Octa-cores have become a common inclusion among flagship phones this year. It has also been used as a major marketing term so it’s no wonder O+ has also banked on the same popularity when they announced their latest flagship handset. Check out our full review of the O+ Air after the break.
The name O+ Air suggest that the company is focusing on the very slim profile of the handset on top of its other core features. With a dimension of just 6.8mm, we believe it’s the thinnest octacore smartphone ever released both locally and abroad.
Design and Construction.
While using the O+ Air for a few weeks, it has been mistaken for many things. Some say it looks like the iPod Touch, while others mentioned it looks like the old Galaxy S2 or a smaller version of the Diamond X1. We think it’s a combination of a little bit of all three.
And coming from the O+ Imagine, there were very few similarities in the design signature which makes us wonder how O+ intends to harmonize their flagship line-up and create a brand signature that can be easily attributed to them.
The O+ Air comes in a soft matte finish in a deep dark color. It is very thin and light with only 6.8mm, it is perhaps among the thinnest octa-core device we’ve tried and tested.
All the ports are on the sides, including the dual-SIm tray on the right side (one regular SIM and one microSIM slot) as well as the power button. The volume controls are on the left side together with the microSD card slot while the 3.5mm audio port is on top with the microUSB charging port just beside it.
At the back is the 13MP rear camera with LED flash. The thin aluminum sheet is separated in three parts, perhaps to allow for better cellular reception.
Perhaps the only disadvantage we can think of with a really slim profile is that there is not enough room for a bigger battery.
O+ touts their very own LUMI display, which they claim, has very similar properties as Samsung’s AMOLED. What we observed though is that it’s probably the same zero-gap panel technology we’ve seen before (with the likes of Acer) so the display is bright, has good viewing angles and better outdoor visibility.
Despite the 720p resolution, the display quality is very good and the viewing angles are very comparable to your typical IPS panel. The advantage of using 720p resolution versus a 1080p display is that the Mali 450-MP GPU is more than capable of handling the pixel density of the former making the display graphics more responsive, smoother and more fluid.
The soft buttons are found at the bottom end (Back, Home, Settings) and has some additional functions like double-tap to wake/sleep. The glass is surrounded with a metal frame and is probably fused into the body allowing it to be thinner.
OS, UI and Apps.
O+ managed to get Kitkat pre-installed on the handset right out of the box. It’s a first for O+ so we want to give credit where credit is due.
O+ has its own set of icons and UI for their line-up, plus a few more features and functionalities. Air gesture is there there while additional function like double-tap to wake/sleep has been added (not on the screen though but on the home button).
While the UI looks simple with minor cosmetic changes added to the vanilla Android interface, we feel the icons and widgets may need a little polishing.
With Kitkat right out of the box, the O+ Air benefited from a lot of the optimizations and performance enhancements introduced by Google. That and access to millions of apps in the Play Store. We do recommend getting and installing a new theme or launcher though since the one by O+ seems pretty bare.
Camera and Multimedia.
The O+ Air uses a 13-megapixel camera at the back and 5-megapixel camera at the front.
Here are sample shots taken with the O+ Air:
Quality of photos range from decent to good and even low-light performance is not bad (based on some shots we took here).
Here are sample 1080p videos recorded using the O+ Air:
The speakers at the back are quite low and a bit tinny at times. It’s good enough for listening to music over Spotify but not so much when watching a movie. Good thing O+ decided to include a Sennheisser earphones inside the box.
In some instances, the O+ Air makes for a good multimedia device as the size and form factor is pretty close to that of the iPod Touch.
Performance and Benchmarks.
With good balance of performance and battery saving mode, the Mediatek MT6592 chip managed to carve a significant niche in the flagship market. It’s cheap yet powerful and readily available.
Performance-wise, the benchmark showed slightly higher scores compared to other handsets running MT6592 chip before, most surprising of them is the NenaMark2 score of 68.5fps followed by Vellamo scores.
Quadrant Standard: 16,550
Antutu Benchmark: 26,880
Vellamo: 2260 (HTML5), 670 (Metal)
3Dmark: 6626 (Ice Storm Unlimited)
We believe the 720p resolution of the O+ Air gave it an advantage over other full HD 1080p handsets running the same Mali 450-MP quad-core graphics. While it’s a powerful quad-core graphics processor, it sometimes struggle with 1080p displays as what we noticed in other handsets running the same chip.
Call Quality, Connectivity and Battery Life.
Signal strength and call quality are good, text messages are sent/received quite fast. The dual-SIM functionality is simple and quite easy to use.
Battery life is surprisingly good as we managed to have two SIM cards running and being used the whole day with one SIM connected to 3G. Either the absence of LTE allowed for better battery life or the O+ Air had some really robust battery-saving features in place.
Using our standard battery bench, we are able to achieve up to 8.5 hours of movie playback using an HD movie running in a loop at 50% brightness and 0% volume.
The combination of a simple yet elegant design, a very slim profile and powerful hardware makes the O+ Air a desirable flagship handset. There are some shortcomings like 1GB of RAM instead of the expected 2GB or the small internal storage but those are compensated in other departments — like additional Sandisk microSD card or Sennheisser earphones.
With a current retail price of Php13,990, the O+ Air could face some heavy competition. That’s why we don’t think they should increase it to Php15,990 as they indicated earlier.
O+ Air specs:
5-inch LUMI Display @ 720×1280 pixels, 294ppi
Mediatek MT6592 1.7GHz octa-core CPU
Mali 450-MP quad-core Graphics
8GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD card (8GB Sandisk included)
3G, Quadband GSM
Dual-SIM (regular SIM + micro-SIM slot)
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
FM radio tuner
GPS with aGPS support
13MP rear camera with LED flash
5MP front-facing camera
Li-Ion 2,000mAh battery
Android 4.4 Kitkat
What we liked about it:
* Great performance
* Super thin and light profile
* Nice simple yet polished design
* Good display quality
* Android Kitkat right out of the box
* Sennheiser earphones
What we did not like:
* Low internal storage
* Low battery capacity
* No LTE