Archos 45 Platinum review

Pros

  • Dual-sim functionality
  • Attractive price

Cons

  • Disappointing screen
  • Lack of storage
  • Bulky design
  • Old version of Android

Back in August I reviewed a large-screened handset from Archos – the 50 Platinum – but this wasn’t the largest handset Archos had in its Platinum range. Its 5in screen was trumped by the 5.3in display-toting 53 Platinum. Well, guess what – there’s now an Archos 45 Platinum in the range too. It has a screen size of, well – you can probably guess. Yes, it’s 4.5in.

Archos has two smartphone ranges, the other one being the Titanium series. The Platinum series sports quad-core processors while poor old Titanium can only manage dual-core. But all the handsets across both ranges, and at present there are seven of them in total, support two SIMs. While dual-SIM handsets are rare, Archos has decided that every phone in its entire range will support two SIMs.

Why support two SIMs? Well, for many people one will be enough. However, if you want to use your phone abroad and slap in a cheap local SIM, or if you have work and personal SIMs and don’t need the sophistication that two handsets offer, then you’ll be drawn to the idea of bringing them together in one handset. And the Archos 45 Platinum offers this capability at a relatively low cost – it costs £170 direct from Archos.

From the outset it is worth noting that only one of the two SIM slots supports 3G; the other is 2G only. That’s not unusual for dual-SIM handsets. Also, you don’t have to use two SIMs. If your everyday life only involves a single SIM, just pop it into the slot that’s marked up for 3G and the second card slot will simply show a “no service” icon on the notification bar.

The dual-SIM settings aren’t as sophisticated as I’ve seen with some handsets. Remember the Kogan Agora HD? That’s another dual-SIM handset, with a slightly larger screen at 5in, and a slightly lower cost at £149. The Agora lets you pick which SIM is used for voice calls, video calls, messaging and data when you first switch it on, and you can change the defaults at any time.

Archos has not done anything near this sophisticated. You can just make some very basic choices and the only default settings I could find were to set separate ringtones for each SIM. That’s useful, but Archos has missed an opportunity to offer more.

Like the Agora, the Archos 45 Platinum is seriously compromised when it comes to internal storage. There’s 4GB of built in storage and fresh out of the box just 2.6GB of this was free. That’s all you’ve got for storing apps, so you’ll have to play carefully in that regard. There’s a microSD card slot for data, though. This is almost identical to the memory available in Kogan’s Agora HD, incidentally.

Looking at the design of the Archos 45 Platinum, there’s nothing here to get particularly excited about. The handset is blocky and fairly thick, and its screen is lodged within broad top and bottom bezels, along with a reasonably wide bezel on the long edges too. A thickness of 9.2mm is nothing special – the phone feels quite large in the hand and the lip around the front of the chassis is not particularly pleasant to look at. I do like the rubber finish to the backplate because it helps with grip, and it doesn’t show any fingerprints, either.

Side buttons and connectors are nothing unusual. The microUSB port is on the bottom, headset port on top. The volume rocker protrudes fairly prominently on the upper right edge – it is easy to find with the handset in your pocket. The power button is on the top edge.

When looking at the photos of the Archos 45 Platinum, you’ll probably notice that there are four under-screen touch buttons. The three usual Android ones are joined by a fourth Search button. When tapped this opens Google Now, something which can also be achieved by sweeping the lock screen.

Not only is the screen rather too reflective, it doesn’t seem to be as responsive as it should. I made a fair few errors tapping out SMS and email because I went a bit too quickly for it. Now, this is not a complete disaster, and if you are upgrading from a low cost handset that’s a couple of years old you’ll probably think what’s here is an improvement, but I don’t think Archos has put quite enough thought into the screen.

It is easier to forgive the average quality of the 5 megapixel camera – average is a perfectly acceptable performance for a camera in a handset at this price. Even so, a 0.3 megapixel front camera feels like a bit of an insult these days.

Archos has gone for Android version 4.1 which relatively old. The stock user interface has been employed, and there aren’t a lot of apps or alterations. You do get an FM radio which is always a nice touch. Archos made its name, of course, in the portable audio sector, and there’s evidence of this in two add-on apps – Archos Music and Archos Video.

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Sadly, these apps are nowhere near as sophisticated as they should be. Where are the links to online resources? Heck, even the two app icons don’t tie together visually. Audio quality is not great, but there’s an equaliser which at least lets you fiddle with the sound a bit. There’s support for OGG Vorbis as well as the more usual MP3, WAV and AAC standards.

Archos highlights the quad-core processor here, but it’s the low level Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 1.2GHz CPU. It is good to see 1GB of RAM in support, but even so I did have a few issues. The most notable problem I found was that the phone was slow to pull down YouTube videos.

The battery is small at just 1600mAh, and if your handset doubles up as a music player you are likely to find it needs a charge mid-afternoon to see you though the evening music session. If you’re just looking for a low cost handset for mostly voice calls and keeping up with email and SMS, you’ll probably manage a day between charges.

Verdict

The Archos 45 Platinum doesn’t float my boat. It’s great to see a low cost handset supporting two SIMs, but Archos has failed to offer software tweaks that let you make the most of that fact. The screen is also very disappointing, and there’s not much internal storage. If you are on a budget and want Android and two SIMs, go take a look at the Kogan Agora HD instead.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Archos 45 Platinum

Network

SIM1 2G; SIM 2 3G

Processor

1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200

Ram

1GB

Memory

4GB

Memory expansion

microSD

Display

4.5in, 960 x 540 pixels

Main camera

5.0 megapixel

Front camera

0.3 megapixel

NFC

No

Wi-Fi

Yes

GPS

Yes

FM radio

Yes

Battery

1,600mAh

Size

71.8 x 9.2 x 142.5mm (WxDxH)

Weight

150g

OS

Android 4.1