LeTV, now LeEco is a popular Chinese brand that is known for offering video on demand service in their home country. The Beijing-based conglomerate is quite new to the smartphone business, as the company introduced the first three handsets Le 1, Le 1 Pro and Le Max last year in China. The brand recently showcased the first ever Snapdragon 820 smartphone, Le Max Pro at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month. At the same time, they also unveiled the upcoming products scheduled to go launch at Le Preview in New Delhi. Now in a couple of days after previewing the Le Max, LeVR Cool1, and Internet-enabled SuperCycle, the brand has finally launched their flagship smartphone, the Le Max, in India today. We had the chance to play around with this handset since a week, and this is our detailed review of the same. Find out whether this handset is worth the hype or not.
The design of the Le Max can be said very eccentric; it’s not we usually see a smartphone with 6.3-inch display size and still not making users feel awkward holding it in one hand. I mean I admit that it’s a bit oversized device, but you also have to admire the quality and precision of the device. Credit where it’s due, right! Apart from being a full blown metal bodied build, the Le Max is a beautifully designed with integration of network signal bands nicely concealed on the body, particularly on the rear side.
The device is pretty much a benchmark for what a phablet should look and feel like. I’m not usually impressed by oversized devices (Yeah, this is the second time I said that first in my QiKU Q Terra 808 Review), but this handset specifically offers a much need real estate for media buffs like me. More on that later in the display section. Let’s talk about the buttons and ports placement. The device has a power button on the right edge, which is placed just between the center of the edge, making it easier to access the button, while that can’t be said for the volume button, which is housed on the left edge and that’s not a good idea for consumer who prefer them on the right edge. But then again it’s a personal choice; you may like it that way or maybe not. The right edge also houses a port for dual SIM slots.
The first thing that is noticeable when the device is lying on a desk is that how stunning it looks with almost no bezels. Well, there are bezels, but with small black layer cover, it on all the corners makes it impossible to foresee from a distance, concealing its true identity, which can be told that it’s a smart design. Now talking about the top edge, it has an audio jack and possibly what appears to be an IR blaster or microphone. Whereas on the bottom edge, it has dual speakers, and between these two speakers grills lies an USB Type-C port.
On the front bottom bezel, you can see the capacitive buttons, which are backlit, means they illuminate in dark and thus making it easy to locate the functions when visibility is low. On the rear side, you can notice the dark silver linings covering the top and bottom corners, they are the signal bands we stated above. There is a camera module present on the back side, which is slightly popping out, alongside is the dual-tone LED flash and microphone. Just below the bumpy camera module lies the fingerprint sensor, which is square in shape, not unlike many circles shaped sensors. On the bottom of the back side is the LeTV’s logo, which might be replacing the LeEco logo recently introduced by the company in China at their annual conference. Overall, the design of the Le Max is pretty heavy and bulky, but at the same time, it also screams sturdiness and beautiful build quality. So, I would rate it quite high in terms of design, despite what is the oversized smartphone.
The 6.3-inch IPS Display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution makes Le Max stand in a line of powerful smartphones such as Samsung Galaxy Note 5, LG G4 and Sony Xperia Z5; of course, it doesn’t beat the Xperia Z5 Premium, which is claimed to have a 4K resolution. But I mean who views 4K content on their smartphones, I don’t even watch 2K resolution on my smartphone. Most of us don’t have the luxury to stream such content, especially India where the high-speed internet penetration is amongst lowest. We do have 20Mbps line at the office, but I don’t waste my time watching YouTube, well I might have done some Netflixing to understand the features of the streaming service, which was recently launched worldwide including India.
Moving on with concentrated talk about the display, the handset offers an impressive pixel density of 466 PPI (Pixel Per Inch), which should ensure that you are having a great viewing experience with no pixelation. Of course, you would have to play at least an HD quality video to enjoy watching movies or music videos. Meanwhile, gaming should be a delightful experience regarding watching graphics. The sunlight legibility of the screen is amazing as well, we put the display under sunlight, and the display got away by allowing us to see content even with no full brightness. It isn’t the Super AMOLED display, but the color saturation and contrast levels are pretty stunning on his thing. You will hardly get disappointed. Moreover, it’s a perfect size for media buffs like me and whoever like to read books on-the-go. The first thing they should do is install Netflix and a Kindle app, watch and read at your pleasure with this marvelous display quality.
The Le Max is powered by an Android operating system, particularly with Lollipop 5.0.2, but the company has customized to look different as many brands tend to do so, according to what they think is good for their consumers. The custom interface is called as EUI, and it’s the version 5.5. Clearly, LeTV has done a tremendous job in doing so as the interface is buttery smooth in operations; while I could also see notice some breaks in between when you switch apps. The recent app page is quite different from this interface unlike the stock Android UI, but still there’s no excuse for the delay. Such delay I didn’t experience on the QiKU Terra handset, which was reviewed a couple of weeks back. For the record, the360 OS developed by the 360 Total Security Company is based on the Android Lollipop, similar to the custom OS on Le Max.
There are not many pre-installed apps on this handset, unlike many manufacturers do. They just fill up their smartphones with bloatware and make their users smartphones sluggish, all because of these apps that most of the consumers don’t even want, or don’t understand. This decision by the company makes me happy and its users too. The apps that are pre-installed on the device includes Gallery, File Management, Music Player, Notes, Clock, Calendar, Recorder and other few necessary tools. While there is an app named My LeTV, which would allow you to access the LeTV services from the app using your account. Coming to the appearance, there is no dedicated app for themes, but you could change wallpaper from the default set provided by the company. Select any dark wallpaper, which should blend in with the black layer around the display, offering that bezel-less look.
Moreover, the device comes with a massive 64GB internal storage in the standard model, although, we have the 64GB model, which has around 51GB of free space available. Now you know why I’m calling it one of the best devices for consuming media. Meanwhile, note that it doesn’t have the support of external storage. And I don’t think you would have to worry about that with such huge internal storage space. Even if you’re worried a little, it has the support of USB OTG, which we tested to make sure and it detected the OTG we attached to the USB Type-C port.
Talking about the multitasking, as mentioned in above paragraph it isn’t the quickest when it comes to app switch, which is to say its behind in multitasking despite the powerful processor under the hood. The fault at it is the recent menu page, it take a time to load up, since, it comprises of more than just recent apps, you could also access quick settings like Wi-Fi, mobile data, brightness levels, etc. If only the recent menu were simpler than complex, it has been made. Overall, the interface on this handset is pretty impressive excluding the obvious part here it is little slow, i.e. multitasking.
Hardware & Performance
The device is powered by a controversial Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, which has seen a lot of complaints about overheating the device. We know it’s a hell of a powerful chipset with Octa-core, clocking at 2.0GHz, but that doesn’t justify the high heating on a device. Such devices where we experienced a lot of heating includes LG G Flex 2, HTC One M9, Sony Xperia Z5 and on the affordable flagships, OnePlus 2 and Yu Yutopia. But after using the Le Max, we have a little bit different opinion; I mean it heats up, but not extensively while no more than average usage, unlike the previously mentioned phones. And it’s a good thing.
Accompanying for the graphics processing is the Adreno 430 GPU for Snapdragon processor, which does its job pretty well. We played a lot of games since we had lots of free space on the device, around 108GB. The experience of games like Asphalt 8, Modern Combat was over the top, while games like GTA and Dead Trigger 2 were easy to control even on the huge screen. See, the large real estate plays a good role here, moreover, the high 2K resolution. You can play games with the highest graphic settings and still get away with the smooth and buttery performance. But do make a note that after play games like more than half hour the device started to heat up considerably. Now I know that’s more than enough time to enjoy games, rest the device for couple minutes, and you could go on another round again.
Coming to the benchmark scores, we tested out the device with popular benchmarking apps like Antutu and Vellamo to know the potential performance of the device. The device scored a massive 77384 score in the Antutu benchmarking tool, which is the combining score for 3D, UX, CPU and RAM performance scores. While for the Vellamo the scores are distributed in three aspects, Multi-core, Metal and Chrome Browser. For multi-core it scored 1895, which is quite the feat and it can be said for a metal score of 2154 and Chrome browser score of 4401. We further played with the browser for real-life usage test and were quite satisfied by the experience. The large real estate mostly helps and the incredible touch responsiveness, while the Zoom-in and Zoom-out operations worked pretty well. Overall, the device is a beast of a phone, with the blend of everything powerful involved, such as the 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. Note that even the standard mode comes with 64GB storage space. The amount of RAM available, most of the time, was around 2GB, as more than 15 apps running in the background, which is quite marvelous.
Talking about the fingerprint sensor functionality, it was painless experience as well. After setting up the fingerprints from the settings area, we had great unlocking experiences. Meanwhile, you could also take a photo by using the fingerprint; just remember to enable the option from the settings. We took some selfie using the fingerprint sensor, and it was quite quick, no delays at all.
The phablets tend to come with good camera package, and that is the case here as well, as the Le Max packs 21-megapixel on the rear and 4-megapixel camera module on the front. Since the rear image sensor is large, it does tend to bump out a little bit, but unlike any other smartphone with protruding camera, it doesn’t feel much of a bump. Talking about the specifics of the camera, it is the Sony Exmor IMX230, which is Sony’s popular image sensor used in the three Motorola handsets; Moto X Style, Moto X Play and Moto Droid Turbo 2 (Aka Moto X Force). While there are few more handsets that we reviewed last year comes with the same module, one of which is the Honor 7.
Talking more about the features of the rear camera, it has a support of dual-tone LED flash, PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus) and aperture of f/2.0 with Hardware HDR. Meanwhile, it uses a special 6P lens that should allow it to seriously improve the photo quality of the capture. The color saturation and white balance is quite impressive, the outputs are pretty impressive. We took out the device to play under day and evening times to test how it performs with plentiful light as well as under minimal light. As we are aware of the performance this Sony Exmor sensor, it wasn’t surprising that captures were stunning in day as well as night’s time. What was more striking that it was able to zoom-in to quite far without losing details, which you can see in one of the camera samples we posted. It is just phenomenal.
The camera app of the device was quite easy to understand and familiar. There are not many modes available on the app, as it keeps it simple but there are some useful modes like HDR, Night, Panorama and Slo-mo. There is a beauty mode, which would allow you to do the virtual makeup of the object, mostly helpful when you are capturing selfies or portraits. Moving on with the talk of front facing camera, it comes with a 4-megapixel camera module, which is a OmniVision 4688, it uses 2 micron pixel size lens that means more light can be capture by the lens. The 5P lens has an aperture of f/2.0 and is also a wide angled lens with capturing capability to take shot up to 81 degree. It is quite the selfie camera that won’t disappoint you when taking captures at the dinner table with family or during outings in the wild.
The battery capacity on this handset is 3400mAh, which quite frankly is low when you take into consideration that it has a most powerful chipset and Quad HD display resolution to fuel. Despite such thoughts, it over performs and delivers the battery life that one expects from their smartphones. Maybe it’s because of the app management that makes it easier for the battery to last at least a day for a heavy usage. The battery supports the fast charging feature, which is another advantage of the device, so you don’t have to keep it overnight plugged into the charger.
The battery settings allow you to enable the power saving mode automatically when the battery is at 20 or 10 percent. There are three power saving modes available, Smart power saving, Super power saving and Ultra-long standby mode. After charging it fully, the battery percentage dropped to 85 percent in the last 8 hours of usage, which is incredible and means one could easily get a day’s charge even with heavy usage.
The connectivity options on this handset are pretty good, the device support 4G LTE connections on both the SIMs, moreover, the dual standby is also supported, which is a bonus for smartphones with dual SIM slots. We have no complaints against the signal or even mobile data, the calls were quite clear and didn’t drop in the middle of the conversations, while the mobile data speeds were good as well. Another set of connectivity features includes Wi-Fi, GPS/A-GPS, Bluetooth and microUSB 2.0 port.
The answer to the question does the Le Max changed our perspective towards oversized devices is, yes. It offers a large real estate with 2K display, which is a heaven for media consumption, if you like watching movies on-the-go or just reading books, then this is the smartphone for you. Note that my personal choice of having a compact device is reflected in the cons section below, but I’m not going to be biased as many consumers like their displays large, I just like them in high resolution, so it was either this or an Oppo R7 Plus or Gionee Elife E8. Although, the QiKU Q Terra does give it a head to head competition in almost every aspect. So, you could go with either of handsets, LeTV’s LeMax or QiKU’s Q Terra, based upon your interests, since the pricing is a big factor, LeMax would fetch you at least Rs 32,999 for 64GB model while it would cost you Rs 36,999 for 128GB model. If you’re looking for a premium build and color, you could go with the Sapphire Edition priced at Rs 69,999. Or you maybe you should get QiKU Q Terra, which is fairly low-priced at Rs 19,999 and still beat LeEco in most terms. Choice is yours!