One cut above

Written by Sharad Raghavan | Updated: Mar 21 2013, 07:53am hrs
By integrating convenient features like Flip To Mute and Direct Call, Spices Stellar Pinnacle makes a good phone great

In a market where smartphones are becoming increasingly homogeneousregardless of company, most of them look the same, run the same or very similar operating systems and offer the same functionalitythe ones that can differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack have a huge advantage. Spice Mobile enters such a market with its Stellar Pinnacle, and successfully integrates features that set it apart from most of the competition.

The phone itself looks like a standard smartphonesleek design, large screen, no physical buttons except the ones on the side and top for volume, camera and power on/off. With dimensions of 152 x 79 x 10.3 mm, its a little on the large side, but there is a large market that prefers thatthe entire phablet market is testament to the demand for larger-than-smartphone devices. So thats not a problem, even though personally I prefer a device that fits and can be used comfortably with one hand. But the thing is, a large device comes with the added advantage of a large screenat 5.3 inches with 540 x 960 pixels, the Pinnacles screen is the perfect size for some personal movie watching, and offers great clarity at the same time. The touchscreen sensitivity is fantastic, putting to rest apprehensions that smartphones from smaller companies do not compare to the Samsungs and Apples of the world in terms of quality. That may have been true a few years ago, but the competition has caught up impressively.

The cameras (yes, it has a front camera as well) are impressive, with the 8 megapixel back camera doing a pretty good job in even low-light conditions, and the 5 megapixel back camera making Skype calls a dream. The sound hardware leaves a little to be desired, with the volume not going high enough to combat traffic noise. But, that said, the headphone included are pretty good and offset some of the inadequacies of the phones sound hardware.

Now lets get to the features that really set the Pinnacle apart. First, the operating system. The Pinnacle runs Androids Ice Cream Sandwich but, unlike many other phones, it comes with the ability to upgrade to Androids next OS, Jelly Bean. For tech buffs keen on using only the latest and most cutting edge software, a feature that allows OS upgradation is a great addition. But, as I said before, phones nowadays have really special features that hold them above the competitionand the Pinnacle has done this by aiming at sheer convenience.

One of the most useful (and fun) features is the Flip To Mute function that, as the name suggests, allows you to mute the ringer by simply turning the phone face-down when a call is coming in. The best way to deal with pesky advertisers! Then there is the Intelligent Answer function that allows you to quickly answer a call by simply bringing the phone up to your ear. Its not a big deal, but every little thing that makes your life easier adds something extra to your phone experience. In the same way, the Direct Call function also makes life easier by allowing you to call a contact or somebody who has sent you a message by simply raising the phone to your ear when that contact or message is open.

At R13,999, the Stellar Pinnacle is a great phone in terms of price, quality and functionality. And its dual-SIM capability makes it all the more useful.

Estimated street price: Rs.13,999