The MTag 401 is a budget Android smartphone from MTS. The phone has a 4.0-inch display, 800MHz processor, 3 megapixel camera, a large 1,700mAh battery and sells for an attractive price of Rs. 8,999. Let’s see how well it performs.
One of the things I liked about this phone is the design. Usually, you can spot a budget handset from a mile away thanks to the shoddy design and build but the MTag 401 is nothing like that. The phone looks a lot expensive than it really is and that itself would be a big selling point for a lot of people.
The build quality too feels top notch. The phone is sturdy with none of the usual plasticky feel you usually find in phones around this price range. Only thing is that the phone is a bit wide due to the 4-inch display and some may find the phone difficult to grip and use singlehandedly.
The MTS MTag 401 has a 4-inch, 800 x 480 resolution, which is quite high for a phone in this price range. Most smartphones under Rs. 10,000 tend to have either a QVGA or an HVGA display. The display quality itself is nothing special but the large display does make reading easier on the eyes.
Hardware and Software
The MTS MTag 401 has a 800MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM7627 processor with 256MB of RAM. There is 145MB of internal memory, which is practically nothing. Thankfully, there is a memory card slot and you can add up to 32GB of memory here (the phone comes with a 2GB memory card). As you can expect from an MTS branded device, the phone runs on a CDMA network.
On the software side the phone runs on Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread. The software on the phone has been customized extensively and a lot of the built-in apps have been replaced, such as the dialler, calendar, contacts, camera, gallery and music player. The Messaging app in particular has been replaced with one that has a white background and shows gigantic fonts that can be read from the outer space.
The phone also comes with some third party apps built-in, that includes Facebook, Twitter, Saavn and a handful of MTS’ own bloatware, which includes a TV app that supposedly shows live TV for free but it never worked on our device.
Unfortunately, the performance of the phone was quite disappointing. Despite the 800MHz processor, the phone was frustratingly sluggish and made using it an absolute chore. It’s not that the phone takes too long to open stuff but the UI animation runs at a ridiculously slow framerate that makes things seem slower than they are.
The display touch response was also pretty bad. It’s not that the display did not detect touches but they were often wrongly interpreted. Trying to swipe on the screen can often lead to clicking and launching something, and it can happen repeatedly enough to drive you crazy.
Performance in other areas wasn’t great either. Basic apps on the phone ran well enough but gaming was a completely no-no. Even basic 2D games such as Cut the Rope lagged profusely, which made them unplayable. The problem here is likely the high resolution display, which puts too much load on the GPU as it has to render even more pixels than it should.
The MTag 401 runs on MTS’ CDMA network and has a claimed download speed of around 3.1Mbps. Unfortunately, you need EvDo network to hit those speeds and where I live that network wasn’t strong enough, so the phone would fall back to CDMA 1x, which is about as fast as EDGE on GSM networks. Even when there was EvDo network available, the phone went nowhere near the claimed 3.1Mbps speed.
Lastly, the MTag 401 has a 3 megapixel camera with no auto-focus or even flash. Considering most phones these days have at least a 5 megapixel camera with auto-focus, this seems like quite a few steps back, that too just on paper. In practice, the quality is mediocre at best. You may just about be able to use the pictures that you take for sharing on Facebook or Twitter.
The MTS MTag 401 has a sizable 1,700mAh battery. In our usage, the phone lasted us for around one and a half day on a full charge, which is pretty decent for a smartphone.
The MTS MTag 401 is priced at Rs. 8,999. At that price you can purchase a Sony Xperia mini. Sure, the display is not as big but it’s of a lot better quality and the rest of the phone is miles ahead of what you will find on the MTag 401. Seriously, there’s no competition at all. And it’s also a GSM phone, so you can just change your SIM if you have issues related to the network, something you can’t do on this phone.
MTS is offering users three months of free unlimited data usage and free calls to another MTS number but honestly that’s not worth putting up with this phone at all. There are some good things, such as the bigger than usual display, which those with a weak eyesight might find useful but otherwise there’s no other redeeming feature here. My advice would be to avoid it. There is no shortage of good alternatives in the market.