There has been a clear shift in average basic specifications. While a year ago, market standard was 1GB RAM, now it is minimum 2GB RAM in a 10000 rupees smartphone . Quad core processor is no longer an attractive feature, now the basic requirement is an Octa core processor.
In this review article, we will walk through features, specifications, pros and cons of the brand new trend setter the XOLO Black.
XOLO is one Indian Smartphone brand with big ambition and always ready to challenges. For the Black smartphone, XOLO has adopted a new age marketing tactic, which is bad news for local market retailers. The Flipkart has an exclusive retail license for this smartphone.
Although I admire the XOLO brand but never added its smartphone in my personal collection. As my current smartphone started showing sign of aging, I am looking for a perfect replacement. After a review of the Honor 4X, I was almost 100% sure, I will choose it for a replacement of my current Doddle 3. However, I need minimum 6 inches screen, so I decided to hold myself until the launch of a true master piece.
The Black 2015 smartphone was introduced at a XOLO event in New Delhi and became available at Flipkart from 13 July. This is one of the best and ambitious smartphone from XOLO’s design lab. With the latest operating system, this dual SIM 4G Smartphone offers Octa core processor, Camera with brilliant apps, superb connectivity options, and above all – the best feature, which has won my heart, is the stunning battery power.
In fact, XOLO packs this smartphone with a fully charged battery. It was quite surprising to see 89% charged battery while we booted it for the first time. I like this nobility because it lets user to experience features without waiting to complete an undesirable charging session. This is indeed a good move from XOLO. Also, it eliminates 8 to 10 hours of a must charging advice.
I am little disappointed since the sales box does not contain a flip cover. Since the Black is a flag barrier, XOLO should have added a flip cover. While XOLO has to spend only 50 to 70 rupees, a buyer will save minimum 400 to 700 rupees.
- A phone with inbuilt battery
- USB Cable
- SIM extractor tool
- Warranty card
- Screen Guard
Oh god, why XOLO is trying to become Sony and Apple? I am not able to understand logic behind reducing accessories count in the sales box. What is thinking of XOLO? What is ultimate gains? Yes, it has added a screen protector, which is easily available in local market at a price of 50 to 100 rupees.
13000 rupees phone, 500 for a flip cover and 500 for an earphone.
Therefore, the sum total is 13000+500+500 = 14000 Rupees. You need to spend 14000 rupees to make this purchase a complete one.
XOLO had a chance to make the sales box a magical gift for buyers. However, it has really messed in packing. We are giving negative mark for the sales box.
The XOLO Black is indeed black. You have only one colour option to choose. In terms of feel and hand control, its sleek and curvy design is above market standard. It is neither too grippy nor slippery. While you hold it, the feel is indeed incredible. The premium built glass body has a weight of 139 gram whereas the thickness is just 7.3 mm.
In our rating, XOLO should get 10 out of 10 for a neat and solid craft. For better experience in day to day life, Oleophobic coating is applied on the rear, which keeps fingerprint, smudge and dust away. While time passes, you will notice some scratch or crack due to some unavoidable accidents, but it will maintain shiny and glossy look till the end.
SIM Card and Memory Card Slot
On paper it is a dual SIM smartphone, but in reality you are forced to choose between
SIM Card + Memory Card or SIM card + SIM Card
Basically, the end user gets a hybrid SIM tray wherein the first slot is dedicated to SIM card and the second slot is for – either a nano SIM or a microSD card. Therefore, the regular concept of three slots (two for SIM and one for microSD card) is not present here.
I really disapprove this hybrid concept. For me, two slots for SIM card and one dedicated SD card port is must.
Now we will go through all spots. The slot tray is present at left side and volume rocker alongside power button with a LED notification is placed at right side. Interesting, the front facing camera has a support of a LED flash for better selfie. At the bottom, we find a micro UBS port sits between two speakers with good (not too loud) sound output.
The Black is a new chapter in smartphone design and built architecture. At the rear, besides XOLO and HIVE branding, there are two dedicated camera keeps a super LED flash in between. The first camera is a 13 MP rear shooter and the second is 2 MP depth sensing camera.
Operating System and User Interface
The Black runs on the latest Android Lollipop 5.0.2 and has an in-house developed “HIVE” user interface on the top. I am not a big fan of a custom user interface because all these small companies need at least 100 years more to reach a benchmark set by Google engineering. However, a custom user interface does bring some freshness in terms of navigation within phone.
Since its first introduction, the HIVE UI has improved a lot, but still it requires significant enhancement to offer pleasant experience. You will experience lags and application delay, despite a solid CPU hardware foundation in the Black.
In this article, we are not covering HIVE user interface, but I would like to mention few of my favourite features.
The reading mode of the Atlas feature is my favorite. I had a great time in going through an e-book in reading mode. To visit app switcher, you need to long press the home button. I really like styling of App switcher as it gives a feel of credit or visiting card case.
There are tons of other features in the HIVE user interface. We will cover all of them in a separate article. The bottom line is – the HIVE UI brings much needed freshness along with lag and performance delay.
64 bit second generation Snapdragon 615 Octa core processor is a guarantee for lag free, smooth and power pack performance. 2 GB RAM is sufficient space for a processor to manoeuvre on allotted tasks. And, the latest graphic processor Adreno 405 offers hassle-free support to main CPU for multimedia contents. All three are present in the XOLO Black.
In this phone, the Octa core processor is combination of two quad core processors. The first quad core processor executes primary and regular tasks whereas the balance four cores come to foray while CPU requires additional processor resources to streamline multitasking. This CPU architecture is quite effective in all situations multitasking and playing of HD multimedia games.
However, do not be overwhelmed with CPU description. There is some bottleneck in stack which appears frequently in regular usages. Despite solid CPU hardware, the XOLO black performs poor in all benchmark testing. In fact, all benchmark tests have given it a bottom position. For this lagged performance, we are giving full credit to HIVE UI, which is poorly coded and badly optimized.
|Benchmark Index||XOLO Black Score|
|Base Mark X||6.029|
|3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited||7375|
|Basemark OS II||379|
The XOLO Black packs a 2GB DDR2 RAM, 16GB internal memory and microSD card support for memory expansion upto 32 GB. I have already explained you won’t get a dedicated SD card slot. After the first boot, 1.2 GB RAM and approx 11 GB on-board storage is free for the end user.
The main highlight is USB OTG support. As this phone can play a DivX file, you are allowed to enjoy endless movie and video playback in HD quality.
- Front Facing Camera
The Selfie shooter is a 5MP camera with ability to capture in wide angle at maximum 81 degree. Its performance is backed a dedicated LED flash. I am sure you will get the best selfie shooting experience with this phone. Also, the XOLO Black is one of the best selfie shooter in low lightning condition. The front facing camera has an aperture of 2.0. We are giving full mark to front facing camera.
- Primary Camera and Depth Sensing Camera
Technically, the XOLO black owns a 15 MP camera wherein the primary camera is a 13 MP and another depth sensing camera is 2 MP. Both camera is backed by a super LED flash for better photography. While the performance is superb, camera control and setting is not that easy. In order to promote HIVE, XOLO has messed up user experience in all account. Camera segment is no isolation.
All quick settings are hidden into sub-section of the camera application. To adjust camera for better shooting, user has to walk two to three steps. All those primary settings should appear on one touch, is reachable after two and three steps only.
In natural light, you will get perfect result almost close to a professional DSLR. All snaps come with micro details and natural colours. For better result in low-lighting condition, our advice it set HDR mode. Camera performance is impressive.
To take benefit of a 2MP depth sensing camera, you need access to a unique application called dual Camera. This depth sensing camera is a noble feature for a user like me. While taking continues photos, you are not sure to focus on the primary subject. With this dual camera application, you can reopen an image and correct the focus to primary subject.
Suppose you are taking a family picture wherein your wife should be in focus. However, the final image output has your brothers-in-law in focus. With this dual camera application, which is back by the 2MP depth sensing camera, you can shift focus to your wife.
XOLO Claims for fast focus, but experience was not that good. Focus is really slow. Once again credit goes to the HIVE UI. To shoot an image or a video in 13 MP, phone screen should be in 4:3 ratio. If you set display in 16:9 ratio, then quality will be limited to 10MP. Since all new display gadgets comes in 16:9 ration, you want to record or take snaps in 16:9 ration. This is indeed a poor optimization.
Let’s find our more good features in Camera. I really miss a Sony image sensor in this phone. Nevertheless, you won’t be disappointed with camera performance in natural light as well as in low lighting condition. This is one camera for the best Panorama shoot and FHD video recording.
- Focus and refocus with UniFocus
- The ChromaFlash does a magic. It lets camera application to take first image with super flash and second image without flash. Once both images are secured, this application does a perfect mixing wherein brightness comes from the flashed image and true colours are taken from without flash image. Ultimately a perfect image, which is based on two images, is delivered to user.
- Optizoom redefines zooming during a photography session. It won’t let pixilation to appear, despite continues zooming at optimum level.
- Photo Studio is an Adobe application for better editing of images.
The XOLO Black sports a 5.5 inches phablet screen with FHD resolution. This is an OGS (One Glass Solution) IPS LCD display with a pixel density of 401 PPI under protection of a corning gorilla glass 3. With good viewing angles, you won’t experience distortion in brightness and colours. Good thing is, even at extreme angle, display maintains natural quality.
The display is highly reflective, so you need to set the brightness level at maximum for clear viewing. While brightness level is at the best, battery draining will be very fast. XOLO has made a big mistake in display optimization. In order to make this phone a solid black, the display has become highly reflective.
XOLO claims its 3200 mAh battery will last longer than other branded battery with the same mAh value. XOLO packs a fast charger (2Amp) for quick charging, which fuels up half of battery in just 60 minutes. I am surprised; XOLO is calling it a fast charging. According to the official website a full charging requires 2.5 hours of a long session. Yes! This is true, but this is not fast charging.
The end user will get 36 hours of 2G and 23 hours of 3G network talk time. In ideal condition, battery juice will last for 30 days on 2G network and 25 days on the 3G network. In reality, you will get around 36 to 40 hours of backup on regular usages.
The XOLO black is a rich smartphone in terms of connectivity features. Its support for network frequency starts from 850 MHz to 2300 MHz. It supports 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G. For internet access it has GPRS, EDGE, HSPA and LTE support. To connect with a local area network, you can use Wi-Fi connectivity option. For data syncing, you can connect to a computer or a mobile phone through USB or Bluetooth.
Xolo has bundled the Black smartphone with all needed sensors for smart performance. The XOLO Black packs Proximity, Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope, Hall and Light sensor.
- OTG Support
- Adobe Photo Studio for better editing of an image
- Focus and refocus in image
- Oleophobic coating at back to keep away fingerprint, dust and smudges
- LED notification in the power button
- A LED flash for front facing camera
- Front facing camera with LED flash
- Move Apps to SD card
- Mind-blowing result in HDR mode
- Superb front facing camera
- Tap and Double Tap control
- Earphone and Flip cover (expect a goodwill from XOLO) is missing from the Sales Box
- Scarifies earthier a SIM card or extended memory
- HIVE user interface shows lag during usages
- Poor Camera Application in HIVE User interface
- HDR Mode is hidden behind a long camera setting.
This is a brilliant phone to buy this month. However, I am not taking risk with the Black because it is poorly optimized with HIVE user interface. HIVE UI is not strength rather weakness in this phone. Because of this UI, you will experience frequent lag, heating and application crash. Although it packs superior hardware but performance is null. Without HIVE our rating is PICK, but it comes with HIVE so KICK. This is high time for XOLO to give up this poorly coded HIVE UI.