Wednesday, 6 June 2012

ViewSonic ViewPhone 3: Review

ViewSonic ViewPhone 3: Review

ViewSonic, the company that is well known for its LCDs, plasma displays and projectors, has launched its first dual-SIM 3G Android phone in India. Dubbed as the ViewPhone 3, it is an entry-level smartphone with Gingerbread and an 800MHz processor at its core. We take a detailed look at the device to find out how it competes in the dual-SIM Android budget phone category.

The ViewPhone 3 sports a sturdy build with a rubberised finish that gives it a good grip. The design is decent and doesn't offer much in terms of looks. It does feel light at 123 grams and is quite comfortable to hold. The front looks clean with the conventional Android Back, Menu, Home and Search capacitive buttons at the bottom. The volume rocker rests on the right, while the power button is located on the top next to the 3.5mm headphone jack. The left side houses the Micro-USB port for charging and data transfers.

The back plastic panel comes off easily to reveal the battery which needs to be removed to access the SIM and microSD card slots.The smartphone comes with an AC adapter supporting multiple plug options (three types included in the box), a USB cable, a 2GB memory card, pair of standard headphones and a basic instruction guide.

ViewPhone 3 has a 3.5-inch multi-touch capacitive display supporting a 480x320pixel resolution. The display isn't anything to boast about, with images looking rather dull. While outdoors, despite increasing brightness to full, you still find yourself straining to decipher the screen's content.

The 5MP camera of the phone is a little disappointing. Images look dull and without any LED flash on the smartphone, there is no scope for images in low lighting conditions. The video recording on ViewPhone 3 is also so-so and it would hardly be any value addition.There is no front camera on the device.

Software/ Interface
The ViewPhone 3 runs on Gingerbread (Android 2.3.6) featuring an 800MHz Qualcomm processor under the hood. The company has loaded its own skin over Android which doesn't add much to the device's interface. One interesting feature however, is the presence of a rotating carousel mode accessible via the ViewScene 3D option that allows you to easily switch between home screens.

While using the phone, the UI felt a bit sluggish at times, especially when opening and closing applications or simply browsing through home screens. However, consumers can download third-party launchers from Google Play store, which improve the performance a lot. The device comes with 512MB of RAM and ROM. The external memory is expandable up to 32GB via microSD.

Apart from the standard Google apps (Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google+, etc.), Flickr and the stock music and video players, there aren't many pre-installed apps on the device.

ViewSonic also has its own app store called ViewApps which is rendered useless because it cannot be accessed from any region except Taiwan! We felt the need for this app was unnecessary with the Google Play store already available on the phone.

Performance/ Battery Life
The phone delivers an average performance which neither amazes nor disappoints you. The device comes with a standard 1500mAh Li-ion battery capable of lasting anywhere between 6 -7 hours before it completely drains out. The dual-SIM feature remains restricted to dual standby with just one SIM active during the call. The call quality was decent.

It would've been better to see the SIM options as being colour coded on notifications bar for clearer identification rather than being labelled S1 and S2.

The ViewPhone 3 works well on Wi-Fi connectivity front and the browsing experience was hiccup-free. Watching YouTube videos was a pleasant experience. The videos played alright with minor pixelation issues.

Casual Android games like Angry Birds Space and Fruit Ninja ran pretty smoothly with no lag or crashes. The in-built FM radio also worked quite well, tuning in to all available frequencies without any hiccups.

The audio quality of the device is better on the speakers than with the headphones provided in the box. Perhaps, using a better pair of headphones might enhance the audio experience.

The dual-SIM Android category is quite abuzz with phones from companies like Samsung, Micromax, LG and Spice. There isn't anything new that the ViewPhone 3 offers in terms of specs. For a price point of Rs. 9,990, it might not be a great smartphone, but it does offer decent user experience.


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