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Truly pixel perfect

tech reviews Updated: May 11, 2010 17:26 IST
Shayne Rana

Spice’s S-1200 is the third 12MP camera phones officially available in the market. Spice has managed to beat the competition’s pricing quite drastically but will it live up to their standards? Take a closer look.

Form
The S-1200 is an old-fashioned and bulky handset. It’s hard to tell that this mobile packs in a 12 megapixel camera with 3X optical zoom and a xenon flash. There’s no other camera on the Indian market that has a camera quite like this. Micromax had developed an extremely bulky 8 MP camera phone with 3X optical zoom about a year ago, but the S-1200 is sleeker. Spice has gone with a traditional mobile look rather than a touchscreen. The handset isn’t heavy (130 g) but its bulky at 16 mm.

The 2.4-inch TFT LCD sports a 240 x 320 pixel resolution and is sharp enough to read clearly even in bright sunlit conditions. The keypad is a little too congested and typing is not easy at all. The bottom of the nav-pad is too close to the ‘2’ key which makes hitting that button a real problem. On one side are the volume keys that can also be used for zoom, followed by the camera activation key that doubles up as the selector to switch between stills and video. With so much space available, not incorporating a standardised 3.5 mm hands-free was a bad idea.

Interface The Java UI is very smooth and fluid with no lag. But typing is very annoying because the Multi-tap Alphabet settings are not designed well at all. This is a universal concern for handsets without QWERTY keypads. The icons are colourful and navigation is fairly simple. The camera also responds quite quickly.

Media
The S-1200 didn’t fare too well when it came to multimedia. The music player, even with a set of presets, an 8 band customisable graphic EQ and Bass enhancement, was too low. Higher tones were a little too sharp and the bass was not resounding well enough via the bundled hands-free. The speakerphone was too low to even have a decent conversation. Video refused to play irrespective of the resolution but the audio seemed to be just fine. The FM radio had fairly clear reception in most places but virtually none while commuting. The static was way higher than on some lower budget handsets. A voice recording option is also available.

Connectivity
The S-1200 supports EDGE (Class 12) which means you can also download your emails if you have a POP or IMAP account. The modes of connectivity include Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR which also includes A2DP, USB 2.0 and TV out via the USB port. Opera Mini is also a preloaded option via Spice’s add-ons. The add-ons include Nimbuzz for social networking, Netcore Solution’s Email2SMS, Spice Gang which is a social networking feature for Spice mobile users and a Reuters app, among others. What’s missing is a stand-alone Facebook app that would allow you to easily upload images to the site.

Miscellaneous features
Apart from the standard mobile apps like Calculator and Calendar, a few extras like a stopwatch, world clock and currency converter are available. A mobile tracker application is preloaded in case of theft.

Camera
The 12 MP camera has features like 3x optical zoom (+ digital zoom). The image quality is very good, and the optical zoom functions smoothly. Battery The 1020mAh battery delivers up to 3 hours of talk time. With minimal usage of calls, messages, a little Net activity, media and photos thrown in, you’ll get at least two days of usage on a single charge.

What we like
Relatively smooth, fluid UI
Camera quality and features are really good
Quite a few handy features
Battery life lives up to expectations

What we don’t
Multimedia quality (music/videos) were not impressive
The handset is bulky