Every few months, a new brand springs up in the crowded Indian smartphone market. The latest entrant is Atom Mobiles, which launched with three new handsets — the Supremus, XXX and Maximus. The Supremus is the cheapest of the lot, but even that’s priced at Rs 16,990—comparative phones come with better hardware at that price. But specifications are only one part of the story; does the Atom Supremus deliver as an all-round package?
Quick Tech Specs: 5-inch IPS touchscreen (1280×720 px) | 1.5GHz quad-core Mediatek MT6589 processor | 1GB RAM | 16GB internal memory, microSD up to 32GB | 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, 720p HD video recording | Dual-SIM (GSM + GSM) | 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4 | A-GPS | 2000mAH battery | Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
Price: Rs 16,990
Design: Have you felt a Samsung Galaxy S2 or Galaxy S3? That’s exactly what the Atom Supremus is like, and that’s a good thing. It’s all glossy plastic, but it feels sturdy. The down side is that it invariably attracts fingerprints on the back. Also, the Supremus uses a physical home button—whether you like that or not is a personal choice, but the good news is that the button (and all others on the phone) have good feedback and aren’t flimsy.
Screen: We’ve already settled the matter that FullHD is not discernibly better than HD at 5-inch screen sizes so the resolution of the Atom Supremus is not an issue. It’s got vibrant colours and the images are sharp. Plus, the viewing angles of the phone are as good as any I’ve seen, including legibility in sunlight. But the Atom Supremus does not have scratch protection, which means you will need to put one of the two screen guards it ships with; with that on, the viewing angles are not as sharp and sunlight legibility isn’t as good, but the touch response is unaffected.
Performance: Like with most other smartphones with the MTK 6589 processor and 1GB RAM, the Atom Supremus will play most high-def games well on Medium settings but struggle at High graphics. Multi-tasking is generally smooth too. In a nutshell, it’s no different than something like the Micromax Canvas 4 or any other phone with these specifications.
Memory: The 16GB of internal memory is welcome, of which you get approximately 13GB to yourself. Plus, there’s a microSD slot for more storage so you’ll never be caught short.
Connectivity: Network reception and call quality were both above average in the Atom Supremus. If you move around a lot, you’ll be happy with this phone.
Software: The phone runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and with most Indian manufacturers, an update is usually not on the cards. What this means is that you might not be able to install some of the newer apps, but for most purposes, this should be fine.
Camera: Budget smartphones usually don’t do well in the camera department, but the Atom Supremus is an exception. It’s not a fantastic camera, but it rivals what you get on devices like the Sony Xperia P—that’s better than most competitors. Surprisingly, it delivers usable images in low-light environments, although those shots will have noise and discolouration around the edges of the frame. Plus, the 5MP front-facing camera also manages some good shots for a quick selfie.
Battery: The battery life of the Atom Supremus is middling, lasting for just over 13 hours on a single charge. On pure video playback, you can get about 5 hours. This should be enough for most people, and Atom has thrown in a 4000mAh power bank with the device too.
Special Mention: The Atom Supremus is hands down the best smartphone in this range for listening to music. Most budget smartphones have audio output in the range of “barely okay” to “horrible”. But the Atom Supremus can go toe-to-toe with the best. I pitted it against the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and the Moto G, and the Supremus is either on par or better. Sharps are clear, it’s got a thump in the bass that’s missing on most phones, and it can get loud! In fact, the Supremus can go twice as loud as the iPhone 5! At those decibels, the sharps start cracking but apart from that, it’s fine. The Supremus supports FM radio too. And Atom has thankfully packed in a good set of in-ear earphones in the box too.
Verdict: At Rs. 16,990, the lack of scratch-resistant glass is a major miss, in my books. But if you’re okay with using a screen guard and want a budget smartphone for the best music experience, the Atom Supremus is what you are looking for. That said, I still think Rs 16,990 is a high price for this handset and you’d be better off waiting till it drops to the Rs 14,000 mark. In my opinion, that’s a fair price for what is a good smartphone, let down by one flaw.
There is one other thing to consider though. Atom is a new player and there’s no way of knowing what their after-sales support is like—it’s something reviewers can’t test and we, like you, rely on anecdotes from others to judge that. In the best-case scenario, there’s doorstep pickup and drop service from Atom, but the question is if you expect it to work exactly like advertised. If you go to buy this phone, ask yourself, “What if something goes wrong with this phone that I’m paying Rs 17,000 for?” Your answer is going to be a factor in whether or not you should pick up the Supremus.