Onyx Liscio mobile phone review

3 out of 5
£130

For

Small, MP3 player

Against

No camera, basic in features

Onyx is probably only a word you've heard of when talking about precious stones not mobile phones, so can the new player cut it against the likes of Nokia and Sony Ericsson? We made some calls to find out.

Called Liscio, the new phone from new start up Onyx is actually a rebranded and rebadged Haier Elegance.

Weighing only 64 grams and with diminutive measurements of just 90.6 x 35.3 x 18.2mm, it sure is little, in fact Haier when it launched the handset in May last year claimed it to be the world's smallest GSM mobile phone featuring an MP3 player.

So what do you get?

The 1.10-inch OLED screen delivers a resolution of 96 x 96 pixels with 65k colours and is certainly reminiscence of phone screens from 5 years ago rather than anything with millions of colours on it. It might be OLED and therefore offers plenty of battery life, but I want flashy graphics and glorious logos on my phone rather than something I'll find on a cheap MP3 player.

The screen is hidden behind a mirrored display and sits above a 15-key keypad with the three middle keys (the 2, 5 and 8) also doubling as skip and play buttons for that MP3 player.

The side sports a job toggle for accessing the menus and there's a 3.5mm jack alongside a mini USB socket for connecting headphones and the power.

You'll noticed I haven't mentioned the camera, that's because there isn't one.

Turn it on and it is all very basic with the menus accessed, rather confusingly, in two different ways. One by pressing the menu button, which gives you a list of options, while the second is via the jog toggle on the right-hand side of the phone.

Scrolling through gives you access to the MP3 player, an FM radio, the phone book, games (although almost impossible to play given the size of the screen) and other such features.

In an attempt to make navigation easier the menus rarely have more than four items, however the screen is so tiny you'll not to want to access the menu system if you can help it.

As for the MP3 player, it follows the same rules as everything else, i.e., Basic. The phone comes with 128MB of internal memory and a microSD card slot tucked under the SIM card that supports cards up to 1GB. You'll also be able to use the storage as a mass storage drive if you want to carry files around with you.

What it has got going for it however, thanks to that screen is an impressive battery life of 3 hours talk time and 200 hours on standby.

Verdict

The phone currently comes SIM free so will work on any tri-band network on any operator which is a plus, however, there is no Wi-Fi, no 3G and no web surfing capabilities and of course no camera.

There is Bluetooth, but not Bluetooth 2.0 and certainly not an interface that you'll want to do anything with other than make or receive the odd call on.

For a mobile phone that's roughly the size of a squashed sausage we can see the appeal, after all who wants to take their clunky smartphone to the pub of an evening? But as we suspected when we first reported on the Haier phone, the novelty of owning such a handset soon wares off once you've pressed the wrong button on the wee keypad for the nth time.

It might be designed as a second phone for down the pub, we just aren't sure given the size and greater capability of phones like the Sony Ericsson Walkman range, or some of the LG and Samsung handsets, you really need yet another mobile phone that is a couple of millimetres smaller just for one night a week.