Chinese smartphone maker Phicomm is a new entrant in the Indian smartphone space with just two handsets to its credits. While the first smartphone, Passion 660 was a mid-range handset, the second one, Energy 653, is an entry-level 4G-LTE enabled smartphone that is aggressively priced at Rs 4,999. Also Read - Phicomm Clue 630, the cheapest 4G LTE smartphone, launched in India for Rs 3,999: Specifications and featuresAlso Read - Phicomm Energy 670 dual-SIM 4G smartphone launched at Rs 5,999: Specifications and features
Available exclusively via Amazon, the smartphone competes with the likes of ZTE Blade Qlux, InFocus M370, Lenovo A2010 and the recently launched YU Yunique. We used the Phicomm Energy 653 for little over a week to find out if it s worth a buy, and here s our detailed review.
Although the Energy 653 is aggressively priced, Phicomm hasn t compromised on its design and build quality. The moment you hold the handset, you ll notice how sleek and light it is, and it weighs just 100 grams. The front is dominated by a 5-inch display with thin bezels on the sides. Below the display, you have three capacitive touch buttons menu, home and back. There is one small issue though; these buttons don t have backlight due to which they are a little difficult to find, especially in the dark. The back features a removable plastic cover that has a glossy finish to it.
Under the back cover, you have the 2,300mAh battery, a microSD and dual-SIM card slots. The primary SIM card slot is placed on the side for easy access; however, to remove the second SIM and microSD card, you ll need to remove the battery as well. The power / sleep button and the volume rocker sits on the right edge of the frame, both of which are easily accessible by the thumb. The microUSB port and the 3.5mm jack are placed on the top.
The 5-inch HD display (1280×720 pixels) is pretty good. The touch is fluid and responsive. Its screen is sharp, bright, has good sunlight legibility and offers good viewing angles too. Unlike some entry-level handsets where colors look washed out, the display on the Phicomm Energy 653 offers good color reproduction. While blacks are dark, the whites sometimes look a little pale. However, considering the kind of display quality you get on a smartphone that costs under Rs 5,000, it is quite noteworthy.
At the heart of the Energy 653, the show is run by Qualcomm s Snapdragon 210 quad-core processor clocked at 1.1GHz and it is paired with 1GB of RAM. This is decent enough to take care of day-to-day tasks such as surfing the internet, checking emails, social networking, listening to music and watching videos. Casual games such as Subway Surfers, Temple Run 2 and Angry Birds run smoothly, but if you have some 5-6 apps running in the background, it struggles a bit. When playing graphics intense games such Asphalt 8: Airborne, we noticed some stuttering due to which there was a slight delay in response. We also noticed the area around the rear camera getting slightly warm, but it never reached the level where it becomes uncomfortable to hold.
The Phicomm Energy 653 offers a good multimedia experience. With a good pair of headphones (not the ones that come in the box), the audio output is pretty loud and detailed. The speaker is also pretty loud, but the quality is more on the treble side. There is also an equalizer to tweak the listening experience with options such as Bass Boost, Surround and Reverb effects, and they do a pretty good job. The video player was able to play HD (720p) videos without a hitch, but when playing full HD (1080p) videos, we noticed slight stuttering.
The 8-megapixel rear camera on the back is pretty much average. Under balanced lighting conditions, the camera captures decent photos. However, in broad daylight, the photos looked a little overexposed, and some purple fringing was visible too. The selfie camera is also average under proper lighting conditions, but the selfies clicked indoors appeared a little dull with visible noise. Video recording is also limited to 720p and the quality is average too. Although, considering its price tag, it isn t that bad.
On the software front, you get the latest Android 5.1.1 Lollipop wrapped under Phicomm s Expect UI. The interface comes with sleek launcher and doesn t come with any bloatware. Under settings, you can configure the capacitive buttons for long / short press function, which comes pretty handy at times. For instance, you can configure long press home button to end calls, turn screen off, voice search or to launch camera.
The smartphone comes with 8GB of on-board storage out of which you get a little over 4GB to use and there is also a microSD card slot with support up to 64GB. Connectivity options include dual-SIM support with one slot supporting 4G LTE and other supporting 2G network. The call quality was pretty decent, and we did not face any call drops or experience any cracking sound. The handset also has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and A-GPS support but misses out on USB OTG.
The 2,300mAh battery is decent enough to sail through the day. We had two email accounts configured with real-time sync, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp running in background, an hour of phone calls, some casual gaming for 15 minutes or so. With all this, the battery lasted a good 12 hours, until it needed to be charged again.
Overall, a neat design, good display, average performance and good battery life are a few things that go in favor of the Phicomm Energy 653. The cameras are slightly disappointing, but when you consider its aggressive pricing, the shortcomings can easily be written off. The Phicomm Energy 653 is not meant for those who demand performance, but a decent option for budget-minded users and first-time smartphone buyers.