I had a review unit of the Mi-Fone Mi-A200 for around 5 days before the close of the year 2012 and playing with it for the few times that I made it my primary device just tells you that the winner of the battle for the entry level smartphones is far from over. In fact, amongst Android entry level devices the battle lines are just being drawn.
The Mi-A200 is part of Mi-Fone’s latest assault at the current dominant players in the low end segment of the Android smartphone market like LG, Samsung and Huawei. There are also new entrants like Tecno.
Generally the phone a solid plastic feel and has the standard Android capacitive buttons on the screen i.e menu, home, back and search (standard as of Android 2.3, Gingerbread , that the device runs). It also has a centrally placed round silvery home button that I found quite handy.
The power button is conveniently located at the top. Having been used to power buttons located along the sides of the device in other Android devices, it took me a couple of hours to stop reaching for the wrong place when wanting to utilize the power button.
It has a standard microUSB slot and standard external speakers. The speakers are not the loudest but when you install DSP Manager and control the sound you get some fine music slowly making its way out of the small device. You can of course lower and up the volume by using the volume buttons found on the right side of the device.
The device has a small 2.8 inch QVGA touch screen with a pixel density of 120 ppi (240 X 320). This might not be your high end Droid’s LCD with in-plane switching but for a device at its price point and target market, it does just fine.
The device is a dual-SIM device and the SIM card slots are located at the back of the device. I did not like the fact that you have to detach the back panel in order to access the extra SIM card slot. At least one of the slots should’ve been on the sides of the device while the other stays at the back. This is no big deal though since its highly unlikely that even with two SIM cards in place you’ll still want to swap some more. It is only for convenience sake that I am pointing this out.
The microSD card slot too is located at the back. I am not sure up to what extent the device supports expendable storage but I did insert my 16 GB sd card and managed to use it throughout my testing of the device. If other low-end Droids are anything to go by then this should be expandable to 32 GB.
The device has internal memory of 185.25 MB (from my own observation using the application Android System Info it ought to be 200 MB. I guess the extra 15 MB is reserved by the system). That is enough for a couple of applications. It has a RAM of 153 MB with a threshold RAM of 24 MB.
The Mi-A200 has a 2 MP rear camera which surprisingly has LED flash. That’s a lot for a device at its price range. The photos were neat too and the usual clouding and unnecessary darkness that you get with lower pixel count shooters didn’t appear on the few test photos I took. Additionally the device also has a 0.3 megapixel front camera.
The MI-Fone Mi-A200 has an 800 MHz Qualcomm chipset which should be more than enough for the less demanding and basic Android applications that you’ll likely run on the device.
I tested its network reception and it was okay. It is noticeably fast on 3G and as expected lags on EDGE but still maintaining its efficiency when using the stock browser or apps like Twitter for Android and the Play Store app. I connected it to my tethered connection from the Galaxy Note II and speeds peaked at 2.36 Mbps. Not the fastest of downlink speeds but it fairs comparatively well. Bluetooth is slow on this device but with the help of Bluetooth File Transfer app, it holds up well.
The device comes with Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread. Apart from the few customized wallpapers that are thrown in there, the device otherwise runs a clean stock version of Android as there isn’t any sign of skinning.
The notification bar comes with quick settings toggle buttons for easily turning on and off some most used settings like Bluetooth and mobile data connectivity.
By default there are five home screens so all your widgets get enough space.
The general Android experience may not be as buttery since this is Gingerbread we’re talking about but it does not fail to impress. Compared to other low end Droids that I have been using for a long time, I liked this device.
Though the fact that it is 2013 and this is a device still running Android 2.3 will turn off many people, for those starting out on smartphones or Android devices for that matter, this should be a device that you consider. Also its low pricing should be attractive to many. The device retails at Ksh 7,000 locally. It also has the advantage of having dual SIM capability. Whichever way you look at it, this is a budget Droid you wouldn’t want to ignore.