The Social Mobile Breeze FB101 is a burner phone. That can be a good thing; there’s a place in the world for burners, whether they’re for travelers just in the country for a week, or for dirty deeds to get done dirt cheap. With burners, quality doesn’t matter much. But the Breeze violates the first rule of disposable phones: It aims just a little too high, and at $79.99 (list) costs a lot too much.
Let’s dispense with niceties: This is a lousy phone. It is poor quality in many ways, and I shall recount those ways. So the whole value equation here becomes heavily skewed towards cost. The Breeze is sometimes sold packaged with the disposable Ready SIM, a very cool self-activating SIM card that gives you relatively anonymous connectivity. It needs to be an inexpensive, transparent way to use that Ready SIM as quickly as possible. And unfortunately, it’s just too pricey.
The Breeze is a light little slab of black plastic, 4.2 by 2.2 by .4 inches and 2.7 ounces (even with the 600mAh battery in.) It’s obviously made from cheap materials, and on one of my units, the micro USB power jack was loose enough that it was hard to charge the phone. The back is made of soft-touch black plastic, and the little oval QWERTY keys are well-separated and precise, but quite stiff.
Pop off the back, take out the battery, and you can struggle with adding and removing two SIMs and a microSD card, which are all stacked on top of each other. The microSD is on the bottom, in case you were entertaining false hopes of swapping it. Sliding the SIMs back out is tight.
The keyboard is topped by dual call buttons (for the two SIMs), dedicated camera and social networking buttons, and a five-way rocker that doubles as a volume control. The power and headphone jacks are on the top.
Turn on the phone and be dazzled by a downright awful, pale, washed-out 2″ LCD screen of indeterminate resolution—seriously, the press materials don’t say. It doesn’t matter.
The Breeze is a quad-band, dual-SIM GPRS phone that will run on any GSM network. Reception was surprisingly fine. The earpiece is rather quiet and very tinny, like a 1960s-era AM radio. The speakerphone mode is a joke. Transmissions were clear and sharp, including background noise, which came through just as clear and sharp as my voice. The Breeze supports Bluetooth, but if you’re thinking of buying a Bluetooth headset, just save that money and buy a better phone. Battery life, at 7 hours 25 minutes of talk time, wasn’t great when compared with other phones but was positively epic on the tiny 600mAh battery.
The Breeze’s pretenses at multimedia and Internet are just sad. Yes, the phone plays MP3s (no other music formats) from a memory card; it also has a janky video player that can barely handle low-bitrate, 320-by-240 MP4s. There’s an FM radio on board that works without headphones plugged in and can auto-scan for channels.
The less said about the VGA camera, the better. It doesn’t take photos, it takes Impressionist paintings, along with 320-by-240 videos so jerky that you think they’re an unfinished stop-motion animation project.
As for Internet, the Breeze has a simple, low-end WAP browser paired with a group of custom social networking apps that let you post messages to MSN, Yahoo! Messenger, Facebook, Skype, and Twitter. Those messages post slowly because the Breeze is a GPRS phone, using a data network that’s slower than a 1995-era dialup modem. I’d be willing to give up both the “multimedia” and the “Internet access” for a $20 lower price.
I’m just going to stop here. It’s not worth either of our time.
The Social Breeze is a pretty lousy phone, but all of this is forgivable if it comes in at a throwaway price. Unfortunately, ReadySimGo.com, the phone’s official sales channel, is selling the Breeze for $80. If you go to third parties, prices are more reasonable: $45 on Amazon, and $40 on eBay. You can get similar but higher-quality phones for about the same price. On Amazon, I found the Pantech Link for $40 and the Samsung A177 and A187 for $50, all better phones. If you need dual-SIM, the Huawei G6620 costs $35 to $40 on Amazon. Carrier-locked prepaid QWERTY phones can go for even less, like the $15.99 Kyocera Loft S2300 on Virgin Mobile. The Breeze is already cheap; it needs to be less expensive.
More Cell Phone Reviews:
|Service Provider||AT&T, T-Mobile|
|Screen Details||2-inch color LCD screen|
|Bands||850, 900, 1800, 1900|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||7 hours 25 minutes|
|Screen Size||2 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||45 MB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc