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The Kazam Tornado 348 is a phone trading off its design, its price and little else. For most people, that's enough on its own – but don't go looking for anything deeper with this handset. The lack of 4G and microSD are pretty big obstacles in today's cramped smartphone market.
Although the story behind the phone is appealing (and I'm all for supporting British companies) there's just not enough about the Tornado 348 to give it the edge over other phones at the same price point.
There are some very good parts to the Kazam Tornado 348. The casing and design obviously have their origins in Apple's iPhone 6 and Sony's Xperia Z2 but that's no bad thing. The phone is light, thin and good looking. The metallic trim alleviates it above the average plastic or polycarbonate chassis and a 4.8-inche display is the sweet spot for usability and media.
The AMOLED screen itself is undoubtedly a highlight. It's bright, well contrasted and detailed enough to make games and video really stand out. The 8MP rear-facing camera is also well up to the task. Better yet, Kazam's offer of a free screen replacement for the first 12 months and dedicated customer service is something other smartphone makers should take note of.
Kazam's decision to leave the Androd KitKat operating system well enough alone is a smart move. There's not a hint of bloatware or skins and the result is a refreshing blank slate of a smartphone. If there was a hint of an Android 5.0 Lollipop update, I'd be even happier.
Great design is one thing, but when it comes at the expense of functionality things instantly become a lot murkier. The lack of a microSD expansion port is a big omission on the Tornado 348. The problem is alleviated somewhat by the ability to stream content, but it's still an important feature to miss out for the sake of keeping the phone slim.
Similarly, the lack of 4G is a bit of an issue for me. A year ago it wouldn't have been much of a problem, but going into 2015 with a 24 month contract on a handset limited to 3G shouldn't be appealing for anyone.
There were also a few issues with call connectivity. I didn't feel the Kazam was loud enough during calls and signal reception didn't impress me either.
I feel the Kazam Tornado 348 abandoned some pretty vital smartphone functions in a quest to become the thinnest and lightest smartphone out there. The design and weight are certainly appealing, but haven't phones got to a point where we don't really need them any thinner? The lack of 4G, microSD and, to a lesser extent, NFC isn't going to win the Tornado any friends.
And yet, there's plenty this phone does right: The screen's excellent (and replaceable for free), it's got a premium feel at an affordable price and the camera and OS are both sound. Kazam offers solid after-sales service as well, which is often overlooked when buying a new device.
The Kazam Tornado 348 could be a great phone but it's got limitations that are hard to ignore. It looks and feels great, but the buying decision comes down to style over substance. It'll look good in your hand but the competition is too good to ignore.
First reviewed: December 2014