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Shootouts

Shootout: The best smartphones under S$350

By James Lu - 26 Jun 2015

Phicomm P660

Phicomm P660 - $318

Phicomm is a Chinese manufacturer that is new to the Singapore market. Its first phone here is the P660, a minimalist slab style smartphone that looks quite similar to Sony’s Xperia Z flagship phones. The phone has a unibody design with distinct, sharp corners and is made from plastic with brushed magnesium alloy side panels making it the only phone in our shootout to utilize metal in its build, a very nice premium touch for a phone in this price range. Our review unit is black with metallic grey side panels, but a white version with silver side panels is also available.

The 5-inch phone is the thinnest in our shootout, measuring just 7.3mm, and it’s also remarkably light, weighing a mere 110g. A metal power button with an unusual oblong shape and an attractive bronze trim on its edge can be found on the right side of the phone, and you’ll also find a Micro SIM slot, as well as a Nano SIM slot that doubles up as a MicroSD card slot, here. The volume rocker is located on the left-edge, while the headphone jack can be found on top, and the micro-USB port, on the bottom.

The rear of the phone isn't as exciting, but has a nice soft-touch matte finish which is pretty good at resisting fingerprints and scratches. Due to its angular edges and lack of curves, the P660 isn’t the most comfortable phone to hold, but it does provide you with a secure grip.

The P660 has a 5-inch Full HD IPS LCD display with a 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution (441ppi). On paper this gives it the same specs as Xiaomi’s Mi 4i, however, in our opinion, Xiaomi has the better display. Overall clarity between the two displays is about the same, but the Mi 4i’s display is noticeably brighter and also boasts more accurate color reproduction. We found the P660 display to be slightly on the warm side, although its contrast was quite good and viewing angles were decent too. Below the screen, the P660 has three capacitive buttons, but unfortunately they’re not backlit, which can make them hard to see in the dark.

The rear of the P660 sports a 13-megapixel camera with a 1/3.06-inch Sony Exmor RS IMX214 CMOS sensor, f/2.0 aperture lens and LED flash. On the front, you’ll find a 5-megapixel camera with an 84-degree wide angle view, which is great for group selfies.

Picture quality on the P660 is fairly decent but noticeably grainy. Color reproduction is neutral and fairly accurate.

The P660 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor, but sadly is still running on Android 4.4.4. KitKat. Phicomm also runs its own custom Expect UI skin on top of Android, which, unlike most Chinese UIs, is actually fairly close to stock Android 4.4 and includes the Android app drawer, as well as most of the stock notification and settings menus.

One of Phicomm’s own customizations is a gesture control option, which uses the front camera to detect hand movement and supports simple actions like unlocking the screen, pulling down the notifications tray and swiping between home screens and pictures. It’s a little gimmicky and we would have liked to see options included for launching apps, but it does work as described.

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