We recently reviewed Archos’ 53 Platinum smartphone, a 5.3-inch beast that rocks a quad-core processor and dual SIM card slots, and costs a measly £200. That phone offered great value for money and the Archos 50 Platinum is almost identical in many ways, from design to specs, but a trimmed-down battery means longevity takes a hit.
The Archos 50 Platinum reminds us of old-school HTC handsets such as the One SV, with its rounded corners and simple, stark front. Rather than using on-screen home, back and menu buttons to navigate through Android, Archos has opted for touch-sensitive buttons beneath the screen, which thankfully light up so you can see them in the dark. Aside from those, the bulk of the all-glass front is taken up with the spacious five-inch display, just a tad smaller than the Archos 53 Platinum’s (as the name suggests).
The smartphone’s back is also a rather plain affair. The glossy black plastic is only broken up with a jutting camera lens, and the words ‘8.0 MP’ and a dinky Archos logo. That glossy surface is soon covered in fingerprints and dust, making it a clean freak’s nightmare, but it’s perfectly solid in all areas – in fact, the back plate is very firmly attached and a bit of a bugger to get off. Our only complaints are the power and volume buttons on the Archos 53 Platinum’s edges: the power button is tiny, while the volume rocker is quite stiff and difficult to fiddle with.
When you eventually manage to prise off the back, you’ll find a removable battery, plus memory card slot and two full-size SIM card slots. You can stick with just one SIM card if you like, but that second slot allows you to install another – for instance, if you have a separate work contract but don’t fancy the hassle of carting around two mobiles. Only one of the SIM cards can be used for 3G, with the other limited to 2G, but you’ll only need one card to browse the web so it’s not really an issue. You get a choice of which SIM card to use when texting, calling and so on.
The Archos 50 Platinum scales back the 53 Platinum’s 5.3-inch screen, opting for a more standard five-incher (the same size used by premium smartphones such as the Sony Xperia Z). If you’re after a pocket device for browsing the web or watching movies on the go, a five-inch display should prove more than enough for comfortable use. We had no trouble reading text, skimming through web pages and tapping on links. Brightness levels are also strong enough to counter all but the harshest glare.
Although it’s a little more compact, the Archos 50 Platinum still proved a serious handful. You can just about use it one-handed, but it’s a lot more comfortable to operate with both hands unless your thumbs are enormous. At 160g it’s a reasonably hefty device, but it isn’t too noticeable once you slip it inside a pocket or bag.
The Archos 50 Platinum packs in an eight-megapixel camera with some basic features – you can tweak some manual settings, switch to panorama mode and turn on red eye reduction and smile detection, but you don’t get the excellent depth of modes and settings that the likes of Sony’s Xperia phones boast.
Thankfully most of our snaps came out fine, and detail levels are good when viewed back on a full-sized screen. You can manually tap the screen to lock onto your subject, and close-up macro shots are crisp and clean. However, the lens struggled a little in bright environments, giving our shots a washed-out, cloudy appearance, and you’ll need the flash for low-light shots. You can then quickly edit your snaps and share them online.
You also have the option to shoot video, although again the quality isn’t too great with blurring and distortion when moving around. It’s fine for capturing basic short clips of your pets doing amusing things around the home, but we’d recommend a more powerful handset such as the Sony Xperia SP if you’re a budding movie director or obsessed with uploading to YouTube.
Feel the power
The Archos 50 Platinum is one of the cheapest quad-core smartphones available, and although it isn’t anywhere near as powerful as the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 and other premium mobiles, it still more than holds its own in this mid-range bracket. Only occasionally did we see any slowdown, for instance when downloading large files and attempting to run apps at the same time. In fact, the only real performance issue we noticed was our data connection sporadically dropping out. Moving around often solved the problem, but we seemed to lose connection more with the 50 Platinum than with other smartphones.
Battery life seems to instantly take a hit when you plug in two SIM cards, but even with a single SIM card in action, the Archos 50 Platinum rarely survived a full day of use. We found we often had to charge up in the morning and then briefly again in the evening, just to top it up.
Archos’ 50 Platinum’s main selling point is the dual SIM support, meaning you don’t need separate work and personal handsets. However, web and movie fans will love the five-inch screen, and you get some good specs considering the cost.