I reviewed Lenovo K3 Note last year, and it didn’t take long for me to call it a ‘disruptive budget’ smartphone. Since that review, I’ve seen a sudden increase in the number of such budget smartphones trying to challenge the K3 Note. While many came close to its power, none have been impressive enough to dethrone it.
Enter LeEco and Le 1s, the wannabe disruptive budget smartphone of this year. LeEco (formerly LeTV) claims to have already sold 70,000 units of Le 1s in the first flash sale. The numbers prove there is inventory, and a huge demand for this device.
Le 1s tries to offer LeEco’s services in a premium style smartphone. Here is our first impression.
Design & Display: Le 1s is a serious beauty when it comes to design. It uses metal as its base and eludes premiumness. I felt Le 1s to be a fusion of Nexus 6P, and the dependable iPhone 6s at a price that is unimaginable. The rear fingerprint sensor on Le 1s mimics Nexus 6P, while the antenna bands remind you of iPhone. Pretty impressive on that side.
Since it uses metal, Le 1s seems to be heavy, but it has an almost bezelless design which is unseen in this price segment. Le 1s is undoubtedly the best designed under Rs-11k smartphone.
Le 1s is a unibody smartphone, and it tries to keep things simple. Upfront, there is 5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD display with no side borders supporting it. Below the display are capacitive Android navigation keys, although LeEco could have opted for onscreen navigation keys which would have made this phone even smaller in height.
The back features a 13 megapixel ISOCELL image sensor with LED flash and round fingerprint sensor followed by LeTV logo. The logo proves these are old inventories coming from China, which are yet to be branded LeEco.
The top hosts headphone jack and infrared sensor while the bottom is home to USB Type-C charging port and CNC drilled speaker grills. The volume rocker and power button is on the right, while SIM card tray is on the left.
To summarise, Le 1s has a design that can kill any plastic molded smartphone.
Processor, Memory and Battery: It’s not just looks, Le 1s scores real high when it comes to pure hardware specifications. The Le 1s comes with 3GB RAM and 32GB non-expandable storage. It defies the trend where 16GB storage is a norm now.
Le 1s is powered by MediaTek’s Helio X10 processor (octa-core) clocked at 2.2GHz. It’s extremely fast for most of our mobile needs, this processor shouldn’t cause any lag.
While I haven’t really tried any battery drain test on this phone, Le 1s managed 10 hours in its first day. The first day involved downloading apps, setting up the phone and most importantly updating those tons of Google apps which definitely takes resources. I really feel this phone can last a day for most users, but let’s reserve that verdict for our full review.
Camera: During Le 1s launch, the company Chief Business Officer Atul Jain insisted on people knowing that it’s making a loss on the bill of materials of this device. The camera module on this one would be one of the components hurting the company. Le 1s leverages Samsung’s 13-megapixel ISOCELL image sensor, which is going to be the standard image module on sub-Rs 10k smartphones this year.
This image sensor has great potential when it comes to colour reproduction. In the initial test, I found the saturation of red very impressive. The autofocus acted really fast, and the UI seems pretty simple too. LeEco has found the right set of camera sensors for smartphone shutterbugs looking to click great pictures at a budget.
I am not that curious of the selfie camera, but this one is great for my Skype calls. I would definitely use Le 1s for video calls and probably end up clicking few selfies too.
OS: LeEco wants to win the audience with its own ecosystem. Its first step with building the ecosystem is its Android UI. LeEco calls it EUI (Huawei’s EMUI – M), a forked version of Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. Basically LeEco wants you to commit to a really old Android operating system, which could have serious vulnerabilities and how can we trust the software capabilities of a new entrant.
Let’s keep the rants aside, and talk about this UI. The most comforting part of this UI is its available in English, and there is no signs of Chinese coming up here and there, like it was on QiKu Q Terra phone. This UI uses lots of concentric circles, squares, rectangles in a mixed appearance. Sure you have seen them on some or the other device. Its an amalgamation of various UIs, which you may or may not like at the end of the day.
One thing that stays around with this phone is the Letv branding. I feel they can push an update to change the My Letv software feature of My LeEco software suite. My Letv gives you access to LeCloud and Security management. I don’t why do we even need LeCloud, when there is a more safer and accessible Google cloud.
I would ask them to give stock Android on this, and probably they will end up building the next Nexus.
Wrap-Up: Le 1s has the best build quality among sub-Rs 11k smartphone and it’s a beautiful piece of metal. The fingerprint scanner is real quick and the MediaTek Helio processor keeps the device running smooth most of the time.
But I have seen some issues with the device. The most baffling issue was with the charger. The device didn’t charge with supplied adapter and when it did get going with other adapter, the charging was really slow.
These are small things which show that Le 1s is great phone, but still a work in progress. We would like to spend some more time and give you detailed review about this phone.
Stay tuned for our full review