T-Mobile has updated its original Android-based Pulse Pay As You Go handset with a smaller, newer model, the Pulse Mini. It lacks all the features you will find on top-end Android handsets like the HTC Desire and Legend, but the core of the Android platform is still present.
The Pulse Mini is small indeed at 106 x 57 x 14mm. With a chassis size like that it doesn’t have room for a large screen and at 2.8 inches the 320 x 240 pixel display is probably the smallest you can really get away with when delivering a touchscreen platform like Android. Indeed we found both Web browsing and creating text were challenging, even when you turn the Pulse Mini in your hands and let the accelerometer swivel the screen into wide format. T-Mobile even provides a stylus in case some of the on-screen icons are a little small.
The screen is resistive (rather than capacitive) and it is a little less responsive to finger taps and sweeps than we would have liked. It doesn’t support multitouch either, so there is no pinch-to-zoom option here. You double-tap the screen to zoom into Web pages instead.
The Pulse Mini has no fewer than fifteen home screens for you to fill with widgets and shortcuts. That is far too many to pan around with a finger, so there is a button on a row of four shortcuts that sits at the bottom of any main screen, which calls up a grid of thumbnails. See the screen you want, tap it, and it opens up full screen.
The Pulse Mini runs Android 2.1, the latest version of the operating system. It has 16GB of built-in storage and a microSD card slot for adding more. GPS and Wi-Fi are both present. There is a 3.5mm headset slot for you to use your own headphones to listen to music.
T-Mobile adds some applications of its own to those that come as part of Android. Notably you get a game called BlockBreaker, a Facebook client, FM radio, notepad, some navigation software called TelNav, and Documents to Go for viewing PDF, Excel, Word and PowerPoint documents. Android 2.1 supports Microsoft Exchange so you can use the Pulse Mini for work email as well as personal messaging.
A 3.2-megapixel camera with LED flash shoots reasonable images but there is a fair bit of shutter lag so your final shots might not always be of what you intended.
And that is a general problem, actually. The processor is a bit slow and the more applications you have running, the slower it seems to get. Even with very little running by way of applications the animated wallpapers that are a new feature of Android 2.1 have a tendency to be jerky rather than smooth.
Contact: 0800 956 2208
T-Mobile's attempt to bring Android to a wider audience via this PAYG handset have resulted in a phone which is small and neat. You may find the screen just a bit too cramped though, and the processor is too easily hobbled.