A budget Android phone that surprises with its smooth performance, but faces stiff challenge from well established brands.
- Attractive 3D user interface
- Fluid performance
- Battery life
- Limited internal memory
Lava, one of the Indian mobile handset brand, has recently launched its first Android phone called the S12. Priced at Rs 8,500 and with a 600 MHz processor we were not expecting a very fluid performance. However we were in for a surprise on the way the phone looks and the way it performed.
The device has been with us for over a month, but seeing the initial performance, we thought that it might deteriorate in the long term use and therefore we delayed the review. And here is what we found in this one month.
The phone looks costlier than it actually is. The phone looks fresh in terms of design and is easily distinguishable from the rest of Android gang. The back cover has been given a brown leather finish and rest is glossy black. Both the top and the bottom are narrow while the middle is thicker. The back cover design is carried forward till the front bottom, and the rest glossy finish carries from the front to the back cover.
The front glass panel is very smooth to touch. There are four chrome finished physical buttons; we would have liked capacitive buttons, but then the choices differ from person to person. Both sides are finished in aluminum and this is where you will find the rest of the buttons.
Power and lock button on the left top side, and volume rocker below it. On the right side top you have the 3.5 mm jack, followed by SD card slot and USB port below that and a camera button. Both USB and SD card slot is covered.
The phone is based on Android 2.2 version, and has a 600 MHz Qualcomm 7227 (same as in LG Optimus One) processor. The display is a 3.2 inch capacitive touch screen. Internal memory is limited at 120 MB. Besides, Lava S12 has a 1300 mAH battery, and a rear 5 megapixel camera without a flash but there is no front camera.
Rest is pretty standard Android affair with WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G and A-GPS.
We have seen that Qualcomm 7227 chipset performs well in LG Optimus one, but then there are many other phones based on the same chipset do not perform as per expectations. Given the fact that this is Lava's first Android offering, we were not expecting much. However as already mentioned, we were surprised. Not just because it performed well, but because it performed well despite having a heavy 3D user interface.
The 3D interface of this phone is very attractive. There are seven home screens to choose from and all this forms a circle in the 3D version and when you flick your finger across the screen this circle rotate as fast as your flick. Though this looks attractive but is not very practical as switching screens become a problem as it is hard to know where this circle will stop.
You can stop it in between but then you will have to aim to get the right choice. This is not a big problem if you swipe finger and slowly move from screen to screen but the process is too slow.
Once you are on a screen, information automatically zoom forward to show more details and the whole thing looks very fluid and attractive. Switching back to 2D stating version is very easy one touch affair. So it is easy to play around. Also remember that the 3D version drains the battery fast.
Coming to the display, the 3.2 inch capacitive touch screen is very responsive, and the colour reproduction and image sharpness is all very good. Though specification wise the screen is not the best but somehow its effect is comparable to phone Rs 2000-3000 expansive than this one.
The 5 megapixel performance is hampered by the lack of auto focus and flash. But still it manages to produce decent pictures in well lite places.
Lava has included a new keypad application called SlideIT, which works similar to swipe, and the application is well sorted and predicts the words well. Switching back to the Android keypad is also easy as there is a toggle to switch back and forth.
To type you just need to slide you finger to each letter and the keypad will guess what you want to type making typing faster and easier. The keyboard predicts English words only, but in case you are typing in any other language (in Roman script), the keypad would give you all the possible letter combination which you can choose in one click. If you still not comfortable, switch back to standard Android keypad.
There are other applications included as well. The Lava customer support application gives you all the necessary number, email IDs etc, rest are mostly standard Android affair.
Battery life is on expected lines. With a 1300 mAH battery, the phone holds on for a day with medium usage. With slightly heavier use, you will have to run for a charger by the time you reach home from office in the evening.
The phone did not hang at all during its stay with us, but it did start to slow down if two or more app was left opened. Slightly more RAM would have been better.
Unfortunately for this phone, the competition is very intense. With LG Optimus One, Dell XCD 35, Motorola Fire, Samsung Galaxy Pop, and Y all in the close proximity, it is a tough decision for anyone to choose an Indian brand's first Android offering. But in our opinion it is a good phone for those who are taking first into the world of Android.
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