Dialog’s been quite heavy on the devices front. Today we’ll take a look at their quirkily named Q243, another recent release from the giant telco. For this review I’ll forget about the humiliation of explaining the odd name to friends and co-workers – let’s get right into business.
The packaging is quite neat and quite normal. where you’ll find the phone neatly wrapped in protective polythene like bag. Underneath the plastic separator that held the phone lies the neatly packed headset, charger and the USB cable. Apart from that you’ll find a small quick start guide for the phone and another booklet explaining the Dialogs new Boinc service. This is all very good: however you’ll have a hard time opening the box once you break the seal. The lid is tightly fit into the box and it’s nail jarring work to open the top cover.
Q243 is a remarkably well made, standard candybar smartphone with good construction (considering its price). It feels light and very comfortable in your hands and looks good as well – a vaguely Nexus 4-ish look that I quite like. The phone is slim and easy to handle compared to its older I43 and K45 siblings. The entire construction is done using plastic – and it doesn’t feel cheap. One of the comments I got from people who held the phone for the first time was “meka hena light ne”. Most people were pleasantly surprised by the exterior design.
The ergonomics are pretty standard. The volume rocker is placed on the left side while the power button rests in the right side of the phone. The standard 3.5mm audio jack and the charging port rest at the top.
This Q243 is made by Innos, the same company that made the previous i-series phones for Dialog. This is based on the Innos I2 and has impressive specs for a phone costing Rs 25000. As with most Dialog branded phones, this is also a dual-SIM device.
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 SoC (containing a quad core ARM Cortex A5 CPU with each core clocked at 1.2GHz)
GPU: Adreno 203
RAM: 1GB LPDDR2
Display: 4.3″ TFT screen with 540*960 resolution. (256ppi)
Camera: 2MP Front Camera and 8MP Rear Camera with Auto focus
Internal Storage: 4GB, Expandable Micro SD slot supporting up to 32GB.
Battery: 1600mAh non removable battery
Performance and stability of low to mid range Droids have been somewhat spotty in the past due to mediocre specs. The Q243 does not seem to suffer from such a fate, due to its 4 processing cores. The menu transitions are buttery smooth and switching between multiple apps does not seem to slow down the Q243. The 1GB Ram comes into play when you have several apps open in the background. Relatively demanding games like Angry Birds Go and Badlands also perform smoothly without any stutters or frame rate drops.
The 256 ppi screen is also quite good and a joy to look at. Color reproduction is good and it shows in games like Badlands. Although it’s not on par with other Android heavy weights, it’s admirably good for a mid range Droid – users generally don’t have much to contend with in this space.
Other basic phone functions like making calls and texting are on par with today’s smart phones. The camera is also pretty decent when there is light: however, the flasher is too weak to perform well under low light conditions. Overall though, the camera performance is acceptable for a Rs 25,000 phone.
The battery can hold a day without charging with moderate talk time (around 30 mins), some music, light gaming (20 mins) and with WiFi continuously switched on. The battery drains quite fast when playing 3D accelerated games and won’t last even half a day if you have an extended gaming session. Overall though, borders on acceptable levels.
The OS and User Interface
The Q243 runs on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. The User Interface is completely untouched and is pure Android without any modifications. This is a good thing because Google has done a good job with the default Android UI as of late..
However, Dialog has bundled a lot of bloatware with the ROM, which is annoying. Unsurprisingly all the Dialog Android apps are pre-installed – which is somewhat understandable because this is a Dialog branded phone after all. However the inclusion of other apps like Opera, CricHQ and Kii Keyboard are unforgivable – they’re not even useful. Since all the bloat ware is part of the ROM you can’t uninstall them without root access.
However there are some drawbacks mainly with Dialog’s support for the phones. Lack of OTA updates (or any other OS updates from Dialog) is a bummer. For the old I43s they used to update the firmware of earlier batches to correct some bugs in the ROM, provided you bring the phone to one of their customer care centers – but those were bugs. No KitKat, people.
Overall, the UI and OS is what you expect from Android nowadays. It’s stable and fluid and gets the job done. If you are not fanatic about which version of Android you are running then the update thing doesn’t matter.
Dual Sim Functionality
The phone has dual sim functionality with where both SIM slots are micro SIM slots. However, only the 1st SIM slot is reserved for high speed HSPA connections. The catch is that the first SIM slot is locked on to Dialog – you have to have a Dialog SIM in the first slot. You can of course use any other carrier SIM in the 2nd slot, but it won’t have high speed data connectivity.
Overall, the Q243 is a solid Quad Core droid, offering some real bang for your buck. There are compromises you have to make – like being partially locked into the Dialog eco system – but at least they haven’t skimped out on the build quality or specs. If you are already a Dialog user, then this phone is an easy choice for the Rs 25,000 price bracket. The competition isn’t great – the Nokia XL, the Samsung Ace 3 – this easily overpowers any of them. On the other hand, if you are unwilling to switch or lock into the Dialog eco system, perhaps you’ll find that investing a few thousand more on a Motorola Moto G is a better overall option.
+ Great performance
+ Crisp display
+ Pure android UI
– Too much bloat ware
– No OTA updates from Dialog
– Restrictive Dual Sim functionality
– Non removable battery