- 64GB microSD support
- Low internal storage
With the shift from dedicated media devices to all-singing, all-dancing smartphones and tablets, French company Archos has had a little trouble finding its feet, but with a range of affordable Android tablets and now Android smartphones now here, we’re starting to see the next phase of the company’s story, which in this instance takes the form of the Archos 50 Platinum.
Archos 50 Platinum review: Design & screen
Nowadays Archos devices purvey a sense of affordability over luxury and the body of the 50 Platinum certainly reflects this. Literally, in fact with a high-gloss plastic finish across the back plate that offers minimal grip and attracts fingerprints. The saving grace of the phone’s design is its form. The rounded edges and corners make it easy to hold and it sits nicely in one hand, surprisingly comfortably for such a large handset.
A glance at the raised camera surround and you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a knock-off Samsung Galaxy S4. The plastic hardware controls are found on the upper edges, each side of device; the power/lock key on the right, the volume rocker on the left. The phone’s top accommodates both the headphone jack and the microUSB port, with the base devoid of anything at all. Unlike the Galaxy S4, the front is completely flat, with capacitive menu, home and back keys underneath a 5-inch display, above which sits a front-facing camera, the earpiece and some sensors.
It’s underneath the removable back where things really get interesting for the Archos 50 Platinum. The plastic back plate snaps off to reveal a battery a microSD card slot and not one, but two standard-sized SIM slots. The Archos can accommodate two SIMs simultaneously, but more on that later.
The 5-inch IPS LCD on the phone’s front offers a qHD (540×960) resolution, which is a bit of a stretch with regards to pixel density at such a size. Although all-in-all the display isn’t bad, it doesn’t excel at any one aspect. Colours look slightly washed out and contrast has a shallow range, with blacks looking greyer than similarly specced rivals. Poor viewing angles are the phone’s biggest weakness with as brightness drops off heavily at more extreme angles. That being said, colours remain nicely preserved.
Archos 50 Platinum review: Operating system & multimedia
As with many of the company’s other Android devices, Archos has kept the user experience pretty clean, only augmenting the stock Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean OS where necessary. For the most part this takes the form of a modified lockscreen which grants access to Google Now and the camera from the unlock ring, an enhanced notifications panel with toggles for WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, mobile data, brightness and rotation lock, as well as the implementation of the phone’s dual-SIM functionality across a number of the phone’s apps.
Speaking of apps, Archos has also dressed the 50 Platinum with a number of media such as movie posters and cast information being pulled from sites like IMDB to dress locally stored movies. This richer approach to media consumption highlights Archos’ roots in multimedia and reminds us that the company knows what its doing when it comes to making an immersive media experience on-the-go.
Going back to the dual-SIM implementation, with one SIM slot being geared to support both 2G and 3G whilst the other solely supporting 2G, you can choose which SIM does the heavy work when managing mobile data, but place calls from the same dialler with dual call buttons and send messages from the same messaging app with two independent send buttons side by side, even in the same feed. It’s an elegant system that makes it easy to communicate across both SIMs simultaneously, without the drawback of having to swift from one to the other.
Archos 50 Platinum review: Connectivity, performance & battery
At the heart of 50 Platinum lies a 1.2GHz Qualcomm quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM. In practice this offers up a smooth gaming experience for titles such as Dead Trigger, but despite its media focus, the 50 Platinum hasn’t been decked out with Full HD (1080p) video playback support. This not coming as a huge blow based on the phone’s low-resolution display, despite our belief that the hardware could handle it.
The lack of Full HD support is also reflected in the phone’s lowly 4GB of inbuilt storage, clearly not enough on its own to accommodate a user’s apps and personal files, but thankfully expandable via the microSD slot (up to a whopping 64GB) which sits alongside the 2G and 3G SIM slots sitting underneath the 50 Platinum’s removable back. Whilst we’re here it’s also worth mentioning the phone’s Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP support, FM radio, DLNA and hotspot functionality.
The rear 8-megapixel camera is an absolute gem considering the affordable nature of this flagship. Shots in artificial lighting lack depth and vibrancy, but these are small gripes. In natural lighting images are well balanced and crisp, with subtle post processing that seldom over sharpens, noise will creep in amidst low-light conditions, but again the over shot is great, allowing you the ability to capture everything you’d want, especially with the use of the small LED flash. We’re only sad that we can only film up to 720p HD video.
The last piece of the puzzle is the 2000mAh battery, which shows solid performance, only really draining quickly when stressed by gaming. Sitting idle in your pocket, the Archos 50 Platinum will barely drop 10% throughout a day, so should see you over 24 hours with average use.
Archos 50 Platinum review: Conclusion
A flagship the Archos 50 Platinum may be seen as, but the term is relative to the brand. As it’s first real foray into the Android smartphone market, Archos has taken an interesting stance, gracing its new handset with a solid multimedia experience, albeit with a lacklustre design and a few disappointing hardware elements (namely the display the lack of Full HD video playback support).
The dual-SIM functionality makes this especially enticing to those looking for a more powerful dual-SIM smartphone in amongst the small pool of handsets available to UK consumers. What’s more, the 64GB of expandability raises its credibility even further as does the near-stock user experience, which keeps things clean and simple.
With it’s more mid-range spec sheet and price tag of around £225, we’d place it against the new Nokia Lumia 625, which offers affordable 4G and a comparable screen size for around the same price, the Sony Xperia SP, again for 4G LTE and a more premium look and feel or the LG-made Google Nexus 4 if the stock Android experience is what you’re after.