Sunday, November 13, 2016

Starmobile Review: Playing Around with the Play Plus Smartphone

Taken with Starmobile Play PlusFilter and Resizing in-cam
I'll be the first to admit I'm not a smartphone fanatic. The time I was one has long come and gone and while I appreciate being able to do some work on my iPhone 5s, I mainly use it for texting, calling, a bit of browsing and tethering for internet connection. Oh, and some casual photo taking especially on mountain trails when pulling out my DSLR from the backpack can be a hassle. That said, I'm coming into this review post with a somewhat different take on the Starmobile Play Plus.  Well, considering the price point of P2,290 which puts it into entry-level territory and makes it one of the cheapest in the market, I'll be the first to put my expectations in perspective. 

Considering the name "Play Plus", I was more keen on the play aspects of the device instead of delving into the usual text/call/browse capabilities.  Take for instance, the camera capabilities.   Since I'm a photographer, could I take it along on a lazy day and take interesting captures, process in-camera, and come up with some interesting images?  Or take decent documentation photos for on the job oculars?
Taken with Starmobile PlayPlus, filter and contrast adjustment in-cam
PLAYING WITH THE CAM. I would like to think the built-in 5mp front camera isn't so bad at all especially when taking pictures in bright light (see simulated sunset silhouette shot in the first image; filtering and resizing all done in-cam; only the watermark was added in Photoshop).   The native filters available, however, leave a lot to be desired.  In the wall and gate image immediately above, I would like to add more punch by pushing the contrast upwards much more than the ceiling adjustment of the built-in app would allow.  Still, not so bad for an entry-level smartphone.
Watching YouTube videos is smooth and flicker-free
PLAYING VIDEOS.  Watching YouTube videos is smooth and flicker-free.  The colors are nice, the images well rendered on the 5-inch display.  The limitation of the nice display is the viewing angle -- if you're watching alone and the phone is positioned front and center, it's perfectly fine.  However, if you're sharing it with, say, a small presentation group like I sometimes do in a pinch, the narrow viewing angle can be a visual challenge.  

Audio-wise, the sound reproduction is fine; using a headset could make the viewing and listening experience much better.  Ditto for listening to music.

I sometimes use my phone or tablet to make impromptu presentations to clients when a laptop is not available so I tested the PlayPlus for such a scenario.
Watching mov files can be laggy
I saved a rather small resolution mov file on the micro-SD card for viewing.   The verdict: the image quality is nice; the playback though is laggy, pausing here and there, owing to the rather small (by today's standards) 512mb of RAM.  Considering that the system is already running on a quadcore processor (1.2 GHz Spreadtrum 7731C) and latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS, it would've been better if the RAM was bigger to match though that would drive up the price.

With all things considered, entry level smartphone buyers would appreciate what this device can do, especially at the P2,290 price.    Should you want to take a look at the other Play phone models or other variants in the Starmobile lineup, visit www.starmobile.ph/smartphones

A cursory glance at Starmobile Play Plus main features: 
   • Operating system: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
   • Processor: 1.2 GHz Spreadtrum 7731C quad-core
   • RAM: 512MB
   • Internal storage: 8GB
   • External storage: up to 32GB (microSD)
   • SIM: Dual, dual standby
   • Main camera:  5mp with LED flash)
   • Front camera: 2mp
   • Wi-Fi: yes
   • Wi-Fi hotspot: yes
   • Connectivity: 3G, HSPA
   • GPS: yes
   • A-GPS: yes
   • Sensors: Gravity, Accelerometer, Light, Proximity
   • Power: 2000mAh Battery
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