KingCom Pi Phone Venus Review
KingCom’s new phablet sure impressed us on our unboxing with its beautiful golden metallic embellishments and accents, but does the golden beauty run skin deep? Here’s what we have to say about the seven-inch Pi Phone Venus.
KingCom sure had made great devices as of the late. There’s the S!gma Stone which we reviewed a few months back, and we now have the Pi Phone Venus, a seven-inch Phablet that boasts powerful hardware under Php9K.
Design and Construction
As we have mentioned in our First Impressions post a few days ago, the Pi Phone Venus is definitely a looker. It’s different from all the phones we’ve reviewed lately mainly because the Venus is a device that exudes sharp angles all over rather than normal smartphone curves we normally clamor and encounter.
To give you a quick roundup, the 3.5mm headphone jack is placed at the top of the phablet, while the microUSB port and the microphone are at the bottom. On the right side are three similarly-sized and evenly-spaced buttons, where the power/lock button takes the topmost one.
At the back are the camera with its LED Flash, and the speaker grill as well as the NTC stickers below it. Only the top part is removable to insert two SIM cards (Mini+Micro) as well as your MicroSD card, which all have dedicated individual slots.
It looks and feels premium given its price point — you wouldn’t even notice that it’s a KingCom phablet on the first look. Given that it’s a pretty huge device, it feels great to hold in one hand, as its back edges are angled to create an arc, providing a better grip.
The back part, in a Champagne gold finish, tells a different story. The rear camera is protruding a bit from the back plate which makes the device a bit uneven when you place it flatly anywhere, but it’s not that much of an issue.
Most of the back plate ain’t removable, so those NTC stickers are downright distracting and destroys the overall look of the device, not to mention that it can suffer from the dreaded wear and tear dilemma. The labels on the buttons are also badly placed. Lastly, it doesn’t have LED notification lights, so incoming updates and info may be stalled and may require you to check the phablet more often.
KingCom managed to squeeze in a 1920×1200 WUXGA display into the 7-inch screen that amounts to a reasonable 324dpi. The images are crisp, the colors are very vivid and well-represented, and the viewing experience is great to be seen from any front angle imaginable. The Venus uses on-screen capacitive controls, so the front feels a bit cleaner and symmetrical.
The Venus also is legible enough to be seen and used outdoors even at a high noon. It still has a bit of glare, but it’s little enough to keep you glued to your phablet while taking a walk under the sun.
OS, UI, and Apps
It’s awesome to have a software build that’s devoid of any unnecessary UI elements. The Pi Phone Venus has an almost stock KitKat UI. The default wallpaper though, does not utilize the prowess of the Full HD screen, and can be easily remedied by using a better wallpaper of your choice.
KingCom also made our life easier by adding a screenshot button below alongside the three main device buttons, which is really useful when you want to capture on-screen activity in a snap. There’s also an option to expand the screen and auto-hide your notification and navigation bars for a bigger mobile experience.
The stock UI, however, might prove to be a bit difficult to use for a device this huge. The size truly magnified the mobile OS into something that can only be suited for two hands. Since there were cellular functions available, simple tasks such as dialing numbers to call and typing in messages needed both hands to work, and there are no options for one-hand operation.
Filling your device with apps wouldn’t be much of a problem, as it touts a 16GB onboard memory and it’s giving you less than 14GB left for installing everything you want. Aside from the usual stock apps already present, KingCom installed a few useful apps such as KingSoft Office, the Holy Bible, Skype, and a Movie Studio for video editing.
Camera and Multimedia
If I have a great thing to highlight here, it had to be the multimedia viewing experience. Viewing Full HD music videos and movies from the phone are really great, and it has this really smooth and fluid performance mostly seen on HDTVs. It doesn’t support a ton of video file formats like other phones do, but a third-party media player app can do the job just fine. Speakers are loud and clear, but may tend to be scratchy at times. Same goes with listening to media via earphones.
On the contrary, the camera can be seen as the phablet’s weakest point. Devices of this size are generally known for not having great cameras, and it’s hard not to notice that with the Pi Phone Venus. The 5MP rear camera oftentimes exhibit reddish tints that give photos a very warm hue. This can always be remedied by using its HDR mode, but it’ll result to taking slower photos.
The overall camera performance, to say the least, was below average. The native camera app tends to focus on its subjects slowly, exhibits white balance/exposure problems, and its blue hues do not compensate properly. The front camera, on the other hand, works well with a bit of fine-tuning, as you may encounter taking shots in dimmed areas. Here are some shots we took during a high noon:
[fancygallery id=”182″ album=”224″]
The video, when tuned into the fine settings, shoots Full HD scenes at 28 frames per second. Like the Huawei Honor 3C Lite, the Pi Phone Venus also produces its videos in 3gp file format. Here’s a sample video: (Take note that video quality may have been lost in conversion, because YouTube doesn’t support direct .3gp uploads)
The Venus excels in the performance department. Multitasking was never a problem, and playing games in the likes of Hungry Shark Evolution, Eternity Warriors 3, or Smash Hit can run smoothly given the phone’s huge 2GB of RAM. The phone, given its thin profile, suffers from heat — not just normal smartphone heat one usually encounter, but tremendous heat enough for you to not hold it for a long time (and maybe cook some scrambled eggs).
We ran the device through a set of benchmarks, and here’s what we’ve got:
3DMark: 7,278 (Ice Storm Unlimited)
AnTuTu: 38,358 *unverified
Quadrant Standard: 3,466
Vellamo: 2,072 (Browser), 1,470 (Multicore), 978 (Metal)
We encountered some verification issues with a few benchmarking tools, especially with AnTuTu for some unknown reason.
Call Quality, Connectivity, and Battery Life
As for call quality and connectivity, both are great. We were able to easily get signal reception. Calls received and transmitted were above decent, and connecting via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are a breeze.
The phablet’s 3000mah battery is quite a shocker, though. The battery still makes its effort to drain a lot even when in sleep/standby, but still manages to be used for up to a day on moderate use (calls, texts, a bit of 3G browsing and messaging). When we ran the Venus into our standard battery test, we had clocked in four hours and ten minutes when we continuously looped an HD video with 50 percent brightness and zero audio.
Hands down, the KingCom Pi Phone Venus is one of the best-looking seven-inch phablets we’ve seen around. It’s classy, elegant and sophisticated appearance can definitely turn heads. It also has powerful hardware tucked beneath its slim profile — more than a Full HD display, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and a stock Android experience can actually give other devices priced near it a good run for their money.
With the affordable Php7,998 price tag attached to the Pi Phone Venus comes a lot of shortcomings. The overheating device, its poor camera performance, the absence of a LED notification light, the short-lived battery, and the inevitable non-removable battery plate that made the NTC stickers stuck at the beautiful back plate could definitely work on some improvement.
KingCom Pi Phone Venus specs:
7-inch Full HD WUXGA IPS display, 1920×1200, 324dpi
1.7GHz Octa-core MediaTek MT6592
16GB internal storage
expandable up to 32GB via microSD
5MP rear AF camera with LED flash
2MP front camera
Dual-SIM (Mini + Micro), Dual-Standby
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Android 4.4.2 KitKat
3,000mAh non-removable Li-Po battery
Dimensions: 184.5mm x 106.2mm x 8.2mm
What we liked about it:
*Great design and build
*Near-Stock Android KitKat experience
*Stunning display and great outdoor legibility
What we didn’t like:
*Below-average camera performance
*Overheats too much when performing intensive tasks
*NTC stickers at the back due to nonremovable back plate and may be subject to wear and tear
*No LED Notification Light
*Battery life is very disappointing