Dual SIM and Java definitely isn’t the brightest of combinations you’d want in your phone, as we saw in the Maxx MTP9 projector phone (and a million others). Dual SIM with Android, however, does seem like a whole new world, altogether. Spice recently launched their entry level Mi-350n, dual SIM Android phone. Does it finally put to rest the ghosts of the poor quality and sluggish experience, we have been so used to seeing from Indian manufacturers in the recent past? Let’s find out.
The hardware front
Design and Build Quality
The Spice Mi-350n has a metal aluminium finish on the front and the back, in addition to rubberized coating on the sides. It has a mixture of chrome and black with a splash of white on both sides for the Spice logo. It doesn’t exactly look stunning, but we’re talking about an entry-level, budget Android out here, so certain tradeoffs are going to be paramount. The Mi-350n weighs 136 grams and with the rubberized exterior, it has a nice grip when held in the hand. The front consists of the 3.5-inch, capacitive touchscreen, which comes with a 480 x 320 pixel resolution. Above it is the proximity sensor and a 0.3 megapixel front camera, while three physical buttons are located below.
The headphone jack is located at the top
The back consists of a 3.2 megapixel camera and the speakers. The microSD card slot is non hot swappable and its located underneath the battery along with the dual SIM slot. The right consists of a microUSB card slot and a camera shutter button and the left consists of the volume rocker button. The power button and 3.5 mm jack are located at the top. In terms of build, the Mi-350n doesn’t really disappoint, but it could have done with a slightly better design.
On video: Spice Mi-350n
Spice has got their custom ROM running atop Gingerbread 2.3.4 on this phone. The Mi-350n comes with a 650MHz processor and has 170 MB of internal memory. We had our doubts whether the phone could have a custom ROM running, while still being smooth and lag free. During multitasking, there might be that odd time when the phone becomes slow and sluggish, but browsing and maneuvering through the menus wasn’t as slow as we’d expected it to be.
Also, the slow and lagging part has become more synonymous with the Android operating system in general, so the fault lies with both, a poor processor and poor optimization, and it’s just wrong to blame Spice wholly for it. Because over time, even our more fancy handsets face issues; but that’s a story for another time.
Back to the Mi-250n, the notification bar has been slightly modified to incorporate a few connectivity settings along with display settings and profile changes and the phone gets a big plus out there, because it meant two things – firstly, the homescreen wasn’t crowded with a range of widgets and secondly, it meant faster access to your basic settings. The drop down bar does it for you. The only thing we disliked about the notifications was the return of the ugly blue and pink ‘java-ish’ icons for the dual SIMs. Besides that, the interface is minimalistic and the phone is fairly quick, if you don’t have too many applications running.
In our AnTuTu benchmark test, the Mi-350n got a score of 1879 points, whereas the Linpack single thread got a score of 7.089MFLOPS. Multithread notched a score of 6.95. What this means is that the Spice Mi-350n performed much better than the Optimus Net, but still falls short of the HTC Explorer we reviewed earlier.
Besides a slight change to the notification interface, everything else, including the media player is pretty much stock Android with the usual album art and playback settings. Spice has bundled-in a pair of in-ear rubber headphones and they’re quite loud and audible, bordering on the lines of ‘getting the work done’. The phone supports MP3 and AAC+ out of the box.
Range of sound effects
We’re big suckers for customizing our audio playback and generally end up getting another media application, if the stock player doesn’t have support for equalizers. It was pleasing to see the Mi-350n come with a separate sound effect section that allows users to toggle bass boost, the equalizer settings, reverb and the virtualizer settings. The equalizer and reverb settings work exactly as they’re supposed to but, bass boost and virtualizer didn’t exactly have any noticeable effect in our listening. Overall, music via the in-ear headphones is quite pleasing and the loudspeaker is good enough for personal usage.
Media playback is restricted to 480p and the phone supports the stock MP4 and H.263 formats. Any other format playback will require a third party application. We were pretty impressed with the Mi-350n in the music department.
The Mi-350n has all the basic connectivity options covered. 3G. Check. Bluetooth. Check. GPS, Wi-Fi with tethering. Check and check. Did we forget something? Yes, this is one of the few Android phones out there that has dual SIM (3G + 2G) support. We put all these connectivity options to test after the break.
Firstly, in call quality is quite decent via the earpiece. The loudspeaker comes in handy as well, if you have a lot of background noise. The in-built browser does take some time to load full websites and it doesn’t have support for flash, but if your usage is more related to WAP and mobile websites, then it does the work well. Also, the phone comes pre-built with a second browser application, the ibibo browser. GPS locking speed works in a similar fashion as the browser speed.
The dual SIM functionality has been incorporated well and it has its own sub section in the settings menu. So, if you’ve got one SIM with unlimited data and don’t want the other SIM to download any sort of data, you know where to look. For social network integration, the default Facebook and Twitter applications will be your best bet.
The phone comes bundled with a range of applications and games. The in-built apps, include BSE stocks, Delhi Metro Navigator, ET reader, Hindustan Times reader, Justdial, Nimbuzz, mig33 and a process manager. TBloxx, Roller Rev 99 are the games that come pre-installed with the phone. A few ibibo apps including an ibibo browser, a farm game and teenpatti have been included as well. That’s quite a few amount of in-built apps put in for good measure.
The Mi-350n comes with a 3.2 megapixel fixed focus AUTOFOCUS(!!) camera. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, but we’d definitely prefer an autofocus camera than the fixed focus ones that we've seen in the phones in the low-budget price range – like the Galaxy Y, the A70 and the A75, which we’re reviewing as well. The interface is minimalistic and stock Android, but you have a dedicated camera shutter button (it’s important for some!). This phone, however, doesn’t have an LED flash at the back.
Dishes out decent images
The Mi-350n also has a VGA front camera but it’s pretty choppy and sluggish and the phone could definitely have done without it, if it directly pertained to a substantial price reduction. Video recording is limited to 480p.
The Spice Mi-350n Android smartphone comes with a 1400 mAh battery. In our standard loop test, the battery held up for 1.5 hours of calling, three and a half hours of audio (two hours music playback, one and a half streaming via Wi-Fi) and three hours of video. That makes it a total of 8 hours. In our video test, the phone lasted for 6 hours 10 minutes, so all your worries about the phone not lasting a day on normal usage can easily be put to rest.
Cheap – only in pricing
The Spice Mi-350n is priced at Rs.7,595 (MOP). At this price bracket, it directly competes with the Samsung Galaxy Y, which has a smaller screen, and a 2 MP shooter; but a faster processor. We’re having a separate grudge match to eventually decide, which phone wins, but as a standalone device, the Mi-350n quite surprised us with a good amount of functionality packed in an extremely tight budget phone. The only cons of notable mention are the lower resolution screen and limited multitasking (due to the processor speed). If you’re on the lookout for an Android phone within this price range, then the Mi-350n is a good buy.
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Oct 22, 2016
Oct 22, 2016