Phablets are an established part of the smartphone scene these days, and if you are looking for a big-screened phone buddy you’ve got plenty of choice. Options run across much of the price range, although so far there’s nothing much at the budget end of the spectrum. The £250 Prestigio MultiPhone 7600 Duo doesn’t have many rivals at this price – although the Acer Liquid S1 Duo I reviewed towards the end of last year beats it at £220, and the Nokia Lumia 1320 I will be looking at soon is around £300. From there, prices rise steadily.
It is perhaps a pleasant surprise, then, that not only is the Prestigio MultiPhone 7600 Duo pretty wallet-friendly for a 6in phone, it comes with a flip case boasting the smartcover-style feature of turning the screen on when it is opened up. And the case doubles up as a stand too, letting you prop the handset up quite securely at a range of angles.
It’s a pity that the on/off and volume buttons are on the left side of the handset’s chassis so that they sit against the screen cover when it is propped up in this way. You can’t get at them without unfurling the stand – but then again if they were on the right side they’d be exposed on the outer edge of the casing and not well protected. You can’t have it both ways.
Both the microUSB and headset slots are on the top edge, and taking a call with the power supply plugged in is a bit fiddly. I prefer to see that connector on the bottom edge.
Big handsets like this one can be unwieldy to grip and use. Prestigio has done what it can here and the fact that the MultiPhone 7600 Duo is just 8.4mm thick is a plus point. It isn’t too heavy, either, at 191 grams. The backplate has a slightly rubbery finish which helps with grip as well. Also, on the software side there are two “single hand” settings you can use – both the calculator and dialpad can be moved to one side for easier one-handed use (see the screen grabs in the slideshow at the bottom of this review).
You’ll doubtless have noticed the name of this handset, which indicates dual-SIM support, but that’s only half the story. One of the two SIM slots fits a microSIM, the other is the miniSIM size that micros are slowly replacing. This is an unusual arrangement and it is clever. You can pop whatever SIM you currently have in a slot and then add a second of the appropriate size if you are travelling.
The 13-megapixel main camera is joined by an 8-megapixel front shooter. There’s nothing very special about the camera options on offer, but the ability to take reasonable quality selfies might appeal to some people. This is just a 3G handset and not a 4G one, although Presgitio has chosen to build Near Field Communications in.
This is all rather nice, but when you are paying just £250 for a handset with a 6in screen, you are going to get some compromises along the way – and the screen is one of these. The IPS panel has quite good viewing angles, but its resolution is relatively low at 1,280 x 720 pixels. In most cases things look fine, but if you want a handset of this size because you are looking for an e-reader substitute as well as a capable phone, you might be disappointed. Text can be a bit on the fuzzy side, and especially so as its size gets smaller.
Presgitio clearly isn’t bothered by this. One of the apps it pre-installs as stock is its own e-reader. This hooks you into a book store, of course, but you can also easily access and download thousands of free eBooks. Don’t get too excited by this prospect, because neither the free books nor the paid eBook store have a huge variety on offer. You’ll probably find yourself downloading the Kindle, Kobo or other apps if eBooks are your thing.
The large screen has other advantages. Prestigio provides OfficeSuite 7 which lets you create Microsoft Office compatible documents. The keyboard includes a number row, and I found tapping text out to be a relatively comfortable experience. Of course video viewing is also a more rewarding experience than it is on handsets with smaller screens. There’s a hole on the flip case that lets sound out from the speaker on the back of the chassis, and it’s certainly loud enough for video viewing. The sound quality is reasonable though not outstanding.
Prestigio seems obsessed with apps and that obsession does it no favours. The handset has 4GB of installed memory which is reduced to just 1.3GB available thanks to Android 4.2 and all the apps Prestigio pre-installs. There’s a two stage process at work here.
When you switch the handset on it offers you the option to install a range of apps. Some are games, though there’s also Navitel Navigator and McAfee Antivirus & Security. If you pick any of these they will eat into that 1.3GB. You don’t have any say about whether you want 15 more apps which auto-install, but you can remove each of them manually if you decide you don’t want them. For the record, these are: PrintHand, 250+ Solitaires, Chess Free, Chrome, Currency Converter, Currents, Facebook, Google Translate, QR Droid, Skype, SugarSync, QuickSupport, Twitter, Vine and Wikipedia.
Even that’s not the end of the story as several more apps are on the device that you can’t remove. Opera and the Android web browser mean you have three browsers including Chrome, and there’s a file explorer, torch app, the aforementioned Office Suite 7 and Presgitio e-reader, and a couple more. It is far from a clean Android experience and Prestigio might do well to rethink its approach.
The 1.5GHz quad-core Mediatek MT6589T ARM Cortex-A7 processor is supported by 1GB of RAM and it seemed to cope well for me. However, the 2,600mAh battery will struggle to get you through a day if you like a bit of video streaming, music playback or GPS work.
The Prestigio MultiPhone 7600 has its good points. It is nice to find NFC here, the design and build is quite attractive apart from that oddly located power connector, and I’m a fan of the provided case. However Prestigio’s attitude to apps really lets things down. With so little storage to start with, the idea of cramming this with third-party stuff seems misguided. Android 4.2 is hardly leading edge, either.
Manufacturer and Model
Prestigio MultiPhone 7600 Duo
1.5GHz quad-core Mediatek MT6589T
6in, 1,280 x 720 pixels
84.4 x 8.4 x 166.5 (WxDxH)