Review: Spice Mi-280
An affordable dual-SIM phone that offers a decent Android experience.
Well priced; Decent UI; dual-SIM functionality.
Lacklustre screen; Terrible camera; Lacks volume rocker.
MRP: Rs 6,000
Street Price (As On 25-Jun-2012): Rs 5000 (Saholic.com; HomeShop18.com)
Thanks to Google's mobile platform and domestic manufacturers, smartphones are now within reach for the masses. The Mi-280 is one such phone that promises a plethora of features at an affordable price. The handset runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) out of the box. On top of that, it offers dual-SIM (GSM) functionality. While it sounds promising, now let's find out if it's actually a good deal.
Design And Build Quality
The retail package contains the phone, charger, USB cable, and earphones. The device measures 4.2" (l) x 2.2" (w) x 0.5" (13 mm) (d), and weighs only 96 grammes. The phone is made of cheap looking glossy plastic, but that's acceptable at this price point. However, Spice could have avoided the tacky design on the battery cover. Coming to the subject of build quality, it's good, and the handset can withstand a few knocks. The Mi-280 doesn't have any buttons on its sides, and the only ports present are the 3.5 mm jack and micro-USB port.
The phone's 2.8" screen has pixel dimensions of 320x240 that approximately makes for pixel density of 165 ppi. Considering its price tag, the screen is reasonably bright. However, its colour reproduction is nothing writing home about.
The handset is powered by a 650 MHz CPU. Other specs include:
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS
- A 3.2 mp main and front VGA camera
- 3.5 mm jack, micro-USB port, 32 GB memory card slot
- 1400 mAh battery
- A standard set of sensors.
UI And Applications
The interface isn't good looking, but at least it's clean. Despite a modest 650 MHz CPU, the phone doesn't lag much while swiping though the homescreens. That being said, its small screen isn't ideal for the Android OS. I tried a few casual games such as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja on the handset, but the results weren't pleasing.
The default web browser is sluggish and due to the phone's small screen size, you end up hitting the wrong links. In such conditions, the D-pad comes in handy. Similar to its elder sibling, the Mi-350n, this handset also has a very weak Wi-Fi receiver. This can be very annoying when downloading apps from the Play Store. Keeping with the tradition of Android phones, the GPS fails to lock onto satellites. However, you can use Google Maps with the help of A-GPS (Assisted GPS) instead.
The music player has a very basic interface, but it gets the work done. Sound quality is strictly ok, and the bundled earphones are bad. Thankfully, the phone offers several equaliser settings and sound effects. Since the handset doesn't have a physical volume rocker, you've to depend wholly on the onscreen controls.
The Mi-280 can handle 3GP and MP4 videos of up to 480p. With the help of third-party video players, it can also support the DivX and XviD files, but mostly the playback turns out to be choppy.
The camera app has a decent set of features. It offers face detection, panorama, self-timer, and filters such as sepia and mono colour. However, it's all ruined by the terrible image quality. On top of that, the screen goes completely blank for about two seconds after each shot. It can record videos at 480p in 3GP format. The quality of the resultant clips is genuinely bad.
Telephony And Messaging
The Mi-280 is a dual-SIM, dual-standby device. The primary SIM slot supports 3G network, while the other one settles for 2G connectivity. Spice has added a neat SIM- management menu, which lets you select a preferred SIM for messaging and data connection.
Like every other modern cellphone, the messages are displayed in a threaded fashion. On the flip side, due to a small screen, the portrait keyboard is a pain to use. The landscape one is not very good either, but it gets the work done.
Battery And Verdict
The 1000 mAh battery can keep the device powered on for around 6 hours 30 minutes under heavy use. With normal use, expect it to last for around a day. I think, the battery performance is good enough for an Android phone with dual-SIM support.
For the asking price Rs 5000, the Mi-280 offers a decent Android experience. The dual-SIM functionality adds more value to this phone. On the flip side though, it's marred by a lacklustre gaming performance. Moreover, the camera is disappointing. Therefore, I'd recommend this phone to budget-concious Android fans, looking for a dual-SIM device. Others are better off with dual-SIM feature phones, such as the Nokia Asha 200.
Design And Build Quality: 3/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 3/5
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