XTOUCH A3 LTE: The Budget Smartphone That Could
Vinu Varughese Oommen
When you’re looking for a smartphone on a tight budget, there are some hard truths you have to swallow. The fact is that manufacturers will have to cut some corners in order to bring down the price that low. You simply cannot expect the same level of performance and features as you would with a phone costing twice or maybe thrice its price. Phones that are put into the “budget” category used to be notable for their ugly plastic exteriors, miniscule storage space and junk-grade camera. But these days, there are phones that are breaking the mold and stepping up without compromising on their value price point. With past examples like the Lenovo A2020, HTC Desire 320 and Hisense F20, you no longer need a flagship device to enjoy the best smartphone features at minimal prices. But how far can you really push that envelope?
Enter the XTOUCH A3 LTE. On the surface, the specifications sheet seems to have glaringly obvious deficits like the processor, RAM and software. But when put in perspective of the price, which is a solid 399 AED, there definitely is a lot more to the device than meets the eye.
The XTOUCH A3 LTE sports a metallic body that lends an understated premium feel to the device. With a little gloss and a dash of texture on the back plate, it certainly doesn’t look like it costs pennies and dimes. The phone scoffs on your flagship home buttons, instead adopting capacitive touch buttons on the bottom. On the back, you will find two noteworthy features XTOUCH tossed in that somewhat catapult the phone out of the shadows of mediocrity and into the arms of the bargain bin. The 13-megapixel camera and the fingerprint scanner. We’ll take a better look at the camera in a moment, but let’s first appreciate the inclusion of the advanced security feature in a phone priced this low. As we may well be noticing in recent trends, fingerprint scanners are all the rage in smartphones. Every flagship device has to have one otherwise it’s looked down upon by the other kids in the playground. The XTOUCH A3 LTE’s shiny fingerprint sensor, at its fastest, provides a speedy 0.35 seconds response time.
When it comes to screens, there’s a lot to look out for. As one of the most important components of a smartphone, a 5.0 inch 720x1280 pixels IPS panel HD display is the best we can expect from the A3 LTE. It brings together affordability with efficient power usage. One of the few advantages of trading resolution in exchange for price is that you will likely have better battery life since the screen doesn’t drain energy the way QHD displays do. With 294 PPI and a contrast ratio of 900:1, you don’t miss out on too much in terms of brightness and color reproduction.
Performance and Software
There’s only so far we can go in praising a phone for being inexpensive. One of the main drawbacks of the XTOUCH A3 LTE is its lackluster 1.0Ghz Quad-core MediaTek MT6735P. Despite being one of the lowest in terms of performance, the quad cores do maintain efficiency in multitasking. One of the trade-offs of the MT6735P’s low clock frequency is that it comes with the Mali-T720 GPU which does deliver better graphics when compared to similar tier processors. The 1 GB RAM is a given minimum and although the internal storage is 16 GB, the external storage can go up to 128 GB.
The phone comes with stock Android 5.1 Lollipop pre-installed and a few apps seem to have been thrown in as well. The blatant bloatware aside, there isn’t much to be said for the operating system besides a couple of minor custom designs. And the fact that they replaced the stock browser with the CM Security Browser. Did I mention bloatware? I believe I did.
Now, getting down to the other prominent feature of the XTOUCH A3 LTE. We have a magnificent 13-megapixel back camera with autofocus and flash. It’s not unheard of on a budget phone, but it is definitely appreciated. The front camera is a modest 5-megapixel, which is still palatable for your selfie needs. The camera seems to support a wide variety of features like Live Photo, Gesture Capture, Beauty Capture mode, Panorama and Multi-Angle shots. The Gesture Capture seems a little fidgety and the Beauty Capture really brought out my eyes. But all in all, the camera captured images quickly and they were best taken in well-lit environments. The quality of the photos (without the frills and different modes) was generally excellent and the videos we shot did not disappoint either.
Hardware and Battery
While we may have a bone to pick with the CPU, the battery is definitely no joke. 2,800 mAh is more than enough to suit a wide range of needs. XTOUCH proudly claims that the phone will last 20 days on standby, 10 hours when watching videos and up to 15 hours listening to music.
As the name suggests, the A3 LTE delivers polished 4G LTE data transmission and supports dual-sim in case you need to, you know, put in more than one sim. The phone features a classic USB 2.0 charging port, a 3.5mm audio jack and the usual bevy of features we have come to expect like GPS, Accelerometer and Proximity sensors. There is no gyroscope though, so playing Pokemon Go in AR mode is not happening.
Pricing and Packaging
The XTOUCH A3 LTE comes with a cover as well as screen protector and all the usual phone accessories like charging cable, instructions, etc. It is available in major outlets across the UAE and in various online stores. The best offer we found was at Sharaf DG, where the phone can either be purchased separately for AED 399 or bundled in a gift pack with the Vfit Smartband for AED 599.
As we have constantly brought up, the XTOUCH A3 LTE is a budget smartphone. It has its obvious drawbacks but, with respect to the price and the overall design of the device, it rises above most of the competition. This is due to its focus on the essential features that regular consumers look forward to when they dream about the smartphone experience. A snappy camera, quality build and a finger print scanner help push the XTOUCH A3 LTE to the upper echelons of an arrangement of mostly mediocre albeit inexpensive phones.