The budget to mid-range segment is completely dominated by up and comers like Micromax, Karbonn, iBall and now XOLO. The A800 is XOLO’s latest addition to its product line and is a replacement to the A700. The new handset boasts of an impressive list of features considering its price point and will compete directly with the iBall Andi 4.5h. It looked very promising in our specifications review and now it’s time to see if it really delivers in our real world tests. 

Design and build
XOLO has nailed the design and aesthetics of the A800 very well. The handset looks and feels balanced and we love the choice of plastics used. The glossy front tends to attract fingerprints and reflections can be an issue. It doesn’t fare very well when it comes to sunlight legibility too. We have three capacitive buttons at the bottom along with the front facing camera and sensors on the top. It’s a fairly slim handset with the volume rocker placed neatly on the left and the microUSB port below that. The power/sleep button and 3.5 mm headphone jack take their place on the top, leaving the right side bare.

IPS display produces bright and vivid colours

IPS display produces bright and vivid colours

This is a dual SIM handset, but only one SIM supports 3G. Right beside it is the hot-swap microSD card slot; the A800 comes bundled with an 8GB microSD card. The A800 does not look like your typical budget Android handset. In fact, it has a premium feel to it and that’s not easy to find in phones in this price range.

Easy to reach ports

Easy to reach ports

Features
Interface
XOLO delivers stock Android Ice Cream Sandwich with the A800 with some tweaks to the settings and the notification bar. Just like most budget droids, there are scrollable toggle switches in the notifications area; however they aren’t customisable. The settings menu is also quite different with new icons and additional sub-menus for dual SIM management, sound profiles and an option to automate tasks like shutdown and restart the phone. The UI is left pretty much untainted and the functioning is smooth and fluid. This is possible thanks to the snappy dual-core MediaTek MT6577 SoC and 512MB of RAM. There is a minute lag and stutter that creeps in when swiping across homescreens, but that could just be ICS.

UI is quick and fluid

UI is quick and fluid

The 4.5-inch IPS display manages to produce sharp text and vivid colours. The viewing angles are also very good. The qHD resolution (540 x 960) helps in keeping a decently high pixel count, so icons and text don’t appear pixelated. There’s also no visible banding seen in wallpapers and in video. The A800 also features an ambient light sensor for automatic brightness adjustment, a feature many choose to omit in the budget section.

Media
For media playback, we have the stock audio and video player. Audio quality is decent as long as you use a good pair of IEMs. The volume of the speaker is not very loud. It’s just enough for alerts, but dialogues in movies are not very clear. File format support is the same as you would get with stock ICS, so for added support for MKV, AVI etc., you’ll have to turn to third party players. There’s also FM radio. 

Decent media playback

Decent media playback

Video playback is not the best on the stock player as even SD videos tend to stutter. This is fixed by installing MX Player and switching the decoder from hardware to software. The handset has 4GB of internal memory, but this can be easily expanded via a microSD card. MX Player also managed to easily play back our 720p MKV, AVI and MOV files  with hardware acceleration. Full HD 1080p videos are a no-go on the A800. 

Connectivity
The XOLO A800 is not a quad-band Android phone, unfortunately. You only get two bands for GSM and one band for 3G. This is not a problem as long as you plan on using it in India, but if you travel abroad a lot, then it might not always work with other carriers. You can use two SIMs in A800, but remember that only one of them supports 3G. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 ‘n’, Bluetooth v3.0 and microUSB for charging and data transfer. There’s no video-out option or NFC here. For navigation, we have GPS with A-GPS and Google Maps.

Works well for web surfing

Works well for web surfing

Misc. apps
Besides  the standard assortment of Google apps, we also have a backup and restore app for backing up your contacts, messages, pictures, calendar etc. to the SD card. There’s also a file manager to help you dig deep into the bowels of your handset. NoteBook helps you take quick notes while XOLO Care helps you connect to a hotline for customer care and even includes an update section to install updates via the SD card or directly from XOLO.

Camera
The A800 packs in an 8MP BSI sensor that manages to capture good pictures, both indoors and outdoors. For stills, you get a whole bunch of options right from HDR, white balance, scene modes and colour effect. The settings menu has an option called ZSD, which is a type of image stabilisation feature, and it actually manages to work quite well. When turned on, slight movements are very well compensated by the software. You also have the option to adjust the sharpness, hue, saturation, brightness, contrast, ISO and flicker. While still shots do appear bright even in low light, the detail level is still pretty average. We also noticed that the phone had slight issues with the light metering, but we think a software update should fix this.

Excellent camera options

Excellent camera options

Captures very good detail

Captures very good detail

Video recording mode also seems to have some sort of image stabilisation called EIF and you have the same image and colour corrections even in this mode. What’s really surprising is the panorama mode. Not only does it capture a wider shot compared to the stock mode,  but you also get guidelines to help you while panning. The best part, however, is the speed at which it stiches the image together; there’s zero processing time. The quality of the recorded video is also surprisingly good, even indoors.

Battery life
The 1600mAh battery managed to deliver roughly 7-hours of battery life, which is decent considering the size and resolution of the screen. For everyday use, you should be able to get a day’s worth of usage.

Verdict and price in India
At an MRP of Rs. 11,999, the XOLO A800 is easily the best Android handset we’ve come across at this price point. Some of the strong points of the handset include the excellent display, snappy dual-core CPU, dual SIM, very good build and aesthetics, bundled memory card, 8MP BSI sensor camera and the option for future updates. It’s not without its faults though. The loud speaker is quite weak and is not very audible, even when it’s not noisy. Other than this, we don’t have any other major complaint with the A800 and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a smartphone in this budget.

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