Off late, budget Android phones are being manufactured by the dozen by both local as well as International brands. And why not, they’re gaining a good momentum in the market, because of their pricing. Spice Mobiles recently launched the little brother to the Mi-350n that we reviewed earlier. A full 70 points down and sans the ‘n’ factor, the Mi-280 is currently selling for more than two grand less, than it’s elder ‘budget Android’. But does that mean it’s a worthy buy? Let’s find out.
Design and Build Quality
The Mi-280 isn’t the best of lookers. It’s covered in silver and black, but there’s no wow factor out here. With cheap phones, certain tradeoffs are definitely going to exist, more particularly in this section. There are a lot of plastics involved in the build of this phone, but it’s extremely light weight at 96 grams (according to the Spice website).
The front consists of the 2.8-inch capacitive TFT touchscreen with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. Underneath are four capacitive buttons - a dedicated call and end button and a directional keypad. Eleven buttons (five for the directional keypad, call, end and the four stock Android buttons) aren’t required to manoeuvre through a phone with touchscreen capabilities. Yes, the keypad is an absolute waste of space on the phone.
Moving to the sides, there’s no dedicated camera shutter button and the only button is the volume rocker one on the left. The top consists of the 3.5mm headphone slot and a microUSB connector, whilst the speaker and the camera are located at the back. The build quality isn’t exactly something to write home about, but we’ll have to give this one to Spice, as the phone doesn’t look as if it’s going to fall apart or something. The plastic and glossy finish might give it that ‘cheap’ look, but the build isn’t all that bad.
Features and Performance
The Mi 280 runs on a 650MHz processor with Android 2.3.4 onboard and 134 MB of internal memory. So, the only thing that actually differs from the Mi-350n is that you get 170 MB of internal memory. The 280 is surprisingly quick in navigation. There’s no noticeable lag, whilst moving in and out of menus or even multitasking. The phone might slow down when a lot of applications are open, and that’s when your task manager comes in handy. Social networking integration is done using default Facebook and Twitter applications. The custom ROM that we saw on the 350n is pre-loaded in this smartphone as well. The best part about it is that it’s got a nifty drop down notification menu with a lot of options to toggle connectivity, profiles and power options.
The display might mar your Android experience on this phone. It’s extremely low resolution and 65k colours don’t really light up the screen, so that’s another trade off you’ll have to live with. Linpack gave the Mi 280 a single thread score of 8.377 and a multi thread score of 7.186 points. AnTuTu gave the phone a score of 1717, which means it’s in the same range as its elder brother, the Mi-50n.
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