Kazam is a relative newcomer to the smartphone world, the company having only been set up last year. But that doesn’t mean it is naïve. Kazam is the baby of two former executives of HTC, and there’s an understanding of the handset market implicit in that.
Kazam has three phone ranges on the go at the moment and the Trooper range is aimed at the budget conscious consumer. Kazam’s handsets have boring names – and the Trooper X4.5 has a 4.5in display (surprise, surprise). Let’s hope the phone itself is a bit more exciting than its name.
With the price at just a tad over £100, you aren’t going to get leading edge capabilities or specifications from the Kazam Trooper X4.5. Kazam’s executives know that competition is tough at this end of the market, and so it offers a few things no other handset maker attacking this part of the market manages. A couple of these are “off-handset” but worth mentioning. Should you crack your phone’s screen, Kazam will give you a free replacement screen. This is only offered for the first screen crack, but it will be quite a lure for the more butterfingered among us.
There’s also a remote support service called Kazam Rescue. If you get into a pickle or have some other sort of technical issue, Kazam will come to your aid via remote control. You call a number, and someone far away takes control of your phone to fix the problem. This should appeal to smartphone newbies and technophobes and, just like the screen repair service, it is something Kazam offers across its range.
So, what about the handset itself? Well, it isn’t much to look at. The black chassis has curved corners and the three bog standard Android touch buttons beneath it. There’s a little lip around the front where the screen section is inserted which is noticeable, but doesn’t get in the way of using the phone. The back is curved into the long edges which helps with a comfy grip, and the backplate is rubbery.
The on/off switch is on the right edge, long volume rocker on the left. They are both raised enough to be easily found by touch alone when the phone is in your pocket. This is particularly useful for changing the volume of the built-in FM radio (or indeed any music). The headset slot is where it should be – on the top edge of the phone.
Things get a bit more interesting when you take the back off this phone. Alongside a microSD card slot there are two SIM slots. One of these is the standard size, the other a microSIM size. Kazam makes all its Trooper and Thunder range handsets dual-SIM, even at the most affordable end of its range. That means this is a great phone for travellers. You can pop your regular SIM into its slot, and then buy a local SIM when you are travelling. It is easy to set the default SIMs for voice, video calls, messaging and data in the settings area, or to pick which SIM you want to use each time.
The 4.5in screen is average by modern standards in terms of size. Its resolution of 854 x 480 pixels gives a 16:9 aspect ratio and a few more pixels than the often seen 800 x 480 screens. In everyday use the difference between the two resolutions is barely noticeable.
If you are a fan of video then it is worth noting that the speaker, which outputs at the back of the phone, has a relatively muted top volume. The provided headphones deliver a better depth of sound. Worryingly, one of my favourite headsets refused to fit properly in the slot and would only work if I held it pushed in. The minute I let go of it, it the jack would pop out, and sound reverted to the handset speaker. This has never happened before with this headset.
Kazam has been frugal with internal memory giving the Trooper X4.5 4GB in total. Android 4.2 and pre-installed apps take up a fair bit of this and you are left with 1.3GB to play with. MicroSD card support means you can build on this, but note that you can’t hot-swap cards because the battery has to be removed every time you want to insert a microSD card.
The pre-installed apps are a motley bunch. There’s a flashlight app, Chrome, a file manager, sound recorder, backup app that sends handset data to the SD card, Kazam’s Rescue app (for the remote support mentioned earlier), and a couple of games – Beach Buggy Blitz and Angry Birds Star Wars. Both games are worth having, but with so little free memory you might wish you could remove some of these apps. Well, you can delete the two games and in doing so gain a bit under 100MB back.
The MediaTek processor is aimed at entry level smartphones – Kazam makes no bones about that. When you look at the specifications on the company website, you will see quite clearly that the tier for this handset is “entry.” So at least the Trooper X4.5 is not chalk pretending to be cheese. Having just 512MB of RAM in support doesn’t do the processor any favours, though. It performed well enough given the price of this phone, but there were some stumbling blocks. The most noticeable were some short waits for web pages to fully render.
Slightly laggy behaviour might be something you are prepared to live with from a low cost phone. If so, your problems with this handset are likely to come primarily from its lack of internal storage and its relatively low powered battery. At 1,750mAh the battery may see you through a day if you are relatively frugal, but you are likely to need to seek out mains power if you get into those two provided games, or if you’re a medium to heavy user.
Other handsets pitched in the £100 or just over bracket include the now slightly old LG Optimus L5 II, and pushing a bit further, the Motorola Moto G, which scored very well indeed when I reviewed it towards the end of last year. The Moto G’s same sized but higher resolution screen, higher memory quota (though lack of microSD), more advanced Android version and higher capacity battery pip the Trooper X4.5. It’s true that the Moto G is that little bit more expensive at around £150, but it is certainly worth considering.
This first review sample from Kazam shows that the company has some clever ideas. Most of these are off-handset, but no worse for that. Remote control tech support and free screen replacement are compelling, as is dual-SIM support – but it feels like that’s only half the job. Kazam might do well to find additional ways to make its phones more alluring.
Manufacturer and Model
Kazam Trooper X4.5
1.2GHz dual-core MediaTek MT6572
4.5in, 854 x 480 pixels
66.8 x 9.9 x 113.3mm (WxDxH)