Kazam Tornado 348 review: A budget phone with some top notch features

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Kazam is a new player in the South African smartphone market. The company is based in the UK and is launching its first smartphones here on 14th November. Ahead of that, htxt.africa was given three Kazam phones to run through the gauntlet.

The first of the three up for review is the Kazam Tornado 348, the flagship model and according to Kazam’s, it’s also the world’s thinnest smartphone.

Kazam Tornado 348 review: Appearance

One of the current trends the smartphone market sees manufacturers trying to make their handsets look as much like Apple iPhones as possible. A few manufacturers are trying out different designs, but Kazam has opted for a design reminiscent of the iPhone with a couple hints of the Sony Xperia range thrown in.

The model we reviewed was pure white with gold accents around the boundary of the phone, but there is also a model available in black with gold accents. The design is very low key and extremely tasteful.

Headphone and microUSB interface ports are located at the bottom of the Tornado and the physical keys for volume and locking the phone are all located on the left of the phone.

You will find both interface ports at the bottom of the phone.
You will find both interface ports at the bottom of the phone.

The soft buttons for menu, multi-view and back are arranged in a way that will confuse hardcore Android users. Back is to the right rather than the left and on the left sits the multi-view button. We struggle to see the reason for this as phones like the ZTE Blade V6 don’t use icons and rely solely on you knowing that back is left and multiview is right. It’s slightly annoying to begin with but you get used to it.

Finally at 5.15mm thickness, the Tornado is thin and despite being covered in Gorilla Glass 3 it feels like it would shatter into a million pieces if it was dropped. We wanted to test this but couldn’t bring ourselves to purposefully dropping a phone this good-looking on the floor.

Kazam Tornado 348 review: Specifications and Performance

Cracking open the body (not that you can thanks to a unibody design) reveals a MediaTek MT6592 processor which runs at a standard clock speed of 1.7GHz. At idle this comes down to 728MHz which we found actually does improve the battery life. The low powered CPU performs especially well on the older version of Android (KitKat) that the Tornado runs.

We ran benchmarks on both AntutuBenchmark and PCMark, the results of which you can view below.

Decent scores for a mid range smartphone.
Decent scores for a mid range smartphone but nothing spectacular.

Sadly, for the mobile gamers the Tornado has only 1GB of RAM but it does sport an ARM Mali 450 MP4 graphics processor so video and games look quite beautiful.

The Tornado also comes with a three year warranty, a free screen replacement and remote support where a Kazam technician is able to access your smartphone and fix any software related issues.

At the rear we find a 8MP 3 624 x 2 468p camera that is able to capture video at 1080p, the front facing camera is a rather small 5MP affair. You won’t be snapping very much with the 12GB internal storage and there is no support for an SD card expansion.

Kazam has also chosen to not include support for LTE networks which is a bit of a let down.

Kazam Tornado 348 review: Display

The 4.7-inch 720 x 1 280p screen has a pixel density of 320ppi and is protected by the latest Gorilla Glass 3 but the display is weak.

Indoors we experienced great contrast and vivid colours but once you expose it to  a bit of sunlight the display becomes hard to read. In direct sun, the picture is barely visible so you’ll either be cupping your hand to make shade or finding a shady spot to check your messages, which is not ideal.

The screen display is very responsive. Every action was executed nearly immediately, and in our Antutu benchmark we recorded up to 10 finger multi-touch.

Kazam Tornado 348 review: Camera

This was an interesting choice. Many manufacturers are opting for a 13MP camera but Kazam has chosen to fit the Tornado with a smaller 8MP camera

We were worried about this because most 8MP cameras pale in comparison to their 13MP cameras, but this one is fantastic. Photos are crisp and clear with very little picture degradation, we’ve included a few snaps we took in varying light levels.

Three different photos in three different lighting conditions.
Three different photos in three different lighting conditions.

The front camera does a good job for it’s 5MP size. Kazam has left out a beauty filter a number of manufacturers have included with front facing cameras. You may argue that this is lazy but it means that the camera has to actually be good, which it is.

Kazam Tornado 348 review: Battery life

Our original plan was to use PCMark’s Work benchmark to test how long the 2 050mAh battery would last.

Unfortunately PCMark is quite an intensive programme that doesn’t let up until the battery is at 20% and if you touch any part of the screen or interface buttons during the test you have to charge up your phone and run it again.

That said we did get an average reading of 12 hours after four hours of testing from the benchmark with the display running at full brightness, WiFi on and apps synchronising and updating in the background.

Even with it's super thin body the Tornado manages to boast a decent battery.
Even with it’s super thin body the Tornado manages to boast a decent battery.

When we left the phone alone using it to check notifications and send the odd message we found that the phone was giving us a reading of 21 hours, so we tested that and lo and behold, 18 hours later the Tornado notified us that the battery was low.

As far as battery performance goes the Tornado is great, not perfect but good enough to keep up with the heavier users among us.

Kazam Tornado 348 review: Conclusion

Kazam named this smartphone well. The phone impresses on first sight and leaves the user a little windswept.

The battery life is incredible, the camera surprised us even with its low specs and visually speaking the Tornado is a thing of beauty.

Unfortunately we need to be fair and knock points off for the low internal storage, the inability to expand storage and the terribly dim screen. The absence of LTE support and NFC is also decidedly noticeable

Would we suggest you buy the Tornado? Sadly we can’t because you don’t have to look too hard to find something that beats the Tornado in specs and pricing. The Samsung A5, for example, costs less than the Tornado, has expandable memory, a larger screen, a larger battery and it has a reputable support structure in South Africa.

That said, we do like the Tornado and we look forward to seeing what Kazam does in the future.

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Details

Price: R3 900
Display: 4.7 inch 720 x 1 280p, 320ppi
Operating System: Android 4.2.2 (KitKat)
System Chip: MediaTek 
CPU: MT6592 @ 1.7GHz
RAM: 1GB
Storage: 12GB
Front camera: 5.0 MP
Back camera 8.0 MP
Battery: 2 050mAh Li-ion Battery

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Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.

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