you have to do is to put the files not in a folder but directly on the card. In other words when it says audio etc just drag and drop into the window.

    Appart from that I agree with all the other coments.

    My Wife had to go to the store a few miles away and the shop staff were not helpfull at all and in the end told her it must have been a glitch with the phone.

    But after a few tedious moments I found the culprit was simply the way the files were stored on the SD Card.


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