GOCLEVER Company, known mainly due to navigation, is trying check its abilities on the smartphone market. The first model offered by them is Fone 500. Although its main advantage is a low price, I found in it a lot of advantages. Unfortunately also a few flaws...
The phone was packed in a rigid box, with a standard set of accessories, a USB cable, an AC adapter, stereo headphones and user manual combined with a guarantee card. This booklet is quite modest, and printed with a microscopic font. It is worth praising full specification printed on the bottom of the box. I’ll give you the price at the end, but perversely I'll start by saying that it looks more expensive than it actually is. The smartphone is large - the diagonal of the display - 5 inches - is included in its assay.
Not very inventive, well-made
Stylists unfortunately haven’t put huge effort into constructing this phone. The casing is not distinguished by anything in particular, has a fairly cookie cutter shape. In a matter of fact - it is difficult even to guess the brand, as the only mark is printed on the back. Apart from the lack of any distinctive features, I must evaluate the casing quite high. The phone is really stylish and neatly made. All slots are narrow, equal, the body does not creak and does not show any assembly shortcomings. The casing is surrounded with the silver bar pretty faithfully imitating metal. The front is a modest, black tile, varied with a speaker mesh and a single, mechanical "home" button. The "menu" and "back" are touch-sensitive, and the highlight was the first drawback that I found. Why? Because of incomprehensible reasons, the backlight turns off after unlocking the screen, and illuminates only after touching the sensor. The mechanical button does not highlight at all... Fine, the location and significance of the buttons can be learned - but a novice can feel lost. I tried to make the appropriate changes to the settings - but I have not found that option.
Dual-SIM that's not all!
The protruding camera lens diversifies the back of the phone. The glass, that covers it, is unfortunately prone to scratching, but the battery cover - though covered with a glossy white paint - has proved to be surprisingly durable. The design reminds me a bit of Samsung Galaxy S3. The plastic flap is rather limp, but in contrast to the highly successful competitor, Fone 500 has on its edges numerous, robust latches which provide secure fixing. Under the cover - applied on as a cap – there is a large, flat battery, a memory card slot, and two classic SIM cards. That's right – it’s a dual-SIM smartphone! Using this advantage, we can use two cards from different carriers, with the possibility of switching off one of them. Dual-SIM menu allows us not only to define a name for each card, but the way it is used. We can have one card for voice calls, and the second - only for sending SMS or data transmissions. There is also the option of a mobile hot-spot. Fans of Aero2 free surfing will be, however, disappointed - Fone 500 does not support the range, which the network uses. Despite this inconvenience, dual cards support is another advantage of this design.
What is next? Maybe a display? Well, thanks to the average resolution it’s not such a revelation. The downside may be also a highlight, clearly too bright in the upper and lower end of the matrix. This defect, however, will be visible only when a dark tone image is displayed. In everyday use, while using the system interface and web browsing uneven backlight is not conspicuous. It will only be worse when watching movies. On the other hand - in a bright environment the screen will be better readable... The precision of the touch panel is good, but when scrolling through long lists quickly I noticed a slight disturbance of liquidity. But they are not troublesome enough to subject them to severe criticism. Saturation on the display is good, but the colour balance is shifted slightly to the cooler side. The display is not covered with Gorilla Glass, but it has a good strength and a nice smoothness, providing a comfortable slip of a finger.
Quite good equipment...
On the side benefits I have noted the presence of typical connectors, the microUSB for charging and data transfer, and minijack for audio transmission. This makes it easy to replace the original accessories with others. I suggest doing this especially with regard to the headphones. The kit is not the worst, but I assume that every music lover has something better in store... GOclever Fone 500 has Android 4.0.4, in the menu there is also the option heralding the ability to update over-the-air. If it is there, it remains for now a sweet mystery of the manufacturer ... The interface of the system has not been touched with additional modifications - I noticed only a few changed icons and separate sub-menu of dedicated support for dual SIM cards. In the original set of applications there are MultiLing Keyboard with support for multiple languages, navigation Mireo viaGPS (free for 7 days) and the company download centre with games - GOCLEVER Games. The manufacturer also added a flashlight, a voice recorder, a notebook and a tool to support the connection of mobile devices. There are also other, typical components of the system, including access to the Android Market store. I regret that when we unlock the screen we can not add shortcuts to our favorite applications - we can just run the camera or just unlock the phone. We won’t change the function switches also available after expanding the notification bar. Fortunately, we have the quite a lot of the originally implemented ones.
Specification without revelation
GOclever Fone 500 is based on the popular MediaTek processor, supported by 512 MB of memory. This set deals with the efficient operation of the system, it also doesn’t show symptoms of breathlessness in popular games or while watching a movie stored in HD. The fact that the phone is "at full speed", is shown with the temperature rising in the top of the body. In addition to these previous "lags" of the interface I have not noticed other symptoms. But I noticed some problems with the sensitivity of the WLAN module. Sometimes, the phone needed a long time to detect the network, sometimes to find the network I had to switch off the phone and reboot the Wi-Fi on the phone. And although I do not trust the end-screen signal strength indicators, comparing with other devices, Fone 500 is almost always indicated a weaker range than competitors. Maybe it's the same antenna location or...?
GPS module worked flawlessly for a change. Start-up and capturing location literally took the moment, using the navigation application also I did not see any problems with maintaining a signal. The last of the wireless interfaces - Bluetooth, also gave no reasons to complain. Looking at the capacity of the battery and smartphone capabilities, I worried a bit about the performance of the battery. However, it surprised me. The phone with all modules and two active SIMs turned on worked all day! Being encouraged by this result, I disconnected 3G data transfer, Bluetooth and GPS, but I left two networks (with a good range) and WLAN, I turned down the strength of the backlight. Speaking more economically, and not overusing other capabilities of the device, I was able to get away from a charger for more than three full days. For a 5-inch Android phone the result is at least good.
The average camera
The camera mounted in Fone 500 disappointed me a bit. Contrary to the information on the packaging of the phone, it takes pictures with an 8-megapixel resolution and has fllash LED. It offers a big range of options. We can change the white balance, flash mode, and take advantage of 14 scene modes and six colour effects. We have photos and video mode (in VGA), and omnidirectional modes, panorama shots and panning. In the video, as in the photo, we have a wide range of adjustment settings of the camera, and we create panoramas in a very easy way. The image quality, however, does not impress. The worst is mostly poor level of detail and high level of noise in low light increasing to an unacceptable level. It may be suspected higher resolutions are obtained by interpolation of the program - but it is difficult to verify my theory. The downside of the camera is the flash LED. It lights up quite strongly, but unfortunately it has ill-matched colour temperature. It emits a bluish, almost violet light. This defect concerns not only portraits, but most of all the photographs of documents. The white balance correction, unfortunately, does not give the expected improvement – there is lack of manual change of this parameter... Image quality in daylight, however, is acceptable, and panorama mode works very well. You have to stare to see the slight blur in places where the individual frames merge. In a contrast background we should take advantage of HDR - this mode gives much better results. Video recording evaluation is similar to the evaluation of images - decent during a day, with the darker foreground - much worse.
Here are sample photos. More, in original format, can be found in the gallery on the card of the phone.
Sample shot of the same plan with the HDR mode enabled and without it (HDR on the right):
A sample video recorded with the phone:
The player better than the radio
Music lovers will enjoy probably the presence of FM radio. Joy will be a little exaggerated, because the receiver is not too sensitive. In the center of Łódźit did not find any of several radio stations available, did not catch the signal, even if you manually set the appropriate frequency. As a consolation the radio offers us RDS system, the possibility of storing and recording stations. The built-in music player does very well - the sound quality is quite good, in addition to standard features, we also have a sound equalizer. In it - apart from its own 5-range adjustment, we can find 11 predefined settings. The equalizer also has a separate adjustable bass boost and surround sound effect and reverb simulations in several different environments.
I invite you for a brief phone videopresentation:
I left the best for last. What do you think - how much is GOclever Fone 500? Surprise! This phone cost about 160 euro (215 dollars)! And although I’ve found a number of shortcomings, there is no HD screen, not too much RAM and no quad-core CPU, at that price I would not hesitate to write that it is a very good design. We can argue about the annoyance of deficiencies I mentioned in a review, the dull design and the reputation of the manufacturer or the origin of the structure... But can we find a similar phone at such a low price?! I hope that the smartphone will turn out to be a durable and reliable device. However, it is impossible to give a verdict after the few-days use.