Posh Mobile is a great example of how hard it is to build a good budget phone. The company's Orion Pro is an unlocked, dual-SIM phone with a 5-inch screen, 1.3GHz processor, and 5-megapixel camera that's plagued by poor performance, a cheap feel and an unremarkable screen.
For a little background, Posh Mobile is a new cell phone company aiming its devices at the developing smartphone market in Latin America and at budget-conscious Americans. It joins the ranks of other low-cost, global-compatible smartphone manufacturers such as VeryKool.
The Orion Pro's manufacturer price is $140, but you can find it for a bit cheaper on Amazon and other online retailers. For that price, it's cheaper than most unlocked dual-SIM phones you'll find. However, because the phone underperforms in most areas, cheaper is not better here.
Measuring 5.66 inches tall, 2.87 inches wide and 0.40 inch thick (144 x 73 x 10.3 mm), the Orion Pro is big and a bit bulky. For my smaller hands, it's just at the threshold of being too big to use one-handed: I can just barely get my whole hand around it and use the screen at the same time. Like most larger and phablet-size phones, it was easier for me to use it with two hands. The phone is hefty too, weighing 6.4 ounces (181.43 grams), which also makes it uncomfortable to hold with one hand.
The Orion Pro has an all-polycarbonate body and a pleasant soft-touch finish on the back. Many phones with similar finishes pick up fingerprints and smudges easily, but fortunately, this one stayed looking nice. The phone comes in four colors: white, black, blue and red. I reviewed the blue version, which is a nice deep navy that has a slight hint of shimmer, giving the phone's design some personality.
The Orion Pro's back cover pops off to reveal the battery, dual-SIM slots and microSD card slot. However, taking off that cover requires a lot of force, and I sacrificed a few fingernails to do it. There's a small notch on the bottom-left corner and you'll want to use a tool, like a small screwdriver, to pry it up. I also struggled with inserting a SIM card, in either slot. I don't usually have trouble with that on any phone, so it stood out to me.
The Orion Pro has a 5-inch IPS LED screen with a paltry 980 x 540 resolution that looks fuzzy at best. My biggest complaint is that text just doesn't look sharp, making it harder to read at the "normal" size. I needed to crank it up to "large" in settings to compensate.
Also, colors look oversaturated and unnatural, adding to the overall poor display quality. The final issue with the screen is that it doesn't always feel that responsive and often didn't pick up my taps.
Below the screen are the phone's capacitive menu, home and back buttons. They have a very dim backlight that stays on for a few seconds after you tap them, but otherwise they blend into the black screen bezel. Unlike other Android phones, you'll need to tap and hold the home button, not the menu button, to bring up your recent apps.
You won't find the latest and greatest of Android in the Orion Pro. The phone is running Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2, a nearly two-year old version of the operating system that's several steps behind the latest 5.0 Lollipop release. Despite the fact that Google designed Android 4.4 KitKat to run on lower-end devices, many phones still ship with outdated versions of the OS, which is a shame.
The phone doesn't have many extra software features, though it does have a custom design from Posh Mobile. You can choose from one of six themes called "Styles" and change the accent color for menus. Each theme has unique icon packs that look dated. The rest of the phone has the typical stock Android look, with a horizontal-scrolling app drawer, swipe-down notification shade and simple lock screen.
Many of Google's apps are included, such as Gmail, Calendar and Maps. Posh Mobile also includes a file manager, the Opera Mini browser, a sound recorder, and Posh Apps, an app that promises free apps from the company, but really just shows you links to a few select titles from Google Play. There's no need to bother with Posh Apps, when the Play Store app offers the same features and a much better experience.
Some notable extras include audio profiles, which let you quickly change the volume and sound settings for the appropriate environment, such as a meeting or night time. You can also schedule the phone to shut off and turn on at a particular time, a feature that I've not seen on other Android smartphones.
Camera and video
Don't expect to take stunning photos with the Orion Pro's camera, because the 5-megapixel main camera is a letdown. Overwhelmingly the photos I took with the camera looked hazy, washed out and often out of focus, despite my attempts to focus the shot. Check out my test shots below and click each image to enlarge.