Xolo, a product from Lava International, has been pushing Android smartphones into the Indian market like hot cakes. A while ago, we did see a few X and Q series smartphones powered by the famous MTK SoC sporting dual and quad-core processors. We also did see the X1000 based on the Intel chipset variant, which did not quite make it to the top. This time, Xolo has roped in Tegra chipsets in its latest flagship smartphone, the Play T1000. Supposedly meant for hardcore gaming, this quad-core processor-based smartphone is aimed towards the mobile platform gamers. Let’s have a peek at how the Play performs apart from what it speaks on paper.
4.7-inch HD IPS display, rubberised rear panel
Design and build
At first glance, the Xolo did not manage to impress us with the aesthetics. It looked like a regular smartphone with an all-black exterior. The front panel is all-glass with a shiny trim around it. Three LED backlit buttons for Home, Back and Menu are available on the bottom and the earpiece with the front-facing camera are seen towards the top. Sadly, we did notice the backlight a little too dim than normal. The rear panel has a rubber finish, which helps gripping the phone while using it. The rear panel sports the main shooter, an LED flash and the speaker grille. Below the rear panel is the battery, SIM slot and the storage expansion slot as usual.
2000 mAh battery, 8MP rear camera with LED flash, Single SIM GSM smartphone
On the build front, we did find a minor flaw—the rear panel does not flush neatly with the rest of the frame and there is a gap of less than a millimeter between the two. It seems as though the rear panel is not an original one because of the offset. It could be a possibility that the piece we received has the faulty rear panel, but we are not sure and cannot comment on it. A little research on the Internet about the phone and we bumped into another Chinese make handset, the Beidou Little Pepper Q1, which is an identical replica of the phone, both internally and externally. The only difference is the name printed on it and a few differences here and there. Other than this issue, we did not find any other flaws or drawbacks with the phone to report. The power and volume rocker take their place on the right side while the micro USB and audio ports are on the top. We also noticed that the volume and power buttons lack proper tactility. This could mean that the rear panel is not properly designed for the chassis. The unit seems a tad heavier and thicker than most new smartphones that are heading the opposite way in size and weight. It measures 70 x 138.4 x 10.4 mm and weighs 167 g.
volume rocker and power button on the right side
Surprisingly, the Xolo Play is the first budget Android smartphone we have seen sporting a single SIM GSM slot unlike others which provide two. Similar to the HTC One X and the LG Optimus 4X HD, the Xolo Play T1000 is also based on the Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset. The Tegra3 SoC sports a quad-core processor with a clock speed of 1.5GHz and a 12-core ULP GeForce GPU. A fifth core is also reported to be present on the SoC and is especially put in charge of battery saving. We did expect the next generation Tegra 4 to be seen in newer handsets, since Tegra 3 is almost two years older. Tegra 4 chipset is almost 6 times faster than the older sibling and is expected to give you richer details and better gaming experience.
Built using a Tegra 3 processor with 1GB RAM and 4GB internal storage
Moving on, the system is supplied a total of 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. The storage is shared by the system and apps and you get around 1.9GB of space to store your data. You can expand the storage by up to 32GB using a microSD card as usual. The display panel is a decently sized 4.7-incher sporting an HD resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The panel is an IPS type and uses the OGS or One Glass Solution Technology, where the LCD display and the touch panel is actually laminated into one single layer of glass to eliminate any gaps causing reflections and help reduce the overall thickness of the phone.
10.4 mm thick, 167 grams in weight. Notice that the rear panel is not in sync with the chassis
The two cameras featured here are 8 megapixel and 2 megapixel—for the rear and front panel respectively. The rear camera has an LED flash for night shots. The Play has the standard connectivity options, which include Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, 3G and a micro USB PC interface. The Play is fuelled by a 2000 mAh battery, with the manufacturer claiming a total talk time of 9-11 hours and a standby time of around 227 hours. The Xolo Play T1000 is powered by Google’s Android Jelly Bean v4.1.1 operating system, but there are no talks about an upgrade to V4.2 or Key Lime Pie as yet.
Stock user interface with stock launcher
We ran our standard benchmarking utilities on the phone to check the performance of the internal core hardware. AnTuTu scored 12993, Quadrant scored 4194 and Nenamark2 scored 51 fps. Linpack reported 53.67 MFLOPS and 126.5 MFLOPS in the single-thread and multi-thread tests respectively. Looking up the scores and matching them to existing phones we benchmarked earlier, the performance is a tad higher than most MTK chipset-based quad-core processors in the budget range. The Play’s scores almost matched the HTC One X’s scores too, except that the latter was a tad higher in most areas.
Hardware specifications as per AnTutu
The Play has an advantage over other budget phones that feature the MediaTek quad-core processors—the Tegra 3 chipset. Though the Tegra 3 is almost two years old now and the world is moving on to the next level, Tegra 4 SoCs, which is claimed to be almost six times faster, we wonder why did Xolo not wait a while and equip the phone with the latest chip.
Minimal apps are pre-installed with the phone
Since the phone is powered using the Tegra chipset, the manufacturer has included the Nvidia TegraZone app preinstalled in the operating system, which highlights all apps, games and news that are compatible with and built especially for the Tegra chipset. These apps, being highly compatible with the chipset, should run smoothly and perfectly with the processors to give you a richer gaming experience. To our surprise, we did not find any significant difference with the same, as the benchmarking scores and gaming experience did not flatter us. The benchmarking scores speak of the performance which is just a bit higher than the usual MTK-chipset-based quad-core phones. However, we did run a few Tegra compatible games on the phone and were more than satisfied with the performance and visuals. We did notice that the processor did not overheat as much even after an hour of gaming. This could be the processor management of the Tegra chipset which utilises the GPU instead of the GPU for the high graphics processing. Overall, the performance of the phone is good enough for gaming.
TegraZone lists all apps and games compatible with the Tegra chipset
The Xolo Play features a custom launcher based on the Android Jelly Bean operating system. The OS has very few pre-installed apps and these include the Xolo Care, Xolo Power, Xolo Secure and the TegraZone apps. The internal storage of 4GB is shared with the system ROM and the app data, of which only 1.9GB is free. Hence, you can install a handful of apps on the phone and store your data on the external storage using the microSD card. This amount of storage (1.9GB) is too little considering this phone is marketed as a gaming device. However, if you head to the settings and then to the storage section, you will find an option to set the primary storage as the external microSD card. This is great as it swaps the internal and external storage to get additional room for all those storage hogging games and apps. For instance, if we download some free games like Conduit HD and Real Racing from the TegraZone, the games further download around 2GB of additional data from the servers—and this will fill up the internal storage. Add up the additional apps you would download and your internal storage would be filled to the brim, making up for the sluggish performance thereafter. Hence, the option for swapping the storage is a good move and you can enjoy multiple games on the device.
Internal storage can be swapped with the external storage for additional space
Display and media
The display is an IPS OGS panel sporting an HD resolution. The colours are vibrant and crisp and the brightness and contrast levels are good. The viewing angle also does not falter from any sides, be it landscape or portrait mode. The handset is compatible with different formats of audio and video codecs, which include asf, avi, MP4, 3gp, mov, m2ts, mpeg-ts and mkv in the video category and MP3, MIDI, WAV, 3GPP, AAC, AAC+, WMA and AMR-NB in the audio category. The default video player plays them all, but as usual, most prefer using a third-party media player with additional features and options during media playback. HD 720p and full HD 1080p videos play smoothly with a tad jitter in fast moving and panning frames, but these are hardly noticeable. The videos are crisp and clear and you can definitely enjoy your favourite flicks on the move.
The onboard speakers are good enough for regular gaming and video clips. The audio quality is decent, but the highs are a bit too sharp. The bundled headset is the standard earbud-type and sports a good build quality. The earbuds are glossy and the cables are flat. The audio quality of the earbuds is clear and good; the volume is pretty loud too. Making calls or enjoying music, this headset is definitely good enough for your audio needs on this phone.
Outdoor shots are just average, moving objects tend to blur
The rear shooter is an 8MP camera with a BSI sensor. The camera utility is stock and does not feature any additional functions apart from the regular ones. Outdoor shots are usable—we did not find any major issues with the colour or brightness levels. However, we did find the shutter speed a tad low, which tends to blur out some moving objects in the frame. Also, there is a tad noticeable problem with the sharpness and brightly lit areas are a bit washed out. Indoor shots are below average and the photos are pretty dark, although the camera sports a BSI sensor. Images shot in low light are too dark and lack complete sharpness. Overall, the shots are just enough for basic viewing or sharing on social websites.
Indoor shots are comparatively darker
To test the life of the 2000 mAh battery inside the Xolo Play, we ran a few tests on it. These tests usually include HD videos played in a loop, gaming, Internet browsing using the wireless network and voice calls. The tests are carried out with an average of 2 hours each till the battery totally gives up. The Xolo lasted 6 hours and 40 minutes till we had to recharge the unit. Using the phone as any casual smartphone through the day with basic calls, Internet browsing and short video clips, we assume it would last you around 10 hours, if not more. Since the phone is intended for gaming, you can expect around 6 hours if you are gaming more often.
Verdict and price in India
For the price of Rs 15,999, we feel the Play is tad expensive. However, the Xolo Play is intended to woo gamers and it seems to make its point. A few downsides that we can highlight are the camera’s average performance, the slightly untidy finish of the rear panel and the tad weightiness. There are a few other handsets that feature a full HD display panel with a quad-core processor for less than Rs 15,000. But if you are looking for a complete entertainment handset that includes gaming experience, the Xolo Play is a good buy.
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