Few months ago, the Indian handset maker, XOLO, introduced their maiden Windows Phone device, the XOLO Win Q900s, that went on sale recently.
Touted as the world's lightest Windows Phone and sold at a sub-₹10,000 (US$160) price, the phone competes with budget Android smartphones as well as the Lumia 530, Lumia 630, and the Micromax Canvas Win W121.
The XOLO Win Q900s is a variant of the Android-based XOLO Q900s, and retains the build from the latter. It's awkward, and confusing for somebody who's used a Windows Phone before. Maybe, it's a good thing for people who are switching to Windows Phone from an Android smartphone.
The three buttons on the bottom do not follow the Windows Phone guidelines. One, instead of the Windows logo as the Start button, there's a hollow circle. It works the same way, but is an aberration from the norm. Also, along with the missing Windows flag on the Start button, there's no Windows branding anywhere on the device.
The second thing is the two dots on the either side of the Start button, instead of the Back and Search buttons. Again, they work the same way, but the functionality is swapped. The button on the right side works as the Back button while the button on the left side works as the Search button.
This inconsistent design choice aside, the first thing you'll notice about the XOLO Win Q900s is that it is surprisingly light. At just 100g, it feels like most phones before you put the battery in them. It's also pretty thin, a welcome deviation in the world of chunky Lumias.
Being light is not the only design credential the device packs in though. It looks quite slick and while it sports a glossy black front, the rear panel has a matte finish which makes the phone great to grip. A metallic rim runs across the edges that adds to the style. It's a good-looking phone coming from a domestic player at the price point it comes at. Under the rear cover, you'd find two micro SIM slots and a microSD slot along with the removable 1800mAh battery.
The XOLO Win Q900s sports a 4.7-inch screen with 720x1280 resolution. The screen is quite sharp and the colors are great, but the display is a little dull even with the brightness setting set to high.
The Win Q900s is powered by a leaden quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor running at 1.2GHz with Adreno 302 graphics and 1GB of RAM. The phone offers 8GB of internal storage expandable up to 32GB with a microSD card. In most cases, the phone breezes through most things, but struggled with graphic intensive games or playing even 720p videos. The only niggle I faced was that on several occasions, the phone recognized swipes as taps, and scrolling through the Home screen, I inadvertently found myself launch random apps.
On the specifications sheet, the XOLO Win Q900s offers a fair balance for a phone in the sub-₹10k price segment. It's generally pleasant to use, and offers quite the bang for the buck.
I was a little apprehensive about the modest 1800mAh battery, a price you pay for the phone being that thin and light, but with moderate usage, the phone lasted me through the day which was impressive and a testimony to Windows Phone's power management at the OS level.
While the Windows Phone 8.1 experience is consistent across phones from different OEMs, many of us associate Windows Phone with Nokia and expect the signature Lumia experiences from any Windows Phone device.
That bit is missing, and is the biggest compromise you'll make. The fantastic Nokia Camera app is missing (although you'll find quite a few decent alternatives on the Store), there's no MixRadio, and the HERE navigation suite is absent too. Of course, the Microsoft apps and services like Office, OneDrive, and Skype are packed in.
XOLO's only addition is a XOLO Care app that essentially is a shortcut to reach the company's support channels.
To be fair, at this price point, I wasn't expecting a lot from the camera on the XOLO Win Q900s. There's an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing one.
With that expectation, the camera doesn't disappoint. In most cases, it takes fairly decent shots and even in low light conditions, the photos are good enough. If you look at the pictures on a larger display or your computer, you'll notice a little graininess and noise, but it's passable. While I was fine with the camera performance, the video recording is disappointing. Even in good light conditions indoors, the videos turn out to be grainy. The audio too is muffled in most cases, but that could be a problem in playback as well.
The XOLO Win Q900s is a lazy attempt from the company shoving in Windows Phone on the Android hardware they would've had lying around. There's little optimization, but the overall build quality and the design exceeds the effort bringing in a good looking option to the limited Windows Phone stable. It's a worthy alternative at its price point, and apart from a few worries, a fairly decent product – both in hardware and performance.
You can order one from Amazon or Flipkart, and other online and offline retailers in India. At most stores, the device is available is for less than ₹8,500, making the XOLO Win Q900s a pretty good buy.
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