A Comfort Clamshell 

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As I mentioned in an earlier review, Maxcom initial attack on the UK mobile phone market is made up of models from the Polish company's Classic and Comfort ranges of handsets. This review is based on the MM831 model from the company's Comfort range that is being aimed at the elderly or infirmed user.

Maxcom Comfort MM831 Big Button UK Clamshell Mobile Phone
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The MM831 is a three-band GSM+ UMTS phone offering 2G GSM 900/1800 MHz and 3G WCDMA 900/2100 MHz support.  The phone itself is of the clamshell variety decked out in a combination of matte silver and black with dimensions of 99 x 55 x 17 mm (H x W x D) when in its closed state. Including the supplied removable Li-ion 1000 mAh battery, this feature phone has a weight of 99g so should slip into a pocket or bag without causing too much inconvenience or a bulge.

Located on the left side of the phone are volume adjustment controls while the right side has small buttons to turn on/off the phone's torchlight feature,  The right side of the handset also contains a microUSB port for charging purposes.  A second charging option is provided by a triangular docking station in which the phone can sit when not in use.  This docking station can also prove useful in providing a regular home for the handset.

The handset's rear cover can be slid off to reveal a compartment that can be used to insert the unit's 1000mAh Li-ion battery, SIM card and an optional microSD card to increase storage capacity.  The microSD card can be up to 32GB in capacity for use when storing photos, music and videos.

The front of the clamshell holds the phone's 2MP camera with a small flash unit alongside.  Arrange below the camera are three LED lights which provide an indication when battery level is running low plus when messages and incoming calls need action.  The positioning of the camera lens is such that when the clamshell is open some care needs to be taken to avoid blocking the lens with a finger when holding the unit.  I lost count of the number of times I tried to take a picture of my index finger due to the positioning of the camera lens.

Opening the clamshell reveals a 2.4-inch colour QVGA screen with a resolution of 240 x 320 pixels which is adequate for the purpose.  This screen is mounted above the phone's keyboard.  With this handset Maxcom has gone with large clearly labelled keys that should appeal to the elderly user.  Along with the usual arrangement of left and right soft keys, green and red phone buttons, there is a standard 4 x 3 arrangement of alphanumeric keys.

By default the two soft keys are set for Menu and Phonebook.  The phonebook feature can handle up to 20 groups made up of 500 entries which should be ample for most users.  The Menu option gives the user a choice of nine different options including Phonebook.  The remaining eight choices include camera, FM radio, messages, call history, multimedia, services and tools.  In most cases you would get what you would expect from these different features.  There is, however, an exception.  This is the multimedia feature which was unable to detect the content on the microSD card I had inserted into the phone containing images, music and videos whenever I selected the appropriate player on the multimedia section.

Following my experience with another Maxcom handset, I was not too surprised when the multimedia players failed to detect the content on the microSD card.  However by switching to the File Manager, in the Tools' section, I was able to access the microSD content.  I could view the images, listen to some of my favourite music and watch a couple, well almost, of movies before the battery ran out of juice after 3 hours 37 minutes of action.  I am still no closer to discovering why File Manager could access the microSD content but not the supplied multimedia players.

Earlier I mentioned that this handset is being targeted at the elderly.  It could also appeal to the infirmed.  Located on the Settings menu is a chance to set up various helpful assistance options.  ICE contact can be set up plus an SOS key, SOS message and an emergency alarm.

According to figures released by Maxcom, this MM831 should deliver up to 10 hours of talk time and 380 hours when on standby.  Currently this big button phone is being listed by priced at £69.99.

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