Budget smartphones that offer a decent performance, with a good specs-sheet – at least on paper – have become the norm in India, most notably with the Redmi 2, which set the new bar in this category.
Most Indian smartphone manufacturers have been trying to do the same with their own devices, by adding a host of customisations, and offering ‘high’ specs at minimal price. Swipe Elite with its own Freedom OS is the latest entrant to this category.
Specs: 5-inch HD display| 1.3 GHz MediaTek MT6582 quad-core processor| 2GB RAM, 16GB storage expandable to 32 GB| 13MP rear camera and an 8MP front camera| 2500 mAh battery| Dual-SIM| Freedom OS based on Android Lollipop 5.0| 3G connectivity.
Price: Rs 6,499, launch price was Rs 5999
The Swipe Elite smartphones in a regular run-of-mill looking device with its matter plastic cover. It’s not particularly bulky or heavy and Swipe has kept the rear camera in the centre for the Elite. The camera panel juts out quite sharply, and the battery is removable.
The back-cover is prone to smudges and by the end of the week, I had left quite a few of these on the device. But then this a budget phone, so it is harsh to expect premium quality build.
Swipe Elite comes with its own customised ‘Freedom OS’. Here’s what we thought of the device after using it for more than a week
What is good?
In terms of performance, the Swipe Elite works fine with browsing and as multimedia device.While Swipe Elite does not set any benchmark tests on fire, I didn’t face app crashes or any other performance issues with this smartphone.
The 5-inch HD screen works decently, both in sunlight and out of it, and you can use it to watch your videos, movie, YouTube and it all looks good. The screen is however glossy and prone to smudges and I would suggest that screen guard is a must.
The 13-megapixel rear camera is a decent performer but the colour reproduction is very much off. In terms of the two cameras, I would say the rear camera delivers much better results than the selfie one. More on that later.
The battery is another strong suite for the Swipe Elite. In my case, the phone easily lasted a day, with medium to heavy usage, which is great for a budget phone.
What’s not good?
The customisations on the ‘Freedom OS’ can get seriously confusing. At one point, I successfully managed to delete the app drawer in its entirety and although I got it back, it’s a terrible option to allow, especially for a first time smartphone user.
To call ‘Freedom OS’, an OS is a stretch as this is a highly customised skin running on Android. For instance, the Swipe Search, which is placed in the Google Now Search Bar, is actually powered by Yahoo to display the results. At times you don’t know which search will open, Google or Swipe’s, and given how dependent I am on Google, I don’t really need another search engine’s results.
The custom Swipe launcher also seemed pretty pointless. I kept trying to activate mobile data by tapping on it, and it just would not happen. Instead it would open the settings page for the same. So why add a feature that doesn’t work.
There’s a whole bunch of apps in this 16GB smartphone that Swipe could have avoided. I am not sure that users will appreciate such heavy customisation, especially given that there a lot of stock Android phones or at least those with cleaner UIs in the market. Those who are fans of launchers on Android might want to add something entirely different. Tinkering with the animations, app dock for a while seems fun but I’m not entirely sold on the concept.
Audio quality is quite poor on the device, as my voice was barely audible to the other person. The selfie camera just does not seem like 8 megapixels and the results were either very grainy or just too dark, even with proper lighting in the room.
Should you buy it?
On specs, Swipe Elite sounds like a great deal given that it’s available for Rs 6,499 and has a decent performance and battery life to back it up. However, Freedom OS can make navigating this smartphone an annoying experience.
Given that Redmi 2 Prime or Yu Yuphoria are still available on the market, it’s hard to recommend Swipe Elite.