One of the only phones with a 4 inch screen, Xage wanted its new phone to be very much like the Android smartphones. Well, they did manage to pretty much nail it in the hardware part, but was forgetting about the software part a smart idea? In an age where ‘smartphones’ are reigning, can this JAVA phone still hold fort? This and more is pondered upon, in our Xage M486 Giant review. Read on.
From all sides..
Design and Build Quality
The M486 looks like a carbon copy of the HTC line up of smartphones. It's got a front speaker grill, the same curvy edges and metal finish that we've seen on the Sensation series. Aside from the similar looks, if you'll look at the device on its own, you'll be impressed at how wonderful they have managed to make an 8K phone look. It's sturdy, sleek and though a little on the heavier side, has a good grip on the hand.
No 3.5mm headphone jack
Let's have a quick tour of this Giant. Towards the front, there is a massive 4-inch touch screen with four touch buttons on the bottom and a 1.3 megapixel front camera on the top. Here's the deal though, the touch screen is a resistive one and not a capacitive one, and that includes the buttons as well – the first of our problems with this phone. Towards the back, there is a 3.2 megapixel camera with an LED flash and another speaker grill. On the top, there is a power button, whereas the volume rocker is located towards the left. The dual SIMs as well as the microSD card slot are located underneath the battery, so hot swappability is not present. Also, there is no 3.5mm headphone jack slot!
In terms of build, the outer shell of the device looks sturdy and well inforced. This one doesn't look like those cheap local phones that we have so often seen in the local market. The screen, however, doesn't look any thing close to the quality of the materials used on the rest of the phone. It looks pretty cheap, flimsy, and a slight press starts creating dents, which gives you an idea of what they have compromised on.
In terms of overall looks, the phone will look pretty awesome when you show it off to a friend, but only you actually know about its frailties, because you've seen it enough to know where the trade offs have been made.
Features and Performance
The most important part of the phone is obviously the interface. Who would like a phone with a hit screen, or something that doesn't register your touches well, or is super slow at doing even basic functions. Now, we'll remind you that this is a JAVA phone, and hence we are going to have a big difference in our overall user interface when we compare it to other smartphones.
The interface.. no it's not Android
The Xage M486 is a slow phone, the touch screen is erratic and the interface is down right unusable. They have modified the interface to look similar to what HTC offers on the software side. There are multiple home screens – which are extremely difficult to maneuver through. If you do manage to get through to the menu, you'll be greeted with another difficult to maneuver screen. By now, you're definitely getting the drift that the interface operates in slow motion, provided it receives your touch properly. A hit screen, as we would like to call this one, is definitely not what we would want on a phone worth Rs. 8,000.
What are the buttons for?
Now, to the other interesting bit. The four touch buttons representing home, menu, back and search are pretty much pointless considering you have dedicated icons on the screen as well. They have tried to keep the look and feel of this phone extremely close to what an Android phone would look like, but have failed miserably.
The interface was dismal. Slowly we trudged along to the media part and once we did manage to reach there, we were pretty content to see what was in store. 40 movies (English and Hindi) and 25 audio songs. Besides the interface, the media department isn't really that bad. The company has provided a decent pair of in ear headphones and the music experience is fairly good.
Interface woes continue in the media dept
Video playback is restricted to MP4 and 3GP but for personal viewing, the four inch screen does the trick. True, there's not much quality and you're restricted in your MP4 codec as well, but the M486 tries to make up for that with screen space. The other biggie out here is the loudspeaker. It's so loud that you might have your neighbors asking you to turn down the volume. It's not necessarily 'clear' per se, but its loud enough to fill a large room.
Another problem out here. There's no Wi-Fi! For a phone worth that much money, Wi-Fi is definitely the most basic of connectivity options that we would want, and they have conveniently eliminated it. Other connectivity options include Bluetooth and GPRS. A few apps such as Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo and MSN have been bundled in for your social networking needs.
In call quality is pretty good and the loudspeaker makes its presence felt out here as well. Browsing, though, is a pain due to the interface issues we spoke about earlier. While we are at it, we'll mention that the QWERTY keyboard you will see on this handset isn't your regular one, the keys are all jumbled up, so that has another learning curve of its own.
The phone comes with a bunch of preinstalled apps. We're not too sure you'd be too comfortable reading about the description of these apps because they're pretty much x-rated. These include Elover and Puff. The other apps include Skype, but before you go 'wow, does this mean I can use my front camera for video calling?', we'll tell you that the app doesn't really work. Well, it didn't work for us at least. And hey, video calling over GPRS? Seriously?
Talk to me
Angry Birds has been ported over to this JAVA phone, but neither does it feel like or play like the original. The game play is somewhat reminiscent of games like Pooyan that we used to play on our 8 bit video game, back in the day. But again, they had their own charm. So much for spoiling our memories, eh?
Fruit (Ninja) has been included as well, but we'll challenge you if you will ever be able to cut more than one fruit at a time, leave alone get combos. The games department is rounded off by Tom (Speaking Tom) that is the only saving grace.
A 3.2 mp camera at the back
The M486 comes with a rear 3.2 megapixel camera, that's capable of clicking extremely average snaps. The front camera is okay as well, but nothing that we were overly happy about. It was choppy and you'll have to be extremely still to get viewable pictures. Oh, and we're not going to get into details about the camera interface. Video recording is limited to 352 x 288 pixels, so it's best viewed on the phone itself.
Nothing to write home about
The M486 comes with a 1350 mAh battery and this is the only section where the phone doesn't disappoint us. Under normal usage, you'll easily be able to get more than one and a half days of usage from your phone. In our video loop test, the M486 lasted a full 10 hours and 20 minutes making it one of the runners for the top spot. It's definitely going to survive for a long time. But, the question out here to ask is, will you be able to survive for so long with it? Well, that's a story for another article.
Worth a buy?
The Xage M486 Giant is priced at Rs. 7,999 (MRP). It's one of the most expensive non smartphones in the market at the moment, considering how for under Rs. 10,000 you get a flurry of smartphones, that do much more than the M486. We'll keep this as simple as possible – the M486 is definitely not worth a buy. If Xage do come out with an Android version, with a capactive touch screen, keeping the price tag in the same range, we'd have definitely seen the scores on the other end of the scale.
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