Summary: For its rough body solid build, speedy processor, decent screen display, RAM, dual-SIM 3G capability and good battery, the Mi-Tribe A500 is a really good phone for its price, if you’re looking for a budget phone that can deliver value. But, the device fails to impress with its camera, its lacklustre design and its meagre internal storage capacity which if improved, could put it in the league of the mid-range Android devices in the market. However, the Mi-Tribe A500 would be a really great buy for low budget users who won’t mind its minor shortcomings.
I’ve had the Mi-Tribe A500 for a couple of weeks now, a low-budget smartphone introduced by African phone maker, mi-Fone, which debuted in the Nigerian market in March 2016.
When I received the really big package which had some art design around a grey-colored square box with ‘mi-TRIBE’ printed on it, I was expecting to see a really big phone alongside a really big power bank and at least two large-sized batteries.
But, my daydream was cut short.
Inside the box, apart from the phone, you’ll find a Type-C USB cord, a three-pin charger, a 2300mAh Lithium battery and an earpiece. The large package also came with a broad pack which I initially thought contained a casing, cover and/ or screen guard only to be disappointed to find a user manual inside. Well, that somewhat ruined my unboxing experience.
But when I picked up the Mi-Tribe A500, the first thing that caught my attention was its rough back cover, which although is plastic, was probably coated with an abrasive material or sandstone that made it appear like sandpaper. The fact that it felt great in my grip made it quite different from other smart phones that come with a smooth or glossy back design.
At 171 grammes, the phone does feel lightweight despite its 2300mAh battery, so you can comfortably hold it in one hand and it really won’t feel heavy on your palm when you hold it for much longer.
After inserting the battery and switching on the phone, it starts with a theme song that keeps you wondering where you’ve heard that song before. And then you remember that it’s the “Happiness Found on Konga” song from that Konga.com TVC produced by Don Jazzy and featuring Tiwa Savage.
Once I got through setup and upon getting to the home screen which spots a wooden floor wallpaper with the Konga smiley and hashtag #iFoundHappiness on its background, I was left momentarily confused as to which brand really made the device, whether Konga or mi-Fone. And then I realized that Konga, being an e-commerce player, actually partnered with mi-Fone to launch the mi-Tribe series of mobile devices.
The phone comes with the regular user interface of the Android 5.1 Lollipop OS, with three on-screen buttons at the bottom of the screen, the middle button allowing you access to the apps on the phone and from there you can swipe thru the screen to view the different apps on the phone. On the right-hand side of the phone, you’ll find the volume and power button, while the charging port and the earphone jack are at the top of the phone. The camera is at the rear alongside the flash, while the speakers are at the bottom on the rear of the device right below the mi-Tribe logo.
With a 5-inch HD touchscreen display and 720×1280 resolution, the mi-Tribe A500 displays crystal clear quality pictures, graphics, text and videos. I was quite impressed by the screen’s clear and stunning picture quality.
The display function also comes with the MiraVision application which is a set of engines that enhances display picture quality with interactive tuning in real-time quality feedback. Its advance users option gives you the opportunity to choose between picture mode, vivid and user mode. On the user mode, you can tune the picture quality to which ever that suits you. There are also a bunch of settings on the display menu that you can choose from, depending on your preference.
The mi-Tribe A500 is powered by a 1.3GHz Quad Core processor and a 2GB RAM, which gives you great speed for browsing the Internet and for playing games. Although, when I played a few online games to see how it would hold up, I experienced a couple of lags associated with them. It also comes with a 16GB internal storage capacity and up to 32GB expandable external hard disk, which is decent enough. The power consumption was fair, with its 2300mAh battery capacity, you can go 12 hours of moderate phone usage which could include browsing the web and playing music before your next charge.
Even though the Mi-Tribe A500 does not have 4G capabilities, it does come 3G-enabled with a dual SIM (micro + mini) and makes up with a Hotspot feature. As for its camera, the A500 does averagely well with an 8MP rear camera and a 2MP front camera, although it isn’t that great on low-light conditions.
The front camera comes with a couple of features, including a face beauty mode and a multi angle view mode for all you selfie lovers, while the rear camera comes with a motion track mode and live photo mode apart from the normal mode.
On the software side, the MI-TRIBE A500 comes with the Android 5.1 Lollipop OS, which works smoothly on its 2GB RAM, and I didn’t really experience any lagging during usage. Its UI seemed light, so expect to get a quick response for every tap on the screen or press of a button. Some applications like Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and BBM come pre-installed and of course you’ll find Google apps as well as the Konga app, as expected.
Verdict: For a low budget phone, the mi-Tribe A500 does score some good points with its screen, processor and power, but it probably won’t be the primary device of a power user. For its current price at N22, 000 on Konga, it would be a great buy for low budget users who won’t mind its minor shortcomings such as an average camera. In all, I think that the mi-Tribe A500 is a good phone to have if you’re looking for a budget phone that can deliver value.