Exclusive review: BSNL Penta Smart PS501 is a good value for money smartphone

BSNL Penta SmartPantel Technologies, which manufactures tablets and smartphones under the Penta branding, on Friday launched its Penta Smart PS501 is association with BSNL.
With the Indian smartphone market growing at a fair clip, everyone wants a share of the pie. In fact, it seems the pie is large enough for everyone to have their fill. But all of them seem to be seeing the potential of the affordable smartphone category, with alarge chunk of feature phone users expected to upgrade in the near future. Pantel Technologies, which manufactures tablets and smartphones under the Penta branding, on Friday launched its Penta Smart PS501 is association with BSNL. Priced at Rs 6,999, this phone could be a good option for those using BSNL service in the non-metro cities. In this exclusive review, we look at whether the Penta Smart PS501 can stand out in the crowd? 

bsnl penta smart November 29

Design

The box might look like a 500-ml pack of Tropicana juice, but what really matter is the stuff inside, not the packaging. The Smart PS 501 is sleek and sports a sober look with a 5-inch IPS LCD capacitive display. A steel protective rim is installed on the front side while the back cover is moulded on the edges for proper grip.

The back camera comes up with a 'flash-light' but the only problem is that the flash is located below the camera and ends up burning the subject. The front camera is in the top left corner. The volume key is on the left and the power button on the right. The earphone jack and USB charger ports are all located on the top of the phone.

The speaker grille is also placed at the bottom on back of the smartphone with BSNL branding. The earphones are run of the mill and don't add anything extra even in terms of sound quality. In fact, the primary phone speakers are also not all that great.

Performance

The Smart PS 501 is basically aimed at those who can't afford anything costlier. And this phone manages that brief quite well, providing all the important features at a nominal price. Powered on, the phone has three,unique, wallpapers. It is not everyday that you see a phone will live, video and simple wallpapers out of the box. In live wallpaper option you can choose from the default list while video wallpaper allows you to set your favourite video as wallpaper but in silent mode. Though fun, this only ends up draining the battery faster than needed.

The touchpad is great if compared to other similar priced phones. Another unique feature is that the phone tells you the location and mobile operator of the caller if not saved in the contact list and that seems to be where the tiw-up with BSNL comes into play. 

However, the camera was a disappointment. Old Nokia X series phones do much better than this, though they are not even considered smartphones. Just don't bother about this phone if the camera or video calling is an important feature for you.

Despite the BSNL branding the review device we got was not SIM locked. The phone has good features like wi-fi hotspot, and developer tools -- the latter comes with a warning that it should be used only by those who know what they are getting into. The phone gives a wonderful Internet experience as the browsing is faster when connected via Wi-Fi. The battery decent and would last about a day with average use. 

Should you buy it

The BSNL Penta Smart PS501 is a great budget phone with a few negative points. But given the fact that this is a low-budget Android smartphone. If you are not expecting anything more than what you paid for, then this phone can give you a good experience.

What is inside: The Penta Smart PS501 is powered by 1.2 GHz Dual core processor and runs on Android v4.2.2 (JellyBean) platform. It comes with a Mali 400 3D GPU with 512 MB RAM. Penta Smart is Dual SIM and supports only 2G. The internal storage is 4GB, but can be expanded up to 32 GB with a SD card. There is 5-MP rear camera and a 0.3 MP front facing camera. It weighs 395 grams.

Rating: ***

BSNL Penta PS501 price: Rs 6,999

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