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Orange San Diego Review

By Simon Thomas on 10th July 2012

3G Total Score

Pros :
Speedy performance, great high definition screen, support for NFC as well as onboard Orange apps to enable mobile payments

Cons :
Flawed auto-correct slows down typing, bland user interface from Orange, lack of support for some popular Android apps



Plenty of high-end media functions are on offer, but the onscreen keyboard deficiencies really let the San Diego down.

Full Review and Specification for the Orange San Diego

We know Orange can churn out decent, nicely built Android handsets for the 100 quid mark – witness the San Francisco and the San Francisco II – but this time the price has upped to £200 with the San Diego, sporting a fantastic high-def screen, 1.6Ghz processor and 1080p recording. On paper it sounds like a great media handset, but no one has told the software…


 Dated OS


It’s no surprise that the operating system for this mid-range phone is Android 2.3 Gingerbread – higher end handsets feature the likes of Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, which are more powerful and efficient – but nevertheless the OS is easy to find your way around and user friendly. The trouble with Orange phones is that they are crammed full of bloatware – although the good news is that it’s removable, should you not want a paid-for sat nav offering, premium text message offering, jokes and Mobile Mail.


The OS offered a speedy, smooth performance; apps were quick to fire up and it was simple to move between programmes. Loading web pages was quick and the San Diego managed to carry on at a decent speed even with a number of apps running and downloads happening.


The home screens, along with games and films, look crisp and bright.

Size does matter

If you’re not a fan of the larger phones that have been appearing of late, the San Diego may be more appealing – it fits nicely in the hand, and yet still manages to sport a decent 4in touchscreen, with a great HD resolution of 1024x600 pixels.


The chassis is of the unibody type, and appears robust due to the matt rubber back plate, which feels good to hold and manages to ward off scuffs. The screen is also scratch resistant, thanks to its Gorilla Glass coating.


You’ll find a quartet of touch buttons for Home, Menu, Back and Search, and there’s a snapper key that allows you to start up the camera from any app. To zoom, you use the volume rocker, and like phones such as the Motorola RAZR Maxx, Nokia Lumia handsets, and iPhone, it is run by a Micro SIM, which lurks behind a door that can only be opened with the specially provided pin (or in an emergency, a paperclip!)



Connections cover the whole range 0f Wi-Fi, GPS and HSDPA, plus there is support for NFC too. For keeping all your media and apps, there is 16GB of onboard storage – surprisingly there’s no memory card slot to allow for any expansion.


Under the hood sits an Intel 1.6Ghz chip – it’s the first time we’ve seen the computer chip manufacturer putting its products into a smartphone – and while it may be a big thing for Intel, it’s unlikely to be a major selling point for the phone. Nevertheless, both Intel and Orange have blazoned their logos on the back of the phone.


Getting the pictures


Hardware wise, there’s plenty going on – including the feature-packed eight-megapixel snapper with 1080p video, loads of adjustment settings and burst mode. You can also manually alter shutter speeds, exposure and ISO. Keener snappers can take advantage of GNR, ANR and XNR – while the less experienced can rely on auto mode. We’d have liked to see some effects to add to your photos after they’re taken though.


Photos taken in daylight are reasonable, although colours are not that vibrant, but they are nevertheless beautifully clear. We were also particularly impressed by macro mode, and the flash does a decent job of lighting.




Nighttime shots proved well exposed but blurred, and burst modes allows you to fire off 10 images in a couple of seconds – the results are clear, so great for action shots. The one thing we don’t like is the loud shutter sound, and there is no way to switch it off.


There’s also a front-facing 1.3-megapixel snapper – tap the screen to fire it up. Snaps prove sharp and clear. Both snappers capture HD video, which is clear and smooth. Sound is good, as the mic captures sound well, with little in the way of background noise. Outdoors, the quality of the audio is a tad scratchy, but still delivers a decent setup for mobile video.


Listening back to audio on the onboard speakers is rather crackly, but sounds much better through the included ear buds.


Key issues

The onscreen keyboard is not so great – it feels cramped and it’s not so easy to hit the correct keys. This is even more of a problem because auto-correct is not terribly efficient. For instance when we tried to input ‘you’, it suggested we might like to change it to ‘Yomi’ – and our attempt at ‘know’ resulted in ‘Koralewska’. The dictionary also doesn’t seem to feature some very normal words, such as guys, hopping and closes.


If you don’t like that keyboard it is possible to opt for the Swype keyboard, which enables you to type by dragging a digit from key to key.


However the software is quite good – we like the inclusion of Orange Gestures, which allows the user to assign shortcuts to the symbols you draw onto the screen. This works in whichever app you choose, and it’s a neat way to get straight to your favourite programs.


But the software isn’t all bad – one useful addition is Orange Gestures, which lets you assign shortcuts to various symbols you draw on the touch-screen. It works in any app and is a really quick, slick way to jump to your most-used programs. You could, for example, assign the @ symbol to Gmail.


The San Diego also features NFC support – Orange is really pushing to get this technology into this mainstream. It teamed up with Barclaycard Quick Tap, which allows you to pay for anything under £15 – plus Quick Tap Treats offers a free snack each week. These are both apps that are exclusive to Orange, but they haven’t been included on the San Diego – odd.


Our conclusion


 At first glance, the Orange San Diego impresses – it offers smooth, speedy performance, and has a decent screen, but its disappointing keyboard lets it down. While Orange still offers decent smartphones that are great value, there are plenty more to choose from – and the San Diego has enough flaws to make you think about looking elsewhere.

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Orange San Diego Review Scoring

  • Style and Handling
  • User Friendliness
  • Feature set
  • Performance
  • Battery
  • Overall Score

Orange San Diego Phone Specification


Type of device


Operating System

Android 2.3 Gingerbread





Form factor



Touch Screen

Processor speed



Intel Atom Z2460

Graphic chipset



May 2012




Screen size

4 inches

Screen type



WSVGA (1024 x 600)

Display type

16 million colours




Internal storage


Memory card slot




8 megapixels

Secondary camera

1.3 megapixels

Special camera features

1080p video, ISO, exposure, aperture, shutter speed settings


3.5mm Jack


Music player


Audio recording




FM Radio description



Video recording


Video player


Video calling


Video streaming


Additional Features




Yes, downloadable

Voice control


Voice dailing

























Yes, A-GPS











Colors (Standard)


Handsfree speaker phone


Customisable ringtones


What's in the box

Earbuds, charger, USB cable




480 minutes


336 hours

Battery life multimedia



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