When you open the Applications folder in the My Stuff menu you can easily see that this mobile really means business. There are some really good applications, which I must add, are not demos and are fully operational.
Here you find a Bluetooth PC mouse remote control; a funky Cocktail Manager /includes 20 cocktail recipes along with their pictures, allows for user created cocktails/; DOC viewer /displays WORD and EXCEL documents/; Emergency Phonebook /A world wide phonebook of emergency numbers in different countries/; Mobipocket Reader /An e-book reading software, comes with two demo books 'The Da Vinci Code' by Dan Brown and 'The Third Secret' by Steve Berry. The e-book reader offers access to an online bookstore but you can also download e-books of your choice from your PC/; Navigation /A GPS Navigation software although the phone doesn't have GPS capabilities/, News2Mobile /a RSS feeds reader/, PDF Viewer /pretty self-explanatory/, Survival Dictionary /translations of everyday phrases from and to English, German, French, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish/, Thin Print /Print to a Bluetooth enabled printer/, Weather Forecast /Weather forecasts for more than 60 000 locations world-wide plus marine weather forecasts for 5000 locations/.
Much like the web browser, the applications do not use the full potential of the hi-res screen since the font size they use is too large to fit in any substantial volume of information into a single screen, so the user has to scroll a lot.
But there are even more useful goodies that are to be found in the Extras menu.
There is an Alarm Clock, which strangely enough, only allows setting an alarm according to the day of the week - if you want to set an alarm for tomorrow you better remember what day it is tomorrow. And let me tell you, some of us have some problems in that department. Once the alarm has been set, you can apply it to every day. Unfortunately, it allows one alarm per day only.
There is also a good calculator which opens rather slowly, though. From inside of the calculator or from the dedicated menu under the Extras you can also open a rich Unit converter which allows conversion of units such as length, temperature, currency, energy, velocity, mass, area, volume, power, time and pressure.
Another application among the Extras is the Sound Recorder which is exactly the same as the Dictating Machine under the Organizer menu. Bad thing is that the Sound Recorder is not an available option during a call. We tried to cheat it by entering the main menu during a call and running the Sound Recorder manually, but it gave off a warning that it cannot be turned on during a call.
And then, of course, there is also your ordinary Stopwatch.
There is even another application hidden inside the phone and that is the Memory Assistant Application. It is found in the Settings menu and is supposed to come up when you run out of memory and assist you in deleting unnecessary items or move them to the microSD card. Great idea, but poor realization, I must add, because this application is just a plain copy of the infamous file manager.
The phone supports Java MIDP 2.0 so you should be able to play the most advanced 3D Java games available today. The preinstalled games have nothing to do with 3D, though. There are five Java games that come with the phone.
First one is GemJam Fever - a Tetris like game, nice graphics, nothing special. The second one is Seabattle - your ordinary Sea Battle Game. The third is Star Wars - a nice space shooter where you play on the Empire's side. It has awkward controls and aiming is very hard. I think that spoils the fun of an otherwise potentially good game. Next game is the Super Bomberman - the well-known Bomberman game with nice graphics. And last, but not least, there is the SuperStack - a Siemens game with nice graphics. It's easy to play. Your goal is to move boxes around your dockyard. Points are given for adjoining boxes of the same color. Once you adjoin 3 or 4 boxes of the same color they disappear. It's amusing, and personally, we found it the best of all five.
Overall, the BenQ-Siemens EF81 is a good phone. Whether you would like it, depends mainly on your expectations. If you want functionality combined with great looks and you are willing to put up with the lack of FM radio, EDGE support and with the ascetic camera options, you would definitely find this phone among your favorites. It's definitely neither a camera phone, nor a music phone.
The interface is average and, I must say, the menu options are rather redundant. Almost all features appear twice in one or another form in different menus. I find that unnecessary and bugging.
Nevertheless, I'm sure that this phone would serve you well day in and day out as long as you are ready to put up its known flaws.
The direct competitor of EF81 in its class and form factor is definitely RAZR V3x, but despite the wide disputes around the EF81 being a copy cat, I think we managed to prove that both phones pack in some great and interesting features and it's up to you to decide which one of them is going to meet your personal preferences.