Monday, 21 March 2011

What’s the cheapest cell phone to run WhatsApp on?

My young son wants a cell phone – he’s got R1,000 to spend.  So, what’s the cheapest phone that can run WhatsApp so that he doesn’t waste all his airtime on SMSs and calls that could be handled by a short instant message?  Here’s my story on how I bought his phone brand new Android phone for R849 incl. VAT and everything else.

I did a lot of hunting around for Nokia phones and even looked at the LG and Samsung offerings – but all the phones that I could find in the WhatsApp minimum requirements list cost over R1,200.

I then looked at the WhatsApp download page and realised that I was overlooking other types of phones that WhatsApp supports: iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry.  I ruled out iPhone and BlackBerry due to cost, but that left Android – I hadn’t looked at any Android phones except HTC devices – but perhaps there was an entry level Android phone below R1,000?
The WhatsApp download page specifies that it can run on any device with Android OS 2.1 or above.

I Googled a bit and found references to the Vodafone 845 as being a great phone.  It was launched on South Africa in Aug 2010
It is a branded version of the Huawei “Joy” handset.
Here’s a great review on and also shows “what’s in the box”: Battery, USB Cable, Wall Charger, Basic Manual, Headphones.
It is a 3G phone (HSDPA 3.6 Mbps), with GPS (with A-GPS support), accelerometer, touch screen, WiFi, BlueTooth, camera (3.15 MP), FM radio, on Android 2.1 (Éclair).  I was surprised on the quality of the phone – it felt good and solid. 

Wow… but how much could I pick this phone up for in Cape Town, South Africa? 
And is it for sale for under R1,000?
Well, to cut a long story short…. I was browsing for music in Musica the other day and happened to be browsing their cell phones pamphlet and saw the VF 845 for sale on prepaid for R849 all included – no catches.  I rubbed my eyes a couple of times and then asked the assistant for more info.  She confirmed that it was an Android phone but was out of stock but she would find one – she called her other branches and found a couple of options.  By this time my son was getting more and more excited!  We landed up going to the Parow Centre branch to buy their last phone - and were warned to take IDs and proof of residence for RICA purposes (we RICA’d our other SIM cards while we were there).  Not sure if it’s network locked (I think the SA networks stopped locking phones a while ago – but even if it is locked… for R849 it’s a great buy).

So, results are:
1 happy son, busy playing Angry Birds as we speak!  WhatsApp is running fine; Google Sky Map is mind blowing  - what an educational tool!
* Now my other, elder son also wants his own phone… so, let’s find another branch with the phone in stock. 
* I’m an UNhappy camper – my young son’s phone can do (much) more than mine (except for BBM!)

Click here for some help from Vodacom specific to this phone and OS 2.1

Comment from Coenie: “You can now get this phone at Clicks stores for as cheap as R798, R999 at Game and Edgars in South Africa, bear in mind the Vodacom store operator told me it is discontinued in South Africa, as I understand the VF 945 being released in the coming months here”
I did a compare of the VF 845 with the VF 945 and the main differences that I could see were: bigger screen size, up to 32GB memory card, 5MP camera with flash, second camera…. so, if you want to wait for its release… but I’m sure it will be over R1,000.

Here are the minimum requirements for WhatsApp (from here:
— Nokia S60 3rd edition, 5th edition or Symbian^3 Operating System
Supported device list:
Symbian^3: N8 · C6 · C7 · E7
S60 5th edition: Nokia 5800 XpressMusic · Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition · Nokia 5530 XpressMusic · Nokia 5230 · Nokia 5233 · Nokia N97 · Nokia N97 mini · Nokia X6 · Nokia C6 · Samsung i8910 Omnia HD · Sony Ericsson Satio · Sony Ericsson Vivaz · Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro · Nokia N8
S60 3rd edition: LG KS10 · LG KT610 · LG KT615 · Nokia 5700 XpressMusic · Nokia 6110 Navigator · Nokia 6120 Classic · Nokia 6121 Classic · Nokia 6124 classic · Nokia 6290 · Nokia E51 · Nokia E63 · Nokia E66 · Nokia E71 · Nokia E90 Communicator · Nokia N76 · Nokia N81 · Nokia N81 8GB · Nokia N82 · Nokia N95 · Nokia N95 8GB · Samsung SGH-G810 · Samsung SGH-i400 · Samsung SGH-i408 · Samsung SGH-i450 · Samsung SGH-i458 · Samsung SGH-i520 · Samsung SGH-i550 · Samsung SGH-i550w · Samsung SGH-i560 · Samsung SGH-i568 · Nokia 5320 XpressMusic · Nokia 5630 XpressMusic · Nokia 5730 XpressMusic · Nokia 6210 Navigator · Nokia 6220 Classic · Nokia 6650 fold · Nokia 6710 Navigator · Nokia 6720 Classic · Nokia 6730 Classic · Nokia 6760 Slide · Nokia 6790 Surge · Nokia C5 · Nokia E52 · Nokia E55 · Nokia E71x · Nokia E72 · Nokia E75 · Nokia E5 · Nokia N78 · Nokia N79 · Nokia N85 · Nokia N86 8MP · Nokia N96 · Samsung GT-i8510 · Samsung GT-I7110 · Samsung SGH-L870
For those uber-geeks out there that want the latest Android OS on it:  There is already a custom ROM project:
Download the original firmware here (just in case): 
1. Go to  
2. Click on "Service Center"
3. On the Service Centre page, under "Download", click on "Software"
You should see a list of file to download.  Near the bottom is the firmware currently on the Vodafone 845.
"V845 V845 V100R001NZLC02B233SP01(New Zealand Vodafone) Host Software 2010-09-19"

See here for more info on WhatsApp: WhatsApp for Nokia Symbian phones is now available

1 comment:

  1. Here's an update...
    You can now buy a more modern smart phone for R799 which has Android version 4.1 (Jelly Bean).

    Called the Vodafone Smart Mini.
    It isn't networked locked - but check before you buy.

    Also has GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a 2 megapixel camera, HSDPA connectivity and an FM radio - with 4 GB worth of internal storage that can be expanded by as much as 32 GB via a microSD memory card slot.
    See here for full specs:

    See here for more info:
    and here:

    Purchase at your local Vodacom shop.


    Here's another option - and get up to 20% off with your Discovery credit card (and Diamond vitality level): for R799


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