If you’ve realized, we’ve been doing a few under Rs. 5,000 phones from “Indian” brands regularly now. Although we know how good phones can get as you go above the 15k price bar, for many, even 15 thousand is too big an amount to shell out for a phone. Many people just want a cheap phone and now that we have an army of these uber-china phones flooding the market, it is fitting that we cover this range as well.
|General||2G Network||GSM 900 / 1800 – SIM 1|
|GSM 900 / 1800 – SIM 2|
|Status||Available. Released 2010, May|
|Size||Dimensions||110 x 59 x 10.7 mm|
|Display||Type||TFT, 256K colors|
|Size||320 x 240 pixels, 2.2 inches|
|– QWERTY keyboard
|Sound||Alert types||Vibration, Polyphonic(64), MP3 ringtones|
|– Built-in Yamaha audio amplifier
– 3.5 mm audio jack
|Memory||Phonebook||1000 entries, Photocall|
|Card slot||microSD, up to 4GB, buy memory|
|Data||GPRS||Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 – 48 kbps|
|EDGE||Class 10, 236.8 kbps|
|WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g|
|Bluetooth||Yes, with A2DP|
|Camera||Primary||2 MP, 1600×1200 pixels|
|Browser||WAP 2.0/xHTML (Opera Mini)|
|Radio||Stereo FM radio|
|Java||Yes, MIDP 2.0|
|– Dual SIM
– Facebook, NimBuzz apps
– MP3/WAV player
– MP4/H.263 player
– Voice memo
|Battery||Standard battery, Li-Ion 800 mAh|
|Stand-by||Up to 144 h|
|Talk time||Up to 4 h 30 min|
Design and Build:
The Q7 has a petite form factor. Despite the rectangular slab-like appearance, the thin and lightweight body make up for its appeal. Build quality wise I found it to be slightly lacking; the plasticky body didn’t give me a reassuring feeling of solidity. But that’s what you get when you’re trying to make things thin and light I guess. The display is a fair-sized 2.2 incher with a QVGA (320 x 240 pixel) resolution. The screen is pretty decent in terms of clarity and visibility. Under sunlight there was a little difficulty in viewing content, especially due to the dark background theme, which you cannot change. I’d say the display is right in between the dull Wynncom Y50 and the bright MVL G81.
Below that is a Blackberry inspired trackball, which is now passe since BlackBerrys have moved to a better touch pad system. While it is definitely better to “roll the ball” than having to keep on clicking a button, I felt that the trackball was jumpy at times, for example, while selecting an adjacent option upon clicking. But with patience and practice you can minimize this erroneous behavior. The same can be said about the keyboard.
The blocky rectangular keys are tiny and are evenly designed, which in the case of QWERTY phones isn’t a good thing. The “Curved” smiley-like pattern of keys is ergonomically better and it took me some time to get used to the Q7’s keypad. What saved the day was its decent tactility, due to which the overall experience wasn’t entirely disappointing. Like every phone I’ve come across in this range, the key placement is flawed on the Q7 as well. Symbols like the full-stop or comma that are used often are placed above letters while something as unimportant as a dollar sign gets a dedicated button. It is rather irritating having to press the alt + letter key to end a sentence.
There’s a standardized microUSB port to the side, a 3.5mm earphone jack to the top-left. At the back you’ve got a 2 megapixel camera without an LED flash and a loudspeaker. One commonality I ve seen in cheap phones is that most of them don’t have dedicated volume up and down buttons. So, to adjust volume while on a call, you have to locate the plus/minus keys on the QWERTY to do the same.
Today, we look at the kingpin of this market — Micromax. It has probably made the maximum amount of noise with its in-your-face advertising during this year’s IPL Cricket. The two most popular models we’ve seen in the hands of a few are the Q5fb and the Q7. Today we will be testing the Q7 and checking if it actually beats our currently preferred phone in this range.
Most uber China phones of today have almost the same interface. Once you’ve used one, you’ve pretty much used them all. The reason they look different is due to the different skin job and varying pre-installed utilities that handset makers pack. It is like a really lame version of how an HTC or Motorola customize the default UI of Google’s Android OS to make their phone look unique. The Micromax Q7 is no different, but I wouldn’t be lying if I said they’ve done a decent job with the facelift. The homescreen has shortcuts to applications other than displaying connectivity essentials like signal strength on both networks etc. The interface is simple to use for the most part, except while setting up GPRS connectivity and its usage in Java applications.
You’ve got Opera Mini 4 pre-installed, which is miles better in terms of rendering full webpages than the default browser. We tried browsing on desktop-friendly sites like ours and found it to be convenient to use. Greedy geeks that we are, I upgraded the Opera Mini to the latest and more visually appealing 5.1 version, but it seems that was too much for the Q7’s internals to handle, as it lagged quite bad.
There is Nimbuzz for chatting on popular services like Gtalk, Yahoo, MSN etc. and there’s also a Java-based Facebook app. Honestly, the functionality and experience isn’t as good as what you’re going to get on, say the Android version of the app or an iPhone one, but hey, these phones sell for almost one-tenth the cost of an iPhone. But like the other earlier phones, the Java application text input issue exists in the Q7 too.
One utterly disappointing factor was the lack of any kind of multi-tasking. Forget juggling through Opera Mini while being logged into Nimbuzz, the Q7 conveniently shut down music playing in the background while I fired up a Java app.
One feature that the Q7 bears which others haven’t been able to catch up to yet in this price range is Wi-fi support. It seamlessly hooked up to my WPA2-protected Wi-fi router and I started browsing on speedier internet in no time. The speeds were faster than EDGE, but didn’t really reflect the broadband connection that was being used, but I believe this is the limitation of the Q7’s ability to process websites faster.
As a phone I have no qualms with the Q7. Network connectivity was good, volume levels from the earpiece were more than sufficient. The Q7 boasts of a “Yamaha amplifier”; though I’m not sure what that means, I was happy with the loudness of the speaker at the back for a phone that’s fairly thin. Multi-media wise, the 2 megapixel camera produced grainy images about which I wouldn’t like to speak too much. All I can say is that the camera is pretty much there to fill than hole in the chassis at the back. The bundled in-earphones were of mediocre quality that would put off any quality conscious listener. But thanks to the 3.5mm jack, I easily plugged my Creative EP-630s that improved the output greatly, although not as great as when I’d plugged them in say, a Sony Ericsson XPERIA phone.
Battery life of this phone is one of the major highlights. On a full-charge and with one active SIM card, I talked on this phone for an average of 2 hours per day along with other moderate activity like SMSs. The Q7 lasted me for more than three days with such a use-case. That 800 mAh battery sounds puny, but I’m guessing the internal components aren’t as power-consuming. So with two active SIMs, this phone should effortlessly pull through for more than a day.
Price and Verdict:
The Micromax Q7 sells for roughly Rs. 4,500. There are two aspects of this phone that I liked; the surprisingly good battery life and feature set for the price (like Wi-fi support and a 3.5mm jack). But as a QWERTY phone, it leaves a lot to be desired. Our current favorite, the LG GW300, has a much better keyboard with respect to tactility and symbol placement too. It not only supports music playback in the background when using Java apps, but it also lets you juggle between multiple Java apps — true multi-tasking I’d say. It may not have a trackball, but the large D-pad would count as a little consolation.
At the end of the day, the Q7 is a pretty decent dual-SIM phone, but leaves some of the basics not working the way we’d expect. If you plan to leech on Wi-fi for your internet rather than GPRS, then the Q7 will work. Just be warned of the few minor flaws we shared throughout the article. For people looking at typing a lot and who like to do more than one thing at a time, check the fairly thin LG GW300. Remember this doesn’t have Wi-fi and only one SIM card slot.
This compact QWERTY is quite inviting, but doesn’t leave you entirely satisfied
Wi-Fi support, good battery life, dual-SIM, compact design, fairly “loud” speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack, wallet-friendly price.
No multi-tasking at all, average keyboard design, jumpy track-ball, below par bundled earphones, text input issue in Java apps, grainy camera quality.
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