I had been using the Samsung Galaxy Spica Android phone for over a year. I decided to try and get rid of the phone and pick up another low to medium cost Android phone to replace the Spica. My primary phone device, thanks to work, is a Blackberry and my primary consumption device in the iPad2. Therefore, I didn’t want to invest a lot of money on a device that I would be primarily using as a WiFi hotspot. After a lot of research, as I am prone to doing, I finally settled on the Spice MI 410. The main reasons were the price (13k) and the fact that there was minimal alteration to Froyo and then Gingerbread by Spice (or CSL, the actual manufacturer) on the device. The other phones that I had considered were other Android devices from Motorola and Samsung (whose customizations I really dislike) and the Samsung Focus WP7 phone (which I really liked, but rejected, since there is no WiFi tethering on WP7 and doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon either).
Spice Telecom is known in India as a low end phone manufacturer and distributor and has been steadily gaining ground in that market. They have devices that feature proprietary operating systems and also Android. Their Android devices generally retail in the sub 10k category. The MI 410 was a major deviation from their usual devices and originally retailed at 17 to 18k. Today, you can pick one up for close to 13k from the Spice online store or through their Spice HotSpots as various locations in India.
The Spice MI 410 is a mid-range Android device that aims to give more bang for the buck. In a lot of ways it succeeds and the device that you will get is as solid a performer as many of higher value. The MI 410 was released in June 2011 with Froyo and quickly updated to Gingerbread by Spice a couple of months down the line. It is rumoured that Motorola had a say in the final design and quality control of the device since Motorola also sells the same device as the Triumph in the United States. Apart from that, the MI 410 sells in only the APAC region under various guises.
The construction of the device gives it a very solid feel. There is absolutely no flexing and definitely no creaking, especially around the back cover area. The body is all plastic with a an aluminium sub frame and an aluminium back. The phone screen is a standard LCD with a resolution on 1280 x 800. Which is about the best you can get on this budget. It is generally the screen resolution which is the first to be compromised when the price of a phone has to be reduced. The top of the phone face has the proximity and ambient light sensors that are useful in all touch screen phones. There is also a 3 colour LED behind the earpiece grill which indicates charging, notifications and other such events. The rear camera records video as well and at 720p the quality is quite good. I am not a big fan of phone cameras and that is generally not one of the deciding factors for me when I am looking to buy a phone.
The sides are devoid of anything except the volume rocker on the right and the power button on the left. These are also integrated well into the silver streak running around the phone. It is, sometimes, difficult to press the button because of how flush they are with the body. Mostly this is not a problem though.
The HDMI port was a surprise to me. I didn’t expect it at this price point. The output to HDTVs is supposed to be at 720p, which is also what the rear camera records video at. The standard 3.5mm earphone jack means that you can use other wired hands free cables and also other head/ear phones with this device. However, I have seen some issues when using Samsung OEM earphones with this device. The contacts don’t seem to align properly and there is a loss of either the left or the right channel. The hands free cable that came with the device works perfectly though.
The pictures above show you the part of the phone that’s not so great. The battery. This phone has a 4 inch LCD screen. The battery capacity is only 1400mAh. This means that I am lucky if this phone lasts me through the workday and not even the whole day. I have been looking for a higher capacity battery for this phone but no one seems to be interested in making one. The highest capacity that I could find was 1500mAh and that small bump in capacity didn’t seem worth the price. On the bright side, the phone does charge up to 100% in an hour.
If you look at the hardware that is on the inside, there are very conflicting reports in the printed media. Due to this I am only putting down what I can see in the settings. There a little over 1GB for applications and 512MB of RAM. The phone features a Qualcomm 1Ghz single core processor and an Adreno GPU as well. The hardware score pretty good in the usual benchmark tests that I have run on it.
This phone is still available from the Spice Telecom online shop which, interestingly, sells all brands of mobile phones and generally offers a good discount as well.