When the Astro Goat entered the market at the end of 2014, which was a few weeks ago, it was playing on two features that most of the people are looking for in a phone; affordability and the ability to use WhatsApp.
This has changed in light of developments from WhatsApp, although this little bargain device can still get you Facebook and Twitter. We still decided to put this goat through its paces to see how it fared against other “goats” or cheap phones.
The odd name given to this phone is derived from one of the local Zimbabwean nicknames given to “dumb” phones, mbudzi, which means a “Goat”.
Looking at the Goat, I can see how a phone can cost as low as it does, which is $20. What I wondered about at first glance was whether it could do everything they said it could, WhatsApp aside of course.
|Card slot||microSD, up to 8GB|
Packaging and build
The phone comes in a box that includes a charger, the earphones, phone and the manual. I would advise people to get instruction from the Astro staff as there is not much help to be had from the manual.
The phone seems solidly built, however the back is more than a little difficult to remove. I believe they could have done with making the back have more grip for when one needs to remove the back.
Other than the difficult to remove back, the phone seems like it might be a hardy communication tool. On the front of the Astro Goat is the speaker grille and the display and the keys.
On the top is an LED that is used for the torch and the bottom houses the charger port, micro-USB port, hands-free port and the microphone. The back of the Astro Goat is the camera and loud speaker grille. Under the back cover is the battery beneath which lies two SIM slots and a micro-SD slot.
Not much is expected of a super budget phone with hard buttons, more so when the screen is 1.77” LCD. Basically the screen shows you what you need to see. It will be able to show images albeit these are of a rather poor resolution, they do show on the screen and one is able to see and do what they need to.
If anyone ever used the old Nokia phones, with their simple almost WYSIWYG setups, then they would have no trouble finding or using most features on the phone.
Some features are a bit of a dig to get at, e.g. the network settings, but generally the phone interface is a simple enough affair for users of the much older S40 and dumb phones.
The Astro Goat comes with an 800mAh battery that can last quite a while. Needless to say the higher functions such as the internet tend to drain the battery much faster. With normal usage the battery can last for days, i.e. excluding internet services. With heavy use it will last at best the day without needing a charge.
The camera as can be expected of a 0.3MP snapper is nothing to write home about. It does however prove sufficient for any low res image requirements. Its low light performance is terrible though so any picture taking needs to be done during the day.
The camera is also able to record video at a low resolution of 240×320. Again, this is a budget phone, so expect no less than bare minimum on the recording quality.
Whats here today and gone tomorrow?
As I mentioned earlier WhatsApp has started blocking third party app usage. This meant the Goat was unable to offer the precious WhatsApp services to users. This had been a strong selling point for the device. Had this not been the case, this was the phone to recommend for those looking to be available on WhatsApp on a tight budget.
Initially the Astro Goat delivered on all its claims, including providing a version of WhatsApp that could be updated. WhatsApp however has since cut off access to their servers for third party versions of the app thus the Astro Goat has lost this function.
There are other social media functions like Facebook and Twitter which both have a huge resonance locally. However unlike WhatsApp they are restricted to their web interface versions as opposed to the actual app like the one on the Astro Goat.
In it’s favour as a Zimbabwean phone it still gives you a fairly powerful battery and the torch (way to go in the fight against ZESA darkness), dual SIM functionality (It means a lot for mobile network bargain hunters) and some internet access that extends to standard Zimbabwean web pleasures like Facebook.
For the price and functions, I would say this is a good phone for the cash strapped needing to keep in touch. Unfortunately for now WhatsApp is once again a little out of the reach for those with limited budgets.
A point to note though, when buying the phone, be sure to buy a micro-SD card as well to have full access to the features.