The Starmobile Crystal is a dual-SIM dual-core Android smartphone with a qHD IPS display, 8 megapixel BSI camera and a solidly built body with a sub-8K price tag. While our first encounter with the device left us with good impressions, let’s find out what else it has in store for us by reading our full review after the break.
Design and Build Quality
Yes, the Crystal looks like a Galaxy S3 on some aspects and can be mistaken for one especially if you’re glancing at it with your peripheral vision or looking at it from across the room. Although inspired by the Samsung flagship, let me assure you that this is far from being a knockoff. Like what I said in my first impressions, the Crystal feels solid, even if the body is made out of plastic and a removable backplate, it doesn’t show any signs of creakiness even if you squeeze it. The glossy bezel backplate feels great while the silver metallic strip surrounding the sides gives the handset a nice touch.
Now for the obvious parts, found on the front is the 4.5-inch display, right above it are the ambient light sensor, the earpiece and the 2 megapixel front-facing camera, while down below are three capacitive buttons for UI navigation and a small pinhole for the microphone. On the left side are the volume rocker and the dedicated camera/screenshot button, while on the right is the lock/power button. Right on top are the headset jack and microUSB port. Flip it on its back and you’ll see the 8 megapixel camera, the tiny LED flash and the speaker.
The Crystal may not be the thinnest out there but at 9.1mm you can easily slide it in and out of your pockets. It’s a bit stocky though with the jelly case.
This is where the fun begins with the Crystal. It sports a 4.5-inch IPS display with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. That’s a quarter HD resolution packing a pixel density of 245ppi. Pixels are barely evident, viewing angles are great, color reproduction is good, while high-res icons and texts are clear and crisp. In summary, the Crystal’s display is one of the best we’ve seen on a smartpone of this caliber.
OS, UI and Apps
Running the whole show for the Crystal is a stock Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich. The basic Google goodies are here like YouTube, GMail, Google Earth, Google Talk, Google+, and Maps.
Some essential apps come preinstalled as well like Facebook, Twitter, Viber, MX Player, ES File Explorer, ES Task Manager, Kingsoft Office and a Flashlight app.
Overall, Starmobile did a good job in sticking to the essentials and keeping the UI lite. No bloatware, not even a Starmobile web shortcut in sight.
Camera and Multimedia
The Crystal has an 8 megapixel auto-focus camera with backside illumination sensor (BSI) and LED flash. Other features include multiple-angle shooting, Panorama, color effects, and HDR. Shots taken outdoors produce great images with sharp details and accurate colors. However, there’s no burst shooting mode and there are times when images appear washed out. You can check out more sample photos here.
What the Crystal needs to work on is its shutter speed. While auto-focus is fast, its shutter speed is not. A slight movement of the subject would cause enough blur to ruin the shot. This happens even when shooting the subject indoors at noon with curtains wide open. As for lowlight shooting, this is where the BSI sensor kicks in. Although the Crystal heavily relies on its tiny LED flash, it is still capable of producing images with acceptable amount of detail and quality. Noise is still evident but not peppered on the whole image.
The Crystal is also capable of shooting videos up to 720p resolution. Watch the sample video below:
As for multimedia, sounds coming from the Crystal’s speaker are very audible but not the loudest. Audio is crisp and clear but with insufficient bass output. It would fill a small room but I’d still recommend connecting it to an external speaker.
Performance and Benchmarks
We are very pleased with the Crystal’s performance. Even with the dual-core processor, half a gig of RAM, and the lack of Project Butter, it is quick and snappy. Lags are rare even when playing games like Dead Trigger and Temple Run 2 in its highest visual settings.
As for benchmarks, AnTuTu gave the Crystal a score of 6651, placing it above the LG Optimus 2X but below the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Quadrant Standard gave it a score of 2711, ranking above the Motorola ATRIX 4G but below the Asus Transformer Prime TF201. As for GPU prowess, the PowerVR SGX 531 GPU peaked at 23.8fps on NenaMark2.
Powering the Crystal is a 1,700mAh battery which can last up to 13 hours. This include dual-SIM dual-standby, constant WiFi connectivity, web browsing, SMS, a few calls, a little gaming and music playback. However, if you’re heavy on games and download a lot of stuff the Crystal will only last for up to 6 hours.
The Crystal is the best we’ve seen from Starmobile and has definitely set a new standard for their flagship phones. It has a solid build quality, great display, and decent battery life. Although the 8 megapixel BSI camera is a great improvement and can produce quality images, it still needs a lot improvement in terms of speed. We would have preferred Android Jellybean out of the box but good thing the Crystal was able to perform well on ICS.
To conclude, the Starmobile Crystal is a smartphone that has exceeded our expectations. At Php8K, it is affordable but not “cheap”, it is not perfect but performs very well.
Starmobile Crystal Specs:
4.5″ IPS display @ 960×540 pixels, 245ppi
Mediatek MT6577 1.0GHz dual-core processor
PowerVR SGX531 GPU
4GB internal storage
microSD up to 32GB
HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps
Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP
GPS w/ A-GPS
8MP autofocus BSI rear camera w/ LED flash
720p HD video recording
2MP front-facing camera
1,700mAh Li-Pol battery
Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich
136 x 68 x 9.1mm
What we liked about it:
* Great display
* Good build
* 8MP BSI camera
* Good performance
* Affordable price
What we didn’t like about it:
* Slow camera shutter speed
* Just Android ICS out of the box