“With the price tag of Rs 11,499, the Spice Stellar 526 is one of the most affordable hexa-core smartphones in the market”
When it comes to Indian smartphone manufacturers, the likes of Micromax and Karbonn top the popularity charts and have also gained a considerable market share against the multinational giants. But Spice Mobility has been around for longer and it seems that the brand is ramping up its efforts to find a place in the aforementioned list. Just a couple of weeks after becoming the first Indian company to venture in the nascent smartwatch segment with the Smart Pulse (first impressions), it has today announced two powerful budget offerings. We were there at the launch event and here's what we feel about the pricier of the pair being launched, the Spice Stellar 526.
The device looks extremely flush with the use of dual colour white and silver finish at the rear, while the front is dominated by the display with bezels in white. Though it bears a plastic body, it doesn’t look cheap and is very well-built. The smartphone also has a slim waistline of 8.3mm and doesn’t feel bulky in the hand. The Spice Stellar Mi-526 flaunts a 5-inch IPS display based on On-Cell technology. This display tech isn’t being used by many manufactures these days, but helps in keeping the display thin by combining it with the touch sensor. The reduction in number of layers also improves the visual quality and touchscreen accuracy. With a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels, the screen reproduced sharp text and vivid images.
The buttons and port placement on the device is a standard affair. Along with the display at the front, you get the sensors and front camera above and the usual three-button layout for navigation below. The right edge offers the volume rocker and the power button, while the opposite side is devoid of any controls. The 3.5mm headphone jack lies on the top, while bottom is home to the micro-USB port and a secondary microphone. The back of the Stellar 526 isn’t removable, but you can remove the strip at the top which hides slots for a microSD card and a pair of full-sized SIM cards. The primary camera sensor is also available here, and the rest of the rear is pretty minimal with Spice branding in the middle and a speaker mesh available towards the bottom.
The Spice Stellar 526’s calling card is its true hexa-core SoC from MediaTek, which offers six Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.5GHz. The Mali 450MP4 GPU helps the processor for graphics. The combo is supplemented by a gigabyte of RAM. The powerful internals result in a smooth operations and we didn’t encounter any lags while moving between screens or opening multiple apps. The storage is taken care of by the 8GB flash storage, which has two partitions, which is pretty confusing considering one partition offers 1.71GB and the other 3.41GB to the user to install apps or save files. That said, the inclusion of 8GB storage is a big plus, as most of the devices in its segment still offer a meagre 4GB, which doesn’t allow for installation of games like Asphalt 8: Airborne, a hefty 1.42GB download. The connectivity features offered by the smartphone include 3G support, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS.
An 8-megapixel primary camera is available for your photography needs. An LED flash is also available to illuminate the scene in poor lighting conditions. We took a few test shots with the smartphone and it captured the colours in the scene well, though we will have to properly test the shooter to give you a review of its capabilities. The handset also comes equipped with a 3.2MP front-facing sensor. The Stellar 526 is powered by a 2,500mAh battery.
Running on the latest Android build, the device offers a custom interface sporting beautiful icon packs and themes. However, other than that the interface is largely stock, be it the dialler menu or messages. What we liked though, is the preinstalled SwiftKey, which is one of the best keyboards supporting swipe-to-type gestures along with Google Keyboard. It comes preloaded with Spice Cloud and Nimbuzz messaging app, with the latter offering 100 minutes worth of free ISD calls along with apps like Flipkart, Getit, and Quikr among others. It also has a pop-up browser and a video player allowing you to do other tasks while keeping them open in one part of the screen.
With the price tag of Rs 11,499, the Spice Stellar 526 is one of the most affordable hexa-core-based smartphones in the market. Its closest competitor would be the Micromax Canvas A190 HD offering a similar set of hardware specs. However, comparing the two in terms of build quality, the Stellar 526 wins hands down against the glossy plasticky feeling of the Canvas A190 HD. The Stellar 526 is also sandwiched between the two storage flavours of the recently-launched ASUS Zenfone 5 (review). We will have more to say about the device and whether it’s a good buy or not in our review, so stay tuned for that.