Vodafone 354 Review – Budget Small QWERTY Handset

Vodafone 354 Review: Released in 2011, the Vodafone 354 was a budget phone released by Alcatel targeting those who wanted an alternative to the Blackberry handsets of the time but did not want to pay the price. The manufacturer was Alcatel and the phone was pretty much the same as the OT-355 with some cosmetic changes and being Vodafone branded. This was in line with many other own-brand handsets, which carried only the Vodafone brand.

Alcatel had been making phones for networks for some while, and this handset was not its first QWERTY device. These dated back to about 2009 with devices such as the OT-800, but originally they sought to closely match the Blackberry budget spec. A significant step downwards was taken with the 2010 OT-252 which had more in common with the ultra-basic phones than a Blackberry, the only difference being the keypad.

And perhaps that is what Alcatel wanted – after all, this was not a heavily contested segment and the only real competition was the secondhand Blackberry market. There were some significant differences between this and the OT-255 for the leisure segment. Firstly, imaging was added in the form of a VGA camera. Secondly, there was also an MP3 player and microSD card support.

Full specifications here.

An updated version was released quickly after this. The OT-385 came with a better screen – bigger and in higher resolution. The OT-585 was similar to this but had a better camera. Perhaps the last real budget phone of this type came in 2012, with the OT-358.

Vodafone 354 Review Pros: 

  • Small size and one of the lightest in its category. Despite accommodating a keyboard the phone was only a little heavier and bigger than the basic levels of mobile phone.
  • Keypad was well designed despite its small size. The keys were rubberised in texture and there was ample space for the function keys around the D-pad.
  • Unlike previous versions there was a camera and also microSD card support with MP3 player on board, which extended the useability of the phone somewhat.
  • The phone was extremely cheaply priced and probably the cheapest of its type available.

Vodafone 354 Review Cons: 

  • The phone came with a very small, 1.8 inch screen in low resolution (128 x 160), despite there being ample space in the surround for a larger display.
  • Camera was a basic as it comes, with a VGA sensor with no flash or video functions.
  • Keyboard was very cramped and not comfortable for extended periods.
  • Operating system was limited and lacking in further applications. This was driven by a rather slow processor making it rather sluggish.
  • Wireless headphones would have improved the audio offering, but Bluetooth was not included.

Current Pricing and Future Prospects: 

The generic own-brand phones almost always get the short end of the stick when it comes to value, with the perception of being much lower in quality than the phones they are trying to imitate. That certainly is the case for the Vodafone 354 and this phone can be had very cheaply.

Where can I get one?

Both Ebay and Amazon have second-hand and refurbished models.

Interested in more phones? See a list of phones I own here.

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