Lava A9 Dual SIM (GSM + GSM) Mobile Phone

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Lava is just one more of those companies that makes the Dual SIM handsets in the ultra budget, Java mobile segment of mobile phones. The only way you’d recognize the brand is by the TV ad if you’ve been watching cricket and this, their A9 has been advertised quite often. If you thought it looks good on TV, it’s much better looking in reality. But I’ve seen good looking handsets before that performed quite badly. So if you’re considering the A9 as a purchase option here’s a closer look to see if the book really is as good as the cover.

Form Factor
The A9 really is a good looking handset, no one can argue with that. The chrome and metal finish goes really well with the white keypad that incorporates large and very comfortable keys. The 2.4-inch TFT LCD display is also very comfortable for viewing except in bright sunlight conditions where it’s a little hard to see all options very clearly. A dedicated camera key is located on one side that will open the camera without a moments delay.

On the same side are a set of volume/zoom keys while a universal mini USB port is placed on the other side. While the bundled hands-free is seems well designed it’s not at all capable of handling the handset’s audio output very well. Thankfully Lava has seen it fit to provide a hot swap slot for the bundled 2GB microSD card, a feature rarely found in this segment of handsets.

Features and Performance

Lava has customized the heck (pardon the expression) out of the otherwise annoyingly repetitive Java OS, making it quite similar to what you’d find in a few lower end smart-phones. Two theme options to switch from a more all-business like feel to a funky cartoon like option add a little more pizzazz to the A9. All features and functions are well laid out and easy to access. Navigation is quite smooth with just a hint of a lag in some cases like when you access the music player. When you start typing a number a list of contacts automatically pops up in case the number is stored on the handset or SIM. Dual SIM management is a non issue.

The handset’s music player is easy to use and immediately locates all of your audio files for playback. While the decibel level is quite high, audio quality is a big issue. Via the bundled hands-free, music has tends to jar the speakers and sounds like a vinyl record being scratched. This fact pretty much negates the handset even having EQ presets and the option to edit each. The FM radio (with recording) had good reception in most areas. The video player played my 3GP and MPEG4 test files without a hitch and even recognized .FLV. However that file framed quite badly. Nevertheless, except for the music player, all other media options worked out quite well.

GPRS/EDGE and WAP are the internet modes of connectivity with the A9. The browser is the same as in all Java based handsets and although a little quirky, is good enough for basic surfing. Just don’t expect heavy sites with flash content etc. to show up too well or too quickly. For a slightly faster browsing experience, you can use the preloaded Opera Mini browser. You can also set up your POP and IMAP email accounts to download email to the handset. Nimbuzz is also preloaded for those who like chatting while on the go allowing you to be stay connected to a variety of accounts including Gtalk, Skype and Facebook. Stereo Bluetooth is also part of the connectivity feature set but for some reason the handset refused to interface with my PC via USB. It kept showing me a ‘Charger Connected’ display but I was unable to access the memory card.

Misc. Features
The handset allows you to backup your phonebook to your memory card and another security option called Privacy Protection allows you to password protect certain features of the handset like the phonebook, messages etc. A few fun Java games are thrown in for your amusement and all basic mobile phone functions like a Calendar, Alarm, World Clock, Quick Notes, Ebook Reader (which is very clear with large fonts), Calculator etc. are present and accounted for.

The A9 is equipped with a 3.2 megapixel fixed focus camera. Features are quite basic and include white balance, night mode, burst and a few color effects. Image quality is not good at all. The camera just doesn't seem to stay focused and all pictures I took, irrespective of how still I stood came out blurry. Colors looked quite good though, but of course that's just not nearly good enough to redeem this feature that performed poorly.

The A9’s 900mAh Li-ion battery manages to offer about 3 hours and 10 minutes worth of non-stop talk time. With average usage, you’ll get about 2 days with the handset before you need to juice it up.

The Bottom Line
The price tag on the A9 is Rs. 4,700 (MOP) which is not a high price to pay for a handset that looks as good as this on the outside and on the inside (I mean the UI). However, looks aren’t everything. The handset’s overall performance is quite average. The FM radio and video player work out well enough but the music player and camera are in need of a serious overhaul. Plus, the USB connectivity seemed to be an issue as well. So aside from good looks and a few usable features the A9 doesn’t quite end up delivering on all fronts.

Published Date: May 13, 2010 12:36 pm | Updated Date: May 13, 2010 12:36 pm