The 10.or D is a phone that plays to the masses. It checks the boxes for everything a first-time buyer would want from an entry-level Android phone, but in the face of stiff competition from the likes of Xiaomi, that isn't enough.
The budget Android phone has come a long way. From underpowered devices full of compromises, the category has evolved to include features and performance that come close to what phones with higher price tags have. The evolution was brought forth primarily by Chinese manufacturers who saw a market in the entry-level segment and doubled down upon it by offering much-needed features like a long battery life, bigger displays and an overall smooth performance, displacing Indian phonemakers like Micromax, Lava and Intex out of the competition. It was an important milestone as entry-level phones have always been the highest-selling segment in India. Soon enough, Xiaomi became the highest-selling brand in the country primarily by offering multiple options in the budget-segment. 10.or, Amazon’s private label for smartphones wants to follow the footsteps of its Chinese rival and emulate its success by manufacturing phones that the nation demand.
As far as meeting expectations go, the 10.or D checks all the boxes. It has a 5.2-inch which is taller than the average display found on a budget phone. An entry level Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor is the heart and soul of the phone which is complimented by either 2GB or 3GB of RAM and 16GB or 32GB of storage.
Just like how Flipkart did with its Billion Capture+, Amazon also claimed it leveraged hundreds of thousands of user reviews on its website to craft a phone with the exact specifications that people want. The result is the 10.or series of phones. The latest one, the 10.or D is the cheapest offering under the brand, but is it worth buying?
Design: So 2016
The 10.or D might have the ambition of toppling its Chinese rivals, but it surely doesn’t seem serious with its design, which is where companies like Xiaomi and Moto have made their mark. One look at the 10.or D will tell you this phone belongs to the past. The boxy design with thick bezels around it and a metallic shine was the dominant design philosophy of phones two years back. And for some reason, Amazon decided to stick to it. It could be that Amazon chose the design to make the phone durable, as budget phone buyers demand a phone that doesn’t break easily. But then I noticed the lack of antenna lines and soon realised the body is made of matte plastic with only a metallic finish on top. The buttons too are made of plastic and although it felt sturdy, I’m apprehensive about how long it will last.
However, despite the obvious signs of cutting corners, the phone has been designed keeping durability in mind. The edges of the phone are slightly raised on the front to cushion the display from cracking if it falls face down. Even though there is no Gorilla Glass on top, 10.or has implemented Panda Glass, which also offers protection from falls and scratches.
From the back, the phone looks a lot like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (review) because of the centrally placed camera unit and the fingerprint sensor. But that’s only because the Redmi Note 3 perfected the symmetrical design. There is a micro-USB port at the bottom alongside a microphone while on the top there is another microphone (to cancel out ambient noise while on a call) and the 3.5mm headphone jack.
The phone also looks somewhat incomplete. That fascia has a broad lower chin which has no use whatsoever other giving you a good grip. Usually, it would be the place where the home button and the capcitive navigation keys would be located, but in this case, it’s a blank canvas.
Display: Not so bright
The display on the 10.or D is something you would expect from a budget device. It’s functional at best but doesn’t really dazzle the eyes. The 5.2-inch IPS LCD has a resolution of 1280x720 pixels and has a measured luminescence rating of 385 lux which isn’t that high, even by the standards of the budget-segment. I noticed the content on the display came out undersaturated and not quite vivid. There are colour distortions when viewed at an angle too. Owing to its low brightness, I also had difficulty deciphering content on the screen under direct sunlight. Having said that, the indoor visibility is quite decent and anyone using the phone to watch movies while commuting won’t really miss out on anything.
The display also has a cool tint over it. You can notice the reds and greens to be a little muted while the blues tends to be somewhat inky. The warm glow from a sunset shot will be missing but a photo taken at night will look realistic.
Overall, the 10.or D has one of the worst displays I have seen on a modern-day smartphone. You can argue that the price of the phone justifies it, but that’s not true especially when you have seen better, far brighter panels from its rivals.
The 10.or D is meant for people upgrading to an Android phone for the first time from a feature phone. As a result, it’s not fair to expect chartbusting performance from this phone. However, one can and should expect the phone to run smooth in terms of day-to-day performance. And for the most part, it doesn’t disappoint. The 10.or D doesn’t feel like it lags and the usual transitions and animation occur smoothly. But don’t go expecting heavy apps and games to run without a hitch. It takes quite some time to load games and even the game play is quite choppy. Keeping a lot of apps open in the background will also lead to apps freezing and force closing.
We tested the variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB of storage and in terms of synthetic benchmarks, the 10.or D performs more or less at par with its competition. A good thing about the phones is that thermal spikes are minimal and even after recording a video for 10 minutes straight, the phone heated up only a little.
Camera: Below par
The 10.or D sports a 13-megapixel shooter at the back and a 5-megapixel camera on the front for selfies. While the phone is not being marketed as a selfie phone, I found the front camera of the phone performs better than its rear counterpart.
The 13-megapixel shooter has a f/2.0 aperture lens with phase detection autofocus and an LED flash. By no means is this a good camera, even for its price. The phone doesn't’ spend a lot of time processing the photo, which is good, but the resulting quality of the photos left me asking for more. The dynamic range is minimum. Subjects under direct sunlight will either be silhouettes or overexposed. Hitting that in-between spot is difficult and took a few attempts.
In a well-lit indoor environment though, the results are a little more eye-pleasing. The camera preserves decent details and the highlights and shadows are well balanced. I found the camera giving a warm tint to the photos though which could be the reason it seems pleasing to the eyes.
As for low-light, the less it’s said the better. It’s unrealistic to expect an entry-level phone to shoot good photos under low-light and the 10.or D lives up to that expectation. Photos shot in low-light come out noisy and full of grains. The warm tint creeps up once again and gives reddish hue to the dark sky.
The front camera on the 10.or D is a different story altogether, though. I wonder why they didn’t market the selfie camera of the phone as much because it is the best feature of the phone by far. A 5-megapixel camera is not expected to preserve a lot of details, but the results were pleasing to the eye. I particularly liked the colour reproduction from the front camera. It’s way better than the rear camera at least.
Software: Pure stock Android marred by bloatware
Most budget-phones are marred not only by low-end hardware but also by a heavily customised interface. In this regard, the decision to go with stock Android works in favour of the 10.or D. The phone runs on Android 7.1.2 without an additional skin on top. That goes a long way in ensuring a smooth performance. While we did encounter the odd app force closing, the overall smoothness of stock Android is undeniable. It clearly doesn’t strain the hardware much when the phone is idle.
Having said that, there are dual instances of the same apps. There is a separate Gallery app apart from Google Photos and a third-party file manager app despite a file explorer baked into the Settings app. Since this is a phone made by Amazon, you will get the full suite of Amazon apps including the Amazon Shopping app, Prime Video and Amazon Kindle. These apps cannot be uninstalled and there is no way to remove them apart from keeping them disabled. While this may not be that big of a problem with the 32GB storage variant, it could get potentially counterproductive in the 16GB variant as you have very little memory to install apps from the start.
Battery: Not as promised
The 10.or D sports a 3,500mAh battery and the company claims it can last for two days. Well, it does if you don’t use the device at all. In fact, if you keep it idle, it will last more than that. But if you are a heavy user, expect the battery to die before bedtime. On our synthetic test using PCMark Work 2.0 Battery test, the phone lasted just 6 hours 15 minutes which is lower than what its peers scored.
There is also no fast charging, so you have to spend around three hours to charge the device to full capacity. Having said that, the entry-level processor doesn’t strain the battery as much so the discharge rate is low. The screen also isn’t much of a battery guzzler. It’s only when you keep a lot of apps and play games and browse the internet frequently will the battery drain quickly.
The 10.or D is a reliable smartphone for the Rs 5,999 price tag it carries. It’s no beast and it won’t grab eyeballs either. It will perform just fine if you are not a heavy user, but a little strain on the hardware will lead to app crashes and slowdowns. But that’s the case with all entry-level phones. The 10.or D doesn’t bring to the table, it just echoes what everyone else has been doing, and not always in a good way. Moreover, the 10.or D will be sold exclusively on Amazon India and most buyers of entry-level phones tends to come from offline channels which could make the phone lose out on attracting its target audience.
How it compares
The 10.or D’s biggest rival is the Xiaomi Redmi 5A (review) which is a well-tuned offering by the Chinese upstart at the same price. The Redmi 5A is superior to the phone in almost every category, be it the design, the performance or the camera. However, getting your hands on the Redmi 5A is a matter of luck as the phone is sold mostly through flash sales. Only recently did the phone started selling through offline channels, but its availability may be questionable. In this regard, the 10.or D has an advantage of being available almost all the time.
04 Jun 2020
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