Andromax A Quick Review: The Essentials

Andromax A Official Shot
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Smartfren Andromax is widely known in Indonesia as the only brand which is outed by a telco operator, with the possibility of its price being subsidized. Smartfren Andromax A is the most affordable of the bunch. With the asking price of merely Rp650,000.00 (~U$50), it already supports LTE and VoLTE. Good news is, I have some time to tamper with this little fella. The bad news is, my time is limited since this phone is needed in my office. With this quick review, I'm going to share a little bit of my experience with the newest, (probably) the most affordable LTE handset in Indonesia.

Quick review means this review may not be as comprehensive as my other reviews. Some things that could be cut are the number of camera samples and battery life.

So, what are you waiting for? Head past the break to find out more about Smartfren Andromax A!

Design and Packaging: Surprisingly Complete

Andromax A In A Box
My first impression of the box is that it doesn't look cheap at all. In fact, this expectation is fulfilled when you open up the box. Inside, you will find the phone, a battery, charging adapter, USB cable, a pair of earbuds, as well as a bunch of paperwork such as warranty card, quickstart guide, etc. Oh, and there's also a Smartfren SIM Card. It's very complete, especially when compared to certain brands with higher price (I'm looking at you, Xiaomi and ASUS).

Well, thumbs up for the complete package, I guess...
Alright, now let's take a look at the phone. Honestly, with such a low price, I don't expect something "wow". However, even though it's made of glossy plastic which easily gets slippery, I must say that the phone still feels sturdy. I don't see anything corner-cutting here.

Okay, now let's take a look at what's happening on the surface. On the front, there's obviously the screen. What surprises me more is that the device already has a screenguard applied. You only need to pull the sticker to remove the mask. This seems to be normal in Andromax phones. Yeah, it's surprising because it's not everyday you buy a phone which already has a screenguard applied, especially phones at this price point. Anyway, other than the screen, there's the earpiece, 5MP front camera, proximity and light sensors. On the bottom, there's the usual 3 navigation button which, unsurprisingly, isn't backlit.

Andromax A front side.
Do you see the screenguard?
The back side, however, isn't as crowded as the front. There's the speaker grille on the bottom, while on the top lie the 5MP back camera as well as a LED flash beside it. Opening the battery cover will reveal that this phone is capable of handling 2 SIMs and a microSD card. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, the SIM 1 slot is locked to Smartfren, while the SIM 2 is open to any GSM operator. It, however, will only able to connect to 2G network.

Andromax A back side with battery cover on.
Andromax A back side with battery cover off.
On the top, there's only the 3.5mm headphone jack (which is obsolete, according to Apple :p), while on the bottom of the phone only houses the mic. What's quite strange to me is that the USB port is placed on the left instead of on the bottom. Though this doesn't disturb my experience, it still feels weird. Anyway, on the right side, there's the power button and the volume rocker.

Andromax A Top Side
Andromax A Bottom Side
Andromax A Left Side.
It just feels strange that the USB port is on the side.
Andromax A Right Side
Considering its highly affordable price, Andromax A offers a surprisingly complete package. Moreover, with the included screen protector, you don't have to bother walking around in a mall looking for something to protect your screen with. As a bonus, you can also get additional 2GB of Internet data (and 6GB, but only for midnight until dawn) after topping up credits for the first time.

Hardware: Only The Essentials

Let's talk about screen first. Andromax A is equipped with 4.5" FWVGA screen (854 x 480). With that screen size, it's still quite comfortable to look at, though "infected" with dots (as seen in a certain picture above). Well, that's understandable since the pixel density is merely 271ppi. Additionally, the screen is also equipped with a tech called "Qualcomm Sunlight Visibility Improvement", which claims to improve visibility under direct sunlight. Unfortunately, I haven't got the time to test it.

Snapdragon 210 is probably the lowest end
of Qualcomm's mobile CPU portfolio.
Now let's talk about the insides. Frankly and obviously, price is generally equal to quality. Well, this phone is the proof of that principle. Snapdragon 210 (Quad-core ARM7 1.1GHz) and 1GB of RAM, though theoretically enough to run Android Lollipop, feels sluggish in real life. Sure, there's no noticeable lag or stutter, but I occasionally experience slight delays during use, especially when I try to go back to home screen. As for the storage, you only have 8GB. If you think that's not enough, there's that microSD slot which can give you up to 32GB of additional storage.

Andromax A's internal storage
(some apps are already installed)
Andromax A scores 19414 on Antutu, which is certainly far from impressive. With such a score, I certainly won't play any 3D-intensive game on it such as Asphalt or Implosion. Honestly, I'd like to run another benchmark, PCMark. However, I couldn't download and install its test package, which is a separate ~360MB download. I've tried changing connection, restarting the phone, but it just refused to install.

Andromax A's Antutu score. Not really
inspiring, isn't it?
As for the battery, Andromax A is equipped with a 1,950mAh unit. With such a modest spec and small screen, the battery should hold for at least a day with minimum use. Unfortunately, I can't prove this since there's not enough time. I meant to use PCMark's battery test, but again, the phone refused to download the package.

Andromax A's battery unit
Lastly, let's talk about sensors. With such an affordable price, you'll only get the essential sensors, such as accelerometer, sound, as well as light and proximity sensor. Unfortunately, there's neither gyroscope nor orientation sensor, so no VR for this one.

Only the essential sensors.
Sorry, no VR for you, Folks.
Oh yeah, and one more thing. I was told by the seller that this phone's SIM 1 slot is limited only to LTE, just like Smartfren's other modems, and unlike the rest of other Andromaxes, which could still connect to EVDO. Unfortunately, I can't prove this claim, since I live in a major city, and most area is already covered by Smartfren's LTE network. My advice? Check whether there's Smartfren LTE network in your area before you decide to get this phone.

Software: Less-Customized Android Lollipop

Clean OS? Eh, not so clean, but at least the interface looks mostly untouched, with Android's beautiful default icons. However, for some reason, in one of the settings, I saw an icon which reminded me of Cyanogen. Is it Cyanogen? No, I don't think so. Could it be made in collaboration with the software company? It could be.

Standard Android features such as widget and app drawer are present. As a bonus, Andromax A has supported VoLTE, which should make calls clearer in supported areas. Next, it also has Snapdragon Audio+, which claims to improve your audio listening experience. The most interesting is, the double tap to wake feature. Yeah, this feature can significantly reduce the number of pressing the power button. Unfortunately, there's no double tap to sleep, though there's swipe up to wake and unlock.

The double tap to wake feature...
along with other gestures.

Camera Samples: Long Focus Time

The 5MP camera complimenting Andromax A looks... meh... and it takes quite while to focus. However, if you can adapt with the slow focus, the pictures should be good enough for uploading to social media. Just don't hope to impress your friends...

Anyway, here are the camera samples. Enjoy.

It looks quite blurry if you zoom in.
Is it out of focus?
Another indoor shot.
It's quite noisy and the colors look pale.
A photo taken with flash.
Interestingly, this picture looks much better than other pictures.
Interestingly, I feel the last picture is much better than the others, even though it was dark and the flash was on. Could it be because the focus was on point? Could be...

Conclusion


...And, here it is. Based on my short time with this phone, I can conclude the following:

Pros:

  • LTE and VoLTE support with affordable price
  • Clean UI
  • Useful gestures (double tap to wake and swipe up to wake and unlock)

Cons:

  • Slow performance
  • Slow camera focus
  • SIM 1 (Smartfren only) is limited only to LTE
So, the big question is, "Is this phone worth buying?" The answer I'd give is "It depends". What are you going to use this phone for? I think this phone is suitable for you if:
  1. You need an affordable phone to use the network (for voice call and texts), since Smartfren is gradually deactivating its CDMA network.
  2. You need a backup phone, which also acts as a mini Wi-Fi modem.
  3. You need a phone to give to your child or someone who is new to the smartphone world.
If you're looking for a phone which can do gaming and HD video, look somewhere else. This phone isn't for you, judging from its modest specs and performance.

Alright, I guess that's all, Folks. I hope this review can give you a glimpse about Smartfren's Andromax A. As usual, if you have any question, sound them off in the comments below. I'll try answering your questions the best I can. Finally, thanks for reading and I'm looking forward to your next visit. Have a nice day!

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