SOLO S500 Review: A media house in your hand

The SOLO S500 is the flagship device from the SOLO brand. It was built with the promise of tapping into the hearts of music loving Nigerians, offering us loads music and media at an affordable price. Does it deliver on its promise? That’s the question we hope to answer with this review. Let’s take a quick look at its specs.

SOLO with Cards

SIM type: Mini-SIM/Dual SIM

Released: July 2014

Dimension: 143 x 72.5 x 8.6mm

Display: 5.0 inches HD IPS, 1280 x 720 pixels (320ppi)

Memory: 8GB, plus micro SD card slot

Camera: 8MP back with LED flash, 2.0MP front-facing

OS: Android 4.3 Jelly Bean

Chip set: Qualcom 8212

CPU: Quad-core 1.2 GHz

GPU: Adreno-305

RAM: 1GB

Radio: Yes (With FM Recording)

Battery: 1,800 mAh

 

Pros:

  • Nice Slim Build.
  • Sharp Display.
  • Good mono speaker output.
  • Easy access to tons of music and videos.

Cons: Screen scratches easily

  • Average battery life.

Unboxing/Hardware and Design:
SOLO S500

The contents of the sales pack of the SOLO S500 is same like every other generic Android phone. You have the wall USB charger, USB cable, a pair of earphones, and booklets.

This phone has a nice partial oblong shape. The edges are slightly rounded off, with the top and bottom parts of the screen having a slight curve. There’s a shiny light brown lining all around the sides.

Software:
Here we have Android Jelly Bean 4.3 OS running underneath. The OS is almost stock with no serious customizations. The 8GB storage here was partitioned thus 3.6GB for app installation and 3.4GB for internal storage. See screenshot:
SOLO App storage

Display/Camera
The rear camera of this phone produces decent images in well lit areas, but then the sensor gives off a grainy/noisy effect especially when you try to zoom in. In dark situations, even with the LED flash, the camera output is awful. On the good side, the front camera didn’t disappoint, producing very clear and sharp selfies.

The SOLO S500 offers a 5-inch HD IPS Display, with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The pixel density is 320ppi. Therefore, the display is crisp and sharp. Though we have poor sunlight legibility here, the viewing angles is superb.

Loudspeaker
The mono speakers of this phone, positioned at the back of this device performed admirably well. It is loud and the sound quality is great, far better than what we saw in the Infinix Hot.

SOLO View
SOLO View (2)

SOLO View is an app pre-installed on SOLO phones, and it was said to offer a huge collection of movies you can download and watch on your mobile phone. We set out to test the service by visiting one of the SOLO hotspot locations where users can set-up their SOLO View accounts and download movies to their mobiles.

We headed for one of the centers in Ikeja, where the phone automatically detected the SOLO Hotspot. We then proceeded to set up an account, updated the SOLO View app to the latest version, then went ahead to add redeem PINs with the SOLO prepaid cards. The SOLO sales rep was very helpful.

SOLO View (1)

Logging in was a breeze. We then went ahead to download a movie – The Anomaly – which costs N350.

SOLO View Pay

The network was fast, and in a few minutes the download was completed. From the library section of the app, we were able to access and then watch the movie offline.

SOLO View Download

SOLO Views has tons of movies. Another good thing is that Nigerian TV shows can be downloaded and watched for free. The SOLO View service works so well, I recommend that you should try it. The SOLO View app is also available on Google Play Store for non-SOLO phones.

SOLO Music
SOLO Music (3)

SOLO Music is another media-centric service from SOLO that brings music straight to your finger tips. I loved this app from the go. On first time launching, it asked for an update, which I executed from Google Play Store.

SOLO Music Update

Opening it, I was presented with a vast array of songs, both foreign and international. You can stream them online or download them to be played offline. All the songs here are available FREE of charge. The concept is great! And it works well with the really good speakers on this phone.

Miscellaneous
Viewing angles are good on the SOLO S500. No matter how you tilt it, you have a clear view of what you’re looking at. Call clarity is clear. It supports 3G-only on SIM 1, with SIM 2 forced to 2G. Performance wise, apps and games ran smoothly with no lags. The SOLO S500 has an average battery life. The small 1800 mAh battery can only take about 9 hours of steady 3G browsing, so you definitely need a power bank to get the best out of this device. We also noticed this device supports FM Recording.

Final Words:
This phone is nice, good looking and highly recommended for people with a huge appetite for media content. SOLO delivers on its promise of bringing us cheap and affordable music and videos. But they could have done better with improved hardware on this device. We can ignore all other deficiencies, but the 1800 mAh on a quad-core Android in 2014 (or sorry 2015) – being a flagship device for that matter – is not quite appealing.

In fairness to them, SOLO has said that their focus isn’t on raw specs, but rather on content, service delivery, and functionality, and they have delivered. In the end, that is all that really matters.

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