Philips have re-entered the mobile handset scenario in India after a long hiatus, with their new Xenium range of mobile phone handsets. The word Xenium roughly translates to a present or a gift in Latin. The X518 is a dual SIM touch screen phone with a stylus. Does it manage to hold it’s own in a world where mobile phones are only getting cheaper by the day? Read on to find out.
Navigating through the menus is extremely laggy
Design and Build Quality
The X518 comes in an all-black finish with a silver lining at the bottom with the word ‘Xenium’ embossed on it. The entire exterior of the phone is glossy and the back especially is prone to fingerprints. There are three physical buttons at the bottom for call, home and end, which also doubles up as the power button. The feel of the buttons is quite plasticy and cheap and the button feedback isn’t standard. The right consists of the dedicated camera button and volume rocker while there’s the mini USB charging port on the right. The phone doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack, which means that both, the charger as well as the headphones need to be connected to the mini USB slot.
Prone to fingerprints
In terms of ergonomics, the X518 doesn’t impress really because it needs to be used with a stylus. Also, unless you’re tying the stylus to the phone, there are chances that you’ll end up misplacing it. Now, tying it to the phone brings up it’s own set of problems. Firstly, the stylus keeps scratching against the screen of the phone, if it’s kept in the pocket. Secondly, it extremely limits the usage of the phone with one hand. You’ll almost always have to use both your hands to operate the phone, which is a disadvantage considering the miniscule size of the phone. It’s quite light at 108 grams, but the build quality is poor.
The Xenium X518 is a Java phone and it’s interface is extremely slow and sluggish. Add to it the poor resolution of the phone (240 x 320) and a terrible resistive touchscreen and you’ve got a frustrating user experience, as your end result. More often than not you’ll have to tap the screen really hard with the stylus for it to register your touch. The home screen comes with a range of widgets and shortcuts for calendar, clock, Bluetooth, FM and music, but it slows down the phone even more, so they aren’t really useful. Navigating through the menu screen just once shows how draggy and slow the whole experience is. The X518 receives a thumbs down for the interface because it majorly contributes to the downfall of the phone.
The home screen interface, slow and sluggish
The phone comes with a pretty standard music player – the repeat, shuffle, track titles, volume bar and the forward, rewind buttons. It comes with eight preset equaliser settings and they work pretty well, but we’d recommend you listen to music at a few notches lower than the max volume because the clarity tends to get a little distorted. MP3, WAV, AMR, MIDI and AAC audio formats are supported. Music via the headphones is pretty clear and loud. The highs are a little sharp, but the audio quality dished out by the X518 is quite nice, and that’s one of the few highlights of the phone.
The phone supports MP4, 3GP and H.263 video formats at a resolution of 176 x 144. Video playback is quite limited due to the screen size and it’s resolution, so we wouldn’t recommend you use this phone as your primary video playback device. Lastly, the FM radio works, like you’d expect it to and it’s got a good reception range.
Stylus becomes a necessity
Connectivity options are pretty limited. There’s no Wi-Fi, 3G or EDGE, so the only way you can connect to the Internet is using GPRS. Secondly, the connectivity settings menu is extremely complicated and in spite of tinkering around with it for a substantial amount of time, we couldn’t get the phone to connect to the Internet. Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP has been included for good measure.
The phone comes with contact and SMS backup options and it’s quite simple to use the feature. All you need to do is select your contacts and it will ask you whether you need to back them to your phone or your memory card and you’re done. The usual calculator, voice recorder, alarm, world clock, stopwatch, image viewer and tasks have been bundled in. There’s also a JBreak game, which is a brick breaker Java application. Connecting the phone via USB to the computer will allow you to use it as a webcam, COM port or for mass storage. There’s also a call recorder app integrated into the phone.
Camera is quite poor
The X518 comes with a 2 megapixel camera with LED Flash. Once you’ll enter the camera menu, you’ll be greeted with a ‘rectangle-of-sorts’. Initially, we mistook it for autofocus, but a few snaps here and there and we figured it’s nothing, but show. The photographs dished out by the X518 are of extremely low quality. The phone is capable of recording videos in the CIF format at a frame rate of 15fps. However, primary image or video capture on this device is an absolute no-go.
The phone comes with a powerful 1530 mAh battery. It’s powering a low-res 2.8-inch screen, so naturally the battery’s going to work quite well. In our video loop test the Xenium gave us non-stop video playback of 10 hours and 50 minutes. Statisticswise, pure awesomeness. Video playback experience wise, sore headache. So, that more or less nullifies its usefulness. Also we ran our customary call, video, audio tests and here’s how the phone performed. The phone lasted for 8 hours of audio, 6 hours of video and 3 hours of calling which is quite a feat. The battery takes around 4 hours to full charge from scratch after, which the phone displays a ‘Chargering completed’ message. Such an error was definitely not expected from Philips.
The X518 – Just not worth it
The Philips Xenium X518 is priced at Rs.5,200. It’s extremely expensive for a handset that’s poor in almost everything, but the battery life. We tried really hard to gauge if it falls into any kind of target audience segment, but with a sluggish interface, limited app support, resistive touchscreen, poor camera, poor resolution, the cons list for the X518 just doesn’t end. If you have a few more bucks to shell out, the Micromax A70 can give you a much much better overall experience. Otherwise, there’s the Nokia C2-03, which is comparatively a good buy as well. At this price, we'd recommend you to look at options other than the Xenium X518.
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