Letv is now a fairly known brand, all thanks to the fame Le 1S and 1S eco got in their debuts. I don’t remember any other brand bringing metal chassis to budget segment before Letv did it. It did the stirred the segment.
Fast forward to today, the company has launched its third phone in India, the Le 2. The Indian market has changed a lot since then. Metal chassis is now more of a standard even on the phones which cost as low as $110. Letv certainly has the challenge to keep its charm intact. Le 2 will definitely feel the burden.
With Le 2, Letv has tried to correct many complaints people had with its earlier phones. The design remains identical with incremental changes here and there. From the front, you would not be able to spot the difference between Le 2 and its predecessors. It’s the back where everything has been changed. The back is not a single piece as there are two metal plates just above and below signal receptors.
The back has camera bump and valley for the fingerprint sensor. Even with the camera bump the phone doesn’t wobble when placed on the flat surface.
The front obviously is taken up by a 5.5-inch display. Gone are the days when The display has (almost) zero side bezels, however, it is inside a sort of packaging which has a thick black line running around the display. Most of you wouldn’t notice until you’re told so. It doesn’t affect the design, but it doesn’t gel well with the design either. Le 2 uses physical navigation keys instead of on-screen ones. The keys were not adequately lit to be visible outdoors under the sun. Indoors, there was no such problem.
The back has chamfered edges, but they didn’t dig into my palm while using the phone. Anyways, there was a protective cover which I used all the time. It didn’t add significantly to the thickness of the phone. Even without it, the Le 2 is quite comfy to hold and not slippery at all.
Le 2 has an infrared sensor on the top, which is the most logical and natural placement. There are two speaker grills on the bottom, but the only one (right) actually has a speaker. That means you get the mono audio. And if you noticed, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead, the headphones are now plugged in to the USB Type C port. Letv gives a converter in the box, but that doesn’t churn out the same quality audio.
Under the hood, Le 2 has Snapdragon 652 octa-core processor that handles all the processing. The amount of RAM remains unchanged from the predecessors, that is, 3GB. The software is so well optimized that you wouldn’t even notice a mid-range processor running inside. Graphics intensive games like NFS No Limits or Modern Combat 5 do put the load on it, but those were still playable. There was stutters or slowness when the games required quick inputs from the user during fast scenes. That’s where both CPU and GPU were stressed to their abilities.
Surprisingly, the Le 2 is also able to shoot 4K UltraHD videos unlike any of its competitors or phones that use the same processor including Sony’s latest Xperia X Compact.
I didn’t bother to run usual benchmarks as the phone would enter special performance mode as soon as I opened any benchmarking app.
The inability to go beyond the inbuilt 32GB (you really get around 23GB only) due to lack of memory card slot could be a spoiler for some. You need to make sure you have enough of it if you’re going to be the cameraman at that one special event.
When it came to me, Le 2 was running the Android Lollipop. During the review period, it got upgraded to Android Marshmallow. But you wouldn’t notice anything as the UI remains the same. The UI is colorful and full of eye candy. If you’re coming from other Android phone, it will take some time to get used. Le UI has merged quick toggles, music controls and multi-tasking view on one page. Unlike most other phones where you can access toggles from pull down notification bar, you will need to tap the app switch button which brings up the page.
I quite liked call quality and network reception on Le 2. No issues whatsoever. Rather, the sound coming through earpiece was loud and crystal clear. Letv strangely disabled the VoLTE on Le 2 with LeUI 5.8 (Android Marshmallow) update, which was strange. Then there’s infrared blaster which lets you use Le 2 as a universal remote control for your appliances. If in case your appliance isn’t listed, the Le 2 can still learn its operations. Le 2 doesn’t have NFC, but that’s not a big deal at all.
The camera on LeEco Le 1S wasn’t really impressive. Obviously, I had suspicions about the camera on Le 2 as well. Le 2, however, surprisingly took very good photos. Everything from colors to contrast was well balanced unlike washed out photos by Le 1S. However, it has really poor close-up range. Macros could have been better. It tends to soften the images. The details in the images looked like they were from a 13MP camera rather than a 16MP one.
The camera UI is fairly simple. To my surprise, there wasn’t Pro mode which would have allowed users to have more control over camera. For most people that shouldn’t be the problem as long as they want a camera that takes great shots without much headache.
As far as the entertainment quotient is concerned, Le 2 isn’t boring at all. The inbox headphones have great sound output except when you’re listening at a full volume where the sound will distort, and voices will be muffled. Without Dolby Atmos, headphones would perform very poorly. Since Letv markets its phone as ‘ecosystem’, you get Le branded entertainment apps to watch movies or stream songs. I chose to stick to my usual Android favorites instead.
When it’s time to make a buying decision, I find myself in double mind. I can’t resist the design and feel of the phone. Its display has me sold. But I don’t want to see myself stranded because of its poor battery. If camera meant important to me, I would tread cautiously. Although it scores over its competitors with UltraHD recording, limited storage means you have to keep a constant check on it. For the same price, I can get a stronger battery and expandable storage from Redmi Note 3 or Lenovo K5 Note.
Again, there’s no phone without its own set of compromises. So is Le 2. You set your priorities and decide what you want from your next upgrade. I know it’s not for me.