Every now and then, a budget smartphone is being launched in the Indian market, that manages to stand out from the rest of the crowd and once again LeEco (formerly Letv) managed to do the same, when they officially entered the Indian market on January 20 by releasing the Le 1s and Le Max.
LeEco (Le pronounced as La), an established Chinese company (content) is here to capture the Indian smartphone market and hence they have priced their products aggressively. The Le 1s has been priced so aggressively, that in spite of carrying a Rs 10,999 price tag, it can easily give a Rs 20,000 smartphone a run for its money. Trust us, we are not exaggerating here. Sure, it does make its fair share of compromises but this kind of overall package at this price point was never seen before. So, without any further delay, lets start the LeEco Le 1s Review.
LeEco Le 1s Review : Hardware & Build Quality
Taking a look at the packaging and box contents, it comes in a no-nonsense box that includes the phone, USB Type-C Charging Cable, Charging Adapter, Sim Tray Eject Tool and Quick Start Guide. Due to cost cutting, you miss out on the earphones, like most budget smartphones.
As soon as you take out the device and hold it in your hand, it screams ‘metal’ and ‘premium’. It is a slab of metal wrapped in Gold color with complete glass (Gorilla Glass 3) covering on top of the display. The build quality is top-notch and you will fall in love within an instant. The engineering precision reflects in the handset. Long story short, it has the best build quality ever for a Rs 11,000 phone and it is so good, that it beats many so-called ‘flagship’ devices as well.
Coming to the hardware, there is a 5.5-inch Full HD in-cell display along with a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and sensors in front. We also get three soft touch capacitive buttons at the bottom of the display. On the left, we have the Dual SIM card (micro + nano) tray and on the right, we have the volume rocker followed by the lock/power button. Yes, everything is made out of metal and hence we need not worry of them being tactile (in case of plastic). At the top, we have the 3.5 mm audio jack on the left and the infrared sensor on the right. Both of them are separated by white bands (for cellular reception). If we focus on the back, we get the 13-megapixel rear camera along with the LED flash and a noise cancelling microphone. Below the camera, we get the mirror-surfaced fingerprint scanner that comes with 6H hardness along with the ‘Letv’ branding. Future devices should carry the ‘LeEco’ branding. Turning our attention to the bottom of the device, we find speaker grills on both sides but the ones on the left is for microphone and the ones on the right is the speaker. We have the USB 2.0 Type-C port in the middle that supports fast charging and we also get two white bands, again. The 3000 mAh battery is sealed inside the metal enclosing.
LeEco Le 1s Review : Display
Coming to the display, the Le 1s features a 5.5-inch in-cell IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels (Full HD). It comes with a pixel density of 403 ppi and 500 nits of brightness. Overall, the color reproduction is excellent with bright and vivid colors. It also has very good viewing angles and looking at the display under sunlight is also not an issue. If you’re not happy with the colors, you can tinker around in the Display settings and the set your own color mode. It comes with four different options – Letv, Vivid, Natural and Soft. You can also change the font size and scale (standard and zoom).
We have seen Full HD panels under Rs 10,000 budget range in the past as well but they are not even half as good as the one found in Le 1s. Hence, the users will love to consume rich content on this immersive 5.5-inch display and it is currently the best display in this segment.
LeEco Le 1s Review : Performance, Fingerprint sensor & Gaming
The Le 1s is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 (MT6795T) 64-bit processor which is clocked at 2.2 GHz. On the GPU front, it packs in the PowerVR G6200 GPU. We also get 3 GB of LPDDR3 RAM (1-1.5 GB free normally) for solid performance and multitasking capabilities. The Helio X10 is one of the high end chipsets from the house of MediaTek and it performs really well. It being present on a Rs 10,999 smartphone is a commendable effort for the LeEco product team. There is no lag or no throttling in performance in general day-to-day tasks or playing high graphics games. Most applications performed really well and we did not face any problem. The credit goes to the software as well as it is very fluid and responsive and does not have any major bugs. We will come back to the software part later. It comes with Dolby audio and Dirac HD audio technology. Hence, the audio performance is very good, both speakers and via headphones. Also, there was no issue with the call quality and the audio was crisp and clear as well.
Fingerprint sensors are now seen in most of the ‘good’ smartphones but in Le 1s we get a mirror-surfaced fingerprint scanner. Well, you literally cannot use it as a mirror as its very small but it is a welcome change from the usual lot. It is situated below the rear camera at the back and works really well. It is very fast and accurate as other sensors in the market and you can also click pictures using it.
We have played Asphalt 8, Mortal Kombat X, Modern Combat 5, Marvel Future Fight and other casual games on the device to test out its gaming capabilities. It did not disappoint and performed like a ‘flagship device’. There was zero to negligible frame drops and the sound output from the speaker makes for an immersive gaming experience. Yes, it has a metal body and the phone heats up while gaming. After 20-30 minutes of Asphalt 8, you will feel the heat near the rear camera region but that does not make it a ‘heating issue’. A first time user using a metal smartphone will certainly feel the ‘heat’ compared to a device made up of plastic but they should not worry as it’s quite normal. Also, the phone cools down in less than 5 minutes when left idle.
Again, if we consider the overall performance, Le 1s delivers the best performance in its class.
LeEco Le 1s Review : Camera
The camera on the Le 1s is a hit and miss. We get a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash. It comes with a ISOCELL sensor and f/2.0 aperture. It also click pictures very quickly, thanks to its Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF) feature. The outdoor performance is quite good but in low-light, it struggles a bit. However, you can get good shots out of it, if you’re patient and do not move the camera too quickly after clicking an object. It tends to make the image blurry if it’s a moving shot. We do think it can be fixed with software tweaks by including some sort of digital Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). The rear camera is also capable of shooting 4K videos and 30 fps and 720p slo-mo videos at 120 fps. Coming to the software front, the camera UI is minimalistic and easy to use. We get four primary modes – Photo, Video, Slo-mo and Pano. Under Photo, we have HDR, Night, Square and Scene (Landscape, Beach, Portrait, Sports and Snow). In video settings, we can choose 4K, 1080P, 720P and 480P resolutions. By default, its kept at 1080P. We were very impressed by the 4K video capability of the smartphone but it uses some new codec and hence we could not upload a sample on YouTube or view it on the MacBook Air. The slo-mo feature is fun as well but not as good as the iPhones’ (gold standard). Well, we cannot complain as Le 1s costs a fraction compared to iPhones.
There is also a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter and it comes with a Samsung S5K5E2 sensor and 85-degree wide-angle lens. It is above average and we get a timer option in the default camera software.
LeEco Le 1s Review : Camera & Video samples
We have taken some camera and video samples in different lighting conditions. Do take a look at the unedited images and videos.
LeEco Le 1s Review : Software, Battery Life & Connectivity
The LeEco Le 1s runs on eUI (Eco UI) 5.5 which is based on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop OS. It will supposedly get updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow by April, according to the officials. Eco UI is far from stock Android. It is very smooth and fluid with no noticeable bugs. We do not have any quick settings option in the notification panel. Instead, you’ll get those quick settings known as Control Center in the multitasking menu by pressing the left capacitive button. We have a lot of customization options in System settings including LeCloud, Password Security, Fingerprints, Power on/off settings and more. It does not have any app drawer and is iOS-esque. We would rate it at par with MIUI which is considered to be gold standard for forked Android OSes. Also, LeEco India has partnered with content providers Eros Now for Video-on-demand (VOD) and YuppTV for content streaming. These partnerships will allow the company to scale its Le Ecosystem model in the country. It is not available yet but according to the company, the content will be available sometime in Q2 2016.
Hence, the software experience on the Le 1s is fantastic and will only get better with time. The company promises to hear feedback from their customers and promises to deliver on them with timely OTA updates. You can also send feedback to the company directly from the app. There are no unnecessary pre-installed apps (bloatwares) on the Le 1s as well.
Check out some screenshots of Settings, apps and more:
We have a 3,000 mAh non-removable battery under the hood and it supports fast charging. According to the company, if you charge it using the supplied 24W charger for 5 minutes, you can make voice calls for 3.5 hours. In our testing, we completely charged the device from 0 to 100% in just 2 hours using the fast charger. We have read various reports about the battery on Le 1s being not good. However, with our medium usage, it lasted a day easily with around 4-5 hours of Screen on Time (SoT). It has great standby time and with minimum usage, it lasts for more than 2 days easily. It comes with power saving mode that includes Smart power saving, Super power saving and Ultra-long standby time. You can auto enable anyone of them at 10% or 20% battery level.
Coming to connectivity, it comes with 4G LTE on both SIMs (micro + nano) and works perfectly. It supports the latest WiFi 802.11ac standard (rarity in budget smartphones) along with WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n. Other options include Bluetooth 4.0 with APT-X, GPS and MHL 2.0. It lacks NFC and a gyroscope. The phone comes with 32GB of inbuilt storage (eMMC 5.0) and there is no card slot for expandable storage. However, you can expand storage by using USB OTG pendrives. Around 25GB of storage is available for end-user after first boot.
LeEco Le 1s Review : Service
Whenever a foreign company or a new Indian company starts operating in the mobile space, customer service plays a vital role and almost makes or breaks it for a company. On paper, LeEco India has kept this aspect in mind and has tied up with third-party service centers to bring a whopping 555+ services centres across the country at convenient and prime locations. You can find the list here. They have also set up a 24×7 Call Center with voice call, live chat and social media support in 10 different Indian languages. Lastly, in case you need to get your LeEco device serviced, there is a free home pickup and drop-off service in place as well.
Hence, LeEco is fully loaded when it comes to service and has shown complete awareness (kudos to them) but we will know the ground reality after couple of months.
LeEco Le 1s Review : Final Verdict
It’s a must buy, if you’re looking to get a budget device (Rs 10,000 – Rs 15,000) and want to have a smooth experience. The Le 1s will give you a brilliant looking device with a fantastic display, near perfect software experience with awesome performance. A great camera that supports 4K video recording, a super fast fingerprint sensor and great battery life with fast charging support (fast charger included). It looks too good to be true and we do not blame you. LeEco is selling the device at loss since the BOM (Bills of Material) cost of the product is around Rs 16,000.
The LeEco 1s is a Flipkart exclusive and already 70,000 units have been sold in 2 seconds on its pilot flash sale. The second flash sale is at 12:00 PM, February 9. You can register for the same here, which will close at 11:00 AM, February 9.
Le 1s is now a benchmark in the budget Indian smartphone market and it will be very difficult for other companies to give this product a run for its money.