Budget Android phones are a dime and dozen these days. With rapid improvement in specs and performance, these devices are finally becoming a viable option for everyone who is satisfied by a well performing, reasonably priced smartphone. We’ve been fairly impressed with Spice’s offerings in the segment but will they be able to continue the streak ? Read on to find out.
Spice has generally opted for a metal finish design with a matte back plate and very high quality materials all around. Sadly most of this is missing in the Smart Flo Pace 2. This handset is a budget segment device and the materials feel the part.
The front of the phone has a 5 inch screen with a front facing camera above it. The bezel around the screen is fairly narrow and the design is fairly generic with a few similarities to the Samsung Galaxy series.
Below the screen are three capacitive buttons that correspond to menu, home and back keys as always. The buttons are responsive enough and are backlit as well which should make it possible to use them in adverse lighting conditions.
The top of the phone sports a solitary 3.5mm audio jack while the charging / data transfer micro USB port is at the bottom. The right side includes the power key while the volume rocker lies on the left side of the handset. Both the keys offer good tactile feedback and are easy to access despite the relatively large size of the handset.
The back cover of the handset is made of soft touch plastic and doesn’t feel all that great. The material used is a fingerprint magnet. At the top is a 5MP camera with a dual LED flash on the side. Massive ‘Spice’ branding can be seen in the lower half of the handset. The speaker grille is below the silkscreened Spice logo.
The operating system of choice is Android 4.0.4 and Spice has held back from messing around with the interface. As is usually the case, you get a near stock build of Android on the Spice Smart Flo Pace 2. Spice has bundled in a few applications like a file manager, mobile tracker application and popular cross platform messaging applications like WhatsApp and Nimbuzz.
Our concern lies with the ad platform that Spice has built in to the phone. Starting up third party applications and even the Play Store pops up an advertisement banner on top which is very disconcerting.
Spice has embedded the Hoopz content delivery platform into the OS which allows them to push information and advertisements on top of any application you might install. We’ve highlighted the advertisement module in red above. We definitely do not approve of this move and hope Spice will refrain from this in the future and if possible remove said ‘feature’ via a software update.
It is not uncommon to see a 720p screen on a budget smartphone these days and Spice misses out by opting for a WVGA panel. The screen is pretty bright and vibrant but outdoor visibility isn’t the best.
Icons and text edges look blurred due to the low pixel density on the 5 inch panel. The screen is usable but a higher resolution panel would have been definitely appreciated. A more serious concern however is the underlying digitizer. The screen often refused to detect touch. This was particularly noticeable in the keyboard where often touching a character would trigger a completely different one.
The phone is powered by a 1Ghz dual core processor paired with 1GB RAM. Performance on the Spice Smart Flo Pace 2 is middling to say the least. Random slowdowns are fairly common and the interface tends to suffer from a hint of lag. Synthetic benchmark tests back up this claim.
With a score of 5465, the Smart Flo Pace 2 scores the lowest amongst the competition in the AnTuTu benchmark.
The Vellamo benchmark is a good way to test out HTML5 performance. Here again the Mi-502 scores the lowest. This was echoed by our usage where in-browser checker boarding was very common.
A 5 Megapixel camera is located at the back of the phone and is paired with a dual LED flash. A front facing 1.3MP camera is also provided for video calling and to take the occasional self shot. The video capabilities of the camera top off at 720p recording.
Coming to actual camera performance, it can be summed up as being downright terrible. Photos taken in bright day light like the one below end up being under exposed, noisy. We just can’t excuse a camera that is unable to take a good image of a simple snapshot as seen below.
The camera also suffers from an inability to take macro shots. So for all those budding instagrammers who like to shoot photos of food for all the world to see, steer clear of the Smart Flo Pace 2.
Battery Life & Connectivity
Under the glossy, fingerprint prone back plate is the micro SD slot, dual SIM card slots and the 2,100 mAh battery pack.
We found battery life to be just about adequate. You’ll definitely need to charge the phone overnight but careful usage will get you through a day. On pushing the phone with a heavy work load of social networking apps, multiple push email accounts, lots of phone calls, we were able to deplete the battery by about 4pm. Your mileage will definitely vary in this case.
The Spice Smart Flo Pace 2 is far from the best budget device, in fact it really doesn’t fair too well against other handsets from the same stable. We appreciate the stock Android build which is now common amongst most budget smartphone manufacturers but really did not like the presence of adware in the OS. Performance too was nothing worth writing home about.
Moving on, our troubles with touchscreen sensitivity and the appaling camera on the phone means that we just cannot recommend the Spice Smart Flo Pace 2 Mi-502. Priced at Rs. 6,999, we’d recommend that you steer clear of the handset.
1. Adware built in
2. Poor camera
3. Unpredictable touchscreen sensitivity