Micromax hasn’t been around for too long, but they’ve made sure their products have made some sort of statement when it comes to their features. From 8MP camera phones with optical zoom to this, the GC700 Dual connectivity CDMA/GSM handset with its Gravity sensor. Their devices are very innovative but can they hold their own with serious competition with the likes of LG and Samsung or Nokia? That’s what I’m here to tell you. So first up is the GC700, and here’s how it fared.
The first impression I got is, great, at last here’s another gaming phone. This should be fun. The two round five way nav-pads on either end of the device and call take and end keys on either side of them, gives off the idea that you can hold the handset in landscape and use the pads as joysticks for gaming. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This curiously plump phone (15mm thick) supports both CDMA and GSM simultaneously. The C depicted in the middle of Nav-Pad is for CDMA and the G is for GSM. Both Nav-Pads also act as earpieces so you can hear incoming calls from either end. The idea is to distinguish the usage of reception technology. The handset is equipped with a 2.8-inch Capacitive touchscreen display that sports a 240 x 400 pixel resolution. A 2 MP camera that’s barely visible is located at the back.
The handset has one hot swap, under the rear panel for one SIM card as well as microSD memory card. An issue I have with this is, in order to access the memory card; you have to remove the SIM. It should have been the other way around. There’s plenty of space on the sides to have included a microSD port along with the mini USB port that’s already there. The CDMA SIM slot is accessible only by removing the battery. The reason I’m assuming this is the CDMA slot is because I put my GSM card in here and was not unable to either receive a signal or alter the settings to recognize the card. A 3.5mm handsfree socket is located on one of the sides as well.
Innovative is the word that immediately comes to mind when I think about the GC700. The only 2 flaws are the SIM card over the memory card placement even though there seems to be ample space for a separation and the stylus that needs to be screwed in to the cap which is time consuming and the fact that the company couldn’t build a slot for this as well. It ends up hanging by a thread, literally, and is a bit annoying to have dangling around.
Features and Performance
Using what they’re calling Sense-Flo technology for the accelerometer and motion sensor, the fluidity of rotation and flick control for the image section is superb with no lag at all. Of course the display only rotates from one side to the other and not to landscape mode in all menus. A clock that can be placed on the desktop can be bounced around the screen by moving the handset in any direction. The music player also uses the sensor for skipping tracks. It’s similar to Sony Ericsson’s Shake Control, but you won’t need to press any button here, just swing your hand in the direction you want to skip.
The funny thing is this handset could have been perfect for motion sensitive gaming or other styles considering the design and features. Instead there are 3 simple games included that may be entertaining but don't utilize the handset’s potential.
One might also consider the Slide to Unlock screen lock mode to be an Apple rip off. Then again, the fact that you can keep an icon pressed on the desktop till it vibrates and then drag it around the grid to change the location is even more of a copy cat function. The funny thing is I’ve seen a couple of others like this and this one just happens to be the smoothest. Of course it’s nothing like the iPhone’s UI, but it’s pretty damn good nevertheless.
I liked the GC700’s UI even though you can’t really change the theme to any other color or alter the background. It’s quite finger friendly for most part but I do wish the keypad could also have been designed like that. The onscreen QWERTY keypad is too tightly packed for use without the stylus. The navigation system is also quite useful most of the time but there are some parts of the screen that will also require the use of the stylus for accessing functions and settings. If you have slim fingers you shouldn’t have too much of an issue.
The UI is quite intuitive but has a few oddities like the lack of being able to use in landscape. It’s a waste actually. But it’s never the less very fluid, but I wonder what Apple thinks?
In the media segment, the GC700 didn’t perform too well. To begin with, the music player, although it allows you to play directly from folders and use files as ringtones via one single key press is just not up to par. It’s loud but the clarity leaves something to be desired. The EQ presets are very badly set up and offered nothing but distortion, so I left it on Normal and things got better. It's a little sharp on the highs but not too discomforting. The shake control for skipping tracks with the motion sensor is a little too sensitive. It kept switching tracks whilst I was walking and my arms were swinging a bit. Any sudden motion in any direction will cause this. The 3.5mm socket will allow you to use your own earphones, but the bundled handsfree is pretty good.
The FM radio took long to locate and save stations, but I manually set them and reception was not too bad most of the time. There’s also a recording option available. What I didn’t see but didn’t miss was a stand alone Voice Recorder. I just found it a little unusual. The video player reads most 3GP and MPEG4 files with no issues. Make sure you adjust the video’s resolution to the displays and it’s not bad at all. Other than that there are no other media options.
Aside from it being able to support GSM and CDMA, the GC700 is also EDGE/GPRS enabled. An Opera browser was also on board but I couldn’t use it as it refused to connect to the net, although the native browser was quick and easy to use. You can also download emails onto the handset. It has support for POP3 accounts but not IMAP and you’re going to have to manually input the settings in order to use it.
Since the handset supports Java apps, I downloaded Gmail for mobile and Google Maps. Neither worked. I had the same issue as with Opera Mini. The apps for some reason beyond my comprehension, didn’t detect my internet settings. Speaking of settings, the GC700 is preloaded with settings for quite a few service providers including Reliance for CDMA. It’s easy to set up. Bluetooth with an A2DP profile and USB 2.0 endure quick connectivity between devices and the PC. The handset can also be used as a Modem when connected via USB to a laptop or PC. However in Mass Storage mode the handset is switched off.
Some of the more mundane offerings included in the GC700’s features are – a calculator and Unit Converter, an Organizer that has a Calendar for creating schedules and reminders and an Alarm clock. It supports handwriting recognition and also has a painting application for free hand drawing. .TXT files like eBooks can also be read. Incoming calls tend to sound very shrill. Even reducing the volume didn’t help. I tried using the other side, but that was too muffled.
The 2 megapixel shooter even has an image capture animation like the iPhone. Settings include exposure, white balance, Night mode, a timer and multi shot. The most annoying thing is that if you’re shooting in landscape the preview automatically moves to portrait but can be rotated to landscape in the gallery section. And another strange thing is that it never displays the image on the full screen. You will also have to manually save all images after they’ve been captured or they’ll just vanish. There was no image editor available.
Image quality is not too bad. For a 2 megapixel camera phone, it’s average at best.
The handset manages a decent battery life. On an average I was able to use it for a little over a day and a half. Call time averaged in at about 3 hours and 15 minutes. It’s not great but it’s ok.
The Bottom Line
Being one of the cheaper touchscreen handsets I couldn’t expect too much. It does have a lot to offer especially if you happen to be one of those people that have to carry around two handsets – for work (CDMA) and one with a personal number. This phone has a fluid interface but not without its quirks and the transition between the CDMA and GSM is quite smooth. You will need both hands for typing and the features are pretty basic. The price tag is Rs. 12,999 which may seem quite decent, but at the end of the day, it just has too many quirks, as minor as they may be, it’s still a bit gimmicky and could definitely have been much better in design and specs.
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