Now, this might explain the one week gap that has been on my blog. Thanks to the guys at ASUS, I have had an A50 in the house over the past two weeks. After using it, here is my very bullish review on it. Bear in mind, this is also a head-to-head competition with the previous Garmin-Asus A10. Without wasting time, lets begin with the reviews.
To be honest, the hardware of the A50 looks very sleek. In fact, I like the design better than the A10. While the A10 was much driven towards its ‘chic’ look, the A50 is bold and possesses a business profile. Its slimmer, yet taller and wider than the A10 too and fits excellently in your palm. Unlike the A10, the A50 has four soft keys adding a “call” soft key on the front panel. Not only that, it also has a 5-way scroll keys which was missing in the A10. While the scrolls are a bit sluggish for my big thumb, it helps a lot some ways (like browsing the website when you don’t want to use multi-touch). A50 score (6/10)
Now, I would’ve discussed the screen in the hardware part, but I can talk a lot about this screen so I just have to make it a section of its own. The technology used in the A50 is the same as that of A10. Its a TFT capacitive touchscreen with 256K colors and 320 x 480 resolution. The A50 helds a 3.5″ screen compared to the 3.2″ of the A10. With this little change, the difference is pretty huge. The brightness and the colors of the A50 screen are much more vivid too compared to the A10. While its frustrating not to have AMOLED in either phone, it doesn’t let you down in its TFT category though. A50 score (5/10)
The storage of the A50 is ample, but not as much as that of the A10. The A50 has 4GB internal SD memory with 256MB RAM and 256MB ROM. While these specs are enough to run the phone comfortably, I was hoping at least it would bare the same specs as that of the A10 which are 4GB internal SD memory with 512MB RAM and 512MB ROM. As we know, Android is all about performance and not candy-eye. A50 score (4/10)
A big factor that is often identified first in a particular Android phone is the processor. The A50 is bearing the same processor that was in the A10 which is the Qualcomm MSM 7227 which clocks at 600MHz. It is also the same processor that you will find in your HTC Legend. While most hardware manufacturers are looking forward to dual-cores, Asus has not yet even ventured with the Snapdragon yet. I hope Asus’ next Android phone will at least bear a 1GHz processor if not a dual core beast. For the A50, the 600MHz was not a letdown though. Considering the A50 is a mid-range Android phone, it ranks pretty well among most of its competitors. A50 score (5/10)
I really don’t know why, but Asus decided to fit in the 3.2MPx camera into this sexy machine instead of the 5MPx found in its predecessor. With a much awesomer screen, I didn’t expect to get a lower resolution camera really. However, Asus did chuck in the autofocus and geo-tagging to compensate. The video recording is not as good as the A10, but for the price that you pay for the A50, you get VGA@24fps – which actually is not bad at all. A50 score (4/10)
The navigation has to be an awesome catch on the A50. The Garmin navigation gets sexier and robust. You can even use 3D maps on the A50 this time. To put it in simple words, Garmin application was already awesome, A10 made it awesomer, and the A50 made it a pleasure. With a wider screen, the navigation looks more spacious and neat. The GPS connectivity is still similar to that of the A10 and connects very quickly – one of the best feature Garmin-Asus phones have had so far. Within less than a minute; in fact within half a minute, your GPS is already synced to the satellites and you are ready to navigate. Not to forget, since Garmin has the widest variety of available third party maps, the Garmin-Asus phones are not left out. You can use the third-party maps that have the .img extensions as described in my tutorial here. A50 score (8/10)
To all asians, we actually got these Garmin-Asus phones way late. But we are lucky enough. Previous batches of both A10 and A50 came with Android 1.6. We got our cut of Eclair on both phones. However, I have confirmed this with the ASUS boys, and according to them, the A10 will be getting Froyo somewhere in January, but the A50 so far has not received any news about Froyo yet. Its undecided whether it will get or not. But I wouldn’t whine about it. Eclair is already a very good update. Anything after 1.6 works just fine for me.
One thing that I really was taken aback on the A50 was the number of homescreen available for widgets. It was reduced compared to the A10. Maybe there was supposed to be an option where you could add / remove the number of homescreen, but no. They removed some of the screens. Now this is one reason I want to root these phones – use a custom Launcher like ADW or LauncherPro. So that I can have as many screens as I want.
Not to forget, there is still the ASUS’ own simpler launcher if you wish to use that. Personally, I just view it once on both phones and then used the Android Launcher all the way. I don’t think that needs an explanation right? ☺ A50 score (6/10).
Okay, first of all, this review was a comparison of A50 with the A10. Bear in mind, the A10 is 50% more expensive than the A50 so it is expected to be a very tough competition for the A50. All in all, the A50 is actually a great device. I tried to use it as my secondary phone to replace my A10 (My primary phone is my Nexus One). I have to say, I was able to use it on my daily basis for the purpose. In fact, I didn’t even think much about the A10. Most of the time when I had to use the A10 was when I had to compare “Does A10 have this?”.
Once again, many people thanked the most for this part on the A10 review previously. I know most of us who are considering a phone and looking for reviews are indeed looking for these pointers. I would honestly say, the little RAM and ROM is a let down for me. I was expecting at least 512MB of ROM and 512MB of RAM. Apart from that, once again, fastboot is not included in the A50 just like the A10. Then again, considering the Garmin and ASUS partnership split, I suppose things will change in the future. Nevertheless, the A50 can be rooted. We just need a platform to flash custom ROMs and get some activity among the developers. On Android, its these developments that make the phone famous. Its just the hard truth :)
Overall Garmin-Asus A50 score = 5/10