The Energy 653 is the Chinese smartphone maker’s most affordable Android smartphone in India, and retails for 4,999. We find out if it is really worth your money.

Slippery but well-built

The back panel is made of plastic, and the phone is available in black or white. It is an extremely glossy surface, which has a nice enamel finish but is also very slippery. We were a tad surprised to find that the white coloured back panel showed up so many fingerprints—this is usually the case with black coloured phones. What we like about its design is the compact size and solid build. At 8mm thickness and tips the scales at 130g, it is lighter and thinner than many phones at the same price point. The Moto E weighs 145g and is 12.3mm thick, for example. Also, the power key has been put right in the middle of the side panel alongside the volume keys, which makes it more accessible.

Sharp but not an impressive display

The Energy 653 has a 5-inch (1280x720 pixel) IPS display. In terms of performance, it is not very consistent. It handles text and web pages very well and that works well under bright sunlight too. But it struggles when it comes to video playback and games—HD videos look dull and washed-out. Another problem with the display is that it is too glossy and smudge-prone. While it largely works, we would have expected better colour reproduction from an IPS screen.

Android’s latest with a nicely mixed UI

Despite a significant improvement in performance, the most affordable Android still runs the older Android 4.4 (KitKat) operating system. The Energy 653 is one of the rare options that runs Android 5.1.1 with a slightly modified custom interface. It is not as feature-rich or colourful as perhaps Lenovo’s Vibe UI or Xiaomi’s MIUI, but offers a good amount of customisation options. For instance, you can change the layout of the app drawer, scroll effect in the home screen and app drawer, and the size of the icons. The only let down is the app icons which look a tad too similar to each other.

Strictly for basic use

The device runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 210 quad-core processor paired with 1GB RAM. The Energy 653 has very limited performance, and is not meant for anything more than basic use. Video playback is smooth, apps open without crashing, the web browser renders pages smoothly and you can open a couple of apps at the same time. But, try stressing the phone any more, and it will start to crawl and the performance deteriorates significantly.

Let down by a pair of cameras

The Energy 653 comes with an 8-megapixel camera, which turned out to be a let down. Even on a bright sunny day, the picture quality it manages to reproduce is average—colours look bland and not well distinguished, non-focus areas look blurry and it takes pictures in 4:3 square aspect ratio only. Low-light results were mostly blurry too. The front camera is average too and just about gets through video chats and selfies.

Reliable battery

The phone has a 2300mAh battery, which the user can also remove and replace. It easily lasts a full day when used as a primary phone.

Verdict

There is no doubt that the Phicomm Energy 653 has a few good points, and is definitely much better than the Micromax Canvas Spark ( 4,999). if you are looking for a phone with basic features, this is it.

Close