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Smartfren Andromax-U Review: Affordable and Dependable, But Very Laggy

Smartfren Andromax U 1

Credit: Gizmoup

I have been using my first Android phone, the Smartfren Andromax-U, for a few months now and would like to share my thoughts about the phone. Having bought one shortly after it launched in February, my experience of dealing with Smartfren through the service center and then seeing the launch of the revamped Andromax line-up soon after could serve up some useful points for future Andromax buyers.

For your reference, the phone that I’m reviewing is the Indonesian telco’s Andromax-U with a dual-core processor, not the revamped Andromax-U Limited with a quadcore processor.

Despite the issues you’ll hear about later, let me start off by saying that I still think that the Andromax-U still looks like a great phone in its price range – just IDR 1.6 million ($160) 1. You can go through its specs here. I soon found out that the phone shoots really mediocre pictures even though it has a supposedly 8-megapixel rear camera. That fact can help set the tone for the phone’s overall performance: good for that price range, but don’t expect the world from it.

Laggy at first

Smartfren Andromax U 1

Credit:Chip

Being quite affordable, the Andromax-U’s phone’s body is made mostly of plastic. The power button is located on the top right of the phone, which some might find not very ergonomic if you’re looking to use the phone with one hand. The earphones given alongside the phone are comfortable to be used. Overall, it has a nice appearance.

Performance wise, I’d say that the phone, which runs Android 4.0 (and now 4.1), is very decent with no issues when swiping and using other touch gestures. But you will find that the OS doesn’t have an overall smooth feeling even if you have just one or two apps in the background. Yes, it’s a bit laggy.

But I am happy that Smartfren kept its promise and rolled out the Jelly Bean OS update for the handset. I feel that the performance using the new OS is much better.

Smartfren exclusives

The phone comes with a Smartfren widget that helps track your Smartfren CDMA credit. The widget doesn’t look that appealing aesthetically though, but it gets the job done. There’s also a Smartfren Store that routinely promotes a few paid apps that can be bought with phone credit, as well as quite a few pre-installed apps that I never used but can’t get rid off.

You are not be able to use 3G connection from your GSM card, so you’ll need to use Smartfren’s 3G CDMA card. I have found no problem with its speed, and the signal reception is quite good too across the capital. Smartfren suffered an internet outage that rocked the nation a while back, and I hope that wouldn’t repeat itself again soon.

Say no to huge games!

I love playing games on my phone. A few of my favorite ones are Battle Cats, Candy Crush, Temple Run 2, and Subway Surf. I have some lag problems playing the former two games, but when it comes to the latter two, you can expect to hit even more disturbing lags here and there. Note that Temple Run 2 plays smoothly at first, but as you pick up your speed in the game, it gets harder as the phone gets choppy too.

It’s become a habit for me to close all my background apps before playing games. Also, the phone doesn’t have a button that lets you close all hidden apps easily, so you need to close them one by one which can make the experience a bit tiring.

More downsides

smartfren andromax u 2

Credit: T3

As a side note, while I had no problem with the phone at all during most of my use, I did bring it to the service center once to get it replaced. Because after two weeks of first use, the phone just suddenly died. I took good care of the phone and it wasn’t damaged by external factors. Even the customer service crew didn’t understand why it happened.

I left my phone for two weeks in the service center, and in the end, the company gave me a brand new phone because they couldn’t fix the previous one. Yes, I was left phone-less in that time. Since then I haven’t found too many problems with the phone save for fairly rare random shutdowns since the last OS update.

No update for current users

And finally let’s talk about the new Andromax-U Limited. It is basically the same phone with more RAM (upped from 768MB to 1GB) and a beefier processor (1.2GHz dual-core swapped for a quad-core). The new phone is more expensive by just IDR 100,000 ($10), and arrived four months after the predecessor set the stage.

I would say that as an Andromax-U user, I feel disappointed that a better phone exists in a very short span of time from the same company. That automatically lowers the resale price of your existing phone should you want to sell it. This reminds me to a few pissed iPad 3 owners last year.

And I’ve asked, but there’s no way for a customer to trade in their current phone for a new one. That is, unless a lot of people demand this happens, noted a Smartfren representative during the new phone’s launch. Well, this is me demanding that it happen.

All in all, Andromax-U is a good phone that can carry you through the day. It doesn’t offer the smoothest experience, but it’s affordable.

(Editing by Steven Millward and Charlie Custer)


  1. The phone supports dual SIM cards for GSM and Smartfren-locked CDMA numbers. High internet speed can only be achieved by using the CDMA card.


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