Xolo is trying to move into a new premium space with the launch of
its Q3000 smartphone. While most of its launches have been products in
the range of Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 12,000, this new device is one of the
company's most expensive ever, with a launch MRP of Rs. 20,999. To
justify that price tag, Xolo is throwing in the kind of banner features
that everyone else is advertising in their own flagship phones today: a
full-HD 1920x1080-pixel screen, large battery, quad-core processor, and
camera that's sensitive in low light.
International brands that
sell phones with such specifications ususally price them at Rs. 35,000
or more, so we're curious to see whether Xolo is actually trying to
match their performance, or is simply offering something that appears to
tick all the right boxes but doesn't perform as well in the real world.
Look and feel
Q3000 arrived for testing in a very smart-looking white box. The front
is mostly unadorned, but the back has a list of features and highlights.
The box slides open with a light pull, and the phone itself sits right
on top. Beneath it is a compartment that holds the bundled flip case and
screen guard, and below that are two more compartments which contain
the battery, USB-OTG dongle, charger, headset, and printed quick start
booklet. It's all very neatly presented, which made us even more eager
to put the phone through its paces.
The Q3000 itself is
unmistakably a mass-manufactured Android phone. You definitely wouldn't
mistake it for a Samsung or HTC phone. Little things, like the
rubberized plastic finish of the rear cover and the plastic assembly
around the camera lens and ports, look a bit cheap. Construction quality
is fairly solid, though. We had no complaints with the buttons or the
way the phone is put together.
The rear cover peels off when you
pry it a bit with a fingernail. You have to work your way around the
edges of the phone to release five or six clasps before the entire thing
pops off. Beneath the cover is a cavernous space for the phone's
4,000mAh battery, in addition to slots for two SIM cards and a micro-SD
storage card. Strangely, the primary SIM card slot takes only the older
mini-SIM size but the secondary slot needs a micro-SIM.
most phones this size, the power/standby button has been moved to the
upper right edge, approximately where your thumb would be if you held
the phone in your right hand. The volume rocker is exactly opposite it,
and there's nothing else on the sides. The headset jack and micro-USB
port are on the top, while the bottom is blank. In another strange
design decision, the primary microphone for voice calls is on the back.
The phone's tapered edge means it's still pointed downwards, but we're
going to have to test for ourselves whether or not this is a problem.
really has tried to pack everything it can into the Q3000. It's billed
as a non-stop entertainment device, so the first thing we need to check
is the screen. Thankfully, Xolo has used an excellent panel. The full HD
resolution of course means that every little detail is crisp and clear.
Colours are clean, but a little muted. We were especially pleased with
the viewing angles. Of secondary importance is the sound, and it's here
that we were disappointed. The phone's speaker is just not powerful
enough at all. It's surprisingly soft even at full volume, and we
weren't impressed at all with the quality and depth we of what were able
There isn't much to get excited about with
the Q3000's camera. When seen at their full resolution of 4864x2736,
photos are grainy and artefacted. Thankfully there's enough headroom to
scale them down, which definitely improves their sharpness. There's an
HDR mode which works quite well, exposing areas in shadow alongside
those in bright light. Nighttime performance, however, is a whole
different story. The flash barely made a difference in poorly lit areas,
and there wasn't much of the scene we could make out at all.
(Click here to see full size.)
are recorded in 3GP format. At 1080p, these were sharp enough for us.
Focusing was a bit laggy, but otherwise we had no complaints.
Q3000 runs Android 4.2.1, which is quite old now. We're not sure that
this phone's target audience will care all that much about such details,
but it's worth noting for future compatibility issues. There isn't much
modification to the basic Android OS, but Xolo has bundled a few apps.
Xolo Power is a neat tool for monitoring the health of the battery. It
shows how much time you're likely to have left for various tasks such as
audio playback and 3G browsing, and also reports whether the general
health of the battery has deteriorated. On another tab, you get quick
access to battery saving features such as a Night Mode and Sync
Frequency. The last mode actually has nothing to do with the battery: it
shows you how active each of the four CPU cores is, and shows you which
applications have crashed recently.
Xolo Secure is an anti-theft
and security app that lets you remotely track your phone, make it sound
an alarm, wipe out all personal data, and take photos of anyone who
tries to unlock it. If the phone's SIM card is changed, the app will
send alerts to up to two preregistered numbers and your email address.
The app itself can be locked down with a 6-digit PIN. Finally, while
Google automatically backs up contacts, the app promises to also back up
your SMS and call history databases.
Another interesting touch is
what Xolo calls "one-handed mode". With a long press on the Back button
at any point, the entire interface shrinks to about two-thirds its size
and appears to run inside a window. You can drag this window around the
screen, which remains black. It's designed to help people reach all
corners of the screen when holding the device in one hand, which is an
admirable thought. However, the windowed mode is extremely sluggish. It
feels like we're running a remote-access session to a phone somewhere
far away. You really can't get much done in this mode, which makes us
question the way in which it has been implemented.
Performance and battery life
Mediatek MTK6589T that powers the Xolo Q3000 isn't exactly the newest
or most powerful piece of silicone available. It was launched in late
2012, and even then, it wasn't at the top of the heap. It's based on
ARM's relatively low-powered Cortex A7 processing core, which was
specifically designed for low-power, low-intensity applications.
Graphics are handled by an integrated PowerVR SGX544 GPU: again, not
exactly cutting-edge technology.
As a result, the benchmark scores
are not impressive at all. In fact, the performance numbers across most
of our tests indicated that this phone performs barely half as well as
today's high-end phones from mainstream brands. CPU performance wasn't
all that bad: we recorded scores of 15,130 in AnTuTu and 5,832 in
Quadrant. Graphics performance, on the other hand, was quite abysmal.
The phone managed to push out only 3.4 frames per second in the GFXbench
test, and 1,879 in 3DMark's Ice Storm Extreme test.
By now, our
expectations had been tempered and so the video playback test results
weren't a surprise. The Q3000 was able to handle video files in various
formats at resolutions up to 720p, but 1080p was completely unwatchable.
Some of our test files didn't play at all, others were completely
mangled, and only one played with heavy stuttering. It's a bit jarring
for a device to not be able to play video at its own native resolution -
and that includes videos recorded with the phone's own camera.
scores show that the hardware simply isn't up to the task of pushing
anything more intensive than simple 2D graphics on the full-HD screen,
which is a shame. You won't notice much of a problem if you only run
basic apps, but modern games are pretty much out of the question.
the massive 4,000mAh battery, we were surprised that our video loop
test ran for only six hours and twenty minutes. We've had phones with
similar screens and smaller batteries last for well over 10 hours under
exactly the same conditions.
The Q3000's price will
attract some of the buyers who were looking at Samsung and HTC's larger
offerings but were put off by the high cost. If you only want a
big-screened phone for the sake of having a big screen, you'll be happy
with this phone. Not only is the size impressive, but the full HD
resolution gives it a sharpness that other models with 720p screens
can't compare to. However, having an HD screen in this case won't mean
you get to enjoy HD content.
With a lower-grade panel, Xolo could
have put out a much better balanced phone at a lower price. We won't
deny that the screen looks fantastic, so if you want your apps to look
good and aren't concerned with movies and games, there's nothing
stopping you from buying this phone.