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Back at Google I/O where the Android One program was announced, Google said that the next billion smartphone users would come from emerging markets in places like South-East Asia. Their belief centered around the fact that even today, millions do not have access to smartphones, whether it be due to lack of literacy, capital etc.
For today’s review we tested the Goldberg EVO VX1
For today’s review we tested the Goldberg EVO VX1, an entry level device that attempts to offer a quality Android experience at the cheapest price possible. Goldberg is a new player in the smartphone market of Bangladesh and the EVO VX1 is their first foray into the smartphone game. Their “EVO” series is dedicated solely to entry level smartphones and the VX1 is the very first entry in that series.
Before diving deep, Goldberg EVO VX1 retails at Tk/- 4,599 (~ $60) and comes with a free screen protector and a flip cover. Please note that price will be a major factor in determining the outcome of the review so please keep that in consideration.
Don’t want to read? Here’s our video review of the device!
Design & Hardware
What exactly do you picture in mind if I ask you to design a smartphone worth $60? Chances are, you’re thinking of a small black slab made of crude plastic that really is featureless. In this regard, the folks at Goldberg have done a bang up job. The VX1 has an eerie elegance that is difficult to explain. It won’t win any beauty contest for sure but when you pick it up and look at the price tag, you feel satisfied.
The VX1 is as expected, very minimalistic. I reviewed the black and white colour variant which in my opinion looks much more attractive than the plain black one. The back of the device is removable and has a nice matte finish to it. This prevents it from attracting fingerprints and also make the device comfortable to hold. The back ever so slightly contours and curves to meet the rest of the phone body and it is this slight curvature that allows the phone to rest comfortably in the hand.
On the device’s left hand side lies the volume rocker which was surprisingly responsive and on the right hand side lies the power button which too exhibits the same characteristics. Both these are within easy reach due to the small size of the device.
Around front, we have sizable bezels in all four direction but they do not hamper one handed use at all. Along the bottom we have a row of capacitive keys that do not illuminate – a consequence of the low price perhaps. Along the top edge rests the speaker and front facing camera only. The micro USB and 3.5mm headset jack are on the top edge as well. A point note with the headset jack, I didn’t get the best sound quality when my headphones were plugged all the way in, I had to slightly pull out the connector to get the best results.
TANGLE RESISTANT HEADPHONES!
While we talk about the headset jack, I should mention that the headphones provided are of the in-ear type which is much better than the regular style due to greater sound isolation and comfort. Goldberg however provides only one size for the ear-gels so if your ears are larger, fit may be an issue. The headphones to my astonishment feature the flat noodle-like cables that are resistant to tangling. Even big name brands like Apple and Samsung do not provide tangle resistant cables for their premium flagships so this is a huge convenience point.
Moving on to the other contents in the box, Goldberg provides a free flip cover that has a leather like finish. The flip cover is very handy for those looking to keep their device protected. This paired with the screen protector makes for a great deal. The flip cover attaches to the case using an adhesive strip, something that I did not like as I tend to use cases and covers only when I leave the house. The adhesive problem can be solved if you stick some double sided tape to the cover but it is an extra, cumbersome step.
The back is removable and allows access to the 1,750 mAh battery (which too is removable), dual SIM card slots and the micro SD card slot. On the bottom right of the rear side we can clearly see the single speaker grille. The speaker is adequately loud but tends to distort sound at higher volumes.
The VX1 has a 4 inch 800 X 480 IPS display. Goldberg mentioned that an IPS display at this price point is unheard of so that is a pretty decent bonus. The screen has a pixel density of about 240 pixels per inch and has very good brightness levels.Outdoor visibility is good due to the high brightness and viewing angles are very mediocre. A plus point of the display is the low power consumption due to the low resolution.
Compact size = Ease of use
The 4 inch size makes reaching around the display very easy, everything is well within reach and requires no hand acrobatics. For me, the small size made typing a bit difficult however that is a result of me being used to phablets and also due to having a pair of very fat thumbs. Most users shouldn’t have much issue, iPhone displays were this size for a long time and people could use them comfortable enough.
The VX1 runs a version of Android 4.4 KitKat that is very close to stock. I mentioned in my review of the Walton Primo EF2 that KitKat is awesome especially for entry level devices due to its multiple optimizations and low RAM usage. The almost stock build works quite well. Android is no longer the lag filled OS it once was, even in the entry level.
Near stock experience with gestures
Going through the user interface was pleasing, scrolling and transitions were relatively smooth and most applications opened without taking too much time. I ran into dropped frames and lag every now and again but overall the experience was satisfactory. The level of smoothness however could not match that of Android one, whether it was due to the lower RAM or processor’s limitation, I can’t tell but there is definitely room for improvement.
Over the KitKat experience, Goldberg has packed gestures and a RAM clearing tool from the recent apps menu. The gestures can be accessed when the screen is switched off and work as advertised. There is a good selection of available gestures and they can be configured to the user’s preference. I personally found myself using them to access the camera most often.
During my usage of the device I found out that the two finger swipe down gesture that opens the toggles in the notifications tray was not available. It was not a major drawback but was a slight annoyance for me.
Coming to the most critical aspect, I must say I have had quite a positive experience.The VX1 packs a dual core 1.3GHz Mediatek processor along with 512MB of RAM and a Mali 400 GPU. We get 4GB or built in storage that is expandable to 32GB via a micro SD slot which, given the built in limitation is a huge bonus.
Most critical aspect
Let’s talk about the battery life next. The 1,750 mAh battery did not last me the full day after I first charged it to 100%. That changed though as I continued to use the device. The low power consumption can be attributed to the display’s resolution and the processor. I should inform you though, my usage of the VX1 was limited a bit due to the fact that I did not play intense games like Modern Combat 5 on it. Also my screen on time was less than usual. Another point to note, the battery life drains rather rapidly on WiFi so keep that in mind. Ultimately, most days the phone would barely last but on others where I used the device more, the phone died.
Moving on to gaming, the VX1 took me unaware. I played classic titles like Temple Run 2, Hill Climb Racing, Hardest Game Ever 2 and even Skyforce. All the games seemed to run well although I ran into some slowdown in Skyforce when too many enemies were on screen.
The camera is one department where the VX1 falters. The 3.2 megapixel main camera is okay only outdoors in well lit conditions. In low light there is a lot of digital noise and some colour inaccuracy. Outdoors, the camera tended to overexpose and was prone to lens flare. There is no autofocus however you can tap to focus. The 0.3 megapixel front camera was much of the same story.
First of all, think of the price tag. Do a quick Google search and see what else you can get at the same cost. Whatever you will find, the VX1 arguably has more to offer aAnd comes with accessories out of the box. The device is not the best performer, it does not have the best display, it does not have an awesome camera and it does not feature the longest lasting battery. What this device does have is an entry level price that almost anyone can aspire to afford.
PRICE! PRICE! PRICE! PRICE! PRICE!
Goldberg EVO VX1 is one such device that should be under consideration of anybody looking to get away from an old school feature phone . It is meant to be the most accessible smartphone in the market, priced such that those looking for the least expensive smartphone can afford it. For Tk/- 4,599 this is dirt cheap and I would recommend it without hesitation if you’re saving up some tiffin money to buy your very first smartphone.