The great, unwritten promise of Android is the availability of low cost handsets with the same powerful operating system as expensive smartphones. But up until now, those handsets have been few and far between. The Millennius Apanda is an unlocked, $459 HSPA handset running Android 2.1 - so why is it so cheap?
A cursory glance at the awkwardly named Apanda's spec sheet will tell you exactly where the budget was saved on this phone: Running the Android operating system is a 600MHz Qualcomm 7227 chipset. In a marketplace filled with Gigahertz processors that spec stands out as the low end.
But that's not to say it's bad. At all. Compared to phones from even 18 months ago, the Apanda is a high-speed demon, capable of bringing you the versatility of Android 2.1 with style. It's the vanilla Android too, just the way Google intended, which probably helps avoid unnecessary performance issues. There was no lagging when browsing the Marketplace, no delays when launching apps and no hesitation when making calls.
The phone itself isn't the most attractive phone on the market. The call and end buttons look and feel out of place on a phone from 2010. The four touch sensitive buttons at the bottom of the screen work, although occasionally they got in the way while typing in portrait mode. It comes in four colours, although that does little for the case's plasticky feel. The trackball feels dated but works, and given that this is a touchscreen device, you're unlikely to use it too much anyway.
The 5MP camera does the job of a 5MP cameraphone, but it's far from being a compact replacement. But the shots are respectable, and perfect for viewing on the phone's 320x480 screen. The battery lasts about a day's full use, which is about par for the smartphone course these days.
Considering the Apanda is quad-band HSPA - it will work on all Australian networks - and costs just $399 for an 8GB version (or $459 for 16GB), it's hard to argue with its appeal. It may not be as aesthetically pleasing as some more recent phones, and with the plasticky feel and slower processor it may date quicker than something from HTC or Samsung, but it does the job it's designed to do, and does that job pretty well.