The trend of Android phones breaching the Rs. 10,000 mark is something we’ve seen over the years and there are plenty of brands selling models at different price segments. Spice has made a name for itself with phones priced in the sub-Rs. 10,000 bracket and its new Stellar line of phones has gained some popularity along with some competition from Karbonn and Micromax. We recently reviewed the 4-inch screen, Stellar Mi-425 phone and now we have with us a more affordable model – the Stellar Craze (Mi-355).
Design and build
In terms of design, the Craze model is very different from the Stellar (Mi-425).It’s smaller – thanks to the 3.5-inch screen – and the body feels very sturdy. In fact, we prefer the feel of the Craze to the more expensive Mi-425. The plastic used is solid, glossy and doesn’t have any squeaky bits, which usually give the impression of a poorly built device. The back cover also fits cleanly into the body without any loose or shaky bits. There’s a button for volume control and one power on/off button. Both of them feel very strong and nicely put together. In that aspect, it’s a phone that feels comfortable in the hand.
The back resembles that of the Mi-425
The screen on the phone is clean flushed with the front panel. This helps with the look of the phone, but the large space below with the four buttons spoils the look just a tiny bit. We can’t say that the design is completely original. There is influence coming from other phone models.
The four buttons at the bottom are the home, menu, back, and search. The order is slightly different from the layout of other phone models. There’s no sign of branding at the front of the phone, but there’s a large Spice logo at the rear along with 5.0 Mega Pixels mentioned around the camera, denoting the resolution of the sensor. Open the device up and it looks all neatly laid out; the battery comes off easily, revealing two large slots for SIM cards.
Features and Performance
In terms of software, the phone runs Android 2.3.6 (Gingerbread). The UI is the same we saw on the Spice Stellar Mi-425 phone. The theme isn’t particularly great, but it’s different from all other Android phones in the market. Once loaded, it behaves sluggishly for a few seconds after which things are much smoother.
Four touch sensitive buttons at the bottom
The phone is powered by a single-core 800MHz processor and an Adreno 200 GPU. There’s 512MB of RAM onboard, which is sufficient for general app usage and 212.9MB of space that can be used for apps.
The screen looks reasonably detailed when you’re looking at it from the front. Screen viewing angle is average – it tends to get darker when you look from the sides, but it loses detail when you look at it from the top or bottom. Text, however, is crisp. The screen resolution is 320 x 480, which is average for a budget phone. The phone has support for FM as well.
Front facing camera and sensors at the top
The screen isn’t the most colourful, but it’s average for most video viewing purposes. 720p videos (MKV files) played on third-party apps stutter a lot and audio sync issues soon follow. We even tried lower bit rate files of 720p resolution, but things didn’t improve much. When it comes to AVI files, things are much smoother and there’s no issues whatsoever. The rear speaker is loud, but not very detailed as such.
The bundled earphones have a thin cable and the overall quality of the earphones is pretty bad. They handle bass badly and there’s a lot of distortion. Mids and highs are just average. It’s worth investing in a pair of Rs. 500 earphones if you like listening to a lot of music on the phone.
The phone has support for two SIM cards and there’s 3G support as well. There’s a microUSB cable that acts as a charging source and it can also be used for transfering data to/from the phone. Wi-Fi connectivity is good and you get reception even where the signal is usually pretty weak, which is a good thing.
In terms of customisations and bundled apps, there’s only few of them. The theme is the only major component that’s been customised. There’s an app called NQ Mobile Security 6.0 Pro that offers some privacy and security features on the phone. There’s also a link to a news-entertainment portal within the apps listing.
The rear facing camera has a resolution of 5MP, which is quite decent for a still camera. It also has a front facing camera which is great for video conferencing. The camera quality is pretty poor with most images appearing blurry. It’s the same case with the front facing camera, except it’s OK because you won’t be using it to click photographs.
5MP camera at the rear with a flash
Videos are recorded in 3gp format. Surprisingly, video quality is decent and the frame rate smooth. The phone uses close to 2MB to record a 15 second clip. The phone comes with a decent-sized 1420mAh battery, which should keep the phone alive for just over a day with decent use.
Verdict and Price in India
A well built phone, the Stellar Craze (Mi-355)
Spice sells the Stellar Craze for Rs. 7,999, which is a bit more affordable than the Mi-425. The Spice Mi-425, on the other hand, is a bit faster and has a larger screen as well. It’s priced a bit more, with an MRP of Rs. 9,999. Buy the Stellar Craze if you’re looking for a well built, relatively simple phone with Dual-SIM functionality.
Find More Products