KAZAM are still somewhat of an unknown name when it comes to smartphones but they are backed by an experienced team.
Offering cost effective handsets is their aim and such is achieved through the likes of a FREE screen replacement if you should damage yours as well as remote assistance. The Tornado 348 is their latest device with a Guinness World Record to its name. An Android smartphone with Octa-core processing power we put the Tornado through its paces to see how it performs. The word tornado gives the impression of power and strength and to some extent the hardware specification of the Tornado is aligned with this. 5.15mm thin, 4.8″ AMOLED HD screen, 1.7GHz octa-core processor, Android 4.4, 8 MP main camera / 5 MP, front camera, WiFi / Bluetooth / GPS / USB on the go and 16 GB storage There is no microSD memory card slot and no 4G. Out of the box, KAZAM pre-fit a silicone case to the phone. In many respects you need it to grip onto the handset as without it, it is quite slim and a little slippy. In the hand the phone feels solid thanks to the metal frame that runs around the edge and there is no denying that it has an Apple iPhone esq look to it. Head on, the screen really stands out and there feels to be a lot of white space above and below, thus the handset is quite tall. No doubt the extra height is as a result of the lack of depth. Personally I find the right side more comfortable and practical for the power and volume keys as opposed to the left on which they are positioned. The 2050mAh battery is built into the device and is not user removable. At less than 96 grams, the Tornado is noticeably lighter when compared to other handsets. The 348 has a screen resolution of 1280 x 720 rather than the more desirable 1920 x 1080, but do not let this put you off. Sony have had great success with the Z1 and Z3 Compact that have a lower resolution screen so there is no particular reason why KAZAM could not enjoy such. Being an AMOLED panel it is crisp and sharp with good colours and certainly looks appealing on the eye. The lower resolution drains less power which means longer time away from a fixed power source. The Tornado runs the ever so popular Android operating system. Adaptation of stock Android is always very limited on any KAZAM handset which is a positive and a negative. On the plus side you know what you are getting and its not laiden with memory hungry additions. On the negative side, some of those software additions can be useful and make for a more rounded user experience. Out of the box Android 4.4 is installed, version 5.0 is on its way. If you were not aware, any handset powered by Android gives all the standard Google services out of the box. Just input your existing Google account details and within minutes you can be up and running. Use the Play Store to access your favourite software titles from games to business applications, they are all available. There is a File Manager on board as well as an FM radio, for those who still like to tune in the old fashioned way. The most extensive customisation has taken place in some of the menu systems, most notably the settings and notification shade. The settings have been broken down into quick and all settings making it simpler for access to the most required features. It helps make things easier for first time users. Value added extras come in the form of being able to schedule power on and off on the device as well as airplane mode and also smart gestures such as double tap to wake up and smart dial, simply bring the phone to the ear, when in the contact detail screens. Pull down the notification shade and under the settings tab there is a large number of customisable shortcuts with clear graphics for simple access and on/off facilities for key technologies such as WiFi and Bluetooth. Throughout our testing the performance has been fairly good although the 1GB of RAM at times appeared to struggle when running multiple more intensive apps and processes. Whilst the 348 may tout a super slim profile, what it does not shout is its connectivity features. It has everything you would expect as a basic nowadays, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and 3G, but it does lack 4G and NFC. I wish not for the 348 to be overshadowed by this lack of connectivity, but for me these really are a must have, even if it made the handset marginally more expensive as a result. Mounted on the back of the phone, the speaker is reasonably loud and registers in the mid 80’s on the decibel meter. Thankfully the speaker does not sound like it is strained nor is there any vibration coming from it. Unfortunately whilst audible and generally pretty good the sound lacks that warm tone and no audio played from it really draws you in. In fairness for most of what you are going to be doing on a phone it is more than acceptable. It is not a deal breaker but if using the Tornado in landscape mode there is the possibility of muffling the speaker a little due to its location. With a rear facing 8 megapixel camera and front facing 5 megapixel the Tornado offers quite a lot in the camera department. The camera application itself is not the most comprehensive, but there is a well designed menu system which allows for simple configuration and customisation of the settings. The results from the camera are above satisfactory but stop short of achieving that wow factor. The colours are fairly balanced, but do not have much of a vibrancy, which is in many respects is better as these can be easily boosted post capture. On board editing functionality is reasonably good, giving plenty of opportunity to tweak images and make them more suitable for the purpose you intend to use them. Low light shots with the flash are not too bad, but there is more evidence of noise. You have 4 x digital zoom available through a pinch on screen or via the volume keys. If you prefer the volume keys can be made to act as the shutter button. At 2050mAh the battery in the Kazam is not geared to the always on worker but will last the average user though a typical day. With approximately 6 hours call time, I found the Kazam acceptable in battery performance when you consider the other benefits it brings; but a full day away from power may leave you a little uneasy as to whether it will actually last as long as you need it to. There are power saving modes that go some length to ‘extend’ the life of the device but the Tornado does not boast the 2 day battery life like a Sony Z3 Compact may. . At £250 SIM free the Tornado is most certainly at the cheaper end of the scale, but the smartphone market has changed a lot over the last year and for £250 you now have a lot of choice and can obtain a lot for your money. Not as sleek or quite as well featured is the Motorola Moto G, this is around the £150 mark and is a marked saving. For a few ££ extra you can pick up a Samsung Galaxy S4, which has a few more features and slightly but lacks quite such a desirable look and feel. It is all too easy to forget in this price a free screen replacement! In conclusion, many things draw me to the Tornado. The screen is bright with good colours, the performance is pretty good, the camera is better than average and the super slim profile makes this quite desirable. However, stack up the negatives and consider the competition and I personally find it hard to justify the KAZAM as a viable everyday phone, I cannot say it is a bad handset, just there are better products both below and above it.