We powered on the VS7 to see a Pansonic welcome screen.
That leads us to the standby screen, which contains the date, time and signal indicator in the top-left hand corner. The battery meter is located in the top-right hand corner, along with the other icons that appear as needed.
The operator name is located in the middle by default, but it can also be moved to two other locations. The left selection key leads to the Messaging menu, while the right one opens the browser. Unfortunately, you can’t reconfigure these two keys. However, you can configure the four directional keys to point elsewhere; The default shortcuts are Calendar, Create SMS, My Media & Contacts.
You can also lock the keypad by holding down the middle key, but that is obviously unneccessary with any clamshell phone.
The center selection key leads to the main menu. From there one can access all the functions.
Making Calls & Contacts
The Contacts list is a decidedly standard one. If you choose to store contacts in phone memory, you can add a myriad of contact details like e-mail address, home address etc. You can also choose the ringing tone and illumination light colour.
In terms of call quality, the Panasonic VS7 is quite clear. However, the area from which you the sound emanates is rather small, and I had the tendency to press the phone to my ear at the wrong spot, requiring me to adjust the phone so that I could hear anything.
Incoming calls are shown on the external screen, and there is also the option to auto-answer upon flipping open the phone.
The call log can also be found in the contacts menu.
The messaging features on the Panasonic VS7 are quite standard. It supports T9 input, and there is the nice feature of being able to cut, copy and paste text.
The VS7 also recognises smilies and activates various multicoloured illuminations accordingly. Likewise, you can enter a smiley (or choose from a very long list) and though it would appear to most phones as just a smiley in plaintext, a similar Panasonic phone (e.g. VS2, VS3, VS6) should be able to detect the smiley and light up too.
You can view 6 lines of text at once, which is quite sufficient, though Panasonic should have included an option to turn the font size down.
A nice feature that Panasonic added is the ability to read new messages on the external screen. The side buttons are used to scroll up and down in this mode.
The various different settings are located here. Besides the usual settings, there are also several of note.
You can change the illumination colour for each event that occurs (or turn it off completely), like when you receive a message or flip the phone close.
The Profiles menu is also located here. There are 5 profiles that you can edit. (You cannot rename them though.) This is located rather too deep into the menu in my opinion, and changing between profiles can get quite cumbersome. Fortunately, Panasonic mitigates this somewhat by allowing you to hold down the “#” key in standby to switch between the standard profile and the silent one.
Another nice feature here is the ability to choose from four different keypad tones, instead of having to use that monotonous beep again. Besides changing the brightness of the main screen, you can also change the contrast of the external screen.
Under the display menu we found 3 pre-installed themes to choose from.
One gripe that we first noticed here and is inherent throughout the phone is the lack of levels to choose from when changing a setting. For example, there were only four levels of loudness to choose from when changing the ringing volume. During calls, there were likewise only four levels of speaker volume to choose from.
Another major gripe we have is that whenever there is a notification message like “Settings saved”, you cannot press a key to clear the notification from the screen instantly. Instead, you have to wait a full 2 seconds for the message to disappear before you can continue. This became extremely annoying when changing many settings at once.
The battery life on the Panasonic VS7 is decent, lasting around 2-3 days with moderate usage. Our only gripe with the battery is that the battery meter seems to be rather inaccurate. The meter will stay full for a long time, only to suddenly decrease to 2 bars, then 1, then none in the space of a few hours.