Admittedly, while I'm fully aware of our home-grown brand, CSL, and have seen their gadgets floating around the tech market for a while, I've neither got round to actually checking their specs out nor trying one out for myself.
Amongst all the hype of people clamouring for the latest iPhone, Samsung Galaxy SIII, HTC Butterfly and the new Blackberry Z10, have you ever stopped to think about how you can get the same experience with similar functions and user experience at more than half the price?
What do I have in my hands?
If you're considering a new smartphone without bursting your budget, look no further.
Thanks to the folks at Spice CSL International, I was invited to attend the official media preview of their newly launched Switch MARS Mi450 one evening over a scrumptious Chinese banquet-style dinner.
Just one of the very elaborately plated courses that was served at our table
The first thing I did when I took the Switch MARS Mi450, was to unbox it and give it my first impression.
The exterior was lovely. I loved its curves!
It was very light, slim, nicely housed in an elegant sleek chassis with a matt finish, and fitted inconspicuously in my pocket.
The interior was fluid and responsive too.
I briefly navigated my way through the menu and the functions. As an Android and an Apple iOS user, I'm liking what I see so far in this Switch MARS Mi450.
After having my fun, I turned it off, charged the battery and kept it aside for a proper review throughout the next few days.
Candid shot. I tend to put a solemn and serious face on, whilst reviewing new stuff.
FULL concentration yo!
I'm now going to give you a visual tour of the features and functionality of the Switch MARS Mi450.
After two weeks with the smartphone in question, you're now gonna be "using" it with me as I show you how.
Like all Androids, those pre-loaded apps and widgets can be dragged and dropped where ever you please into the home screen. (below)
Similar to my Android smartphone, there will be a drag-down menu from the top that conveniently toggles connectivity settings as well as rotation and brightness. This feature is something that the iPhone deprives its users of.
I decided to give it a bit of customization and changed the wallpaper/theme.
Love it! I like how its so animated and sensitive to touch.
Ripples will appear on the screen. upon the touch of a finger.
Slide the padlock button to unlock the Switch MARS Mi450
You might be wondering why I took photos of the screen when I could have easily screenshot/print screen the display, right?
Well, believe it or not, for TWO WHOLE WEEKS, I couldn't find out how to take a screen shot. No forums nor tech review sites had even the slightest mention of how to do it for CSL smartphones.
So right here, right now, I'm going to tell you…
HOW TO PRINT SCREEN/TAKE A SCREENSHOT ON YOUR CSL SMARTPHONE
Press the 'power' button (on the top of the phone) and the 'decrease volume' (on the right side) button at the same time.
One of the star features of the Switch MARS Mi450 is that it allows dual-SIM functions.
This is why you see the '1' and the '2' there.
You can easily switch between your two SIMS/numbers to make and receive calls. Perfect for people who has two phones all because they have two different numbers (work and personal) or (girlfriend 1 and girlfriend 2) HAHAHAHA.
Obviously, I haven't saved anyone in my phonebook yet. But this is how it looks like.
All neatly separated into three columns: groups, contact and favorites with the descending alphabetical list on the right.
I also want to show you the keyboard
While we're all fans of the QWERTY (at least I am!) keypad, I prefer my numerical keypads to be in numerical order instead of being QWERTY as well. The Switch MARS Mi450 gives me just that:
Alright, we've come to one of my favorite parts: photo-taking! YAY!
So… what do I usually take photos of? Maybe my Instagram profile would have the answer LOL.
I like how there is a scene and brightness mode for us to have the best settings before taking the photo.
All photos from this point onwards (unless stated) are taken by the Switch MARS Mi450 – raw and unedited. You be the judge.
Here are some of the photos I do take on a regular basis, among others.
Photos of my cat, babyChivas.
Oh, looks like Chivas wants to be part of this gadget review too. Put the manual down, you!
Photos of my condominium pool deck & park
I am one of those annoying Asians that take photos of my food.
*this is obviously not taken by the Switch MARS Mi450 as I was using it in the photo*
But hey, in my defense, I only share good food & recommend good eateries! *wink*
Photos of myself aka camwhore/selfie/selca/self-portraiture with the front camera
Whichever term one prefers, it just boils down to the fact that he/she has vanity streak in them
Photos of my pretty bedroom.
As of now, it's only 50% ready – I've been so very busy due to all that moving!
I like how its thumbnails are very large and arranged nicely in grids.
I didn't need to squint to compare which photo is nicer than the other OR open to view it
Without the need to download apps, this smartphone allows you to edit and apply filters on your photos.
Oh look! I think I just turned my black cat, white.
Since we're on the topic of browsing, I decided to share the video playback + sound quality too.
The sound quality was decently good.
It was loud enough and it sounded neither too flat nor too bass-ey.
The horizontal video playback mode was good too. Very clear and in High Definition even!
I didn't like the calendar at all.
Although it works well just like a calender should and featured all I need, I'm all for aesthetics apart from practicality. It just needs a better interface or a facelift, in my honest opinion.
By the way, the calculator on my smartphones are one of the things I use the most.
Simple things like keeping track of my expenses, calculating service/government tax on my meals and the like.
Swipe the basic calculator to the left to reveal the scientific calculator
Here are just some of the cities that I've added
I now introduce you to one of my favorite built-in apps on the Switch MARS Mi450…
Many a time, the most dreaded decision will be bequeathed to me.
"Where to eat, Jess?" or "Where to go now, Jess?"
Instead of scouring Google on places to eat or to go or depending on the user-based Foursquare to give me a good list to choose from, I used the Local app and ta-daa!
Heaps of choices of places from all categories, with reviews and even the exact distance from where I am standing!
Thank you, oh you heaven sent app.
I don't know if you can read maps, but I sure as well can!
Expand to zoom into the map and pinch to zoom out
News & Weather
Perfect for planning an outdoor trip or outing!
Also, the news of differing categories can come in handy too if you have nothing to do while waiting.
The equivalent of Samsung ChatON, Blackberry BBM or
We have come to the end of the visual tour.
What do you think of the CSL Switch MARS Mi450 so far? Pretty good, ey? I think so too.
If you have just bought this smartphone, good on you!
But if you are unclear about anything I've just mentioned, always remember to…
RTFM. (Google if you don't know what this acronym means)
For my technology-oriented readers, I came up with a table of the specifications for your reading pleasure:
SIM Dual SIM Dual Standby capability
Size 134mm x 67.4mm x 10.3mm
Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.2 GHz Dual-Core
OS Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Network GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz, WCDMA 850/2100MHz
Data HSPA+ 7.2Mbps; HSUPA 5.75Mbps
Display 4.5" qHD LCD Capacitive Touchscreen (Resolution of 540 x 960 pixels)
Camera 5.0MP Auto Focus (AF) with LED Flash (Rear) & VGA (Front).
Video recording supports up to HD of 2592 x 1944 pixels and 30fps.
Memory 4GB flash memory (ROM) and 512MB RAM
Expansion Slot Micro SD up to 32GB
WLAN WIFi 802.11b/g/n, WIFi Direct, DLNA, WiFi Hotspot
Connectivity HSPA+, 3G, EDGE, GPRS, GSM
Bluetooth V2.1 with A2DP
Connector Micro USB & 3.5mm ear jack port.
Sensors Acceleromeer, proximity, Ambient Light
Talk Time Up to 7 hours
Standby Time Up to 96 hours
Battery Li-Ion 18000mAh
Price RM699 (comes with a executive leather pouch + screen protector)
You've now seen the most that needs to be seen.
It's now time for the moment of truth…
So… what's the verdict? I find the CSL Switch MARS Mi450 a complete smartphone as it features all the things I need in a smartphone, which would not cost an arm and leg to buy it. Same thing, similar features for more than half the cost. It also works perfectly well. Also, if you fear being labelled an iFag or a conformist, or even to be seen with the exact same smartphone that 50 other people in the room have, then the Switch MARS Mi450 is a good option to consider.
Would I buy it? If I didn't already have two phones, most definitely, a resounding YES!
Now, leave me be, to play Candy Crush on my new CSL Switch MARS Mi450.