Chinese entrant Phicomm’s Second smartphone launched in India on Aug 10th in the form of Phicomm Energy 653 after the successful entrance with their Passion 660 smartphone which is doing quite well in Indian market. While Passion 660 tries to attract the customers with Moderate budget of around 10000/- INR in hand, Phicomm Energy tries to lure the customers with only around 5000/- to 6000/- in hand and main attraction is with LTE network capability. Energy 653 is priced very competitively in comparison with the other brand devices in that price range. Energy 653 is launched at the price of 4999/- INR with the below specifications which is more or less equal and above compared to the competitors. The device is sold exclusively through their online partner

Display 5 inch HD
Storage 8GB (expandable upto 64
Rear Camera 8-megapixel
Front Camera 2-megapixel
Battery 2,300mAh (removable)
Connectivity Dual-SIM, LTE, Wi-Fi,
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 210
with 1.1 GHz quad-core processor
Software Android
Lollipop 5.1 (Expect 5.0 UI)
Price Rs 4,999

We from got a chance to try out this device for a week or so and here are our impressions and review of the same.

Design: The Energy 653 is a slim device and though it comes with a 5″ size, it doesn’t look very big and its comfortable to hold in the hand and even operate with one hand. The bezel is slim with rounded corners which gives a thin look. It comes with a glossy poly carbonate back cover which is removable and also one can remove battery also. The device comes with dual SIM capability which supports LTE/GSM and GSM in second SIM slot.  The device is just 8 mm thick and very light to hold. Just because this device is priced very low, doesn’t mean there is any compromise on the design part, the device doesn’t look cheap and it pretty decent too. It comes with capacitive touch buttons in front and a 2 MP camera. The rear of the device comes witha 8 MP AF camera with LED flash located right under the camera.On the left and bottom of the device, its plain blank and no buttons or controls located there. On the right of the device there is a volume rocker and power/unlock button. The plastic buttons and the tactile feedback is responsive and on top of the device there is a 3.5 mm audio jack and next to which is a Micro USB charging port cum data port. Though I personally feel the placement of charging port on top of the device is bit odd when we are very much used the to the charging ports location at the bottom of the device on almost all the recent devices which comes in the market. Well, we are regularly playing around with different manufacturers devices, I feel like that, but I think its ok for the users who are newly buying the device as they will attune to it. The device holds good in hand even with glossy finishing at back and its not slippery. Overall, I am happy with the design of Phicomm 653.

Display: The Phicomm Energy 653 comes with a 5″ HD IPS display which supports resolution of 1280 x 720p which is really good for a device priced at this range. Its bright and vivid even in a bright sunlight. The images look sharp and watching videos on this device too is decent. The display is pretty responsive to the touches. The display gets smudges very quickly and feels sticky at many times. Not sure if its related to the laminated display layer or something else. Its better to have a soft cloth always handy to get rid of the stickiness

Hardware and Performance: Phicomm Energy 653 is operated by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor with 4 cores and comes with a 1 GB RAM. Also, the device comes with a 8 GB internal storage. The performance is pretty decent and I just feel bit sluggishness with the windows and transition animations when there are just some of applications open in background. Its better to keep cleaning up the memory at regular intervals using task manager so that you won’t feel sluggishness while doing the operations on the device. If you like, you can disable the windows animations by going into the developer options in settings. By default, developer options is not visible for end users, you should enable it by going to the settings – about device – tap 5 times on the build number there to enable developer options. Check out the below screenshots which will give a fair idea on how to disable the animation scales. 

Apart from that, I don’t see much issues while staying on social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., and it performed well. We could play a HD video too without any hiccup and it played pretty decently without any jerks which is quite good for the device of this caliber. The device doesn’t get heated up due to the heavy and long time usage unlike other chinese phones in the market which is a positive sign on this phone. I couldn’t try out a full HD games etc., on this device, but could play games like Spiderman Ultimate Power and Real football 2015 without any sluggishness. Not to forget, the device comes with a Micro SD card support too where we can put a card upto 64 GB which is a life-saver when we have only 8 GB native storage out of which only around 4.5 GB is available for user for all their applications and stuff. Though I feel, its very less for a power user who is willing to install lot of applications. One good thing is the phone allows to install almost all the applications on an external storage ie., on Micro SD card directly while installing itself. It doesn’t allow to move the apps to SD card once you install any application on internal storage at initial stage itself which is kind of a disadvantage. If you don’t have an additional MicroSD card installed on your phone and want to install many apps as per your wish, I am afraid you’ll end up seeing the below warnings/errors as shown in the screenshot. By the way, Telephone calls worked just OK and not much to bloat about it. There is a extra volume feature which can be enabled to boost the sound little bit. Overall, in the performance front, I am quite satisfied with it for the price which we are getting. 
Camera: Phicomm Energy 653 comes with a decent 8 MP rear shooter with Auto focus and LED flash which does a neat work while clicking the pictures outdoors and in low light too. The camera comes with a F/2.4 aperture size which helps in better low-light photography. The camera app is not too flimsy too and comes with very simplistic features and controls. We can click pictures in HDR mode too which is a good add on for the camera. The camera can even shoot a HD video at 720p resolution. Also, the 2 MP front camera is great for even HD video calling and can be used as a decent selfie camera too. Again, for the price which we are getting this device, we don’t have too many complaints in the camera department. 

Check out some sample pictures taken under bright light as well as in low light.  They are full resolution pictures, click on the same to enlarge.

Battery: The device comes with 2300 mAH battery and its holds the charge for a full day when I had put that on a 4G with a mix of Wi-Fi and most of the usage on social media channels like FB, twitter, instagram and some browsing. With around 60% remaining battery, we had put a HD video in a loop with 100% brightness and it could play for 3 hours 50 minutes before giving up with a 5% remaining battery which I think is pretty decent and one can play upto 2 full Hindi movies of around 2:30 to 3 hours length and still stay on their network.  No complaints in battery department. 

Software and Features: The Phicomm Energy 653 runs on Android 5.1.1 overlayed with Phicomm’s Expect UI 5.0. The UI is just for name sake, but this device gives a pure Android Lollipop experience as there isn’t much UI tweaks in their custom UI except may be just new wallpapers. Apart from that, it doesn’t offer much difference compared to stock android. The launcher which they have used is Cyanogen’s Trebuchet which is kind of decent launcher. Once can always replace the launcher with either Google Now or any other launcher apps which are available freely in market. One can try out Z Launcher too on this which is pretty responsive and works great on this. About features, this device comes with a plain Android experience and not much of bloatwares pre-installed saying it as features. One has to install whatever software required from Play store to utilize the device to full potential. Once thing which I noticed and feel that, Phicomm has not done much QA on the OS/UI and released a half baked builds onto this device. Why I am saying like this is due to the real experiences which I observed while using it in my day to day life. Many applications crashes just like that and exits. Many a times you’ll observe that, even after rebooting the device, the recent applications doesn’t get closed and they still residues in memory and we have to manually clear them. One cannot play the GIF or videos from the twitter application itself, it just stays blank. I am sure its not twitter issue as the same works absolutely fine on other devices which I have. The folders which we create in the home page, when we try to open the application, the folder just shows blank even though there are apps inside that and when we click randomly there, it does open any app inside that folder. Check out the screenshots below. One more problem which I have observed on this device is the SWYPE or Flow function never works even though its enabled in keyboard settings. I tried Swiftkey as well as the native keyboard. Not sure if its a bug. Phicomm should be able to review and send a fix for the same. Also, one thing I must update here is that OTA updates which Phicomm sends, seems like they are not hosted in a good server or network, it just times out or closes out the connection and we have to retry atleast 6 to 7 times to download a build update. I am sure its not a client end network issues as I tried it from different network using wi-fi as well as 4G connections. Probably Phicomm should look into this when they get chance. Apart from that, one saving grace is this device comes with latest Android 5.1.1 version with all the bells and whistles which Google has to offer. So, sky is the limitation to try out all the Features of Android Lollipop. At this price, getting a latest OS device while some manufactures/competitors at this price range are still struggling with Android Kitkat 4.4 on their devices and they themselves are not sure if they can work on releasing the latest OS on those existing devices. 

Verdict: As you have observed in the paragraphs above, this device can stay in market and give tough competition just because of the low price and the pretty decent hardware specs and software.  We are pretty much satisfied with the device on almost all the fronts and as I said if you are budget is just around this corner 5000/-, this is the best device which one can buy, but if you can extend couple more thousands till 8000/- to 9000/- INR, there are plenty other options available too. 

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