Posh Mobile Memo S580 review: A big screen with nothing to show for it

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MSRP: $169.99

The Good The Posh Mobile Memo's support for dual-SIM cards should please frequent travelers, as will the long battery life.

The Bad Middling performance is coupled with meager resolution on the large display.

The Bottom Line Lackluster performance and a poor display make the dual-SIM Posh Mobile Memo not even worth its budget price.

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4.7 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 5
  • Performance 4

Phablets are a confusing segment of the smartphone world. Consider the Posh Mobile Memo S580: I'm still convinced that a 5.9-inch smartphone is a ludicrous notion, even in spite of my massive hands. But phones insist on getting larger, and device manufacturers -- including Samsung , LG and Google -- have long since begun to obey.

Smaller players like Posh Mobile evidently aren't keen on being left out. The company is a distributor based out of New Jersey that primarily sells its phones online through Amazon, Newegg and eBay, and in some retail stores in the US and Latin America.

All of its phones are unlocked, dual-SIM models that let you swap between two SIM cards on the fly. The Mobile Memo is the biggest of the bunch, a 5.9-inch device with a budget price tag: its MSRP is listed at $170, though you can find it for $99 on Amazon.com.

Unfortunately size is about all the Mobile Memo has to offer. Lackluster performance and an unappealing display make this phablet one to skip.

Design and specs

A big phone with a bad screen. Josh Miller/CNET

The Posh Mobile Memo is huge. It's 6.5 inches tall, with a 5.9-inch screen. While not absurdly heavy at 8.9 ounces (255g), the weight and width make the device cumbersome. The phone feels solid, with a rigid, glossy plastic body accented by silver plastic trim. It's also 3.5 inches wide: my massive hands can almost reach from one side of the screen to the other, but smaller hands will be dwarfed here.

Three capacitive buttons run along the bottom edge of the device and light up when pressed: these are the menu button, the home button and the back button. The physical volume rocker and lock button sit on the upper right corner, within relatively easy reach of my oversize mitts. Smaller hands will have some difficulty getting to them, and you'll definitely need to adjust your grip if you're holding the Memo up to your face while making a call.

For comparison's sake, the Posh Mobile Memo is exactly as wide as the BlackBerry Passport . While I enjoyed using that phone, the width becomes a sore point if you're trying to do anything one-handed. More sensible phablets eke out massive screen sizes without going so wide: consider the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4 , which is 3.1 inches wide. And then there's Google's 5.9-inch Nexus 6 , which is 3.3 inches wide. Those devices, while huge, can still be used with one hand in a pinch.

Dual-SIM card phones aren't especially popular in the US. Josh Miller/CNET

I wouldn't call the Memo ugly, though I'm not sure Posh Mobile's "Elegance for all" claim really holds up here. It just looks like a generic, plastic smartphone, albeit a massive one. And any claim to elegance or quality design flies out the windows once you fire it up and take a look at the dismal display, which has a meager 800x480-pixel resolution.

I almost assumed that was a typo, or some glitch to be ironed out with a patch. But no: in the year 2014, Posh Mobile has released a 5.9-inch smartphone with a sub-HD resolution display. Images look washed out; colors lack warmth and vibrancy. Things get worse if you aren't looking at the phone dead on, as the contrast starts to degrade rather quickly. High-definition video is right out, and my sample high-resolution photos looked dull, their details blurred. I'll admit that text is rather easy to read, owing to how large everything is.

A dual-core 1.2GHz CPU sits under the hood, coupled with 512MB of RAM. There isn't much in the way of storage space at 1.5GB, so you'll need to rely on a microSD card for expansion: the Memo supports up to 32GB cards.

The phone's backplate is a bit of a pain to pry off -- I was worried I'd snap the flimsy plastic -- but once you're in, you'll find that aforementioned memory card slot, as well as room for two SIM cards. That's a great feature for travelers, and dual-SIM phones are extremely popular in Latin America, a significant chunk of Posh Mobile's market. You don't need to pop out the 2,500-mAh battery to reach any of these slots, which is a smart touch.

Software and features

The low resolution is a sore point on such a big display. Josh Miller/CNET

The Posh Mobile Memo is largely bereft of any sort of special fixings. It's running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, a woefully outdated operating system that's missing many of the extra features we've come to expect from Android. Google has uncoupled many of its native apps from the OS proper, so you'll still be able to get things like Hangouts and Google Now care of the Google search app. You can also grab the Hangouts Dialer app to take advantage of Google Voice integration. But you're still missing out on all of the new features and improvements Google has baked into Android 4.4 KitKat . This is especially disconcerting given that Android 5.0 Lollipop is just around the corner.

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