O+ USA surprised a lot of folks by releasing its newest flagship smartphone just before the Christmas rush. It was a phone like no other O+ handsets we’ve seen before. Check out our full review of the O+ Imagine after the break.
O+ has been making almost similar-looking handsets since they started with but a few cosmetic changes and varying form factors. The O+ Imagine is something different.
They used a glass-on-glass design in a metallic chassis, similar to what we’ve seen before with the iPhone 4, Optimus G and Nexus 4.
Design and Construction.
At only 7.8mm, the Imagine is one of the thinnest smartphones we’ve seen around — slightly thicker than the iPhone 5S at 7.6mm and a hair thinner compared to the Galaxy S4 at 7.9mm.
The chassis is made up of some sort of anodized aluminum alloy with the front and back sides all fully covered with tempered glass.
The rounded top and bottom edges are designed with some type of solid polycarbonate material, perhaps to allow the internal antennas to function better and without interference.
The volume controls are on the left side while the power button is on the right side with the micro-SIM card slot. The 3.5mm audio port is at the top along with the micro-USB port for charging and wired data transfer.
The back side is also covered with some type of tempered glass, dotted with the 13MP camera at the farthest top corner along with the LED flash and a small O+ logo below it.
There are two microphones, one at the bottom and the other at the top end, for calling and noise-cancellation.
Obviously, the front and back sides of the phone is a smudge and finger-print magnet, an inherent disadvantage of premium glass-lined designs like the Imagine.
The Imagine sports a 5-inch, full HD 1080p display with a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 441ppi.
While it is not publicly promoted, the O+ Imagine uses an AMOLED type display, offering the same deep, dark contrast, crispness and high level of brightness. However, on direct sunlight or in the outdoors, screen visibility degrades a bit despite cranking the brightness to maximum.
Nevertheless, a 5-inch full HD 1080p display is among the best we’ve seen around — great for gaming or watching movies and photos.
OS, Apps and UI.
The O+ Imagine is powered by Android 4.2 Jellybean. With the quad-core processor and the generous 2GB of RAM, the over-all experience is smooth, snappy and responsive. You also have access to over a million apps and games in the Google Play Store.
O+ made a few customization to the Android UI with their own set of icons and widgets. They’re pretty simple yet doesn’t look inspiring. Either they need to go back to the drawing board and redo the UI or just stick it out with vanilla Android which is more appealing to users. Nevertheless, you always have to option to change the look and feel of the interface by downloading your favorite launcher from Google Play Store.
What’s unusual and surprising is that the touch buttons found at the bottom end of the front panel is represented by a strip of LED light that breathes in idle mode, lights up during SMS and calls and blinks when you touch them.
Takes a little bit of getting used to, especially if you’re not familiar with Android, but the Home, Back and Menu soft buttons are just a space apart in that LED strip.
The virtual numpad and keyboard are pretty basic and simple. The screen is responsive but the slim keys on the full keyboard can be a bit tight especially if you don’t have nibble fingers.
O+ added a few other gesture functions to the Imagine like Air Shuffle and double-tap (the middle of the LED strip) to wake or sleep (almost same idea we saw with the LG G2).
Multimedia and Camera.
The phone’s multimedia capabilities are all dependent on the display and audio quality as well as hardware performance and usability. First, the slim and light profile makes the Imagine an ideal portable media device.
The 5-inch screen with full HD resolution is ideal for watching TV series or movies, even streaming over YouTube or UStream. The audio quality is decent; not that great but usable. The speakers are positioned at the back and is loud enough for music playback. However, we prefer you using the Sennheiser earphones that came bundled with it.
The 13-megapixel rear camera take really good photos and videos. There’s some minor focusing issues and problems with low light but the performance under good lighting conditions are of good quality.
Same is true with the 5MP front-facing camera.
Here are sample photos we took with the O+ Imagine.
Here are sample full HD clips taken with the camera (you’ll need to tick the 1080p setting sin YouTube to stream properly).
The O+ Imagine came bundled with a Sennheiser in-ear earphones which is also a bonus if you’re very particular with the earphones that came with the handset.
Performance and Benchmarks.
The O+ Imagine did pretty well in most of the tasks and stress tests we placed it on except for a few instances when the gaming experience is somewhat diminished because of the low frame rates.
This is due to the fact that the display has full HD resolution and the graphics engine, a PowerVR SGX 544MP, is just not powerful enough to push that many pixels at the same time to give us a smooth frame rate.
Benchmark test with Quadrant Standard gave it score 5,763; for Antutu Benchmark, it scored a good 15,502 points.
The low score of 34.2fps on Nenamark2 is due to the full HD resolution (we reckon it should be near to 60fps on a 720p display).
Vellamo tests showed a 1,573 score on HTML5 and 539 on Metal.
We’ve always seen these type of results when you combine a quad-core Mediatek chip with a 1080p resolution display. The frame rates tend to suffer and becomes evident when playing intensive games.
Call Quality, Connectivity and Battery Life.
The handset worked well with the normal voice and text functions. Calls are clear and loud, SMS are sent and receive on time. We did not have any troubles with the micro-SIM as it’s practically the standard size of most flagship handsets around.
As for connectivity, the O+ Imagine has all the basics covered — 3G, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS. What is lacking is NFC and LTE support, although the latter is much more important to us.
Using our standard battery bench of running a full HD movie in a loop at 50% brightness and 0% volume, we manage to get up to 9 hours on the device. Impressive feat considering it only has a 2,000mAh battery capacity. However, once you use it with mobile connectivity, the battery life degrades much faster at around 6 to 7 hours.
O+ has a really good contender with the Imagine. It’s a pretty solid smartphone with a unique design and premium materials, packaged with a very good set of hardware. The lack of key features like LTE, NFC and microSD card is somewhat excusable at its price range but we were really hoping they could lower the price just a little bit more. In any case, we believe the Imagine with definitely change the image of O+ as a handset-maker.
The O+ Imagine has a suggested retail price of Php18,990 and is available in dealer stores nationwide.
O+ Imagine specs:
5.0-inch fHD AMOLED display @ 1920×1080 pixels, 441ppi
Mediatek MTK6589T Turbo 1.5GHz quad-core
PowerVR SGX 544MP graphics
32GB internal storage
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
FM Radio Tuner
13MP AF rear camera, LED flash
Electronic Image Stabilization
1080p video recording @ 30fps
5MP front-facing camera
Li-Ion 2,000mAh battery
Android 4.2.1 Jellybean
What we liked about it:
* Great design and slim profile
* Premium glass and metal construction
* Full HD display
* Good system performance
* Large internal storage
* Good camera quality
* Bundled Sennheiser earphones
What we did not like:
* No LTE and NFC capability
* Average battery life
* No expandable storage/microSD card slot
P.S. We’re giving away an O+ Imagine to a lucky reader. Check out the mechanics here.