Mobilink took its time to board the budget smartphone bandwagon. With the availability of budget devices from its competitors and an increasing use of mobile internet, it is a long overdue step in the right direction to “Xplore” this side of the market.
This device's launch was marked by sensational newspaper ads featuring Nargis Fakhri, followed by sizzling TV commercials. And so we got our hands on a Jazz X JS700, the top of the line Android Smartphone from Mobilink, to see what all the fuss is about.
We try it out
The telco has attempted to one up its rivals by offering a 5-inch screen device.
- OS: Android 4.4 KitKat
- Processor: 1.3GHz Dual-Core MediaTek ARM Cortex A7
- Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB Storage, Upto 32gb SD card slot
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Proximity, Light sensor
- Display: 5” TN FWVGA Display, 240 DPI
- Battery: 2000 mAh
- Camera: 5mp fixed focus with flash, 2mp front-cam
- Connectivity: Dual-Sim, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Price: Rs8,000
First glance: Bonus features are a win
The Haier-branded simple white box carries the JS700 handset, including a screen protector, charger and data cable, earphones, battery and user guide.
Users are promised a bonus balance of Rs800 and 2GB free 3G internet (with some conditions stated on the official page), and unlimited and free usage of Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. It is not clear, however, how long the free app usage period lasts.
Unlike other telecoms, Jazz didn’t try to hide the manufacturers and the Haier branding is quite visible on the box and on the device itself.
But back to the big question — how hot is this phone?
The disappointment kicked in from the moment I read the words “dual-core” in the specs under a price tag of Rs8,000. I was hoping to be swayed by its actual performance but that did not happen.
The overall performance of the JS700 left much to be desired, considering the price. But there were some redeeming features.
Design is solid, unpretentious
The JS700 boasts a body with a simple design, isn't glossy or slippery, and has a good feel to it. The surface however, is a magnet for fingerprints.
The handset is slightly heavier than other 5-inch devices I have held in the past. On its back, it has a prominent bump for a 5mp camera between the LED flash and loud speaker.
Large, vibrant displays on smartphones are the need of 2016 and Jazz got that right, at least in terms of size.
With a 240 pixel density, this 5-inch display offers a satisfactory visual experience with an above average screen brightness.
Viewing angles are nothing to write home about and users will have to look straight at the display to view the contents. Again, not a big deal for an entry-level device.
Performance — more cons than pros
Looks can be deceiving and in the case of the Jazz JS700, this stands true.
The size of this handset can over-shadow the fact that it is a 'dual core' machine in year 2016. Average mobile phone consumers tend to be easily impressed by the number of mega pixels in a phone camera or by its display size.
Large screens push users to do more. However, holding a renowned Mali 400 MP GPU with support of a gig of RAM and an aged dual core processor will not help JS700 users get the best of Android, despite the big screen.
Light, casual games will entertain users but fast-paced, action games such as Asphalt Nitro (which is designed for low-spec devices), Traffic Rider and UnKilled showed clear signs of frame-drops.
The browser can get stuck on heavy websites but I did not encounter any trouble using the sites' mobile version.
Overall, I would say the phone's performance is below average.
Camera user interface is basic, user-friendly
The hard-to-miss protrusion of its 5mp camera on the back may lead one to believe there is something groundbreaking stored in the phone, but the reality is slightly different.
The fixed-focus camera shows better results when it comes to indoor shots but noise-reduction processing destroys fine details in both indoor and outdoor photos.
The Camera UI is basic and user-friendly; a pinch to zoom option is also available although a fixed-focus camera unit naturally cannot support touch-to-focus function. Nevertheless, all basic camera functions are easy to find right on the front including preview of last taken photo.
The 2mp front-facing camera is a good company for video chats.
Have Kitkat, not Lollipop
KitKat is one of the finest versions of Android OS but for this price tag in this year, JS700 users deserve the latest Lollipop (Android 5).
I did appreciate the informative Jazz-branded wallpapers and feel they should do more of those. There are no unusual changes in Android’s stock version on the device.
Among other utility apps, Mobilink packed in this device a few Jazz internet-only apps: Mobilink TV, MobiStream and MobiTunes. The catch however, is these apps work only when a user is subscribed to Jazz connectivity — which I think is not a very smart move by the makers.
For the sake of business growth, these services should be available for Wi-Fi users as well so they can be used over a Jazz Internet data package when out of the Wi-Fi zone.
Lost and found: the app switch drawer
For an entire day, I tried and failed to find Android's app switch drawer that should have appeared on a long press of the home key.
It was only when I press the options key a little longer — by accident — that the app switch drawer showed up.
Shifting the app drawer to options key makes little sense. It takes a longer time, requires extra taps and is simply confusing.
The verdict — and some advice
The device would have had me jumping around had it come into the market a year and half ago. Today, Mobilink's direct competitors have much better deals and better devices.
JS700 is clearly no knockout amid the deluge of smart devices. It is a large entry-level device suitable for new smartphone users and for people who plan to not go hard on their pockets.
What is inevitable however, is that its price has to come down or a much-faster Quad-Core processor must replace its processor of yore.
The budget smartphone market across the world is gaining traction and the once-thin line between budget and mid-range devices has been blurred.
Mobilink should have studied its competition closely before making inroads into the smartphone arena. But after a first-hand experience of this device, I am eager to see what they will be exploring next.
The author is a graphic designer and freelance writer with a focus on tech.
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