Remember the days when INR 10, 000 was considered to be a rather high end for a smartphone, or rather just a phone. Today, the premium devices all cost well over the INR 35K mark, yet the devices in the mid to lower tier have failed to impress in front of some of the big brands’ flagships. However, recently, plenty of OEMs have started rolling our devices with very competitive specs when compared to the devices at the highest bracket of competition at only a fraction of the price. It is a great credit to some of these OEMs that at least on paper and spec wise, they match up with the very best in the business, but where the difference lies is in performance in real life.
Spice is one of the few OEMs alongside the likes of Xiamo, Gionee and Micromax which have made great strides in the past few years when it comes to providing competitive hardware and good performance on smartphones which save you plenty in the bank. We recently got our hands on the Spice Mi 535 Stellar Pinnacle Pro, here is our review of the device and if you should give it a serious thought when picking your smartphone.
Price And Availability
The Pinnacle Pro is available for INR 13, 299 on various online portals. You can pick it from Saholic here. However, if you have decent bargaining skills we do advice you to to pick the device offline as you can drive the price down significantly to about INR 11.5K.
We did not find the device at several retailers offline, so you will have to be fairly proactive to find the device on market. However, at several Spice Mobile outlets, we did find the device. The device is available in Brown color only which gives it a pretty solid feeling. Though, we would have liked more color options. The device comes with a Flip Cover out of the box and an OTG cable.
Calls and Connectivity
At the end of the day, the Spice Stellar Pro is a mobile phone, and it would be a gigantic waste if it did not make good calls. Fortunately, we did not face any such issue with the device, the call quality was good, and clear. The person on the other side did not have any issues hearing us and generally the network stayed pretty consistent throughout.
Noise cancellation worked well, and although we did hear a little hiss sort of a sound right at the beginning of the call, it eventually ended up disappearing. The device is a Dual SIM smartphone and having both SIMs activated at the same time and supporting 3G worked amazingly well. You can also setup which SIM will be your default SIM to send texts or calls. You can do that, or simply leave things as they are which means you can choose which SIM to be used every time you trigger some action.
The device has 802.11b/g/n WI-Fi built in, though the lack of support of ac was not surprising, but we would have liked it to have been there. The GPS signal on the device was very hit and miss, and apps such as Foursquare faced a tough time in locking the exact location. The Spice Pinnacle Pro does ship with Bluetooth 4.0 and although we did not test it out much apart from an odd headset which connected well.
Hardware and Build Quality
The Spice Pinnacle Pro from the onset looks like a solid device. In fact, it gave us a feeling of one of the old HTC Desire devices such as Desire HD or Desire Z in the way it has been built. The device is tough but doe feel a little bulky in the hand. If you like sleek and slim stuff, then this is not the phone for you, but if you like stuff that is tough and would perhaps take a bullet for you, then the Spice Pinnacle Pro is a good choice. The device is well rounded at the edges, meaning, we did not ever have an issue of the device poking us.
The device measures 152 x 79 x 10.3 mm and weighs a solid 196.3 grams. The device features a 5.3 inch display on the front which features three capacitive buttons at the bottom. The device has a 3.5 mm headset jack, power button as well as a Micro USB port. The button on the top is pretty much impossible to click with one hand, which means you cannot really use the device with one hand.
The three capacitive buttons are redesigned by Spice themselves and you would need some getting used to them. There is also 8 MP Camera at the back of the device alongside two LED lights to help you shoot at night and an active noise cancellation microphone. The lower back of the device features the speaker grille which is very similar to the design on the HTC One. This meant keeping the phone down really muffled the sound output, or maybe we have been spoilt by the boomsound speakers on our HTC One. The right flank of the device has the volume rocker switch and one stage Camera shutter button.
The back of the Spice Stellar Pinnacle pro is removable and as a result you have access to the pretty hefty 2550 mAh Li-Po battery. There is space for two full SIM Cards, thank god there is no micro SIM card stuff here. There is also Micro SD slot at the back of the device which means you can expand the storage onboard by another 32 GB.
The screen on the Spice Stellar Pinnacle Pro is 5.3 inch diagonally in size. It is an IPS display with qHD display with 960×540 resolution. This means the PPI of the device is 208. Although, this might not be groundbreaking, but given the size of the device, you tend to use it away from your eyes which meant it was pretty usable.
The phone in outdoors was decent to read and the viewing angles were just about average. The colors were averagely produced though in competition with other devices running qHD resolution, it was one of the few better displays we have seen. However, we would still remark that we prefer Windows Phone when it comes to devices which sport qHD display given the big typography there. The screen is by no means bad, its just that in an age where just about every smartphone seems to shipping with 720 P displays, the Spice Pinnacle pro misses the trick, especially as that would have made media consumption and videos on the device a much more pleasing experience. Given that speakers are at the bottom, we did not really enjoy our experience of watching videos on the phone.
The Software and Customizations
The Spice Pinnacle pro ships with Android 4.2.1 out of the box. This is fantastic given that JellyBean is a huge improvement over ICS with which most of the low end Android devices seem to be shipping with. The device comes with very little skin on top giving it a very Nexus like feel. Although there is decent amount of bloatware on top of the device, there is nothing much more on top of stock Android.
You get all the goodness of Android 4.2.1 such as Google Now, Quick Look and widgets on the lock screen. There is also T9 built into the dialer which at the first glance looks very much like stock, and brings the feature of Android 4.3 on board. There is also the added tweaks to watch the battery percentage in the device and few gesture goodness built in which works well.
There are a couple of Samsung Galaxy features available too such as pick to call or pop up video, we did not really use most of them given they are known to be a battery sucker.
The Battery on the Spice Stellar Pro is absolutely stunning at 2550 mAh. We say stunning not cause of the number but the sort of performances we got out of the device. Even with auto synch on with HSPA on, the device lasted a whole day, which is really impressive given that most of the high end devices today would have really struggled to.
The Camera on the Spice Stellar Pro is 8 MP. This is not only good on the paper but does a very decent job of taking pictures. Where the device really did well was outdoors at night when focussing on objects closeby. The device des produce grainy shots when used to shoot objects far away, but macro shots really come very well. Although it is criminal to use LED flashlights when taking your pictures, but some of the results as you can see in our samples were pretty decent when taken with this device.
The front facing camera is 5 MP and does a very decent job of taking pictures, we enjoyed Skype calls on the device and given most of the devices ship with 2 MP or even lower, this is a nice change. the device can also record videos in 720 P at 30 fps. The video quality is average at best.
Benchmarks and Performances
The SPice Pinnacle Pro does get through the basic tasks pretty well. It is only when you run heavy games and memory intensive apps that things stutter. Make sure you keep apps closes which are not needed cause it does slow the device really badly.
This maybe the one big downside of having 1 GB Space. Apart from that having 16 GB internal storage is great for storing apps and you always have Micro SD for expansion.
Here are some of the benchmark results of the device:
Quadrant Benchmark Score: 4122
Antutu Benchmark: 13114
Vellamo- HTML: 1378, Metal: 467
The Spice Pinnacle Pro is a very decent choice if you are looking for a budget phone a high end specs. However, the competition in this range is stiffer than ever and as a result the phone faces a tough challenge especially against established brands like Samsung and Micromax pitching in too. The price of the phone is great, but a rather lower spec’d screen and rather average Camera go against it. Overall, the device is a very decent package and if you are looking for value for money, definitely consider the Spice Stellar Pinnacle Pro.