Make/model: Haier Esteem Volt P4500
Processor: 1.3GHz Quad Core ARM Cortex-A7
Screen: 5” HD (720x1280px) IPS display
Camera: 8 megapixels rear, 5 megapixels front (with flash)
Battery: 4500mAh Li-ion
Internal storage: 16GB, expandable via microSD card up to 32GB
OS: Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
Connectivity: Dual-SIM (micro-SIM), 3G, WiFi
Listing down the specs of a phone in a review is pretty old-school these days, but take a moment to glance through the list above. Is there something that draws your attention? If you miss the crucial bit, you’d think it’s just another Android phone in the ever increasing world of Android phones. But this one has something special inside it which can potentially make it the last-phone-standing in a charge-less marathon. Yes, it’s a phone with a battery pack, a rather hefty one, quite unusual for smartphones. It’s really the most (if not the only) special feature, a 4500 mAh battery. Haier is a rather lesser heard name when it comes to smartphones (the last time we checked, they were still in the household electronics space), but the P4500 is Haier’s attempt to create a name for itself in the gadget space. Pretty sure we’ll see this one float around a lot in the Pakistani market, with our increasing demand for a phone that lasts more than a day on a single charge (and isn’t a Nokia 3310 as well). They even named it P4500 (we’re not sure if the P is for Pakistan, but 4500 surely denotes the battery capacity they’ve managed to fit in this device).
Most smartphone users can relate to the fact that they charge their phone at night, use it all day, and repeat. It’s their routine. Some other phones last a bit more, with batteries in a higher capacity range. But never has a smartphone lasted more than 2 days on a single charge (and moderate to heavy use). At a whopping 4500mAh, the P4500 can go up to an average of 3 days with normal usage, and can go even further if you won’t pick it up every 15 minutes to see if there’s something new on your facebook feed.
While you’re visualizing that a smartphone with this big of a battery would rather be a phablet, not a smartphone; or it would definitely look like a brick if it’s any smaller. The cool thing is, they managed it make it look sleek, while packing an immense amount of battery life. On top of that, it’s a dual-SIM phone (but only supports 3G, no 4G connectivity). The rear camera is 8 megapixels with flash, and the front camera is 5 megapixels with a front-facing mini-flash, which is a nice addition. For some reason, Haier decided to put a large ‘Home’ button right under the screen, and its existence doesn’t make sense, as the home button is a part of navigation bar in Android (for phones which don’t have large navigation keys). In other hardware issues, we really wish this phone has a USB-C port, since most modern phones are now equipped with USB-C for faster charging (remember, a 4500mAh battery does last long, but it also takes longer to charge). But instead, it got the same old micro-USB port. On top of that, it comes with a 1.5A wall charger, which makes charging even slower.
In terms of under-the-hood hardware, it’s pretty adequate and serves the average user well (read on to find out how). However, running a benchmark test (AnTuTu) reveals that the 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 2GB RAM are quite dated in today’s world of smartphones. However, we’ve already established (and reinforced) the fact that this phone’s greatest (and only) strength is the battery, and it lives up to expectations.
Usage: Battery vs the Phone
In a typical day, some of the activities that a humble smartphone user performs may include waking up with an alarm, checking facebook, instagram, twitter, emails, making phone calls, driving with the GPS, texting, whatsapp, taking photos and selfies (and uploading them, not to mention applying several filters beforehand), playing a few games to kill the boredom, watching videos, listening to music; you get the idea. To keep it short, you can be assured that this phone lets you do all of this without worrying about running out of battery. But we’re now accustomed to performing all these activities in a luxurious fashion that goes beyond battery life, battery is only part of the whole story. The phone is expected to be fast, applications should be well responsive, gaming should be a breeze, pictures are expected to be sharp, and that’s where the P4500 sometimes falls short. Despite the quad-core processor, gaming isn’t that much of a smooth experience, and the phone doesn’t generally feel that snappy. We noticed some issues with the touchscreen sensitivity as well, and sometimes when the phone doesn’t respond to a tap or a swipe, the whole experience feels sluggish. Speaking of the touchscreen, 1280×720 on a 5 inch display isn’t that crisp. In fact, if you’re used to phones with pixel-rich displays (which is now the norm), this one would definitely feel odd and dated. With some of these performance issues, a hardcore phone user might question the idea of having a higher capacity battery in the first place. For the average user, these trade offs might not matter much; the huge battery (and the pleasure of going 2 to 3 days on a single charge) might trump the luxuries of modern phones. It’s like saying “I’ve got 99 problems, but running out of battery ain’t one.”
In the end, what else do we have to complain about? The Haier P4500 is priced at Rs.13,999, and there’s probably no phone in the market with such battery life in this price tag. We seriously hope Haier’s next big-battery phone would be more feature-packed and on the higher-end. For the P4500 though, obviously a few quality and performance cuts had to be made, and they’re totally acceptable until phones with such large batteries become mainstream. And in that case, another era would begin, affordable phones with awesome specs and great batteries. But for now, it’s a choice to be made between the two.