Cheapest 4G Smartphone
After launching the mid-range Passion 660, Chinese handset maker Phicomm has introduced an entry level smartphone — Phicomm Energy 653 — with 4G connectivity at just Rs 4,999; making it the cheapest 4G-enabled smartphone along with the ZTE Blade Qlux 4G.
We used the Phicomm Energy 653 to find out if it’s worth a buy…
Build and design
The Phicomm Energy 653 smartphone offers nothing new when it comes to design and looks strikingly similar to Huawei Honor 4X smartphone.
The front is dominated by a 5-inch display, and also houses an earpiece, sensor array and the front camera. There are no physical buttons at the front but three capacitive touch keys.
The phone comes with a removable cover with glossy finish and has Phicomm branding at the centre, along with rear camera and LED flash at the top left corner and a speaker grille at the bottom.
Removing the cover reveals two micro sim card slots, with the first one supporting 4G, and a microSD card slot along with a removable battery.
The power and volume rocker keys, made of plastic, are placed at the right edge and offer good tactile feedback.
The 3.5mm headset jack is at the top along with the micro-USB port.
At 144x70x8mm and weighing just 125gm, the phone feels light and durable.
The Phicomm Energy 653 sports a 5-inch screen with HD (1280x720p) IPS display. The phone has a sharp display with good viewing angles. It also has decent sunlight legibility. A little prone to smudges, the smartphone offers a surprisingly good display at this price.
The Phicomm Energy 653 smartphone runs Android Lollipop 5.0 with Phicomm’s customized Expect UI skin running on top. The software comes with some tweaks or customizations.
The UI features homescreens with a separate app launcher. The smartphone features some stock Android native apps for Calculator Phone and Messaging, among others with customised Music, Compass, and File Manager apps.
The phone allows users to customize hardware buttons and touch keys. For instance, one can program the power key to end a call or home button to answer incoming calls.
Hardware and performance
The Phicomm Energy 653 is a dual-sim smartphone powered by a quad-core 1.1GHz, Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor and comes with 1GB RAM with 8GB internal storage out of which about 5GB is available to the user. Users who want more storage space can install microSD cards of up to 64GB.
In terms of performance, we didn’t notice much lag while navigating through the UI and switching between apps. We were able to play games like Minion Rush without encountering frame drops or freezes.
We did face some problems while using the GPS feature as the phone was unable to detect our location a number of times.
Connectivity features of the phone include 2G, 3G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and microUSB. We were able to use Airtel’s 4G network in Delhi-NCR without any hiccups.
The phone packs a 2,300mAh battery (removable) and will last you a full day if you use 3G data all the time. You’ll be able to make about 1-2 hours of phone calls, play some casual games and browse the web in this time period. Your mileage may vary with different usage patterns.
Phicomm Energy 653 smartphone features an 8MP rear camera with LED flash and a 2MP front-facing camera. The phone takes good pictures with accurate colour reproduction.
Pictures in daylight turned out to be decent; however, pictures taken in low light were not as good and missed out on detail.
The front camera is good for taking occasional selfies and video chats.
At Rs 4,999, the phone joins the ZTE Blade Qlux 4G smartphone as the cheapest 4G-enabled smartphone. Although both phones have similar specs, the Phicomm gains an edge over the Qlux 4G smartphone with better rear camera and HD display. Even though it comes with low-end hardware, the phone doesn’t disappoint and offers better than expected performance.
Users who are a little skeptical of buying a phone from a relatively unknown brand can go for the Moto E 4G at Rs 7,499.