LeEco (earlier known as LeTV) forayed in the Indian smartphone market this year with the launch of Le 1S and LeMax. The company has ambitious plans for the country. It is going all out to grab a big marketshare and aims to be among the top three smartphone manufacturers in India by the end of this fiscal.
The LeEco Le 1s Eco is essentially a revised version of the LeEco Le1s and features an all metal design, a 1.85 GHz MediaTek Helio X10 processor, 32GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM.
Marketed as LeEco's first 'Made for India' smartphone, the USP of the phone lies in the company's ecosystem-based LeEco membership program. Users can access 2,000+ movies, 100+ live TV channels and more than 3.5 million songs right from their smartphone. In addition, the company is also offering 5TB cloud personal space storage space.
While the LeEco Le 1s is available for Rs 10,990, the Le 1s Eco has been priced lower at Rs 9,999. The device will compete with the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, the Coolpad Note 3 Plus, the upcoming Motorola G4 as well as its predecessor. Does it have what it takes to compete with such formidable competition? Let's find out.
Display : 5.5 inch Full HD IPS LCD display
OS : LeEco's EUI running on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop
CPU : 1.8 GHZ Helio X10 Turbo MTK 6795T Octa Core Processor, 3GB RAM
Storage : 32GB storage (no microSD card slot)
Cameras : 13MP f/2.0 rear camera (single LED flash), 5MP front camera
Connectivity : Wi-Fi, 4G/3G/2G, GPS, Bluetooth, USB Type C charging port, IR blaster
Battery : 3,000mAh
Dimensions : 74.2 x 151.1 x 7.6mm
Weight : 170 grams
Price : Rs 9,999
Design and Display
Featuring a full metal unibody design, the phone looks and feels very premium. There are no creaks or rattles and it feels solidly put together. In fact, based on design and build quality alone, the phone can be easily mistaken for a high-end device. The phone is slippery though, and slid off my desk on more than one occasion. A case is recommended.
The all glass front looks really sleek, although the black boundary around the glass tends to take away from the immersiveness of the display.
There is a mirror finished, highly scratch resistant fingerprint scanner on the back, which according to LeEco has an accuracy of 99.3%. The fingerprint scanner is extremely fast and accurate, and is a pleasure to use. There is a headphone jack on top, a USB type C port and a speaker on the bottom and the power and volume controls on the right. The phone weighs a rather hefty 170 grams and its dimensions are 74.2 x 151.1 x 7.6mm.
LeEco has chosen to adopt the new USB Type C connector on the Le 1s Eco. USB type C has its own sets of pros and cons. While it does make the phone future proof and is reversible, it is not very common and will become a frustration when your phone runs out of charge and you're without a charger.
The single external speaker, though loud, is quite muddled. The earpiece is more than adequate though and calls made through the phone could be heard loud and clear.
The display itself is a 5.5inch, full HD IPS panel with a pixel density of 401 PPI. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for scratch resistance. While in the day and age of 2K screens, a 1080p resolution may sound disappointing on paper but, the display is rather impressive, with ultra-vivid colors, good viewing angles and adequate brightness levels.
The display is colorful and full of detail, though the blacks aren't as deep as I would have liked. Thanks to the great viewing angles and brightness levels, sunlight legibility was never a problem.
The Le1S Eco packs a Media Tek Helio X 10 (ARM Cortex - A53, 64-Bit) processor coupled with a Power VR G6200 GPU, a 5.5-inch full HD display, 32GB of non-expandable internal storage and 3GB of RAM
The difference between the Le1s Eco and its predecessor Le1s is minimal. The only tangible difference lies in the processor speed. While the Le1s packs the same Helio X10 Turbo MTK 6795T Octa Core Processor as the Le1s Eco, the Le1s runs at 2.2GHz while the Le1s Eco's processor has been under clocked to 1.8GHz.
Amongst the competition, The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 offers a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor, 16/32 GB of internal storage, a 5.5 inch full HD display, micro SD support and 3GB of RAM.
The LeEco Le 1s Eco performs incredibly well. For day to day usage, the phone is more than capable. Apps launch rather quickly, scrolling is very smooth and web browsing is a delight. However, there are some random stutters and lags in between.
Create column charts It easily outscores the likes of the Coolpad Note 3 Plus and the the 3rd generation Moto G in benchmarks. These do translate into real world use with games like Subway Surfers and Traffic Rider running very smoothly. However, frame rate dropping does occur while playing graphic intensive games like Asphalt 8 Airborne and Real Racing 3.
During testing, one thing I noticed is that the phone tends to heat up quite a bit during heavy usage and while charging. Hopefully, the company will be able to fix this up through an OTA update.
Overall, the MediaTek Helio X10 processor along with the PowerVR G6200 GPU ensure that this device can handle multi-tasking and daily tasks with ease, and is good for some basic gaming as well.
Software and Connectivity
The phone runs on Le Eco's own EUI, running on top of Android 5.0.2 Lollipop which is a rather mixed affair. Though fast and snappy, the extensive amount of customization done by Le Eco is not to everyone's tastes. The lack of an app drawer and notification shortcuts are major irritants. Rather, the quick shortcuts are located in the app switcher screen. LeEco has adopted to include its own gallery, music and video apps, leading to confusion between its own applications and Google's own. In fact, the default browser out of the box is not Chrome, but LeEco's own.
As mentioned above, LeEco heavily advertises the content ecosystem that you get along with the phone. Users get one-year access to the content for free along with the phone, which according to the company is worth Rs 4,900. There is 5TB of cloud storage which can be accessed after making a LeEco account. There are two main apps offering the gamut of content - 'Levidi' and 'Live'.
Levidi allows users to access Bollywood and regional movies while Live (Yupp TV) allows users access to YuppTV's entire live TV channel catalogue. A service called Le Music, which will go live in Q3 2016 will give users access to over 3.5 million songs from 25 different languages in partnership with Hungama.
Levidi offers a rather comprehensive library of movies, but the actual implementation of the concept is a hit and miss affair. Some movies played flawlessly while others simply refused to play. Live worked well though, offering an extensive range of live TV channels that can be accessed on the go including popular choices like Sony and Colors.
The phone has dualSIM support and runs on all Indian 4G LTE bands. Other connectivity options include 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 as well as GPS. The phone has 32GB of internal storage, with no microSD card support. The lack of external storage options is a big letdown. With only a handful of apps and some games, I managed to fill 12GB of the available 21.02 GB of internal storage.
The rear 13MP camera with a f/2.0 aperture produced sharp and vibrant images, although they were slightly lacking in detail. In well-lit situations, the camera can challenge phones twice its price. Indoor shots with adequate light turn out surprisingly decent, and do not reflect the price tag of the device.
The phone handles Macro shots really well producing crisp and vibrant results.
However, the low light performance is as you would expect of a phone of this price- mediocre. The pictures are legible and not a dark mess, however noise tends to creep in and the phone really struggles with exposure. The flash is decent, though the lack of a dual LED flash results in unnatural skin tones and colours.
The 5MP front camera has a wide angle lens and is more than adequate for your social media selfies. Video however, is not so promising. The lack of OIS and 4K in the rear camera, along with mediocre 1080p footage limits this phone's appeal in this area.
The camera is very snappy, with no lag in focusing or recording the image.
Overall, the camera is decent for the price, but the results wont blow anyone away anytime soon.
Here are a few camera samples -
The LeEco Le 1s Eco is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery which produces solid, if not spectacular results. At the end of day with moderate usage, I was left with around 8 -10% of battery with a screen on time of about 4 hours. But with even slightly heavier use, the smartphone struggled to last a whole day.
There a lot to like in the LeEco Le 1s Eco. The smartphone has a fantastic build quality, good looks, a great display as well as a promising content ecosystem. The camera is also decent for the price.
There is no option to expand the 32GB of internal storage, out of which only 21Gb is available to the user. There is no OIS or 4K recording in the camera, and the even the HD video quality is average. The phone also tends to heat up a lot during intensive usage and while charging.
At a price of Rs 9,999, The LeEco Le 1s Eco seems like an extremely value for money proposition that can challenge the likes of Xiaomi, Huawei and Micromax. The build quality of the phone is fantastic and the phone feels much more expensive than it really is. However, the heating issues and mediocre battery life dilute the experience.