There is an undeniable enormous population of smartphone users these days, and the size just continues to grow at a significant pace. Obviously, this is due to the rapid existence of budget-friendly smartphones – not like before where only the elites’ have the luxury to enjoy the innovations of these smartphones.
Starmobile claims that their new Starmobile Play is one of the leading contenders on the low-end class. Well, that’s based on the spec sheet and their advertisements. We’ll figure out if that’s all true in our unboxing and full review, which will start now!
PS: In this review, we’ve considered and tried putting ourselves in the shoes of a prospective buyer who would be considering this device as an upgrade from using a feature phone or, a teenager student who’s saving-up their precious allowance just to procure a new, Android smartphone.
Starmobile Play Specs
- Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
- 4-inch capacitive multi-touch screen (480×800 WVGA), ~233ppi
- 1.2GHz dual core MediaTek MT6572 processor
- Mali-400MP GPU
- 512MB RAM
- 4GB internal storage
- microSD support up to 32GB
- 5-megapixel main camera, with fixed focus and LED flash
- 0.3-megapixel (VGA) front camera, with fixed focus
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- 3G, HSPA+
- Bluetooth 3
- GPS, A-GPS
- Dimensions: 126.5 x 64 x 12.1mm
- Weight: 138g
- Li-Ion 2000mAh battery
What’s in the box?
The box’s design is just pretty straightforward. Snapshot of the device at the front with some highlights of the main offerings of the phone (Having a Yamaha Super Loud speaker, 2000mAH battery and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean), and all around the box is just the Starmobile Play’s specifications and, of course, Starmobile’s logo.
The box’s content is also pretty basic. For Php2,999, you would be able to conventionally get the earphones with mic, microUSB cable, wall adaptor, and 2000mAH battery.
The packaging looks surprisingly neat due to the reduced amount of documentation included. You would only get the warranty information, a one-page back-to-back Quick Start Guide, which, if you would ask us, is a smart move. Besides that it decreases cost, who reads a mini booklet of smartphone instructions anyway?
Hardware and Design
No surprise, the whole Starmobile Play was built on plastic. But if you’re a first time smartphone owner, it’s still not too shabby. The device has curvy edges which make it comfortable to hold and the rear has this embossed tiny diamond-shaped dots which cover the whole back panel and help increase ergonomics and safe grip. For comparison, the back is quite similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Y.
At the front is where the 4” TN Capacitive Multi-touch screen sits with the VGA front-facing camera, earpiece, light and proximity sensors, and the capacitive buttons.
The left side is surprisingly empty as the volume controls are sitting together with the lock/power switch at the right side.
At the top is just the 3.5mm earphone jack and at the bottom are the microUSB port and the built-in mic.
The Starmobile Play’s design is not like what you would expect from its price tag. Though it’s constructed on all-plastic, Starmobile still managed to make it look nice, acceptable and not that cheap-looking at all. In fact, I’m quite impressed.
The Yamaha Speakers
The Starmobile Play is powered by Yamaha speakers. Which, by the name itself, promises to offer excellent sound reproduction. And as we’ve tested, the sound it delivers is enormously loud, way louder even on other devices at the higher class. Though the quality of the music it throws is just average, what we really think is important for its prospective users is that they would be able to clearly hear the lyrics of the music they are playing.
The Starmobile Play is packed with 4” Capacitive display with WVGA 480 x 800 pixel resolution and 233 pixels-per-inch. The screen’s panel has been inevitably constructed with TN (Twisted Nematic) display to reduce cost, helping the device be priced at this level. As expected, TN display provides not-so-good viewing angles, though, on this device, the display isn’t as bad as compared to the others who have the same panel.
The screen resolution is not that impressive either. However, it’s the standard for budget 4-inch smartphones anyway. Games and movies that we have tested ran with surprising well. The outdoor visibility is also typical. Maxing out the screen’s brightness would still not be too effective not until you try to block the direct sunlight by your hands.
The Starmobile Play’s display is one of the best you can get at this price tag. A major leap if you’re coming from a feature phone like the Nokia Asha phones.
The hardware is almost identical to Cherry Mobile Life, which is probably the device’s closest competition. Starmobile Play is powered by 1.3GHz Dual-Core ARM Cortex-A7 MediaTek MT6527 Processor, a Mali-400MP video card and 512MB of RAM.
The device had a score of 10800+ on Antutu benchmark, a mediocre grade for this particular chipset, but already an impressive mark for the device’s price tag.
Games and other applications ran smoothly as expected but, occurrence of sluggishness at certain times can be really annoying.
Starmobile Play is obviously not equipped with the latest Android software, but the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean is just right to compliment the device’s hardware and its cheap price tag. All-in-all, Android 4.2.2 runs smoothly on this device, though, stutters from here and there are expected.
The device has a launcher pre-installed called the X space. The launcher’s homescreen design really appeals to us and its shortcut buttons and widgets would really help the users enjoy operating and using the phone’s main features. Pre-installing this launcher is a smart move if you would ask us as most of its prospective buyers are possibly customize-hungry. But for those who prefer the stock Android look, you should use either Apex or Nova launcher which are both available for free in the Play Store. Check out the launcher’s look below.
Starmobile also included some of its manufacturer-made apps like Starmobile Sync, Media Store and App Store. Some other pre-installed apps are Kingsoft Office, Firewall (Blocks unwanted contacts), ES Task Manager and File Explorer, Floating Draw (Mimics Samsung’s S Pen features), Hangouts, WeChat, WhatsApp and many more which are all can be uninstalled to fulfill your heart’s content.
The Starmobile Play’s camera is not like any other compared to its competition. The performance of its 5-megapixel primary camera took photos with surprising quality. Images that we took doesn’t seem to be coming from a Php2,999 smartphone as the device managed to gather and display the right colors, which have noise that are really not that noticeable as what you might expect. The device can also take decent photos on low-light conditions but don’t expect too much.
What is forgettable on this device is its VGA front-facing camera and its video recording capability. There are a lot of missing frames on the videos that we have tested (You may check the video sample on our video review).
Starmobile Play’s gaming capability is just decent. You may be able to play games, from the basics like Zombie Tsunami to games like Crazy Taxi and Dead Trigger 2, though, distinguishable lags are really noticeable.
Though, the ultra-loud Yamaha speakers are helping to fill-in the blanks of the device’s shortcomings in terms of gaming performance.
Movie lovers who are on a budget would definitely be pleased on this device. Starmobile Play can project high definition movies at a surprising quality, and the TN display, which usually has the most irritating viewing angles, performs not as bad. Just make sure you’re equipped with external storage as the 4GB built-in memory would be insufficient to store full-length HD films. The device can carry up to 32GB, enough to store approximately 10 high quality movies.
The Yamaha built-in speakers also offer loud sound output so you would be able to watch videos without the need of earplugs which is commonly necessary on some other devices.
Starmobile Play offers both WiFi and 3G connection so users can enjoy all their favourite social media apps anytime, anywhere. You may quickly browse through any social apps’ news feeds like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Or you may also enjoy internet contents via the built-in browser which responds fluidly without any delay. The screen is kinda small though so it limits the overall browsing experience.
Battery is one of the key selling points of this device. Despite of its sub-Php3k price tag, Starmobile was still able to pack it with 2000mAh battery. A very generous move compared to other competing devices who are only given 1200mAh to 1800mAh.
The device was able to last for two days or more with light to moderate use and almost half-day with continuous gaming, watching movies and web browsing. Check out the screen shots below.
Texting and calling is just average on this device.Well, considering the price of course. As what we have experienced, texting through its 4” screen is really quite difficult to get used to as we really have large hands. But as we’ve let the youngsters test it, which who would really be the ones who will consider on using this device, we have observed that they were still able to type at its small keyboard as fast as we ourselves normally could.
Call quality is also average. You can clearly hear the person you are talking to as long as you have sufficient network signal and a calm, quite environment.
So, is the Starmobile Play worth every cent for those people who are looking for their very first smartphone? The answer is pretty obvious, it’s definitely a yes. The same answer we can say for the Cherry Mobile Life which also offers a lot for just Php3k (Check out our review here). Considering the device’s rock-bottom price tag, the device’s overall offering really bring a big bang for the buck.
Let’s get it straight, the Starmobile Play’s overall package exceeded our expectations for a device with a bargain price of Php 2,999. Starmobile definitely won the game on this class by throwing a device with such generous spec sheet and packed with some cool features that directly hit the hearts of the device’s potential users.
Starmobile Play Video Review
Considering the Starmobile Play’s budget, it offers a capable camera, lengthy battery life, distinctive design, pre-installed software goodies, fine display, and of course, its superb Yamaha loudspeakers.
Lagginess and other sudden freezing can be really irritating and the device’s small size may not suite media and gaming enthusiasts.