Xolo X900 is a unique beast in many ways. Not only because of the powerful, single core Atom processor blazing at 1.6 GHZ which comes close to dethroning even the heavyweight Android behemoths with Quad Core ARM processors, but also due to the fact that you get a very impressive smartphone with close if not better specifications than the Galaxy S III at nearly half the price, making it the obvious choice for anyone looking at a good Android smartphone for within 20k.
The only problem you ask? Until now, Xolo was stuck with incredibly dated Gingerbread, drawing sharp criticisms from various quarters. Intel had promised an ICS update for Intel Xolo x900 “soon”, but it was not until October, that is 6 months from the launch that it was actually delivered. You can actually have a little fun if you take a look at the Xolo social media pages about, how frustrated the users were about the delay.
Okay STAHP, Xolo must have ruined the UI anyway??
Well, the carrier bloat on the stock ROM’s is a never ending saga. What annoys the user is when the UI departs so much from the core Android user experience so much so that it almost hurts to use the phone. Orange San Diego , the UK version of the Xolo has a very ugly Orange UI on the top of Gingerbread, which was bashed by reviewers. Thankfully, the ICS ROM supplied by Xolo is absolutely bloat free and resembles raw Android, barring few subtle tweaks at places. The result, is a very very snappy phone, which I am just going to flaunt to my friends over the next week :D. Trust me on this, ICS on the Xolo performs better than Jelly Bean (CM10) on most of all the mid ranged Android smart phones.
Features and Fixes Galore
Intel has not missed any feature provided by Android ICS. Be it Wi-Fi Direct, Android Beam, Face Unlock you name it. Apart from that there are a lot of fixes to existing issues in Xolo and a handful of new features along with the usual ICS goodness, in the latest update. Some notable ones worth mentioning below.
App compatibility seems to be completely fixed
Big hugs for Intel devs for this. The original Xolo / San Diego with Gingerbread had very glaring issues with app compatibility, especially with games. Many apps force closed, some just refused to install, and few suffered from terrible performance when compared to the performance on the ARM based phones. This update seems to magically fix all these issues in one stroke as all the Arm V7 games are now fully compatible with Xolo. So finally, Google Chrome, Temple Run, Max Payne, GTA III, Winamp “just work” without any issues.
While Xolo shipped with Swype keyboard right out of the box, the ICS update adds “SwiftKey 3 for Intel” to the kitty. While not sure if it is the full version or a rebranded SwiftKey 3 free, it is definitely a welcome addition.
Powertool : Intel brings Processor Control Without Root(!)
Perhaps this is the first and the only stock Android ROM to ship with inbuilt processor control. You can select the desired CPU frequency, CPU governor , and heck you can even enable or disable Hyper Threading to save battery juice. Kudos to Intel!. You can access Powertool, in the Battery section of System settings
Camera UI is completely changed and now is much more intuitive than the Ginger Bread version which felt more like a technology prototype. All the options are neatly arranged, and are very accessible without much wandering around in the sub-menus.
Notable Fixes include
- The notorious poor reception / no network issue seems to be fixed completely.
- GPS reception now works a lot better
- Burst mode now works in full glory, letting you capture upto 15 images per second as per specifications
- A new option for compass and gyroscope calibration is included , which was badly needed.
A neat decision is, to stick with a Ginger Bread style gallery, instead of the ICS one, which I feel is a lot better than the default ICS gallery. It is a matter of personal taste though.
Thanks to the processor, and the minimal bloat, the phone just flies with ICS. Also, a lot of app’s force close issues and other minor kinks have been ironed out. As mentioned earlier, there is absolutely no network reception issues now, and the signal reception is fantastic. Battery life has also got an additional boost thanks to the inbuilt Powertool.
The Stock Gallery app is however slightly slow, and jaggy, despite carrying the look and feel of Ginger Bread. Gallery ICS from the play store seems to do the trick however. Also lot of advanced features from the original camera app are removed, which is definitely going to annoy some users.
Installation for Intel Xolo x900 ICS Update
For Xolo x900 Users
Just download the update over the air, by going to About Phone > System Updates > Update from OTA. Alternatively you can also download the zip file, and install it after placing the file on your USB storage by going to About Phone > System Updates > Update from USB Storage
For Orange San Diego Users
You can get Xolo ICS update on your San Diego, by downloading the zip file and installing it via About Phone > System Updates > Update from USB Storage.
Download: ICS 4.0.4 Update for Xolo X900 [299 MB]
Xolo X900 was a very capable phone right from the day it shipped, and the latest ICS update takes this dizzy new heights. Xolo has also dropped its price to 17,500 INR in India and anyone looking for a powerful smartphone within a fair budget can buy it without even giving it a second thought. If that is not enough for you, Intel has even finished porting Jelly Bean already, and its just a matter of time before it is out in the wild.