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Micromax Andro A60 - It's Cheap, but is it Worth it?
Making it big in the lower end mobile segment was just not enough for Micromax who have now decided to take on the Smartphone bracket. Their first smartphone to make it out is the Andro A60 running on the Android platform. In an otherwise rather conventional world, Micromax is deviating from the norm with handsets like the Modu T and the Andro, at least in terms of form factors. So if you were considering a new handset purchase here’s a closer look at the Andro A60, if it was on your list.
The Andro is a unique looking handset that embodies a very funky, youthful design. It’s not your typical candy bar form nor is it like HTC’s smartphones with the slight Jay Leno-esque chin. This one’s shape is not easy to put into words I’ve heard words like – Shoe horn, Paddle and a few other interesting descriptions for it. The five way nav-pad with call Take and End keys on either side, in addition to the touch sensitive keys below the display, makes navigating the menus really easy. A micro USB port is located at the bottom for charging and PC connectivity while volume/zoom keys are placed on the side with a 3.5mm handsfree socket on top.
A micro SD card slot is located on one side under the rear panel. To keep the price down Micromax has gone with a 2.8-inch resistive touchscreen (240 x 320 pixels) which can be a bit cumbersome when it comes to hitting those keys on the edges or corners. You’ll have to memorize the placement of the touch sensitive keys under the display as they do not light up. The same goes for the nav-pad and call keys.
Features and Performance
The Andro is equipped with 600MHZ of processing speed and runs Eclair (Android 2.1) which makes it easy to use and relatively smooth to operate and multitask to an extent. The UI is not customized like you’d find in the Spice Mi-300 or the Videocon Zeus. Micromax has thankfully stuck to the basics sans multi touch capabilities. A few tweaks include multiple options for the keypad – QWERTY with a Swype style method of input (it's not very accurate at all), Half QWERTY, mobile alphanumeric and even a very intuitive handwriting recognition option. The UI flows quite smoothly overall and accessing apps be it games or others is a seamless and quick process. The inclusion of a Root Folder access tool is always handy.
The handset also seemed to have an issue with microSD memory cards. For one thing the card icon was constantly visible in the notification section at the top of the display. Every now and then I also got warnings that the cards were somehow unmounted or ‘Unexpectedly removed’ and to ‘Please insert a memory card’. It was consistent with 4 cards of varying capacities.
Unfortunately the Andro’s media player falls well below the mark of acceptability. The bundled handsfree looks and feels like it’s made of cheap plastic and unfortunately also makes the audio sound like that. I tried using multiple alternatives from Sennheiser to Koss and there was no change. There was no bass whatsoever and none of the standard 3.5mm equipped earphones, headphones or handsfree kits worked properly with the device. I had to pull the pin almost a quarter of the way out and jiggle it to have one earphone play music that at least sounded like something conventional. I even downloaded alternative players like Mixzing and PowerAMP with EQ presets and customizable settings and they didn’t help either. A complete bust.
Strangely though, via the built in speakers, a decent amount of bass and high tones were audible which leads me to believe that the issue could be with this singular test piece. I will be posting an update to this portion when I receive a new device to test.
The video player handles MPEG4, H.263 and 3GP files quite well, but of course audio quality was not up to par.
Mikcromax’s A60 is a 3G enabled device that is equipped to handle HSDPA connectivity (up to 7.2Mbps). For right now though, EDGE/GPRS or Wi-Fi works without a hitch. In the power control widget an option to switch off connectivity to save a little battery is available. What was quite surprising was the absence of the Gtalk application. Google Mail, Maps and YouTube were all available. Facebook and Twitter had to be downloaded off the App Market and you’ll have to go with an alternative to Gtalk as it isn’t available on the Market. Very odd.
For use with GPS Google’s Places, Latitude and of course the Maps themselves were all available. Picking up satellites though, will take quite awhile. Other modes of connectivity include Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP compatibility and file transfer and USB 2.0 with internet tethering via USB as well.
There’s not much in the way of extras that Micromax has thrown in with the A60 except for a Blacklist app to block unwanted callers. The Calendar syncs with your Google and FB accounts so all your reminders, schedules and birthdays are easily accessible. There’s also the other mundane apps like the calculator, RSS reader and voice recorder that are also on board.
A 3.2MP autofocus camera is loaded onto the A60. Settings are limited to just White Balance, color effects and saturation. Image quality is not bad at all. Images appear quite sharp for a 3MP mobile phone camera. Red levels tend to be a little higher so images tend to look a little too brown but clear nonetheless even in native resolution.
The A60’s battery also proved to be a big problem. With low lighting, internet turned off, nothing running in the background and limited usage, the A60 ran for just a little over a full day. With normal usage including downloading emails, a few photos and web access (social networking) a day was all I was able to squeeze out of the 1280mAh battery before it desperately screamed for a charge.
The Bottom Line
At a price of Rs. 6,900 (MOP) which seems very affordable for an Android smartphone running on Eclair (2.1), here’s the problem – The music playback quality sucks (pardon the French) and the battery life is really poor. Other than that the A60 proved to be quite a versatile device. But in this day and age of portable media, a music player that doesn’t live up to your expectations can be a serious flaw. It could very well have been ‘your first Android’ phone but I’d say save up a bit and invest in a slightly more expensive but more reliable device like the Samsung Galaxy 3 or LG Optimus One.