Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Smartphone Review: O+ 8.31z Android

The O+ 8.31z is an Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean entry-level dual SIM smartphone. It has a dual core 1 GHz processor, a 256 MB RAM, a dual camera, and a 3.5” capacitive touchscreen with a 320 × 480 screen resolution. It’s got the usual 3G and wi-fi connectivity, GPS, as well as Bluetooth 3.0. You have three colors to choose from: white, black and dark blue. 

Out of the box. The phone comes with 4GB SanDisk memory card, headset, micro USB cable, charger adapter and battery. Word of caution though: if you’re buying this phone, make sure the battery fits exactly on its slot. We encountered a unit where the battery is a little loose, and evident when you shake the phone even just a little.

About the phone. The O+ 8.31z has two standard SIM card slots and the micro SD card slot under the battery compartment. There are three capacitive buttons (menu, home and back) on the bottom, volume controls on the right, and the 3.5mm headset jack, micro USB connector and power key on top. Turn the device over and you have the 3.2 megapixel camera, its LED (which also doubles as a flashlight) and the hands-free speaker.

Experience. Holding this phone in my hand is a good fit, although it feels lightweight as expected. The touch calibration is generally okay, although sometimes it doesn’t accurately detect the area that I’m pressing, especially on the edges of the screen. There are also times when pressing the power key won’t bring the phone out of sleep immediately (maybe it is feeling tired when it does so). Calls are clear, provided of course that you have a good network signal. Fully-charging its 1500 mAh battery should be enough to get you through the day with moderate use. The hands-free speaker and the included headset are loud enough and give good audio. 

Storage. The device only has 165 MB of available space in its internal storage. (If this is no good for you, you can check out its slightly better sibling, the O+ 8.36z, which generously offers around 4 GB of internal storage for only P1,000 more.) However, for your data and media files, its external storage is expandable up to 32 GB.

Apps. With this phone, you can only have a limited number of internal storage-resident apps. You can have some Google apps (such as the updated Play Store, Gmail, Chrome and Hangouts), Facebook and maybe a few other essentials before the device complains that some system functions may not work because storage space is running out. You may have to disable/uninstall some built-in apps you don’t really use to free up precious space. Your only chance of having more apps installed is when those particular apps you want can be transferred to the memory card. (Now, advanced Android users may be able to move apps forcibly to the micro SD card, but that’s not covered in this review.)

Media. Its video player can let you watch 720p videos in MP4 smoothly, but it refuses to play 1080p. It also plays WEBM, AVI and 3GP formats, but not MPEG, WMV or FLV. Video appears washed out though, but still viewable. It has a music player to let you listen to your MP3s. Other playable audio formats (among those I tested) are: M4A, MIDI, OGG and WAV. WMA is not supported. There’s also an FM tuner and recorder so you won’t miss out on your fave radio programs (this app could still have much to improve on though). You can also record conversations and all other audio picked up by the microphone through the Sound Recorder.

Games. The O+ 8.31z can run Candy Crush Saga, 4 Pics 1 Word, Pou and perhaps other casual games well enough. But due to its minimal amount of RAM, don’t expect to play graphic-intensive games here such as Temple Run 2 (it lags and swipes come in delayed) or Jetpack Joyride.

Camera. Its 3.2 MP main camera with LED flash and VGA front-facing camera can produce typical quality images for a phone in its price range. It also has panorama, self timer, face detection and smile detection features. There’s an image editor via the Gallery where you can add effects, enhancements and more. It can capture 3GP videos at 640 × 480. Here are some sample pictures (click for larger size):

Air Shuffle. Air Shuffle is a feature activated by hovering an object (such as your hand or finger) above the sensor near the front-facing camera. It basically functions as a next button while using the Gallery, FM Radio or Music; and a shutter release button while using the Camera. This could be useful when dealing with images (Camera and Gallery), but I found it too sensitive for sounds (FM Radio and Music) as I keep triggering it accidentally too often, particularly when I try to pull down the notification panel. This is a nice feature, but if you find it bothering you, you can turn always it off.

O+ innovations. According to an O+ flyer, the phone should have innovations like Shake to Answer and Flip to Silent. However, making these gestures don’t do what they are supposed to, nor have I found any setting that activates these. But you can still silence your phone from ringing by pressing any of the volume keys. One working innovation that works though is the SMS Import Export, which allows you to backup your text messages. Now you won’t have to worry about accidentally deleting a message as you can easily restore them.

Hiccups. Checking the updates, there’s a 5.13 MB Android 4.2 version 4 update available, supposedly for system optimization, but installing it actually fails. Bummer. Another hiccup one may encounter when it comes to downloading rather large installer files from the Play Store is an insufficient disk space error. The workaround is to (1) secure the APK file elsewhere, (2) store it in the memory card, (3) set your device to allow installation of apps from unknown sources, and (4) run the APK from the memory card.

Final word. For only P2,995, the O+ 8.31z Android is one of the best buys among the lowest-priced Android phones in the market today. If you’re a simple person who needs to call, text and surf, and can easily be entertained, this device would suffice. It delivers the basics and gets the job done.

1 comment:

  1. check out Cherry Mobile Life. same price range, better specs :)