Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo Review - An Affordable Dual-SIM Smartphone
After reviewing our first Prestigio tablet with Windows 8.1 - the MultiPad Visconte 3, it is time to review our first Windows Phone smartphone made by the same company - Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo - a 5" device with dual SIM, a quad core processor that is going to sell at for about $200, without a contract. We tested this device for about a week, and we are now ready to share our conclusions, in this review:
Hardware Specifications & Packaging
The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo comes in a small and compact box. It seems that this is the standard packaging used by Windows Phone devices these days. We've seen a similar type of packaging being used by all recent Lumias.
Inside the box, you'll find the smartphone, the battery, the USB charger and its detachable USB cable (which you can also use to connect the smartphone to a computer), headphones, the user guide, the warranty and some leaflets.
The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo is powered by an entry-level quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor running at 1.2 GHz, 1 GB of RAM and an Adreno 302 graphics chip. It has 8GB of storage space that is expandable through a microSD card of up to 32 GB. The display is a decent 5" IPS LCD screen that offers a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels with a 294 ppi pixel density. The screen is protected with Gorilla Glass 2 which, at least in theory, should offer a decent amount of protection against dust and scratches. When it comes to size, the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo measures 145 mm (5.71 inches) in height, 70 mm (2.76 inches) in width and only 8.3 mm (0.33 inches) in width. It weighs only 140 grams (4.94 ounces). The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo is neither too big nor too small. Its specs place it in the same range as other 5" smartphones. With a twist: while it's not exactly thin, this phone is quite light. The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo includes an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 2 megapixel front camera. The rear camera offers autofocus and an LED flash. However, you won't get any optical image stabilization or a dedicated power button. When it comes to the video capabilities of the camera, things look quite grim. The main camera cannot record videos at resolutions higher than 864 x 480 pixels. Why that is, we don't know, considering the fact that the camera is marketed to offer an 8 megapixel resolution, and the Snapdragon 200 processor should be capable of capturing video at 720p. Getting to the front camera, there's not much to say either. It is decent enough for making video calls, but we wouldn't recommend it for selfies. :) This smartphone includes a Li-Ion 2000 mAh battery that will last you for at least a day in normal usage scenarios. An advantage is that the battery is removable so in an emergency or if it becomes faulty, you can always use a spare. The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo doesn't offer any wireless charging capabilities, but that's normal considering its price range. The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo is a dual-SIM, meaning you can simultaneously use two SIM cards. For example, you can use the first SIM for your business number and the second SIM for you personal phone number. However, you will be able to use a data plan only on the first SIM.
For more information about all the specifications, check the official website: Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo - Detailed specifications.
Design & Build Quality
The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo is available only in black. The smartphone itself isn't an eye catcher, but its design is well made. The phone is all plastic, with a black matte finish cover, rounded corners and a silver gray rim.
The power button is found on the right side of the phone, towards the top. On the left side of the phone, you'll only find the volume rocker, again towards the top. On the top side, you'll find the microUSB connector and the audio jack. The bottom is clean and clear.
Beneath the screen of the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo, you'll find the capacitive buttons. We think that this approach is better than the on-screen buttons. That is because the bottom bezel of this phone is rather large and using capacitive buttons lends you the feeling that it's not unused space. The back of the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo looks OK, but we would have preferred a smaller, less shiny logo. The back plate is made of plastic and, even if it has a rugged feel, it is quite glossy and slippery.
Looking at the quality of the display, we must admit that we were impressed. For its price range, the screen has good contrast and color reproduction. Not so good are its brightness levels and outdoor visibility isn't great. You'll often need to shade the screen when you're outside.
A good thing is the fact that the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo uses an IPS screen, which means viewing angles are good. A not so good thing is the fact that system fonts displayed by this phone are really small. It's probably only a software issue, but what's the point of a 5" screen if not to make it easier to see things on it? Hopefully, the software team behind the Prestigio products will fix this problem with a future firmware update.
The Phone Experience On The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo
Phone conversations on the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo are good. Phone calls are clear and the microphone handles loud environments well enough. The radio signal is also good and we didn't notice network drops. The audio quality offered when using headphones is reasonably good, but the internal speaker is rather weak. It is a mono speaker that cannot handle any kind of low (bass) or mid frequencies and, instead, offers only distortions. We found it quite annoying to listen to music on a more than medium volume. However, it is decent enough to use for hands-free phone calls. The rear 8 megapixel camera is not great either, but you cannot expect too much quality at this price range. Even if the resolution seems quite high and there is the autofocus feature available, the quality of its pictures will let you down. Prestigio markets it as a high resolution camera but that is all. There is no optical image stabilization, nor any digital image stabilization, there is no dedicated camera button and the pictures you'll take will endure plenty of color distortions. However, at this price point, you won't really get any good cameras from any other Windows Phone.
When it comes to the video quality, things are just as bad. The rear camera is not capable of recording video at more than 480p resolution at a max of 30 fps. The only thing positive about the video recording capabilities is that continuous autofocus is available, even if it's quite slow. We don't really know why an 8 megapixel camera cannot record at higher resolutions, especially since the Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor is capable of recording video at 720p. We can only guess that this phone's firmware lowers its possibilities. Hopefully, this will be corrected with a future firmware update from Prestigio.
While testing the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo, we took a lot of photos. Most of them were shot using auto settings, and some can be seen below. As we've said before, the phone doesn't offer much when it comes to photo quality. If in well-lit environments the images we took are decent, in low light scenes the camera is useless. Unless you like your subjects blue. :)
Videos recorded with Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo are of low quality too. The maximum resolution of 480p is low even for today's YouTube videos. Below, you can watch a short video that we took in order to see how well moving objects are recorded.
And further on you can see another video, in which we recorded a static panorama, while moving the phone.
In terms of battery life, you don't need to worry. The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo includes a 2000mAh battery that will be enough to last you a day in most use scenarios. That is because the phone uses a slow 1.2 GHz processor that isn't power hungry. Overall, we weren't impressed by the phone experience offered by the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo.
Windows Phone 8.1 & Bundled Apps
The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo is running on Windows Phone 8.1 and the Prestigio manufacturer didn't include any proprietary features or apps. That means you won't get anything but what Microsoft and Windows Phone has to offer. We think that should be more than enough, as Windows Phone 8.1 and the Windows Phone Store have reached maturity and they have plenty to offer. The Store is now packed with lots of apps from which to choose the ones you need.
A thing we've noticed regarding the available apps for the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo is that the Nokia Here+ app is not free for every region. For example, if you set your phone's region to a European country, you'll have to pay around 36 Euros in order to download, install and use it. If, however, you set your phone's region to United States, the app is free! This is something really puzzling. What's stopping users from switching between different regions in order to get free access to apps?
To sum it up, even if Prestigio doesn't offer any custom apps or features, the Windows Phone platform in itself is capable of offering what you need.
Performance In Benchmarks
To see the level of performance delivered by the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo, we've tested it using a few benchmark apps. Then we compared its results against those obtained by smartphones with similar hardware. The phones we chose are: Nokia Lumia 530, Nokia Lumia 630, Nokia Lumia 735, Nokia Lumia 830 and Nokia Lumia 1320. The first benchmark we've run is Multibench 2. The CPU test revealed that the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo offers similar speeds with almost all the other phones. The only slower smartphone is the Lumia 1320, which is the only phone from our roundup that uses a dual core processor. The similar results were to be expected, as all the other phones use a 1.2 GHz quad core processor. Furthermore, the processor used by the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo is the same used on the Lumia 530.
Then, we looked at the memory tests result. The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo fared much the same as the Lumia 530 and the Lumia 735, both in terms of memory speed and data transfers. The memory tests revealed that the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo offers almost double the memory speed of the Lumia 1320.
The second benchmark we've run was the WP Bench app. The processor tests showed that the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo offers the slowest computing speed amongst its competitors. However, the differences are not high.
The GPU, storage and memory tests showed similar results. The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo is the slowest smartphone among the phones we've selected to compare it with. The closest contender is the Nokia Lumia 735, which is faster in most tests.
Next, we wanted to check how fast the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo is at browsing the Internet, so we've run the Sunspider test. This test showed that the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo is almost as fast as Lumia 735 and 830. In comparison with the Lumia 530 and 630, the smartphone fared significantly better, with approximately 15% and 12% faster rendering speeds.
When we measured the boot times, we discovered that the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo needs the same amount of time to boot as the Lumia 830. We consider this to be a very good result, as it take only 28 seconds to be able to fully use the phone.
Finally, we wanted to see how good the battery of this smartphone is. To find out, we've run the WP Bench battery test. This test keeps the phone on and uses its processing power at its maximum. The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo kept working for 3 hours and 25 minutes, a good result. A similar result was obtained by the Lumia 735.
All the benchmarks we've run led to the same result: the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo is an entry level device with low hardware specifications. However, Windows Phone will run smoothly on it, and you won't encounter problems in using it.
The Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo is an affordable smartphone that handles day by day tasks with ease. It does have some weak spots, the most annoying of them being the poor camera and its unpolished firmware. We do believe that Prestigio should have invested some efforts in writing a better firmware for the Prestigio MultiPhone 8500 Duo, one that would have used its hardware at its maximum capabilities. We cannot recommend this smartphone to all our readers, even if we would have liked to do so. We advise you to first test this smartphone, and make a buying decision only after considering all its pros and cons.