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February 22, 2014

O+ Fab Elite Review

On our previous post, we mentioned that it’s going to take more than a sturdy build for the O+ Fab Elite to win over the tough local crowd, particularly if it costs a grand shy of Php20,000. And in this review, we’re going to delve deeper into this huge handset to know if it’s worth the asking price.

Display and Multimedia

The Fab Elite’s 6.5-inch screen is undeniably its most striking asset. But more than anything, the handset’s screen size is a matter of preference; not everybody’s a fan of lugging around a phone almost as huge as small tablet, but there are some who likes having a big real estate to work with.

O+ Fab Elite

But it’s not only the sheer size of the Fab Elite’s display that impresses us; it also has an IPS panel which provides a decent viewing angle, as well as a respectable pixel density of 339ppi to boot courtesy of its 1080p resolution.

This makes the handset a preferable choice for movie buffs who like to watch flicks on a fairly large screen and still be able use all the phone features like SMS and Voice calls.

Fab Elite

In terms of legibility, we like how the screen is still fairly bright even when set at the lowest settings because we didn’t have to crank up the brightness to get a decent view of the contents on the screen. Also, every inch of the screen was responsive to touch inputs even on the corners where some touchscreen displays seems to struggle.

OS, UI and Apps

Just like other recent O+ handsets, the Fab Elite also rocks a skinned version of Android Jelly bean, complete with the company’s trademark colorful wallpaper and hideous square system icons that’s reminiscent of the ones used by Cherry Mobile on some of their low-end smartphones.

Fab Elite UI

But apart from some subtle customizations and a few preinstalled apps (AirShuffle, Flashlight, etc.), the majority of the UI and native apps (Messaging, Contacts, Dialer, etc.) remain untouched. Because of this, the Fab Elite’s engine didn’t have to deal with unnecessary OS alterations which often results to minor lags.

Now when it comes to handling third-party apps, the Fab Elite also didn’t disappoint. We didn’t encounter any issues in almost all the apps we tried to install on it, although there were a number of instances when some of the apps would crash , particularly Google Chrome and FourSquare.

Performance and Benchmarks

In addition to Android Jellybean, one of the things we’ve come to expect from budget smartphones of late is the use of a quad-core MediaTek processor paired with 1GB of RAM, and the Fab Elite is no exception. With so many smartphones sporting the same setup, we already have a rough idea of what to expect from the O+’s mammoth handset in terms of performance.

Fab Elite Benchmark

AnTuTu: 15,385
Quadrant Standard: 4,655
Vellamo: 15,39 (HTML5) / 501 (Metal)
NenaMark2: 33.9fps

Fab Elite Nenamark

As mentioned earlier, the Fab Elite’s engine did a decent job of keeping the multitasking and UI smooth, as well as providing much needed performance boost when using some resource-heavy apps. Although the MT6589 has enough steam to handle most of your basic and intermediate smartphone needs, one would argue that for its price, O+ should’ve at least gave this handset at least 2GB RAM.

Camera

At its maximum settings, the Fab Elite’s camera shoots stills with 13MP resolution and 1080p clips. For the most part, the camera’s AF was good in locking on a subject and capturing pictures with a pretty respectable quality.

However, there are a handful instances, that the camera’s AF screws up resulting to an out-of-focus shot. And it doesn’t only happen on poorly-lit conditions, even under broad daylight the Fab Elite’s rear snapper sometimes can’t quite detect where to focus.

Audio and Call Quality

The sound coming out of the Fab Elite’s built-in speaker and earpiece leaves a lot to be desired. Not only was the audio output is too soft, but the overall quality is shabby at best.

Fortunately, the Fab Elite comes with a fancy stereo headset from Sennheiser which kind of cancels out the slight drawback we noticed on its loudspeaker. However, we can’t help but think that the pre-bundled earphone may have increased the handset’s price a bit.

Fab Elite Philippines

As for the call quality, the Fab Elite’s internal microphone did well in picking up sounds. At times though, the mic was a little too sensitive to sounds that it also picks up some of the external noises in the process, but not to the point that it’s too cumbersome.

Battery

Lighting up a screen as big as the one on the Fab Elite, and with 1080p resolution if we may add, will definitely give any battery a run for its money. Luckily, there’s plenty of space on this humongous handset’s compartment for a sizeable 3,000mAh battery pack which, based on our battery test, didn’t back down to the challenge at hand.

Fab elite Battery

From 100% state, the Fab Elite gave us more than 7 hours’ worth of battery life when we looped an HD video while it’s on Airplane Mode and with the volume and brightness set to 50%. Surprisingly, even after the test, the phone still has 15% battery left which allowed us to browse over WiFi for more than an hour.

O+ Fab Elite specs:
6.5-inch fHD AMOLED display @ 1920×1080 pixels, 339ppi
1.5GHz MTK6589 quad-core processor
PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU
1GB RAM
16GB internal storage
3G/HSDPA
Dual-SIM, Dual-Standby
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
FM Radio Tuner
GPS
13MP AF rear camera, LED flash
1080p video recording @ 30fps
5MP front-facing camera
Li-Ion 3000mAh battery
Android 4.2.2 Jellybean

Conclusion

Despite of all the nice assets that the phone has to offer, not to mention the “free” Sennheiser headset and fancy Smart Cover, it’s still pretty tough to justify the Fab Elite’s Php18,990 price tag. Sure it’s relatively cheaper compared to the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3, but its significantly pricier compared to other phablets in the market like the CM Omega HD 2X which has a smaller screen but better engine setup.

What we liked about it:
* Large screen with great display
* Decent overall performance
* Sizeable storage with microSD slot
* Impressive battery life
* Good build quality
* Sleek Flip cover
* Prebundled Sennheiser headset

What we didn’t like:
* Below average camera performance
* Weak speaker
* Square icons

Lenovo S920 in the flesh, first impressions
O+ Fab Elite in the flesh, first impressions
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This article was written by Ronnie Bulaong, a special features contributor and correspondent for YugaTech. Follow him on Twitter @turonbulaong.

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