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Archos 50c Oxygen review

Archos 50c Oxygen

HANDS ON REVIEW: An eight-core CPU could make the 50c Oxygen one of the fastest Archos smartphones to date, and it looks every bit the high-end smartphone

Buying a mid-range smartphone doesn’t have to mean making sacrifices when it comes to performance or features – at least not with the newly announced 50c Oxygen from Archos. It’s a 5in Android handset with an eight-core processor that should easily outperform last year’s mid-range chipsets. We had the chance to put one through its paces today at Mobile World Congress in order to bring you some first impressions.

Archos 50c Oxygen

The 50c Oxygen is a slim handset, but it’s more functional than stylish. Finished in matt black metal-effect, it’s actually made of plastic but avoids feeling cheap. Rounded edges make it comfortable to grip, but fingerprints were a real problem on our demo unit. It looks as though you’ll need to keep a cleaning cloth close by in order to keep smudges off the screen.

The 5in, 1,280×720 resolution display looked very sharp, with the 293 pixels per inch pixel density only just dropping below the magic 300ppi figure that makes it impossible to see individual pixels from an average viewing distance. Unfortunately it didn’t look particularly bright, even when we increased the backlight to its maximum level. At least colours looked fairly vibrant, but we’ll have to reserve final judgment until we get a review sample into the office.

Archos 50c Oxygen

MediaTek processors have been a bit hit or miss in the past, but we were impressed with the MT6592 inside the 50c Oxygen. It runs each of its eight cores at 1.7GHz, which certainly made Android feel very snappy. With no internet connection we couldn’t try any of our regular performance tests, but there was certainly no lag or stutter when swiping between home screens, or opening and switching between the pre-installed apps. However, the handset only has 1GB of RAM, which could make a big difference when it comes to multi-tasking or games.

We’re used to mid-range smartphone missing out on microSD cards making do with a meagre 8GB of internal storage for your music and videos. Archos has sensibly found room in the budget for microSD, letting you add extra capacity once you’ve reached the phone’s limit.

Archos 50c Oxygen

Archos has barely touched the default Android interface, only adding its own set of apps and leaving the home screen, app drawer, Quick Settings menu and lock screen as Google intended. It actually looked rather bare during our time with the phone, as there aren’t even any pre-installed widgets – just a blank slate to be filled with apps and shortcuts. It was running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but the Archos representative we spoke to wasn’t able to tell us whether an upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat was in the works.

The company has at least tweaked the stock camera app in order to make the most of the 8-megapixel rear camera. It has a backside illuminated (BSI) sensor which is capable of 1080p video recording, and is paired with an LED flash which should improve low-light shooting. It wasn’t possible to test low light on the incredibly bright show floor here at MWC, but the camera autofocus was reasonably fast and pictures looked to have lots of detail on the phone’s screen.

Archos 50c Oxygen

It might not look particularly exciting, but the 50c Oxygen appears to do everything we would expect from a mid-range Android handset. It will cost less than £200 when it goes on sale in the UK SIM-free, making it a real alternative to other mid-range handsets from big name manufacturers. We hope to be able to give the phone a full review a little later in the year.

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