We all would like to go and buy a Samsung Galaxy S III or an HTC One X, but of course, price is a big issue and not everyone is going to go out and buy a Rs. 35,000 phone. Fortunately, when it comes to Android handsets, there are cheaper options, often with most of the features as the highly priced devices and sometimes, some more features, such as Dual-SIM capability. Of course, the device might not necessarily be from a posh brand. Spice is one of the newer, affordable handset manufacturers and they recently launched three Android phones from their Stellar line. We’re taking a closer look today at the Spice Stellar (no, not the 5-inch Dual-core Stellar Horizon). It’s a Dual-SIM Android smartphone running Gingerbread and its market price hovers around the Rs. 10,000 mark. Surely, it’s an interesting device, similar to the Mi-410 - a phone that was known for its good value-for-money proposition when it was launched.
Design and Build quality
The first thing that people often complain about when they see a phone that’s not made by a Samsung, an HTC or by any other of the top manufacturers is the design and look. The Stellar is in fact, a little stylish, at least when you look at it straight on. The front panel that holds the screen and the front facing camera is jet black and built well. It’s surrounded by a grey bezel that looks like metal, but it’s just plastic, as is the white back cover. That’s where you feel that the quality of the phone isn’t as impressive. It’s sturdy enough, but the back cover doesn’t feel great in the hand. There’s no mention of Spice at the front of the phone, and the branding can be found on the rear panel.
Looks pretty stylish fron the front and sides
The lower panel under the the screen has the usual touch buttons that you’ll find on most other Android phones. The Home and the Find buttons are oddly designed - we’re not entirely sure why it was necessary. There are other small things to complain about, such as the speaker on the rear, which is only audible through a small hole that when covered goes almost completely silent.The microUSB connector is positioned on the right bottom of the phone, without any cover. The volume switch is placed on the left top and the power button in its usual place. We wish the power button was a tad larger or had a slightly more prominent feel. It sticks just slightly higher than the rest of the body of the phone so powering on the screen and putting it off is just that tiny bit annoying.
The Spice Stellar Mi-425 doesn’t run the stock Android launcher - it uses something called Launcher+. There are no traces of it, but a quick run of the Home Switcher app reveals it. The interface is made to look a little like iOS. Personally, I don’t like the home screen interface too much, primarily because of the large icons at the bottom that take up a lot of space on the phone, messaging, browsing and the app drawer. Of course, this is Android and you’re free to install a launcher app of your choice.
The cheap, plastic back on the Spice Mi-425
There’s some lack of quality control as well - for example, if you enter a wrong password or a wrong pattern password on the lockscreen, the phone throws up a poorly written error message that reads - “error password and try again”. For a phone that’s going to sell in the thousands, one expects a certain level of quality in both the build and as far as the software goes, things like this can be a little awkward. The Stellar Mi-425 uses Qualcomm's MSM7227A SoC, that includes the Adreno 200 GPU. It manages to handle the OS fine with its performance, it’s only when you install a ton of apps that you notice that scrolling through the apps menu becomes a tiny bit sluggish. In terms of performance, it scores a AnTuTU score of 2866 and a Linpack single-core test of 25.
The touchscreen is pretty decent for gestures, but when it comes to typing, there’s a tendency to type a key twice and this happened quite often, while we were reviewing the phone.
Updated 18 May, 2013, 5:40 pm IST
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