There is a proper fight happening in just about every category of Android smartphone you look at. Right at the top of the pile, you have the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony fighting out for top honors while in the mid range you have some emerging brands such as Gionee and Micromax providing great competition to the already established players. However, it is in the lower mid tier segment where things are really heating up. With players such as Spice, Lava, Intex, iBall all vying for much needed traction, it has made this segment a bit of winner takes it all pot.
**Shot with the Spice Coolpad
Competing in this very segment, for the price conscious consumers is Spice Coolpad Mi-515. The device is primarily aimed at those who like to carry around a big smartphone with Vanilla Android on board and most importantly have a requirement of dual SIMs. We tested the smartphone for over 2 weeks, and you can find our thoughts about the device in our full review below:
Pricing and Availability
The Spice Coolpad is available for Rs. 9140 on the famous E-Commerce site Flipkart. However, in the market, we have seen the device being available for as less as Rs. 8500. The rest depends on your bargaining power. The phone is not very difficult to find in the market, so the market availability was not really an issue.
In Box Contents
The box of the Spice Coolpad Mi-515 comes with all the standard stuff that you can expect from any modern day smartphone. You get the smartphone, battery which is removable, a charger, headsets which do not really sound all that great, few manuals including the warranty and user guide alongside the micro USB to USB cable. The box packaging is pretty standard without anything really unique. Spice has tied up with the Chinese mobile manufacturer, Coolpad and the Spice Coolpad is the first device in that range. It would be interesting to see if we see more devices under the same branding.
Hardware and Feel of the Device
The Spice Coolpad on the first impression, looks a bulky device. It brings out words like rugged and solid in our minds instead of something sleek and silky. It is a beast of a phone, right out of the old Nokia school of thought where even banging the phone down a couple of times would not do much harm.
The Spice Coolpad weighs a meaty 161 grams and with dimensions of 140 x 73 x 9.9 mm. The device is available in a shiny blue color which adds a bit of uniqueness to the device in the day where black and white phones are a standard. The phone feels solid but bulky. The neat metallic trim running around the device does give it a unique appeal.
The front of the device is primarily dominated by the 5 inch screen of the phone and three capacitive touch buttons. You have your earpiece, a VGA front facing camera alongside the proximity sensor living on top of the screen.
On the right flank of the device you have the power button and the volume rockers that provide decent feedback. The placement of the power button on the right side was very convenient as the phone is pretty large to reach the top while using with one hand. The left flank of the phone is totally blank. The top of the device has a 3.5 mm headset jack which played well with just about any third party headphone we used. The lower flank of the phone houses the main microphone and nothing else.
The back of the device houses the 5 MP Camera, a Spice branding and speaker grille towards the bottom. We are not fans of speaker grilles at the bottom as it really muffles the sound, and the Spice Coolpad is no different in this regard. There is an LED Flash light to help photography in low light next to the Camera. The back of the phone is detachable and you can remove the battery from the device. You do have two GSM SIM slots, but unfortunately, none of these are hot swappable which was a bummer. The phone grips reasonably well but glossy finish means it is very finger print friendly.
Overall, the construction of the phone is neat and just like several other budget devices. Although the phone ticks lots of right boxes, there is nothing that will totally blow you out of the water if someone took this one out of their pocket. You may see it, check it out, but most likely you are going to return it back to them without feeling that you must own one of them.
The display on the Spice Coolpad is a 5 inch, if measured diagonally. It is an IPS LCD panel with resolution of 540×960 which is alright given the price range. The viewing angles are just about decent and the sunlight visibility of the screen is average. The display is generally reflective and in direct sunlight, reading minute text especially in a browser can be challenging. The screen did pick a couple of scratches too when the phone was accompanying a few keys in our pockets. So, you definitely need a screen protector for this one.
The Camera on the Spice Coolpad Mi-515 is 5 MP which is capable of taking decent shots. This is not going to even come close to replacing your point and shoot camera especially as the indoor performances of the Camera was bad. The shots consistently had blown out exposure or under exposed. The well lit conditions pulled reasonably ok shots. We have attached a few examples of indoor shots and how the camera performed.
There are some decent add ons in the Camera pp though. You do have an HDR Mode which does help exposure a little. You have some decent Scenes and options of face recognition as well as choice of scene modes. But we still feel with a few software tweaks, the Camera could do a little better at least in terms of reproducing accurate colors and details.
The Camera can record videos in 720 P, but it really struggled to pick the audio and the front facing camera was decent as long as used strictly for casual hangouts call, nothing more.
Software on board
The Spice Coolpad runs Android version 4.1.2 JellyBean which is at least one version ancient to the version we would have liked it to be. However, the phone has very few tweaks here and there from a true Vanilla Android experience which is the good news. You have toggles in the Notification bar for quick access to shortcuts while you can also play around with the color theme of the device which was pretty neat.
There are five homescreens which can be customized with widgets on the desktop and overall gives a very Nexus like feel to the phone. You can obviously install a third party launcher such as Nova which definitely enhanced the performance of the device. There is decent amount of bloatware on board, stuff like NQ Anti Virus, few apps like Facebook, Twitter, Chrome, Whatsapp, Spicegang which we did not really use much.
On personal preference, we would have liked if Spice had kept the status icons like battery to the default Android ones as the ones used are just a tad too loud. You can schedule the device off and on and have the ability to update the Android version online in case an update is made available.
The Spice Coolpad runs on a 1.2 Quad Core SoC with 1 GB of RAM. This keeps the device buzzing along and although we did suffer stutters, it was no more than what we had expected. The performance of the phone was reasonably good and unless you loaded it with very heavy games and ran 10-11 apps at one time, it coped well. Transitions were smooth and unless you really like to flip across screens very fast, you would not have much of a problem.
There is 4 GB Internal memory which is enough to house your basic apps, while you can always expand upto 32 GB more space thanks to Micro SD slot in the device. For a budget device within 10K, we feel that is ample storage space especially a the camera on the device is a 5 MP shooter so does not take too large images which would occupy too much space. Here are some of the results from benchmark tests on the Spice Coolpad:
The sound output, as we alluded to earlier was miffed thanks to bad position on the speaker. The device did play normal videos such as Youtube vids reasonably well. The output quality was greatly enhanced with headphones though.
Connectivity and Call Quality
The phone made good quality phone calls and we had about 2 dropped calls in our 20 call test. Though this could be down to flaky Vodafone connection in our locality so that should not be judging parameter. The 3G, Bluetooth, FM Transmission worked well. GPS did take a while to lock the position in apps such as Google maps and Foursquare but after firefighting for a bit, it got there.
The battery on the Spice Coolpad is a 2000 mAh removable battery. It easily lasts over a day with reasonable gaming, music and pulling data from one E-Mail account every 15 minutes. You can always purchase a spare battery if you need though, but chances are you will be fine with what you have.
Overall, the Spice Coolpad is a very decent phone for those who are either entering the Android ecosystem for the first time moving from feature phones or people just looking for a budget device. Anyone else, will have a hard time liking the phone, but we are sure that is exactly what the TG of this device is. We enjoyed the phone and if you would just like to add a bit of Android spice to your life which is dominated by other ecosystems, the Coolpad is a reasonable choice.