It is not new anymore to hear about the arrival of a feature rich budget smartphone in developing markets like China and India, considering that the mobile segments there are already flooded with affordable options. However, Chinese tech company, LeTV claims to have something distinctive to offer.
The company has come up with a budget smartphone that combines metal bodied design, impressive hardware specifications, and good content, offered against 1099 RMB (Rs 12,000 approximately). In an event held in Beijing in China on October 27, LeTV unveiled their latest smartphone dubbed as Le 1S to redefine the budget smartphone segment. The company claims that the 1S is loaded with features and specs that can beat even the iPhone 6 Plus hardware specs, and is capable of disrupting the market completely.
To give a brief about the company, LeTV is a Chinese company that started as an Internet TV content provider and then expanded its business by adding smartphones, TVs and other devices to its portfolio. This 11 years old Chinese company is also working on a supercar for which it partnered with well known luxury car brand Aston Martin. The company is working towards creating an ecosystem that combines good software, hardware and services to result in great user experience. The company is a relatively new entrant to the smartphone segment in China, and is now planning to enter India by January 2016, as well as in the US soon.
Taking of the Letv Le 1S smartphone, this features a nearly bezel-less display held by a unibody design, Mediatek's Helios X10 chipset with 3GB RAM, USB Type-C port, finger recognition tech, and EUI 5.5, which is the latest version of its native UI platform. The major highlight of the phone is that it has a dedicated screen for LeTV's internet TV which opens window to a word of movies and entertainment content. Moreover, in China, consumers can get this phone for free on taking four-year subscription to LeTV's internet content. This however is restricted to regions where the company provides their internet service. For India, it will be interesting to see what content partners to they bring on board and how they place the phone, considering that will also have to bear the taxes on shipments to India.
We were at the launch event of the Le 1S smartphone, and here's the first impression.
Design and Display
A metal-bodied smartphone is rare to the budget segment. The Le 1S, however, flaunts a unibody design predominantly comprising of metal. Its brushed metal form factor with chamfered edges looks as well as feels premium for the phone's price. To add to its looks, the front adorns a nearly bezel-less display with three capacitive keys placed below it, and a camera placed up front. The 5.5-inch FHD display with 1080x1920 pixels resolution has 500nit per pixel which offers better visuals, is bright and vivid, reproduces colors well, and offers good viewing angles.
The right side of the handset has power key and volume key, which are easily reachable for thumb, while the left is home to SIM card trey.
The top has a 3.5mm audio jack and the bottom features USB Type-C port that supports reversible connection. The rear panel has a 13MP camera placed on top left corner, like the way you see on an iPhone, and a circular fingerprint scanner pad.
Processor and memory
The Le 1S phone is powered by MediaTek's Helios X10 chipset with octa-core clicking at 2.2GHz. The processor is paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage which again should be good for storing most of your files, photos, videos and more on the phone.
This phone sports a 13MP rear camera with ISOCELL sensor, LED Flash, f2.0 aperture and PDAF for instant focus. Up front, there is a 5MP camera. The rimary camera supports slow-motion video recording as well. As for camera quality, it resulted in some nice shots when we tested it at the event venue. Pictures shot from rear camera came out well, and were sharp, but not exceptionally good. We will test the device to give detailed information about its camera performance.
Software is one of the key elements of the smartphone. LeTV says that it has put special attention on the software front to make this phone a better offering than its rivals. It uses EUI 5.5 based on Android OS, which brings several new features and customizations on board. For instance, the multi-desktops feature can open multiple windows simultaneously. We found the UI smooth and pretty responsive during our hands-on experience. Swiping to the left of the home screen takes you to the company's Internet TV. Google's native apps too have been deeply customized, which might result in bloatware issues later.
You get a 3000mAh battery with fast charging capability, which gives 3.5 hours of talk time in just 5minutes of charging, as per company claims. The battery in itself should be good for a day of mixed use, though we will only be able to share our take on its performance in our detailed review of the phone.
LeTV's Le 1S is undoubtedly an interesting entry-level smartphone, and has a lot to offer to its consumers. It has good build and sports nice hardware, which seems impressive on paper. Its key highlight remains to be support for Internet content, which may however does not work well in India, considering that the company wants to bring loca content on this space.
Overall, it makes for an attractive phone for its price which translates to Rs 11,200 approximately, but we doubt if the phone will actually be launched at such a low price in India, considering that there will be shipment costs involved in it. LeTV is working towards setting up an R&D centre in India and locally manufacture devices, which will help it in localizing the content and lowering the cost of its devices. We eagerly look forward to its India launch that is expected to happen by January 2016.