Though in a sense, postpaid plans have democratized smartphones, some people still find it irrational to spend a huge sum of money on a gadget that is easily replaceable in month’s time. However, they do still scour the market for a phone that offers a great experience, minus the crazy huge cost of admission. The good news is, there are companies like Starmobile that offer smartphones that are truly bang for your buck. In this review, we take a look at Starmobile’s Play Plus.
At first glance, the Play Plus doesn’t offer much. Slightly huge, bulky, and boxy, it isn’t as flashy and attention-grabbing as smartphones of late. But, holding it gives a different impression. It’s comfortable in the hand and is beautiful in its own right.
With a 5-inch screen and weighing in at 159 g, the Play Plus is obviously made for one-handed use. Its build material was particularly pleasing and feels very solid in the hand, giving the impression that it can handle rough use well.
You can appreciate the brand’s effort to balance cost and performance throughout. The 5 MP rear-facing camera is positioned at the top left of the device, flanked by the dual-LED flash while the front-facing one sits just above the screen. A subtle Starmobile logo is positioned in the middle of the back-plate, while a speaker grille is kept along the bottom. On the top of the phone is a 3.5mm headphone jack, the right side sports the volume rocker and power/lock button, and the bottom hosts the micro-USB port off center. Removing the back plate reveals the battery and micro SIM and SD slots. Upfront is a 5-inch screen surrounded by rather thick bezels.
The Play Plus keeps a strong focus on the basics. Screens keep getting bigger and better; at 5 inches it sits in the middle of the field. With a resolution of 480 x 854, the Play Plus manages to squeeze in around 196 pixels per inch. This is underwhelming, but it scores well in the brightness and size department.
The device is powered by a Spreadtrum ARM Cortex-A7 chipset, running at up to 1.2 GHz, so it’s on the slower end of the spectrum. Knowing this, I’ve adjusted my expectations and found the experience just fine. Opening and closing apps leads to some stutter if done too quickly, and can be quite a drag. Juggling too many apps can be an issue and the screen’s response to taps and swipes can slow down sometimes. If you are a light user, however, there shouldn’t be much problems in this area.
User Experience: (3.5/5)
Currently the Play Plus runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and we were greeted with an almost stock version of Google’s operating system. Having this software is a certain rarity among budget phones. There are some pre-loaded bloat however, but can be swiftly uninstalled. Starmobile also offers a few small customisations to the experience.
Both the selfie snapper and the rear-facing camera, given their inexpensive origin, ensure decent image quality. Meanwhile it is a solid performer when it comes to battery life as I found that I could generally get around a whole day of use before a quick charge became a necessity.
For only PHP 2,290, the Play Plus offers a decent spec’d affair. Though it misses great features, the Play Plus is still a phone with a lot to offer with its practical screen, great battery life, decent performance, an acceptable rear camera, and Android Marshmallow as operating system.
If you’re looking to get on the smartphone train, need a back up phone, or a replacement for your old daily driver, the Play Plus is a solid option.