*This is a sponsored post of a review unit from Spice CSL.
Two weeks ago, I attended the Media Dinner announcement of Spice CSL’s latest line of dual SIM Android smartphones – the Switch series. Spice CSL is a local (SEA) phone manufacturer of entry level and mid range phones. Find out more on their website at http://www.s-csl.my/
In this event, the media along with some bloggers were invited to experience their “Switch” series of affordable dual SIM Android smartphones which includes:-
- CSL Switch Mercury (mid range, 1st dual SIM, 5″ Snapdragon S4)
- CSL Switch Mars (mid range, dual SIM, 4.5′ qHD)
- CSL Switch Pluto (entry level, dual SIM, 4″ Snapdragon S4)
- CSL Switch Star (entry level, dual SIM, 3.5″ Snapdragon S1)
At the Media Event, all of us were given various types of CSL Switch series phone for review. Myself, I returned with the entry level CSL Switch Pluto.
After using the phone for 2 weeks now, with 2 separate SIM cards from different operators, here’s my review of the dual SIM CSL Switch Pluto – the entry level 4″ screen dual SIM Android smartphone.
The official name of the phone is CSL Switch Pluto Mi406. Here’s a brief specs overview of the CSLS witch Pluto:-
- 4″ WVGA LCD touchscreen display (480X800)
- 1.2 GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 processor
- 4 GB internal storage (expandable microSD) + 512 MB RAM
- Powered by Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 OS
- 5 megapixel AutoFocus camera with LED flash, 0.3 megapixel front facing camera
- 11.2 mm thin
- 1,420 mAH removable battery
- Connectivity : HSPA+/3G (SIM1) and 2G/GPRS (SIM2), WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS
- Available in Black and White colour
For more information on the specs and features, please refer to CSL Switch Pluto product page HERE.
The CSL Switch Pluto is on sale at the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of RM 599 from authorised CSL distributors, which you can find on their site HERE.
Inside the box, you’ll find the phone, removable battery, charger adapter, USB to microUSB charger/sync cable, wired headphones, 2 screen protectors, additional White colour back cover and user manuals / warranty cards.
It’s indeed a great idea for them to provide screen protectors for the phone in the box, and 2 of them as well. It’s also awesome that they’ve included a White colour back cover, for you to switch (no pun intended) between a black or white casing.
The factory sticker on the phone highlights the overview of the hardware of the phone – with 1.2 GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 processor, a 4.0″ screen and 3.5G (aka HSPA+) speed. Of course, not to mention the dual SIM capability.
Although the phone is made of plastic, the back of the phone has a nice matte finish for a good grip and incorporates the rear camera as well as CSL branding.
(Top Left) The 5 megapixel rear camera comes with Auto Focus capabilities and an LED flash. (Top Right) Front facing 0.3 megapixel camera for self portraits and video calling. (Middle Left) Top of the phone you’ll find the 3.5mm headphone jack and the power on/off button. (Middle Right) Left side of the device is the volume rocker and the microUSB charge/sync port. (Bottom Left) Left side is left empty but with a groove for easy removal of the back cover. (Bottom Right) The bottom front of the device has 4 soft capacitive buttons for “Home”, “Menu”, “Back” and “Search”.
As you can see, at 11.2 mm thin, this phone is not exactly a slim phone. However, bear in mind that this is an entry level Android smartphone.
CSL Switch Pluto runs on Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 OS. That is actually 2 versions behind the latest Android Jelly Bean 4.2 OS. Technically, this doesn’t really matter too much as most of the apps and functions still works fine for this phone.
Good thing about this phone is that the pre-installed apps are minimalistic. No bloatware (unnecessary pre-installed app) so it’s a clean list of essential apps only. Even Twitter and Facebook are not included. This is fine, of course, as you have access to the Google Play Store for you to download all the app you’ll ever need.
During the Media Event, CSL also took the opportunity to showcase the speed (3D graphics and console quality gaming) and cool feature of the Snapdragon S4 processor as well as their interesting app for AR (Augmented Reality).
From just a 2D printed ad, with the downloaded AR app scanning the QR code in the ad, it will allow you to use your phone to view a 3D rendering of the shoe. You can browse a full 360 angle of the shoe by just moving your phone around the printed ad, as well as navigate on your phone to view other shoes within the whole catalogue.
Something for the men, this was demonstrated with 2 phones, but would work with a printed ad originally. This AR app allows you to have X-Ray vision to view the undergarments of the model. Something for the dirty old men? Actually, this is a lingerie ad, but the Advertiser used models in clothes instead, and encourage you to use your AR app to view the lingerie advertised.
All the CSL Switch series phone, this one included, comes with a pre-installed S-Unno app, which is their VOIP call offering (think Skype). Other than cheap, or some cases FREE calls, you also have the capability of sending free SMS, Instant Messaging and on-demand music streaming with S-Unno. For more info on this service, check out http://www.s-unno.com/index.php
Menu and Navigation
Everything is pretty standard on the CSL Switch Pluto in terms of navigation and software features. The OS is almost pure vanilla Android Operating System – which means that there’s no phone manufacturer skin / theme for navigation.
For the beginners to Android OS, when you power on the phone for the first time, you’ll see a Quick Start Guide to show you the basics of navigating and customising widgets and shortcuts on your Homescreen.
The on screen keyboard is by CSL called “TouchPal” and is not the pure Android keyboard. Other than the standard language selection and auto-correct (text prediction) features, there are a few interesting features to the keyboard.
- Handwriting recognition – allows you to “write” with your fingers on the screen, which turns your handwritten characters into text.
- “Curve” gesture based swipe typing – like Swype or Swiftkey Flow, you can swipe across the characters on the keyboard to type instead of tapping on individual characters.
- “12 key” or “26 key” or “T+” option – select between different layouts of your keyboard, which also includes your traditional feature phone keypad layout.
- Change keyboard “Skin” – allows you to change the look and feel of your keyboard by changing colour / theme / skin to suit your personality.
The default browser conveniently syncs with your Google Chrome bookmarks. This is a handy feature instead.
However, if you’re a heavy mobile browser user like me, there’s limited on screen navigation on the browser other than the “New Tab” function on the top right next to the address bar. Menu are activated by pressing the soft “Menu” button on the phone, which shows functions like “Bookmark”, “Share”, “Settings” and others.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out where the standard browser navigation options like “Back”, “Forward” or “Refresh” are…
Personally, I feel that the browser is also a little slow. Many times, it takes a few more seconds to load a webpage (from a clicked link in a different app, like Twitter for example). This is not affected by my mobile data connection, as it’s the same even with a steady WiFi connection.
Nevertheless, it is a basic browser which will do fine for light browsing. If you need anything more, there are always the option to download other browsers (like Chrome for Android or Dolphin browser) from Google Play Store.
Dual SIM functions
To truly test the phone’s biggest capabilities, I have to use it with 2 SIM cards. It is a dual SIM phone after all.
Both SIMs are active at all times. This means you can receive calls or SMS on both phones.
Dual SIM Call / SMS / Mobile Data
If you’re on the line on one SIM, when a call comes in the second SIM, it’ll redirect to voicemail, since your line is busy.
For outgoing voice calls, use the phone keypad to dial the number and select “Call1” or “Call2” depending on which SIM you want to make the call with. For incoming voice calls, the phone will alert you which SIM the call is coming in from by showing you “SIM1” or “SIM2” underneath the caller name and ID. Additionally, you can also set separate ringtones for each SIM so you can distinguish which line is ringing.
Handy for those who keeps one line for personal and the other for work. You can put a funky ringtone for the personal line and a more serious ringtone for the work line.
Phone call logs are consolidated. You see one list for all incoming and outgoing calls, with indication of which SIM the calls are made from. There is also a drop down menu for you to filter calls based on SIM1 or SIM2.
As for outgoing SMS, using the Message Compose function, after you type your message, click on “Send1” or “Send2” to identify which line you want the message to send from. All message conversations are in one list. There’s an icon underneath the SMS indicating which SIM the message was sent / received from.
For mobile data, however, SIM1 is capable of using HSPA+/3G connection, while SIM2 is only limited to 2G/GPRS connection. Of course, both data cannot be active simultaneously. By default, SIM1 is the active line, as it allows faster connection. You can go to the “Multi SIM settings” menu under “Settings” to adjust this. Here in this menu, you can enable / disable either one of the SIM card’s data connection, by checking / unchecking the respective SIMs.
For example, turning off the data connection on SIM1 will automatically revert your data to SIM2 and vice versa. Technically, because both SIMs data connection checkboxes are ticked by default, this means both lines are active to receive MMS message, but not for browsing and online app usage.
The phone has a 5 megapixel rear camera with autofocus and LED flash. This is rather impressive for an entry level phone, I must say. Although, we learn that bigger megapixel does not necessarily translate to better pictures.
The camera is rather basic, also it includes a “Panorama” function. Settings can be accessed by pressing the soft “Menu” button or the slider icon to show basic functions like white balance, flash on/off and scene selections. Zoom capabilities are adjusted by an on screen slider with “+” and “-” icons.
Here are some sample pictures taken with the camera of the phone in its original size (not resized). Click to enlarge.
Having only 1,420 mAH removable battery, this phone is good enough for light to moderate usage.
There are days of light usage where the phone lasted over 24 hours, and days of heavy usage lasting less than 10 hours. It truly depends on how heavy a user you are. But as an entry level phone, this is more than sufficient for the average user of light to moderate usage.
What I like about the CSL Switch Pluto:-
- Inexpensive Android smartphone with dual SIM capability
- Small enough to be portable, especially as a roaming / traveling phone
- Additional add-on in the box of 2 screen protector and White back cover
- Few pre-installed bloatware apps. You decide if you want to install more apps from Google Play Store
What I dislike about the CSL Switch Pluto:-
- Not the slimmest phone in the market
- Default browser is a little slow, and not the most user friendly
- Although 4″ screen should be plenty enough, some apps seems a little shrunken in display compared to other bigger screens of Android phones in the market
- Battery life is OK. Could be better app management for moderate to heavy usage
If you’re one who carries 2 devices around regularly, one for work and one for personal, maybe? Perhaps you travel a lot and have a local SIM from a different country? Or want an inexpensive phone for vacations, where you still want to be reachable on your phone, yet buy a local prepaid SIM for data and calls?
Then, you’ll want to look at the CSL Switch Pluto. An inexpensive phone (at RM 599), that is still a smartphone allowing you access to your online use like emails, social networks, Instagram, etc.
Other dual SIM CSL Switch series phones to consider
As mentioned earlier, CSL also have 3 other dual SIM Android phones within the Switch series for you to consider.
Once again, the list of CSL Switch series dual SIM Android smartphones are:-
- CSL Switch Mercury
- mid range, Malaysia’s 1st dual SIM Snapdragon S4, 5″ WVGA screen, 1.2 GHz dual core processor
- retailing at RRP of RM 799
- CSL Switch Mars
- mid range, latest dual SIM, 4.5′ qHD screen, 1.2 GHz dual core Snapdragon S4
- retailing at RRP of RM 699
- CSL Switch Pluto
- entry level, latest dual SIM, 4″ WVGA screen, 1.2 GHz dual core Snapdragon S4
- retailing at RRP of RM 599
- CSL Switch Star
- entry level, older dual SIM, 3.5″ HVGA screen, 800 MHz Snapdragon S1
- retailing at RRP of RM 399