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Sciphone I9+++ review

I recently bought a Sciphone I9+++ from – a Chinese online seller.

Until recently I had never heard about this phone or brand: “Sciphone”. But in December ’09 I considered, finally, to upgrade from my old and trustful Nokia 3220. So I decided to look for a new phone.

I don’t wanted much from my new phone. Just to call and be called, to play music and movies as an Mp4 player and, if possible, to go online in urgent situations. On the other hand, I don’t give a shit on how other people see me, so I don’t care if they see me with a cheap phone. That’s why I started to look for a phone in the area of 100-125 euros with the following characteristics:

  • able to function as an MP4 player
  • able to support microSD (in order to play a lot of music)
  • if possible, able to connect to the internet

When I was looking to buy my new phone, I found some sellers in my country that were aggressively marketing the “Sciphone” brand. This is a dual sim, quad band Iphone clone. The price was very good (around 450 RON, which means ~110 euros), it seemed that it contained all the functions that I needed, so I was tempted to buy one, but finally I gave up with this idea because:

  • I didn’t found any reliable information about Sciphone SAR (level of radiations)
  • I was aware that the price in China is less than a half of the price offered by the Romanian sellers
  • I have read a lot of negative reviews: people said that the batteries were very bad, or that the software was incredibly buggy, and so on
  • on Youtube there are a lot of movies with Sciphone I68 and Sciphone I9+++, but these movies are too much presentational

This is why finally I’ve decided to buy a Nokia 6303, which is an excellent phone – except the fact that the 2.2” screen is too little to comfortably play movies on it.

But at the end of April, I have received a newsletter from PayPal presenting some Chinese online sellers. One of them was , an online store that features a lot of Sciphone phones. After carefully inspecting some models built around I68 model, I have decided to risk 56 USD and to buy a Sciphone I9+++ . This was on May 1st. To my surprise, by May 18th, the phone arrived in Romania.

So, I had the opportunity to use a Sciphone and now I’m ready to write my own review. I will organise it with pros and cons.

Sciphone I9+++ pros

  • It’s a dual sim phone. This means that you can have 2 sims (different or same network) and receive calls or call with both. This is great when you use 2 different phones, or when you go with your wife in holiday and don’t want to use 2 phones and 2 chargers.
  • I struggled with the GPRS settings, but finally I managed to correctly set the phone. Opera Mini 4.2 (generic version) works great and it is much more confortable than on Nokia 6303. I didn’t had the curiosity to test the built-in Chinese browser. On the reverse side, the speed of Opera Mini on Nokia seems to be a little bit faster.
  • The gold battery is not so bad, but I observed that it’s better to charge it from the wall charger than from the laptop (through USB). With wall charger a full charge takes around 2h, but with USB charger the phone shows battery fully charged after only 1/2 hours – which is false and can trick you. If used only for calls, and not very intensive (let’s say 15 minutes a day) the gold battery easily lasts 3 days, which is not so bad.
  • Both Windows XP and Windows 7 recognized the phone when plugged-in. Windows will read Sciphone as “MT6225 device” and it is very easy to transfer files between the phone and the computer.
  • The touch screen works fine so far. I have never had a touch screen phone, and I will never pay more than 100 euros for one such phone, but I have a Fujitsu Siemens Pocket LOOX N560 so I know what a touch screen should be able to do. Sciphone’s touch screen is very responsive, and it’s even better if you calibrate it.
  • It plays some Java applications. Not every Java application, but I was interested to have Opera Mini – and this plays well.
  • The Bluetooth function is very, very nice. You can use the Sciphone as a remote control over your desktop (or laptop)  computer and even your  PDA. Very useful if you want to impress an audience.
  • It costs only 56 USD, unlocked. Even if we count shipping and eventually VAT charges, price doesn’t go over 75 USD. This is a very good value, in my opinion. This price cannot be beaten!

Sciphone I9+++ cons

  • Movies: I have never managed to play any single movie, except the movies taken by the built-in camera. Firstly, I downloaded some MP4s from Google Video. Nokia 6303 has no problem in playing these movies. But Sciphone wasn’t so friendly. Then I tried to re-encode the movies with different options, but with no success. I finally gave up. This is not good.
  • The built-in camera’s quality is awful. It reminds me the Nokia 3220′s camera. Don’t expect to take artistic pictures or movies with it, however it’s very useful when you only need to take an informal picture. And some people say that it can be used as webcam, too (I didn’t tried, but it seems so).
  • The music player doesn’t read folders, so if you want to organize music files as albums / artists etc. , you can’t. All the music files must stay in the same folder on the MicroSD card. However, I think that one can organize his/hers music in play lists. Which is not, however, very comfortable. My Nokia 6303 organizes itself all the music and can recognize artists and albums.
  • The same for the pictures. The pictures must stay in the same folder.
  • The files cannot be organized and thus important settings will stay forever well hidden. For example you’ll have to digg after the missed calls (CALLS > SIM CALL HISTORY > MISSED CALLS). If you missed a call the Sciphone doesn’t display a message on frontpage.
  • We don’t know anything about SAR value. Taking into account that 90% of the world phones are manufactured in China (at least the components) I suspect that SAR values for this Sciphone are ok, however it would be nice to have some official information, especially taking into account that this is a dual sim phone – and concerns are double.
  • It doesn’t have a built in email application. Nokia 6303 has. However, if needed, one can use Opera Mini.
  • It doesn’t  have an official pc-suite. It does have, however, some kind of “unofficial” Phone Suite that seems reliable enough.

In short, I’m happy with the choice that I’ve made in December – purchasing a Nokia 6303 instead of Sciphone I68/I9+. Nokia 6303 is a much more multimedia oriented phone and it is very friendly with music lovers. I have nor time, neither disposition to add my music files to playlists or to discover the correct MP4 codec in order to make the Sciphone to work well. However the Sciphone will be definitely used  as a “family”  phone when I’ll be abroad – with my SIM and my wife’s SIM on it. The dual-sim function is very convenient and you can definitely take advantage of it in a lot of situations.

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