By Mike Joubert 12 October 2009


Plain and simple aren’t necessarily words associated with modern cellphones, but then again not everyone needs a phone with GPS, push email, a five megapixel camera and a capacitive touch-screen. Vodacom’s release of the essential won’t set off the gadget-geek alarm, instead it’s aimed at users with “specific needs”. The oversized buttons for example are great for people with hand dexterity problems, while the extra ringing volume can help people who suffer from hearing loss.

The most interesting thing about the phone is the inclusion of an SOS button at the back. Once pressed it sends out SMSs to three user-defined contacts, at the same time activating an onboard alarm. If no reply is received it starts calling the numbers in a three-way cycle. This is a pretty useful feature to have on any phone, and on the S302 it’s particularly applicable.

More features
The phone isn’t completely feature free since it does contain a useful LED flashlight plus a radio, although we struggled to get decent reception. A birthday reminder and calculator are also helpful, while two speed-dial buttons assist in dialing important contacts.

Using the ZTE we felt like we were back in the 90s, not only because of the monochrome display, but also the way the menu system operates. There are no icons for guidance, just text sub-menus. While it doesn’t take a lot to figure out how the phone works, the instruction manual that we received suffers from a bit of chinglish, and could also have been more “specific need” orientated with larger font.

At R399, which includes a Vodacom starter pack, the phone is a bargain. For more information on the ZTE S302 or any other Specific Needs products and services, call Vodacom’s Specific Needs call centre on 12580 (free from a Vodacom cellphone) or on 082 12580 from any other phone (standard rates apply).

SOS button, large buttons, loud ringing, easy to operate
Radio reception not that great, instruction manual could also have catered for specific needs

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