Earlier this month, Oppo introduced its online-only brand Realme in India, and its first smartphone is Realme 1. Now, yet another company has entered the competitive Indian smartphone market, with focus on selfie-centric audience. Mobiistar, the Vietnamese smartphone company has launched its first two smartphones in selfie star series, the XQ Dual, and the CQ Dual.
The Mobiistar XQ Dual is priced at Rs 7,999, and will go on sale exclusively via Flipkart starting May 30, whereas the CQ Dual is priced at Rs 4,999 and sale date remains the same. The XQ Dual’s closest competitor is the Xiaomi Redmi 5, whereas paying Rs 1,000 extra, you can get the Honor 7A for Rs 8,999. Both smartphones come with tall displays with 18:9 ratio. I had a chance to play around with the smartphone ahead of the launch, and here are my first impressions.
At first glance, the Mobiistar XQ Dual looks a lot like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 that was released over two years ago. It’s competitor, the Redmi 5 comes with a full-screen display with 18:9 aspect ratio. The front panel of the XQ Dual houses the display with thick bezels along the top and bottom. Above the display, you have the dual camera modules, an earpiece, proximity sensors and an LED flash. Below the display, you have the capacitive Android navigation buttons, and sadly, they aren’t backlit due to which operating in dark could be a little confusing.
Turn to the back, and you have the camera module and an LED flash on the top left, and a circular fingerprint sensor symmetrically placed in the center on the top half. The thin antenna lines with copper finish can be seen along the top and bottom. It’s not a unibody design, and the back is made from hard plastic, with metallic finish to it.
Talking about buttons and ports, the volume rocker is placed on the left whereas the power / sleep button is on the right. Just above the power button is the dual SIM card tray where you can insert two nano SIM cards or one nano-SIM card and one microSD card slot. The microUSB port for charging is placed at the bottom, whereas the 3.5mm audio socket sits on the top. Overall, it’s not a new and refreshing design to appeal anyone, rather, it is something that we’ve been seeing for over the past two years.
Specifications: Nothing much to talk about
Today, an increasing number of smartphone manufacturers are going for tall displays with 18:9 display. But Mobiistar has chosen to go with the traditional 16:9 display. The XQ Dual features a 5.5-inch full HD display, and the smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core SoC. It is paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB onboard storage.
Dual selfie cameras: For selfies and groupfies
The camera is an important aspect of a smartphone, and when talking about the front camera, it is popular among the young selfie generation. They take selfies and group photos every now and then, and that’s the audience Mobiistar is targeting with the XQ Dual. You get dual camera setup, which includes a 13-megapixel primary camera, and an 8-megapixel secondary camera with wide-angle lens, having a field of view of 120-degrees.
I clicked a few photos using the front cameras, and the quality is good when the lighting conditions support. However, switching to wide-angle lens, the quality deteriorates a bit, and this is especially true indoors and in low-light scenarios. Wide-angle mode also adds fisheye lens effect, and the barrel roll effects can be seen in the photos. There is an LED flash on the front, but it doesn’t create much of a difference. At the back, you get a 13-megapixel camera, and it clicks decent photos. However, I would wait to pass on the final judgment till we thoroughly review the smartphone. Below are some front camera samples taken using the dual selfie cameras.
OS: Same old Android Nougat
The latest smartphones today ship with Android Oreo OS, and Google has also released the Android P Developer Preview and Public Beta for the users. This also means that in the next few months, Google will be officially releasing Android P. So, when you are buying a phone today, you would expect it to at least run Android Oreo, but sadly, the Mobiistar XQ Dual runs on Android 7.1.2. Nougat.
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The interface is clean with near stock Android, but it is a single layer UI, meaning there is no app drawer. Mobiistar has added a custom theme on top, but it doesn’t seem heavily bloated. You get all Google Apps pre-installed, and the only external app installed is Flipkart. There is also an app called Freezer, which lets you temporarily disable apps that you don’t need.
Overall the interface felt smooth, and I did not encounter any issues where it went unresponsive or so. However, there is no word on the Android Oreo update. Also, the current software version has a security patch level of February 2018. With vulnerabilities being discovered every now and then, you would at least expect manufacturers to offer timely updates.
At Rs 7,999, the Mobiistar XQ Dual is stuck in a tough spot. The competition, Redmi 5, features a full screen display, comes with slightly bigger battery and is equipped with a better chipset. Xiaomi has also added face recognition feature on the smartphone. The Honor 7A, on the other hand, comes with dual rear cameras, face unlock feature, Android Oreo OS, and a full screen display with 18:9 aspect ratio. There is also Realme 1 which comes with a full screen display, face unlock, latest Android Oreo software, and better front and rear cameras.
When you place the Mobiistar XQ Dual in front of the competition, it doesn’t have much to offer, except for the good dual front cameras. It remains to be seen how well the new smartphone brand is received in India.