High specification and cheap don’t always go hand-in-hand but a new breed of smartphones are going to bend that logic. Already making headlines on the web, these smartphone from Chinese multinational companies and start-ups are making high-end smartphones that rival offerings from well established tech companies such as Samsung and Apple.
Even the better known Lenovo, which acquired IBM’s PC business and Think brands (ThinkPad, ThinkCenter, ThinkStation, ThinkServer etc.) in 2005 has acquired Motorola Mobility from Google earlier this year to cement its position in the smartphone market globally.
So what better way to get to know the future of smartphones than to look at the cream of the crop from five of the fastest growing companies in the east.
High-end Smartphones from the East
Here is a five way comparative review between the hottest smartphone in the east at the moment. At the rate these companies are growing with both local and international market, it won’t be long before we see them here.
The Mi 3 has an impressive aluminium-magnesium alloy frame with thermal graphite coating reminiscence of Nokia’s plastic unibody frame. On the top edge of the frame, you have the 3.5mm headphone socket and sim card slot. On the right side age, you have the power button and volume rocker. At the bottom edge of the frame is 120 laser-cut speaker grills and metal-reinforced USB port.
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 8274AB 2.3GHz Quad-Core with Adreno 330 GPU
- Memory: 2GB LPDDR3 RAM (50% faster and consumes 20% less power)
- Storage: 16GB
- Display: 5-inch 1920 x 1080 Full HD 1080p LCD with IPS (441PPI) [BIG DISPLAY]
- Camera: 13MP rear facing with dual LED flash, 2MP front facing CMOS camera both supports 1080p HD recording
- Connectivity: 3G, Dual Band 2.4/5GHz WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS + GLONASS, AGPS, NFC
- Sensors: Gyroscope, Light, Accelerometer, Proximity, Electronic Compass, Barometer
- Battery: 3050 mAh Li-Ion battery
- Dimensions: 144mm x 73.6mm x 8.1mm
- Weight: 145 g [LIGHTER]
- Operating System: Android 4.3 optimised with MIUI version 5
The notion if doing one thing and does it really well comes OnePlus’s One smartphone. With the company’s tagline, “Never Settle”, OnePlus focuses on making just the one smartphone and does this with such veracity that it is said to be the only one you need. Deemed as the 2014 Flagship Killer, OnePlus One is bent on playing with the big boys.
OnePlus will also be offering StyleSwap, a unique range of back plates that you can buy to swap with the standard silk or sandstone design that comes with the phone. Yes, the back covers are exchangeable. StyleSwap comes in a variety of interesting materials and textures including kevlar, bamboo and denim. Users can change the back plate to suit their taste.
However, the 5.5-inch display does not carry as high a resolution as some found in this line up.
- Processor: Qualcomm© Snapdragon™ 801 processor with 2.5GHz Quad-core CPUs with Adreno 330, 578MHz GPU [FASTEST CPU]
- Memory: 3GB LP-DDR3 1866MHz [BIGGEST MEMORY]
- Storage: 16/64GB eMMC 5.0 [BIGGEST STORAGE OPTION]
- Display: 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 Full HD 1080p LTPS IPS with TOL, Touch on Lens technology (401PPI) on Corning Gorilla Glass 3 [BIGGER DISPLAY]
- Camera: 13MP rear facing Sony’s 2nd Generation Exmor IMX214 camera with 6 lenses and dual LED flash capable of capturing 4K resolution video with stereo and slow motion recording at 720p with 120fps. 5MP front facing camera
- Connectivity: 4G (LTE), 3G, Dual Band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS + GLONASS, NFC
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Digital Compass and Ambient Light
- Battery: 3100 mAh Lithium-Polymer battery [HIGH CAPACITY]
- Dimensions: 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm with the tapered edge at 4.6 mm
- Weight: 162 g [LIGHTER]
- Operating System: CyanogenMod 11S based on Android 4.4
- Colour Options: Silk White or Sandstone Black
As with OnePlus One’ the Find 7 uses the same 13 MP Sony sensor with upgraded type 1/3.06 imaging module and a wide f/20 aperture to capture more light in low light conditions. It also supports a 32 second long exposure mode for night shots and built-in hardware HDR. There is also an Ultra-HD shooting mode that takes 10 photos with a single shot and combine these to for a 50 MP photo suitable for big prints.
However, Oppo Find 7’s bigger marketing and selling point is its Rapid Charge adapter that lets you charge your phone 4X faster than conventional chargers. The VOOC fast charging system charges the Find 7 to 75% in 30 minutes. A quick 5 minutes charge is said to be sufficient to support a two-hour call. And, the battery is removable.
A cheaper cut down version is also available known as the Find 7a (EUR 399).
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AC) 2.5GHz Quad Core Processor with Adreno 330 GPU [FASTEST CPU]
- Memory: 3GB LPDDR3 1866MHz [BIGGEST MEMORY]
- Storage: 32GB (expandable with up to 128GB microSD card) [BIGGER STORAGE]
- Display: 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440 Quad HD (4K) IPS Touch-on-Lens screen on Gorilla Glass 3 protection (538PPI). Supports gloved and wet touch input. [HIGHEST RESOLUTION SCREEN]
- Camera: 13-MP Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI sensor rear facing camera with scene modes that includes; Normal, Super Zoom, HDR, Panorama, Beautify, Slow Shutter, Audio Photo, GIF mode, RAW mode, Smart Scene, Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Night. The 5MP front facing camera has an 80-degree wide angle sensor. Both cameras capable of capturing 4K video at 30fps, 1080p video at 60fps and 720p slow motion video at 120fps
- Connectivity: 4G LTE, 2G, USB OTG, Bluetooth 4.0, 2.4GHz and 5GHz Dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, WiFi Display, NFC
- Sensors: Proximity, Light, G-sensor, 4D Gyroscope, GPS+GLONASS, Digital Compass, Magnetic, Gravity
- Battery: 3000 mAh Li-Po battery with Rapid Charge [HIGH CAPACITY]
- Dimensions: 152.6 × 75 × 9.2 mm
- Weight: 173 g [LIGHT]
- Operating System: Choice of Oppo’s ColourOS, CynogenMod, Paranoid Android and PAC ROM Android 4.3
- Colour Options: Find 7a White, Find 7 Astro Black
Ascend P7 is the thinnest phone among the phones here, measuring only 6.5mm thin. With a unibody design, with the bottom edge rolled and its corners curved The back plate is made of glass with 7-layers of treatment that gives it a transparency and spin texture finish. There are some neat touches such as the placement of the power button and how this is indented to avoid accidentally pressing the button when handling the phone.
The smartphone also has one of the highest resolution front facing camera at 8MP with 5-piece aspherical lens and Blue Glass infrared sensor that enhances the clarity when capturing photos, avoid deformation and purple finging. Sowhat does that all mean; you can use the front facing camera to capture perfect self-portraits or create wide panoramic shots with the Panoram Selfie feature by simply panning your shot and let the software stitch it all together.
As with all the other phones here apart from Lenovo’s Vibe Z2 Pro, it has a 13MP rear facing camera with f/2.0 aperture, 5-piece lense and BSI sensor great for capturing indoor and night shots and is capable of capturing 1080p video and 720p playback. As with the front facing camera, the rear facing camera also includes the Blue Glass infrared filters that helps take better picture in low light settings.
Being the thinnest also meant that something has got to give and in this case the battery. While battery drain plagues all smartphones today, the Ascend P7 has this covered with the Ultra Power Saving Mode. In this mode, everything is switched off except call and text function allowing you to keep your phone for on standby for up to 24 hours on 10% charge. Other smart power saving modes (normal and smart) are also available.
First of its kind is the thermal gel cooling system that keeps the CPU and handset cool to touch. This is said to work better than conventional cooling system found on most smartphones.
- Processor: Hisilicon Kirin 910T 1.8GHz Quad-core Processor [SLOWEST CPU]
- Memory: 2GB
- Storage: 16GB
- Display: 5.0-inch 1920 x 1080 Full HD display 16M colours [BIG DISPLAY]
- Camera: 13MP AF BSI F2.0 rear facing camera with Flash, 8MB front facing camera [HIGHEST RES. FF CAM.]
- Connectivity: LTE, 3G, 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 with BLE, NFC
- Sensors: G-sensor, Accelerometer, Proximity, Light, Ambient, Compass, GPS+GLONASS
- Battery: 2500mAh [LOWEST CAPACITY]
- Dimensions: 139.8mm x 68.8mm x 6.5mm [THINNEST]
- Weight: 124 g [LIGHTEST]
- Operating System: Android KitKat 4.4.2 with Huawei Emotion UI 2.3
- Colour Options: Black or White
UPDATE: Huawei launches their latest smartphones, the Ascend Mate7 and Ascend G7. While the Ascend G7 is a mid-range phone, the Ascend Mate7 is a high-end phablet. With a 6″ 1920 x 1080 Full HD display (368PPI) powered by Hisillicon Kirin 925, a combination of three different processors; a 1.8GHz Quad-Core, a 1.3GHz Quad-Core and a 230Mhz single core processors. That’s 8+1 core. It measures 157.0mm x 81.0mm x 7.9mm, weighs 185 grams and has a high screen to body ratio of 83%. The ultra slim metal body is as compact as the Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro and has a similarly rated 4000 mAh battery capacity (4100 mAh Li-Polymer battery). For cameras, you get a 13MP rear facing camera and a 5MP HD front facing camera with Full HD video recording and playback. But what really excites us is the support for LTE Category 6, capable of ultra fast browsing with download speed of up to 300 Mbps and the integrated 360 degrees finger print scanner located at the back of the device. Price: EUR 499. A premium edition is available with 3GB RAM and 32GB ROM for EUR 599. Oh, and it also comes with a pair of noise reducing in-ear headset.
Already producing smartphone before the billion dollar purchase of Motorola from Google, things can only look better with the acquisition. From the agreement with Google, Lenovo will lead the Motorola Mobility’s product road map with phones such as the Moto X, Moto G and DROID Ultra. Google has also given Lenovo access through licensing of Motorola Mobility’s patent portfolio and over 2000 parent assets. This can only mean better innovation and stronger products for both Motorola and Lenovo.
The Vibe Z2 Pro has a brushed aluminium unibody design with deep criss-cross brushed texture (brushed-weave) on the back panel and fine brushed edges. The metallic body gives the device a strong and sturdy feel. At 7.7mm thin, the unit is tidy, stylish and durable.
Even with a 6-inch 2k HD display, it was able to keep the side bezels ultra thin. The top and bottom bezel are also one of the narrowest on any smartphones we have come across.
It supports the high speed 4G (LTE) network for data and comes with 2 SIM slots so you can combine both your personal and work phones into one.
- Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 801 MSM8974AC 2.5GHz Quad-core Processor with Adreno 330 550MHz [FASTEST CPU]
- Memory: 3GB [BIGGEST MEMORY]
- Storage: 32GB
- Display: 6-inch 2560 x 1440 2KHD Quad-HD display [LARGEST SCREEN]
- Camera: 16MP auto-focus rear facing camera with LED flash, image stabilisation and auto-scene detection, 5MP fixed-focus front facing camera [HIGHEST RES. RF CAM.]
- Connectivity: microUSB, audio jack, LTE(4G), 3G, 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS support
- Sensor: Gravitation, Proximity, Light, E-compass
- Battery: 4000 mAh Li-polymer [HIGHEST CAPACITY]
- Dimensions: 81.3mm x 7.7mm x 156mm [THINNER]
- Weight: 179g
- Operating System: Android KitKat 4.4
- Colour Options: Black, Titanium and Gold