What is the Archos 50 Platinum?The Archos 50 Platinum is a 5-inch Android smartphone that features dual-SIM functionality for those looking to better segregate their work-life balance. A mid-range handset with a price more akin to an entry-level device, the Archos 50 Platinum is available for just £210 on a SIM-free basis. It runs a stock version of Google’s Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS, has a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and an 8-megapixel primary camera, but is this enough to compete with the big boys?
Archos 50 Platinum: DesignThe Archos 50 Platinum’s design is markedly similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S3. The gloss plastic device features softly curved edges and is just 8.9mm thick, a mere 0.3mm thicker than Samsung’s past flagship phone. It is what you would expect from a wallet-friendly handset manufacturer by a bit-part player on the smartphone scene - it looks relatively cheap, basic and functional without ever really standing out from the crowd.
Like the S3 before it, the design of the Archos 50 Platinum is cheapened by the gloss plastic finish. It quickly becomes smeared with fingerprints, grease and grime. The Archos 50’s body looks grubby almost as soon as it is taken from the box. Short of handling the _phone_ in gloves there is no way to counteract this, though it’s hardly a problem unique to it.
Despite weighing in at a considerable 160g, 30g more than the similarly sized Samsung Galaxy S4, the Archos 50 Platinum does not feel particularly heavy. Its weight is spread evenly across the phone’s full 5-inch form leaving it feeling well-balanced and sturdy in the hand. It feels well made, too, with only a small amount of creak in the body when put under pressure and none of the serious issues we often see in cheap phones.
The physical buttons on the Archos 50 Platinum are not ideal and highlight the phone’s cheap nature. Both the volume rocker (left side) and power/sleep button (right side) are positioned in the way of your fingers when holding the _phone_ in either a left or right-handed manner. What’s more they sit loosely in their housings and as such wobble and slide when held.
Archos 50 Platinum: Screen QualityThere are few, if any, 5-inch phones in the Archos 50 Platinum’s £200 price bracket. Size doesn’t always mean quality, though, and the Archos 50 is testament to this. It features a 960 x 540 pixel resolution which, when stretched over the 5-inch panel results in a disappointingly low 220 DPI image quality. The end product of having a 5-inch screen that falls short of modern HD expectations is slightly grainy visuals with pixelisation effecting both video content and text equally.
Watching the Dark Knight Rises on the Archos 50 Platinum is a reasonably enjoyable experience. The expansive on-screen real estate undoubtedly helps make the Archos 50 a suitably entertaining platform for multimedia content, but it doesn’t possess that wow factor and pop we would have hoped for.
The explosion on the football field looks flat and hollow with colours and contrast throughout feeling washed out, bleak and lacking that little something extra found on high-end handsets. The phone’s blacks range is shallow, with expected subtleties in the colour spectrum not quite picked up.
Browsing the web sees text heavy pages suffer from slightly soft edges. The lack of a HD display becomes increasingly apparent the more you use the phone. For those after improved visuals at a similar price, the 4.7-inch Google Nexus 4 will be a better option, assuming you can do without dual-SIM capabilities that is.
The Archos 50 Platinum’s screen quality is not all doom and gloom, however. Viewing angles are strong and the screen is highly responsive with the IPS panel reacting promptly to all touch-based controls.
Archos 50 Platinum: SoftwareUnlike many Android smartphones, Archos has not bestowed the 50 Platinum with its own custom skin. Instead the 5-inch device runs stock Android. The French manufacturer hasn’t left Google’s OS completely alone, however. There are a pair a bespoke apps pre-installed on the device in Archos Music and Archos Video. Unlike Samsung and HTC, which both offer their own digital content stores, the Archos music and video services simply let you store your existing media collections in a slightly different location, hardly the most useful of additions.
Overall, the Archos 50 Platinum’s software setup is simple and efficient with a functional and almost utilitarian air to it. Transitions between the multiple homescreens are fluid with no stilted movements or stumbling. There is an array of pre-installed widgets available to let you personalise the phone’s homescreens to your wants and needs. The traditional Android app menu keeps the masses organised.
The Archos 50 Platinum comes pre-installed with two browser options. The stock Android browser lines up alongside the smartphone rendition of Chrome and, although the possibility of choice is sure to appease some, in truth it is largely unnecessary. Both offer fast load times and the usual array of bookmarking, favouriting and multi-tabbed browsing options. The only major difference between the two is that Chrome frequently throws the formatting of a web page out of kilter. The result is squashed and stretched content and web pages that are not conductive to relaxing reading.
Avoiding the mass of bloatware that comes pre-installed on many Android smartphones, the Archos 50 Platinum is powered by the ever-present array of Google branded apps. While this keeps things simple, it leaves the phone lacking that edge which separates it from the masses. The Archos 50’s UI is an all too familiar presence and one which fails to grip your imagination or provide that one must-have feature missing from its competitors.
Archos 50 Platinum PerformanceThe Archos 50 Platinum is not underpowered but neither does it set the smartphone world alight. For the most part things run smoothly and efficiently with a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU running the show alongside 1GB of RAM. Basic multitasking requirements are handled with consummate ease and app launches are not hit by the same faltering stutter as found on many similarly priced phones.
Gaming is smooth and engaging too thanks to the Archos 50’s strong spec. The likes of Real Racing 3 and the Temple Run-esque Despicable Me all run without issue or interruption other than slight display degradation and pesky download requirements. A microSD card will be required to install most games given the phone’s limited internal capacity.
Featuring just 4GB of internal storage, the Archos 50 Platinum’s capacity is extremely restrictive. It is made worse by the user available figure being significantly lower than this billed offering. Fortunately, Archos’s cost cutting has not forced it to overlook microSD expansion, with up to 64GB memory cards accepted. Unlike many modern smartphones, the Archos 50 Platinum does not possess either NFC or 4G connectivity options. Although sure to restrict some, the phone’s dual-SIM options act as a party-piece replacement of sorts.
The phone’s inbuilt speaker is a mixed bag of tricks. Audio quality is relatively strong, even at higher volumes, with little distortion or tininess. It does, however, feature one major, unexpected fault. Using the speaker causes the whole handset to vibrate. A problem we haven’t experienced before, this issue is rather severe with the phone physically moving in our hand during use.
Archos 50 Platinum: CameraOn a camera front the Archos 50 Platinum is a pretty generic mid-range offering. It features an 8-megapixel rear-mounted camera with a secondary 2-megapixel camera on the front. The primary one benefits from an integrated LED flash, autofocus options and 720p HD video recording capabilities.
As with many mid-market phones at a near entry-level price point, the Archos 50’s camera suffers from familiar white balance and light management issues. In changing light conditions or in areas of mixed light and shadow, the Archos 50 Platinum struggles to find an appeasing balance. It frequently over exposes bleak skies, turning landscapes into white-topped images with little definition to foreground detail. Focus times are longer than expected and can cause you to miss that all important shot. The Archos 50 Platinum’s camera produces images that are flat and lack a depth of colour and detail.
Although the integrated LED flash is an addition often omitted from lower priced phones, its integration on the Archos 50 Platinum is met with mixed emotions. It’s not powerful enough to illuminate entire dimly lit rooms, it frequently overpowers people within shots, whiting out faces. The phone’s forward-facing camera has even worse colour management. It casts a greyish tinge to all shots, causing you to look ill in anything but ideal lighting conditions.
The Archos 50’s rear-mounted camera is positioned extremely high on the centre of the phone’s back. Stray fingers can easily creep into shot when holding the phone in a landscape stance forcing extra care and consideration to be taken.
Archos 50 Platinum: Call QualityCall quality on the Archos 50 Platinum is perfectly satisfactory without ever breaking from the pack of standard mid-range handsets. Signal strength proved strong and we experienced no dropped calls during our time with the device. However, while quality of calls might not be a concern, the phone's dual-SIM options are not without their issues.
Unable to personalise the naming the SIMs (such as work and personal), the constant flashing of SIM 1 or SIM 2 can become a little confusing. A software oversight that should have been addressed, these concerns are further hampered by less than ideal integration with the phone's address book app. Calls from second SIMs flashed up without personal caller ID, leaving us second guessing as to who would be on the other end of the line.
What's more, the 3G/2G split of the two SIM slots feels a little outdated. With the connected world firmly upon us and portable Internet access required for business and personal needs, the phone felt behind the times in this area.
Considering the phone’s size, the 2000mAh Lithium-Ion battery at the heart of the Archos 50 Platinum is a little on the small side. Said to offer 9 hours of 3G talk time, this battery is smaller than the 2600mAh offering found within the 5-inch Samsung Galaxy S4 and the 3000mAh component within the marginally larger LG G2.
Archos 50 Platinum: Battery Life
In reality this 9 hour battery life claim is a little generous. With careful management and basic use, the Archos 50’s battery will see you through a full day’s use. Start browsing the web, playing games or making heavy use of the dual-SIM options, however, and this staying power quickly disappears. We were left feeling a little disappointed by the Archos 50’s battery life. Having omitted a power-hungry HD display, we would expect the battery to be better.
If you desperately require dual-SIM functionality then you could do much worse than the Archos 50 Platinum. At just £210 SIM-free, the array of specs offered by the Archos 50 make it a bit of a bargain. While you can’t hide the fact that Archos has been forced to cut costs in certain areas – design materials, limited internal storage and screen quality, the overall package remains one which appease those with moderate demands.
Should I buy the Archos 50 Platinum?
If, however, you are simply after a large screen Android smartphone on a bit of a budget then we would suggest the likes of the Google Nexus 4 or slightly older (and now well priced) Samsung Galaxy S3 might be better options. Both alternatives pack HD displays and more fluid and immersive user interfaces.