After teasing for quite some time, Xolo finally launched its first smartphone under BLACK sub-brand at an event in Delhi on Friday. We spent some time with the device and here are our first impressions.
First up, there is no BLACK branding anywhere on the phone, it’s only Xolo. We didn’t get any logic behind that, especially when Xolo calls it a separate brand. The front is neat with no branding whatsoever (retail units may get Xolo written on top), but the back has Xolo with custom HIVE UI branding. When Xolo has managed to keep ‘HIVE’ written on the back then it is strange that company didn’t bother to mention new smartphone brand ‘BLACK’. Also, the phone doesn’t have any model name or number as identity, which again makes no sense to us. At the event, company promised that the next BLACK-branded smartphone will definitely have a name. So for now we will just call it BLACK by Xolo, which only comes in black colour.
In terms of design and build, the phone looks and feels pretty decent. Front and back of the device feature Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which also assures toughness. The handset measures 155.5×76.6×7.3mm and it grips well in hands. It is quite lightweight as well.
On the front, the phone features a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) OGS IPS display which offers 403ppi pixel density and of course Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The colour reproduction, brightness levels and viewing angles seems nice to look at. Xolo claims that it has done some special oleophobic coating on the screen to keep it “stain free” and “smudge free”, which unfortunately isn’t correct and we found the device to be a fingerprint / smudge magnet.
At the back, is the highlight of the Xolo BLACK, which is dual rear camera setup similar to first introduced with HTC One (M8) and in the recently launched Huawei Honor 6 Plus. Out of the two cameras, one camera is a 13-megapixel sensor and other is a 2-megapixel shooter placed side-by-side with an LED flash in center separating the two.
Both the cameras can work in tandem, and Xolo claims that it can focus the subject in just 0.15 seconds with depth-mapping. There is one camera feature UbiFocus, which also lets you refocus on objects after you’ve taken the image. ChromaFlash lets you retain original color and skin tone even in low-lighting conditions, claims Xolo.
In our limited time with the BLACK, we found the dual rear camera setup to be more of a gimmick than a useful addition. It lagged quite a bit and the output wasn’t great too. We would still like to reserve our final thoughts on the camera, so stay tuned for our final review of the smartphone.
The BLACK smartphone is powered by second-generation 64-bit Snapdragon 615 (MSM8939) octa-core (ARM Cortex A53 – 4×1.5GHz + 4×1.0GHz) processor, just like the Xiaomi Mi 4i. It also features Adreno 405 GPU and 2GB of RAM. The 16GB of built-in storage is expandable up to 32GB via microSD card. It runs on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with company’s updated HIVE Atlas UI skinned on top.
Coming to the rest of the design aspect. Above the display, you will find a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with LED flash, 5-element lens and f/2.0 aperture. The three capacitive touch buttons sits below the display.
Right side of the device mounts volume rocker and power / lock key. Interestingly the power lock key doubles up as the notification light, which will essentially lights up whenever the phone has pending notification to be acknowledged.
Left side of the smartphone features Hybrid dual (Micro + Nano) SIM slot with support for 4G LTE. Here the second-SIM (Nano) slot can be used to as microSD (up to 32GB) slot, but then you only get one Micro-SIM card slot to use.
On the top sits the 3.5mm audio jack, and the bottom features two speaker grills and a micro-USB charging / data port with USB OTG support. The 3200mAh battery is non-removable.
Priced at Rs. 12,999, the BLACK by Xolo will go on sale on Flipkart on July 13. For existing Xolo customers, company is keeping a purchase window on Flipkart a day early on July 12 between 4pm to 8pm.
Also, Xolo has tied up with 100 Vodafone stores to let you experience the phone before purchasing, and is provide a bundled Vodafone SIM with 1GB of free data a month for two months and unlimited Vodafone music for two months.