Chinese entertainment conglomerate LeEco — formerly LetTV — is often called the Netflix of China, which means it’s already pretty good at offering content streaming services. The company only recently ventured into India with the Le 1S and Le Max phones. It’s been only six months, and it has already launched two new follow-up phones, the Le 2 and the Le Max 2.
But, unlike its first batch of phones — that were all about hardware bragging rights — its new phones focus on a fresh strategy. They are still about bragging rights, vis-a-vis hardware, but they make content services centre-stage. The Le 2 and Le Max 2, then revolve around them, bringing you the best of both worlds, well, almost.
With its new phones, LeEco is looking to bridge the gap — hardware plus content — by making the Le 2 and the Le Max 2 full-on multimedia devices. Multimedia consumption is paramount here, and the company has left no stone unturned. It has even chucked out the 3.5mm audio jack to — as it says — ensure best possible experience to users.
The Le 2 is the more affordable offering of the two. Priced at Rs 11,999, the Le 2 comes pre-bundled with one year of free content membership — worth Rs 4,900 — so, come to think of it, you’re actually getting the phone for just Rs 7,000. So, what’s the catch, you ask? There are a few, but the odd thing is, that at its price point, none of them are deal-breakers.
Design and build quality
The Le 2 is not very different from its predecessor, the Le 1S. And yet, it is miles apart. The core design may be alike, but the Le 2 is a different beast altogether. For one, it is a good 10 grams lighter than the Le 1S, making it all the more pocketable. In fact, the Le 2 is thinner and lighter than both the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and the Huawei Honor 5C. It’s still slippery though, but its chamfers do a far better job at stick to your palm than the Le 1S.
The Le 2 is an all-metal smartphone that comes with clear cut antenna lines — black lines atop a rose gold body. These lines would seem a little cheap on a regular day, but at its price, the Le 2 can be forgiven. The lines also act as barrier points to separate the top and bottom ends. These are the only non-metallic areas — with brushed metal finish — on the phone. LeEco has done a far better job at concealing these areas, as opposed to say the Honor 5C. The Redmi Note 3 and Meizu M3 Note look better, but the Le 2 isn’t far behind.
The one area where the Le 2 wins hands down is screen-to-body ratio. LeEco’s phone does a better job here. Also, it uses a chunkier black strip all along the display to hide its side-bezels. These work well, when the screen is off. But not so much when it is on.
The Le 2 has a prominent camera bulge on the rear and a weird fingerprint scanner below it. Both the camera module and fingerprint sensor on-board the Le 1S were circular and more uniform. These look wayward and disproportionate in the case of the Le 2. The fingerprint scanner retains the mirror-finish of the Le 1S, and needless to say, it retains its dirt accumulating habit as well. It also takes an odd second or two to spring into action. There are definitely more responsive phones at this price point now.
The bottom end is where all the action is happening in the Le 2. The Le 2 (and the Le Max 2) is the world’s first phone to come without a regular 3.5mm audio jack. Instead, it supports a USB Type-C audio connector so the same port that you use for charging and data syncing can be used to connect your headphones. The company has designed special USB Type-C headphones for the purpose — that cost Rs 1,999 — and is bundling them for free along with the phone, for now. You also get a USB Type-C to 3.5mm audio adapter in the box so you don’t have to throw away your standard 3.5mm headphones yet.
The Le 2 comes with a 5.5-inch FullHD IPS LCD display with a 1080×1920 pixels resolution. Colour reproduction is pretty spot on here, and the Le 2 shows some very accurate colours, without going overboard. Given the price, there isn’t too much to complain here. Moreover, it gives you as many as four different colour modes to tinker with, so just mix and match, and you’ll be set.
Sadly, the phone’s peak brightness leaves a lot to be desired. The screen of the Le 2 is ridiculously dim, even for its price. Combine that with its super-reflective nature, and it gets difficult to read something on it outdoors. This is not a phone that you would want to watch too many videos on or do a lot of texting on when you’re out and about. Stay inside, and you’ll do just fine.
The Le 2 runs Android 6.0.1
Marshmallow-based EUI 5.6. Much like other Chinese counterparts, LeEco’s EUI leaves some heavy — literally and figuratively — imprints on top of Android. At the same time, it takes unabashed inspiration from Apple’s iOS where it can. The end result is a user interface, that although looks a lot like iOS, does not encourage bloat or unwanted apps. It’s a win-win situation if you ask me. Those into stock Android would be disappointed, a lot.
LeEco has used the interface to inculcate its content streaming down to the very core. The phone comes with as many as two apps — Live and Le Vidi — and an HTC BlinkFeed like home screen, called LeView, especially for the purpose. You can’t uninstall either of the apps, but you can disable the LeView, just like you can disable the BlinkFeed. While Live gives you access to YuppTV’s catalogue of live TV channels, Le Vidi gives you access to Bollywood content and regional movies, courtesy Eros Now. There’s a catalogue of as many as 2,000 movies on demand, and a provision to watch as many as 9 live streams — from over 100 channels — simultaneously, using the apps. Provided, you have the bandwidth to enjoy such a luxury.
The Le 2 is not very different from its predecessor, the Le 1S. And yet, it is miles apart
While it’s pretty obvious that the company wants you to buy its content subscription in the days to come — after a year, that is — it’s not an absolutely necessity. You can buy the phone, watch the content for free for one year, and then chose not to subscribe to its services at all in the second year.
Take the content part away, and it’s quite commendable how LeEco hasn’t fallen prey to over-boarding the phone with unwanted apps. There are a few, but apps like Remote Control, that make use of the phone’s IR blaster, Yahoo! Weather and a couple of odd balls like gallery and music wouldn’t necessarily bother you.
The drop-down notification menu in case of the EUI houses just the incoming notifications. For everything else, there is the app switcher or control panel. The layout is pretty similar to iOS, but LeEco’s version takes up the entire screen for the purpose. It’s a heavy UI, the EUI and it takes up at least 1.3GB of available RAM, with no apps opened. Club that with the phone’s video streaming apps, and you’d think the phone would be a slouch. But, it isn’t. Full marks to LeEco, for its heavily customised yet smooth as butter UI.
Performance and battery life
The Le 2 is powered by a 1.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor coupled with Adreno 510 GPU and 3GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of on-board memory. Expandable storage isn’t supported. The dualSIM phone supports 4G LTE (VoLTE-ready) connectivity.
The Snapdragon 652 is fast, energy efficient and runs cooler than the outgoing Snapdragon 615. The Le 2 makes the most of it. The phone handles everything that you throw at it, with ease, despite the fact that LeEco’s user interface is fairly heavy. It can handle graphic intensive games, like Asphalt 8: Airborne, Modern Combat 5 and Implosion, at maxed out settings. And it runs cool, for the most part.
The Le 2 does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack. So, where do you connect your headhones, you ask? Well, you connect them to the phones’ USB Type-C port. Wait, what? LeEco’s proprietary headphones are harbingers of the company’s home-brewed Continual Digital Lossless Audio or CDLA technology that allows it to churn out lossless audio. All your FLAC files for instance will play ‘untouched’ via LeEco’s compatible headphones, just the way they are meant to sound. Note that, your standard headphones will not be able to make use of LeEco’s CDLA technology, as it is integrated right into the proprietary headphones.
It’s not clear how chucking out a 3.5mm audio jack and offering USB Type-C proprietary headphones, which alone can make sense of CDLA for the time being, changes anything
You know how using an external DAC can help improve audio? It’s the same thing. The CDLA chip built into the LeEco headphones serve as external DAC, converting your audio from digital to analog. Having an external DAC comes at the cost of manual control, but leads to far superior audio output. Provided you have good-quality headphones. LeEco’s headphones are good, just that they aren’t good enough. They might be loud, but they are ridiculously flat as well. According to LeEco, there’s not enough innovation happening in smartphone audio. The way I see it, USB audio paired with budget headphones isn’t the way to go either.
Phone calls made with the Le 2 are of excellent quality and we did not encounter any odd call drop issues with our review unit.
The phone is backed by a 3,000mAh battery which is non-removable. Although, it has the same capacity as the Le 1S, the battery on-board the Le 2 performs better. Extreme usage scores were more or less on similar lines, which is 12 to 13 hours. But moderate to low usage got us close to one full day with ease. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 — with its 4,000mAh battery — definitely trumps the Le 2, in every sense of the word, in this regard. The Le 2, just like the Redmi Note 3 also supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0.
The Le 2 sports a 16-megapixel camera on the rear with f/2.0 aperture, phase detection autofocus and dualLED (dual tone) flash. The rear cam is capable of shooting 4K and slow-motion videos. On the front, you get an 8-megapixel camera with f/2.2 aperture.
The Le 1S had a terrible rear camera, even for its low price. Sadly, the Le 2 follows it. More or less. It’s the Achilles Heel of LeEco’s phone. Even the Redmi Note 3 looks better in comparison.
The front camera does try to better things, a tad bit, and shoots some good selfies in outdoor good lighting. Tricky and low-level light selfies come out with lots of noise.
Should you buy it?
LeEco’s new phone cuts across price barriers, once again. Just like its first attempt, there’s a lot to love about its second budget phone as well. Ticks all the right boxes, this one. At the same time, it adds a thing or two that has never been seen before in a device of this price range: content services and USB Type-C. Then again, it dares to do something new by chucking out the regular 3.5mm audio jack. Though the benefits of that move aren’t all that clear cut. LeEco’s forward thinking is commendable but somehow, it doesn’t add up. Sure, the company is giving away free headphones that can make use of CDLA tech but the result doesn’t match the output you can get with a better pair of ‘regular’ headphones.
The Le 2 is a good smartphone. Sure, it has a rather average camera, and its display could have been brighter, but it’s still value for money, especially with its premium body, cool performance and the content services that seem to have been integrated fairly well.
Source By indiatoday…