While one side there is a race for the most affordable flagship, in certain markets like India there is also another race – the cheapest 4G phone that will give you the most number of features. And this is where Swipe Elite 2 makes an attempt to wear the crown. Its predecessor, the Swipe Elite was also a very affordable phone that was getting sold out multiple times after its launch exclusively on Flipkart. We used the new one for close to two weeks now and present to you our detailed review of what we think is a decent offering.
When we are talking of the race of the cheapest 4G phone, and hence more than anything we need to bring up the price first – Rs 4,545. And all through the review we will primarily focus on basing thoughts and inputs around this. Swipe Elite 2 is designed to be a very handy phone and comes with an all plastic build. The contour of the phone from a distance would instantly remind you of the iPhone 3G, thanks to the curvature on the edges. And the reminiscence will continue as you hold the device and the smooth rounding off all around the frame will fit neatly into your palm and the matte finish on the back feels good too (prone to smudges though). Onto the right side you’ll find the chrome buttons for power and volume adjustments that provide a very good tactile feedback. Back of the phone will hold the camera in its bumped housing with an LED flash and the speaker grille down at the bottom – and be warned this speaker is insanely loud! You will get a taste of this as you boot the phone and the animation comes up with the music. A trio of uniquely designed capacitive buttons sit on the front but won’t light up. What is slightly unconventional is the fact that the usb port for charging is placed at the top of the phone along with the 3.5mm audio jack – a design compromise that you have to get used to.
All of the above construction will hold a 4.5” qHD IPS screen and is bright enough with decent viewing angles. Powering the device will be the Mediatek MT6735 Quad core processor clocked at 1.3 GHz accompanied by 1 GB of RAM. 8GB of internal storage will provide around 4.5GB space out of the box for the users. However this can be expanded via a microSD card upto 32 GB, the slot for which can be found in the back of the phone that comes with a removable back and battery. Giving company is also a pair of SIM slots both of which can take in 4G sims. A 1900 mAh battery will provide all the juice that is needed. Overall this is a decent package with a good enough build and a very good touch experience.
On the software side of things, Freedom OS is quite snappy and stays to stock Android 5.1 experience in general. There is however the Swipe Launcher that comes out of the box that allows for customizing the transitions, wallpapers and themes too. The app drawer is something that needs few tweaks – icons are placed too widely apart and the bottom line has very little padding towards the end and overall is not aesthetically neat. Options to sort the apps and perform search come in handy. However launching some heavy apps like Youtube and games take lot of time and there was this one instance where the phone froze up and required a reboot. Tons of preloaded apps may not be liked by some, specially considering that it comes with just 8GB of internal memory, but thankfully they can be gotten rid of. This will not be a phone for heavy gaming but the lighter ones such as candy crush and subway surfer performed OK for short durations with occasional stutters – this was expected anyway.
The camera duo of 8MP and 5MP are average, coming with a pretty barebones camera app. Colors are true to life but the exposure goes for a toss in low light conditions and at times the pictures produced are very dull and foggy forcing you to into a do-over. Processing is snappy if you’re not using the flash or shooting in low light conditions, where it takes a good 3-4 seconds to lock in the focus. To their credit, Swipe has provided features like anti-shake, zero shutter delay, voice capture, face detection, continuous shot and many others – something we haven’t seen in phones in this price range before.
We managed to get a decent battery life that took us through the end of the day with moderate usage. Expect screen on time of 3.5 to 4 hours with 4G. Charging up the battery from 0-100 took a good 2 hours 45 minutes most of the times. What irritated us is the issue of Wi-Fi dropping on us in many occasions which also adds load to the battery. We dug up deep into this issue and figured there are many other users who’ve complained about this online. No resolution in sight as of now, but they can certainly fix it with an update.
This phone is surely not the one for multimedia consumption but if you’re looking at playing songs in a party, it does come handy – no kidding at all. The loud speaker is really loud and until you hit 75% of the volume it does hold onto its own beyond which jarring and distortion kicks in. Sound on calls were however good but reception can be bad at times – in areas where we got 3 bars on a Moto E, we managed to get only 1 bar.
To sum it all up, we see Swipe Elite 2 as an honest effort to bring out a highly affordable 4G phone with good elements going into the build, form factor, the customized OS with goodies like gestures and the overall performance for the user base it has chosen to cater to. It will satisfy the majority of the buyers and no wonder we see sell outs. But do consider Redmi 2 and Yuphoria which have some stunning camera and highly stable software in the form of MIUI and Cyanogen respectively, albeit for a slightly higher price.