Android, as a mobile platform, has grown exponentially since its introduction. It leads over Apple’s iOS globally, and that position is unlikely to change any time soon. Its success and rapid adoption is much attributed to the widespread availability of value and mid-range Android phones. One brand that is thriving in the value space is Malaysian mobile manufacturer, CSL. I recently had the opportunity to test-drive the entry-level CSL Switch Pluto Mi406.
Design & Build
The Switch Pluto Mi406 is part of the entry-level family that includes Switch Mars Mi450, which is very similar in terms of specifications aside from the larger 4.5″ qHD display. With a 4.0″ WVGA LCD capacitative touchscreen display, Switch Pluto supports a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels.
At first glance, the Pluto Mi406 reminded me of Yes 4G’s first ever smartphone – the Eclipse. It looks quite good, made of above average plastics with decent build quality. The curved rubberised resin back plate makes it pleasant to hold.
The back plate is removable, and CSL has included an additional back panel (white) in the box.
There is a tactile power button and 3.5mm audio jack on top, as well as volume buttons on the right side. A microUSB slot sits at the bottom.
Android’s inconsistency is demonstrated here with the inclusion of four soft key buttons on the bottom front. I’ve always had a little problem with the soft keys which results in accidental presses and also the sequence of the buttons differ from Android phone to Android phone, making user experience a little clunky.
The Switch range of phones utilise Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 platform. The Switch Pluto comes powered by a 1.2Ghz dual core Snapdragon S4, bundled with 512MB RAM and 4GB of internal memory.
I cannot stress the importance of sufficient built-in RAM, where many low-to-mid range phones have faltered due to lack of. Fortunately, the Switch Pluto is integrated with 512MB, which I consider bare minimum for modern phones, to run Android 4.0 ICS and up.
Storage of 4GB should be sufficient for average use – apps, music, photos. But in case you fill that space up, you can easily expand it up to 32GB via microSD.
If you didn’t know already, the Switch Pluto is a dual-SIM, dual-standby device supporting GSM 900/1800Mhz and WCDMA 2100Mhz. Dual-SIM capabilities seem to be a regular feature in the value market. The phone also comes with GPS, Bluetooth and WiFi.
CSL has generously included a 5.0MP main shooter with autofocus and LED flash which supports up to 30fps video. Very decent for a smartphone at the price point it’s been offered at. It also has a 0.3MP camera on the front for video chat.
Picture quality is above average, although with many smartphones in this segment, slow shutter speed and high noise in low light is expected. Nothing some fancy Instagram filters can’t fix though 😛
The Switch Pluto runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box. There is no official word on whether it will support Android 4.1 Jelly Bean although it is highly unlikely due to its hardware specs.
The phone has full access to the hundreds of thousands of apps available in the Android Market.
The first thing you’ll notice about the user interface (UI) is the cutesy buttons and customised home screen. CSL didn’t do too much aside from the iconography. Reminds me of a certain open-sourced platform, hint – Meego.
CSL has a proprietary communications platform called S-unno that allows users to make calls to anyone in the world at little cost. Think VoIP and Skype.
Battery Life & Performance
The phone comes with a lithium-ion 1420mAh battery. I have to be brutally honest about this – I’m a battery-sapper. I drain batteries quickly due to constant social networking, browsing, emails and photoshooting. I come out pretty impressed with the battery life of the Switch Pluto, especially standby time. I’ve tested leaving it on standby, and it lasted me two full days with some juice left.
In terms of performance, thanks to the generous of amount RAM and the zippy dual-core S4 processor, I found the phone snappy and responsive. Running some benchmarks on it, the results showed a ranking higher than my trusty GALAXY Nexus S.
Pricing and Availability
The Switch Pluto Mi406 is available now in retail channels for RM599 (RRP).
Summary and Verdict
If you can get over its Malaysian-made label, the phone shines thanks to its generous specifications and features. Consumers should have no complaints about performance, battery life and dual-SIM capabilities. In addition to that, an amazing price point of below RM600 clearly screams value for money. This could be an option for first time smartphone owners looking for something to start with, frequent travelers, students and those looking for a second backup phone.
- Snappy performance
- Generous RAM
- Good value
- Good battery life
- Custom UI may not be to everyone’s taste
- Camera poor in low-light – noisy and slow shutter
- Paltry storage
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