When I mentioned to a friend about the coming of LeTv into Indian market, he asked if it is primarily a television company who are making now a Smartphone. Thankfully, LeTv has re-branded themselves globally as LeEco to stress the fact they consider themselves a conglomerate of Ecosystems spanning content, big screen, mobile, sports, automobile, internet financing and internet and cloud ecosystem. In short, LeEco wants to build a unified content, hardware and cloud ecosystem and mobile is a big part of their larger vision. Though a new entrant to the chaotic, highly competitive mobile industry, they managed to make themselves noticed and claim to have sold 4 million smartphones last year. An impressive feat to achieve in less than a year. Now, jumping into the hot, smoking Indian mobile Industry which is seeing a huge upswing in sales, the company has launched two devices – the flagship LeMax and the mass killer, Le 1s. We have here the LeMax at our review desk and see if can max out the other flagship devices in the market.
For starters, Le Max is available in three variants in India. A 64GB variant (silver) priced at Rs 32,999, a 128GB variant (Golden) at Rs 36,999 and then there is a super-premium LeMax Sapphire edition for a super premium price tag of Rs 69,999. We have the silver model with us here, though the innards, design and performance of all the devices are the same except for the storage and the super-tough Sapphire display for the Sapphire edition.
Design and Build
- aircraft-grade aluminum body
- 204 grams
- 167.1 x 83.5 x 8.95mm
- Silver / Gold
B-I-G. For those who consider 5.5-inch a normal size and want a bigger phone, the LeMax is made for them. I for one prefer a bigger screen, since I consume media more on my phone, I watch my movies, YouTube videos on my phone and the bigger the phone display, the better for me. Also, the gaming is much better on a bigger display. Naturally, I was delighted by the bezel-less LeMax’s 6.33-inch display. On the other hand, I am a short guy and endowed with small palms, so a big rectangular slab with an industrial straight design for a bigger size could be a discomfort. LeMax with its curved rear and smooth edges manages to entice me ergonomically. The 8.95mm thickness is absolutely fine to deal with for this kingkong and the 204 grams seems to have spread out and did not felt noticeably heavy unless you shift from a really light weight small phone (even a 5-inch qualifies to be small these days!) to this super biggie.
The most characteristic feature of the LeMax is the bezel-less display. The display feels like bleeding to the edges, just a black narrow strip marks the edge of the active display area. At the bottom, there are three capacitive buttons which are back-lit and the top has the selfie camera, earpiece and host of sensors. Talking of sensors, you have a long list here that includes gyroscope, compass, magnetometer, gravity sensor, proximity sensor, light sensor, hall sensor and of course the infrared and fingerprint sensor, which are more obvious to the eyes.
I am fond of metallic phones these days and prefer them over cheap plastic (the poly-carbonates!) or fragile glass bodied Smartphones. The metal rubs on your skin nicely (and cools you down on cold season!) and you also don’t have to worry about slippery or finger magnets here with LeMax. The rear is slightly curved and the antenna strips on the top and bottom of the rear strikes a semblance with a fruit (!) that all companies compare themselves with these days. Though, I don’t care since it distracts the silver facade on the rear. The unit I received has the LeMax branding on the rear and I don’t know if the retails units outside China will continue to have the LeTv branding or LeEco branding henceforth.
The camera module is slightly raised, thankfully the lens glass does not touch the surface when you keep it down and is secured by the marginally raised metal edge around it. It could have been better if the camera had a flushed design. Flanking the camera is a two-tone LED and a microphone on top. A fingerprint scanner is placed below the rear camera and is pitted in literally. LeEco says it is made of a 6H hardened material to withstand wear and tear and better durability. At the launch, they also quipped most rival models uses a 3H material. Frankly, I didn’t knew about the hardness of the scanner material till date. Nevertheless, the bottom-line, it is supposed to be using a good build material for longevity.
On the bottom we have the alignment of dots for speaker on both the sides and the USB Type-C port in the middle.
And the audio jack and the Infrared blaster on the top in case you want to control your TV.
The power button is strategically placed almost on the midway of the right side and is finger-friendly to access. Above that is the ejectable SIM tray that can accommodate one nano SIM and another microSIM. Above that you find mentioned WiFi HD. Don’t try to pull it out, it won’t. Very few phones are available with WiFi HD technology, it helps to stream or cast your phone’s content to a bigger screen with absolutely no lag, it also mean you can seamlessly play your favourite game on your TV. A catch though is, you would need a WiFi HD adapter and you need to buy it separately.
The left side features the volume rocker and a physical mute button. Did you ask why a mute button? Well, why not? Is what I can say. Though I would have hardly used it once in my weeks of using this phone.
Also check our LeMax Design review video
In case you wonder at the easiness of carrying around the big device, check this pocket demo video.
- 6.33 inches
- WQHD 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution
- 464 ppi
- Sharp LCD
- 90% NTSC color gamut
- 1300 to 1 contrasts
The above list says it all. With fullHD a common sight, 2K is what flagship devices has to talk and is what LeMax comes with. A 6.33-inch LCD display is sourced from Sharp. The screen is crisp, not over-saturated and offers good contrast and depth of color. Everything looks almost natural and display is soft on eyes. Dig into the settings and go to display, there you can shift the color modes to four available pre-sets – LeTv, Vivid, Natural and Soft. Soft is akin to the Blue light filter which we are recently seeing in many phones, if you are using the phone on a long usage for say browsing or reading e-books, you can shift to this color mode and it reduces the eye strain.
- Android 5.0 Lollipop
It’s Android but every mobile OEM’s like to add their own flavour to it, what we call it as UI (User Interface), and we have taste of eUI (Eco UI) in the LeEco devices. Every UI’s improve in time, when user feedback set in. The notable visible change lies in the notification shade. Usually the notification shade shows the notifications plus the control center, the story is different with eUI. The notification shade only shows the notifications here plus the notification management control. The control center is tucked in the multitasking menu. Pressing that, shows the open apps on the bottom half and the control center on the top complete with the quick access toggles. This new interface gets time to get used to after using the standard android layout all the while. There are other areas of improvements like lack of auto-arrange of apps, which could be fixed by software update. Other features like app management, app permissions are there. There are no fancy gesture and motion features and am fine with it, after all how many of us use it after exploring it on the first day of purchase. The settings menu is divided into two toggles – system settings and app settings.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
- 2GHz Octa-core, ARM Cortex-A57 and ARM Cortex A53
- 4GB LPDDR4
- 64GB / 128GB
Now let’s talk about the big focus – the performance. Snapdragon 810 is notorious for being a hot iron. We have seen it heating up many flagship devices and at receiving end. So I was quiet skeptical initially but LeMax surprised me. Not sure, what the engineers at LeEco did but the phone does not heat up even after a long bout of gaming. My gaming test showed it shoot up in the range of 5-7 degrees, which is very much within the acceptable limit. May be the big real estate, helps in dispensing the heat but whatever the reason be, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 works brilliantly. Throw in any heavy, graphic intensive game and it handles it at ease. The big screen also makes it an ideal device for media consumption and gaming. LeEco’s LeHi-Fi audio technology delivers an great audio experience. The speaker output is sterling too.
The LeMax also delivers well in other aspects like audio call, multi-tasking etc. In short, there is no room for complaint with LeMax when it comes to performance. The finger print scanner works neat.
With a 2K display and high-scale specs, the phone is expected to be a battery strainer. With a big chasis, LeMax could have done a bit more than the 3500mAh on-board. With WiFi/data always on and synced with my social apps and mails, the phone sailed through around 17 hours with a bit of gaming thrown in and the screen-on time was around 4.5 hours. I think it’s a fairly decent result, considering the hardware muscle the phone sports.
- 21MP rear camera
- 6P Lens
- Sony IMX230 sensor
- 4K video recording
- 4MP ultra-pixel front camera with 2.0um pixel size
- 5P lens
- F2.0 aperture
The LeMax is equipped with a 21-megapixel rear camera and the camera set up includes a 6-piece lens with Sony IMX230 sensor with a f/2.0 aperture. The camera is capable of 4K video recording and has Optical image stabilization. Having said that, bigger the mega pixels, doesn’t necessarily translate to better pictures. It all boils down to the sensors and other camera optimizations. Otherwise, it would be simple plugging of modules for great camera in all phones.
Here are some of the sample images shot with the LeMax. While the rear camera did manage to bring some great clicks, what was notable was it also delivered decent pictures in low lights. Though I expected a still better performance with the 21MP on-board and also the camera app needs a bit of refinement. The Slo-mo works good especially at 4X. Where it lets down was at the front camera, the pics gets overexposed at most times.
For someone who love big phones and when I say big phones, I mean the real big super-phones, the LeMax with a bezel-less frame and display would be a phone that would capture the attention. It has a great build quality, a good display and awesome firepower within, that can easily handle any heavy apps you throw in. LeMax is a perfect device for gaming and media consumption and the 64GB of base storage, can allow you stash away all the titles you got.