The overall feedback on the Rs 11,000 phone has been as expected: It offers superb value for money and can give competition to any model priced less than Rs 20,000 in India.
“Phew! Thats what I call a good & fair deal for a smartphone in the 10K-12K range,” says Siddharth Zaveri, one of the ‘lucky ones’ who bought the phone from Flipkart on Feb 2.
“No currently available phone at this price point (Indian, American or chinese) can deliver a good package such as this. Good display, Design, Sound, aesthetics & above all IR blaster, Type-C USB, OTG & Fast Charging.”
Most importantly, the phone has got the three core things about any smartphone right — display, performance and battery life.
DISPLAY & LOOKS
Almost no one had a bad thing to say about the 5.5-inch full-HD display, and nearly every agrees that the screen is perhaps the best aspect of the phone.
If you’re someone who values a crisp display, then this phone will not disappoint you.
Add the superior all-metal styling, the Le 1s leaves very little to be desired in the looks department.
The second key aspect is performance, and it’s not surprise that it performs well. After all, it’s the only phone under Rs 19,900 that comes with a premium processor like Helio X10. In fact, the phrase ‘under Rs 19,900’ hardly does justice to the pricing as the final price is about half of that.
The only performance ‘issue’ that some reviews have pointed out is that the Le 1s tends to be pretty liberal when it comes to letting background apps hold on to memory. Many users are surprised that the same set of apps when kept open on a 1 GB phone phone leave 200 MB unused, while they occupy 1.5 GB on the LeEco model.
However, that is largely an operating system-level optimization. Operating systems like Android tend to let apps hang on to memory if they see that there is a lot of free RAM available in the system. When RAM is scarce, as in a 1 GB system, the operating system aggressively frees up RAM from background apps. This, in other words, is perfectly normal behavior for any phone with a lot of memory.
Another element that LeTV 1s has got bang on is battery performance.
Reviews talk very positively about the overall battery life, with users reporting screen-on times (browsing etc) of around 4 hours.
However, more than the decent battery life of the 3Ah battery, users have been impressed by the fast-charging feature. That is perhaps not surprising when you consider that the 1s is the only affordable phone with fast charging. So far, only phones with premium chipsets (priced Rs 20,000 and above) have come with fast charging.
Initial charging rate, according to users, is about 2% per minute.
“Fully charged battery from 0% to 100%. It took exactly 1hour 30minutes,” said user Suresh Kumar. “Used it for few minutes and slept. Next day morning, the battery level is still 100%. I am very surprised. I used the mobile for another 15 min still it is 100%. Battery assistant is in Ultra-long stand by mode. I think it does all this wonders.”
These are not the only things that LeEco seems to have got right. There are a few bonuses as well.
The top one has to be the infrared blaster. Again, this is the first phone priced less than Rs 19,900 to come with an IR port. IR is used by television and audio remove controllers to send signals to the device, and having an IR blaster helps you control your TVs and other appliances with your smartphone.
Another advantage — something that is not present in many phones that cost two or three times as much — is USB Type C reversible port. The port is more convenient compared to normal Type A connectors as you can plug it in any direction without looking at which side is ‘up’ and which is ‘down’. This prolongs the life of the connector and helps reduce the problem of USB ports becoming loose with age.
Of course, there are also some disappointments that have been reported by user reviews and these can be divided into the 1) already known, and 2) new information.
Among the already known disappointments is the fact that there is no support for 4G voice on the phone. 4G voice, or VoLTE, is required for a decent experience on Reliance Jio’s upcoming 4G service, and this feature will be available on the Redmi Note 3 India edition.
According to our tests on Reliance Jio 4G network, voice calls are still a challenge for those using non-VoLTE phones.
At present, when a non-VoLTE handset makes a voice call on Jio’s network, it tries to route the call using Jio’s VoIP app, which forwards the call using the phone’s data network. If the VoIP app is not installed or if the data connectivity is poor, the phone disconnects from Jio’s 4G network and connects to a partner’s 2G or 3G network to continue.
The key thing to keep in mind is that VoIP option works only when data connectivity is decent, while the second option involves a delay of around
15-20 seconds before the call goes through. Also remember that this problem will not be unique to Jio’s 4G network.
UPDATE: According to tests, the move from 4G to 3G or 2G happens in a matter of 2 seconds or so on most networks, not 15 seconds. The error is regretted.
You will run into the same problems with the 4G networks of other operators like Airtel and Vodafone if you are latched on to their 4G network using a non-VoLTE phone when you want to make a call.
The quick and easy way to solve the problem will be to buy two SIMs, put one on 4G for data connectivity and the other on 2G or 3G for voice connectivity. Both SIMs can be from the same operator or different ones, and this solution works on all phones including the LeTV model.
Other known drawbacks of the phone include the absence of FM radio and the lack of support for external memory. Neither the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 nor the 1s support external memory cards and users have to make do with the 32 GB on board memory. Out of 32 GB, about 24 GB is available for the user.
These are the known weakpoints. However, user feedback also points towards some unknown niggles as well, the biggest of which is the 13 MP rear camera.
According to feedback, the camera performs well in outdoor, well-lit conditions, but the end results are not as impressive in low-light conditions. Nikhil Bhauwala, who purchased the phone on Feb 2, rates both cameras as average.
“The (back) camera struggles a bit in low light and artificial lighting conditions but it takes decent pictures in outdoor lighting conditions. The font camera is just an average one, (but) again struggles to take good images in low light conditions but takes some nice pictures in outdoor lighting conditions.”
Finally, he has this advice: “If you want a phone with camera as your priority, this phone is not for you.”
The second not-so-obvious niggle is around Eco User Interface — LeTV’s own skin on top of Android Lolipop that is present on the 1s.
Many users who come from Xiaomi models have said that the EUI is not as good as MIUI — Xiaomi’s customized Android skin.
However, while it is entirely possible that it may not be comparable to MIUI, it is equally possible that they are too used to the other interface and will get used to the new one eventually.
That said, LeTV has a business model built around hardware-software combo, and one cannot expect the same level of customizability for EUI as one finds on other vendor skins and versions.
This can be a drawback for ‘power users’ who like to really stretch their phone’s software.
Says Srinivasa Reddy, another person who bought the phone earlier this month: “Any corporate email enforce security password with 6 digit pin and disable pattern password for login but this phone has only 4 digit pin, I have to use 6 character password for login which is tough every time to type the password for login.
“OS looks very basic because many options taken out or hidden… This phone is very good for normal users who use minimum apps.”
Another issue that some users have reported (while others have not) is the tendency of the metallic frame to heat up. Unlike plastic models, the body of metallic phones are used to radiate away heat — keeping the phone cool and performance high. In fact, this is one of the advantages of having an all metal body.
However, in return for all that performance, you have to get used to holding a slightly warm phone when charging or using the phone for intense purposes or for longer duration.