CSL Switch Pluto Review – Entry level dual SIM Android phone

*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/

CSL Switch series Media event
CSL Switch series Media event

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 series Media Event
CSL Executive introducing the range of dual SIM Android phones in the Switch series
Yee Sang toss at the CSL Media Event
Post CNY Yee Sang toss at the CSL Media Event

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.

CSL Switch Pluto Review

I posted images on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and some of you were rather excited to see how this phone fares.

CSL Switch Pluto – entry level dual SIM Android smartphone. To be reviewed. Questions?

A photo posted by Winnie Chen-Head (@winniekepala) on

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.

 

Hardware Overview

CSL Switch Pluto

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.

CSL Switch Pluto - Packaging
CSL Switch Pluto – Packaging
CSL Switch Pluto - Unboxing
CSL Switch Pluto – Unboxing

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 front of CSL Switch Pluto
The front of CSL Switch Pluto

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.

The back of CSL Switch Pluto
The back of CSL Switch Pluto
CSL Switch Pluto - Back (in White cover)
CSL Switch Pluto – Back (in White cover)

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.

Hardware overview of the CSL Switch Pluto
Hardware overview of the CSL Switch Pluto

(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.

 

Software Overview

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).

AR app for 3D shoe catalogue viewing
AR app for 3D shoe catalogue viewing

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.

AR app with X-Ray vision (for the dirty men)
AR app with X-Ray vision (for the dirty men)

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.

 

Keyboard

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.

 

Default Browser

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.

SIM1 with U Mobile and SIM2 with Celcom Xpax Prepaid
SIM1 with U Mobile and SIM2 with Celcom Xpax Prepaid

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.

 

Camera

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.

 

Battery Life

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.

 

Conclusion

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.

(L-R) CSL Switch Mercury, CSL Switch Mars, CSL Switch Pluto, CSL Switch Star
(L-R) CSL Switch Mercury, CSL Switch Mars, CSL Switch Pluto, CSL Switch Star
(L-R) CSL Switch Mercury, CSL Switch Mars, CSL Switch Pluto, CSL Switch Star
(L-R) CSL Switch Mercury, CSL Switch Mars, CSL Switch Pluto, CSL Switch Star

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
CSL Switch Mercury, their highest end dual SIM  phone with 5" display
CSL Switch Mercury, their highest end dual SIM phone with 5″ display
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  • Arryca

    how to disable pluto neo mi407 message signature?please

    • Sorry, I won’t be able to help. Why don’t you try their website or Customer Service hotlines?

  • Arryca

    How to disable ‘sent from spice mobile’ when sending message? Urgent!! Please reply me right away. I love it but for this part, this is so ridiculous

    • Sorry, I won’t be able to help. Why don’t you try checking their website, FAQ or Customer Service hotlines or social media accounts?

  • Arryca

    How to disable ‘sent from spice mobile’ when sending message?

  • jon

    I recently bought a CSL switch Pluto neo Mi407 Black colour and I understand they have the white as well. So I am trying to buy the back cover (white). Where can I buy it?
    I tried to go in to the distributor website to enquire and each time they asked me to log in first. I think it is bloody ridiculous as I dont have an account. Here I am trying to give them business, and they want potential customer going into their web page to log in. Why the restriction ? They are chasing customer away

    • Sorry to hear about your frustration. Did you manage to resolve your issue with them?

      • jon

        No, the issue is not resolved yet as non of the CSL agents or distributors have got back to me. I just want to know where I can buy a white back cover. That’s all!!

  • cc

    anyone know how to connect this spice to laptop and do file transfer?thsnkd

  • aliya

    not recommended.although i like the design,but the performance is very very bad. seriously. always hang, sometimes off by itself,and i feel like want to smash this phone hardly. btw,I’m just using this phone for just 2 months. very not recommended.

    • Really? I’m so sorry to hear about it. Luckily, I didn’t get any of these issues when I was reviewing it.

  • FarFarizan

    I’ve become a fan of csl’s phone since 2009. I still use 2 numbers since then & i find that csl is the best brand for dual sim phone. I’m planning on upgrading my phone,the 1 i’m using now is Switch Dual 2 Mi 357. Will you suggest me which 1 is the best,between Mercury or Mars? I’m interested in Mercury because i’ve planning on buying a Note but i really prefer to be a hard fan of csl. Hehe

    • It’s great to see a fan of CSL phones. If you wanted the Galaxy Note for the size (no dual SIM though) & want to be loyal to CSL, then go for the Mercury. It’s their highest end of the series, with a better processor and biggest screen.
      If you’re looking to try a different brand, you can also check out HTC Desire 600 Dual SIM (which I just got a review unit) or Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos (my review coming next week).

  • John

    Great review there, very comprehensive

    • Thanks. If you like it, share it ya.

      • andreas apin

        how to disable pluto neo mi407 message signature?please…