Ufone recently launched a 3G enabled Android smartphone with fairly decent specifications in the market ─ and that too at a ridiculously low price of Rs. 5,999. As a result it got a tremendous response from customers and with in a week or so, this phone was sold-out at almost all locations in the country.
While Ufone has promised to refill the stock in the coming week, we’ve prepared a short review of this device for your consideration. Let’s begin with the un-boxing and hands-on tour of this device:
Ufone smart U5 phone is a modified version of b.social 4 phone from the UAE based company, Emitac Mobile Solution. At first glance it looks like a Y-series phone from Huawei, and the back pattern also resembles with Y300.
This phone is almost 118.5mm tall, 63mm wide and 10.7mm thick. The body is made of plastic, and currently it is sold only in black color.
Due to its size, Ufone U5 feels good in hands. Its easy to hold, control and operate.
The build quality of this phone is reasonable and the materials look sturdy. I haven’t tried but if you happen to drop this phone from 4-5 feet height, I suspect that it can survive unless you drop it face down.
The front side features 4 inch IPS display with WVGA resolution (480×800). Though its an IPS panel but the viewing angles aren’t so great, however the color saturation and brightness levels are good. You won’t notice the low resolution of this device unless you are watching some high definition videos or playing 3D games.
The default Ufone wallpapers have a low resolution and makes the screen look bad, so don’t forget to use a custom wallpaper.
One thing you must keep in mind is that this screen doesn’t feature any kind of protective layer and will attract scratches quickly, so the use of screen protector is recommend (one protector is provided in the box).
Above the screen there’s the regular array of earspeaker, proximity & light sensors and 0.3-megapixel camera.
Three touch sensitive keys are placed just below the screen, unfortunately these are not lit and you will find it hard to use them in low lighting conditions.
Power/unlock key is placed on the right and volume rocker is on the left, both of these can be reached using one hand only. Headphones jack is on top and microUSB port along with microphone are placed on the bottom.
The back hosts a primary 5-megapixel snapper along with a single LED flash light. The black plate has curved edges and a texture, which makes it quite comfortable to hold.
Removing the back plate reveals a loudspeaker just above the camera, surprisingly there is no grille on the back plate. As a result you will get muffled sound and a lot of vibration while listening to songs at high volume.
You’ll also find microSD, mini SIM and battery slots under the cover. You can easily use a microSIM card in this slot, however you have to adjust the nanoSIM carefully so it touches the connectors.
One more thing I’ve noticed that the SIM card slot is up side down, so if you are getting no SIM card errors, don’t freak out.
This phone is network locked to Ufone only, so you won’t be able to use other network SIM cards unless you unlock the phone first.
Operating System & UI:
Smart U5 phone runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system with no customizations, so you will get pure Android experience.
Most of our readers would be familiar with Vanilla Android ─ there are couple of homescreens, where you can put some shortcuts and widgets, an app drawers which lists all of installed applications on the phone in chronological order and swiping from top brings notifications drawer with quick toggles.
Google Apps and some other apps like; Facebook, BB Messenger and Snapdragon Battery Guru comes pre-installed with this phone. There is also a Ufone 3GVAS application, which as per description allows you to make and receive 3G videos calls, however every time I’ve tried to make a call, it gives “not supported” error message.
Ufone website mentions that this phone could be upgraded to the latest flavor of Android (KitKat 4.4). However it doesn’t feature OTA (Over the air) updates and I assume that users have to visit the CSC or download a patch from the Ufone website to upgrade their devices.
Hardware & Performance:
Smart U5 features Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 chipset, a quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz and 400MHz Adreno 305 GPU. It packs 512MB of RAM and 4GB ROM. It can also take microSD cards up to 32GB.
The hardware specs aren’t so phenomenal and the RAM seems quite low for an Android phone, however at this price this the best you can get. Nevertheless the performance of this device is remarkably reasonable.
You won’t find any lag in the normal operation of this phone, as there is no bloatware and fancy UI customizations, so everything feels smooth and buttery.
It can run multiple apps, like Facebook, Chrome, Twitter etc without breaking a sweat and you can also play some of the demanding games on it. However there may be some lag and you’ll find that the graphics are not up to mark.
Some regular games, including Temple run, Minion rush, Angry Birds, Battle Monkeys etc work just fine on this device. The default browser performance is also very good (you can see the quick and smooth scrolling of pages in the video).
You’ll get nearly 1GB space for apps and games, so if you are trying to install some resource hungry applications like Asphalt 8, don’t forget to put a microSD card in the phone.
This is a 3G enabled handset and you can use Ufone 3G services with this phone. At a good coverage area, you can get 3-4 Mbps speed with Ufone Ultra 3G package.
You can also watch 1080p videos on this device, however you may have to use third-party software like MX player as the default video player playback could be choppy and jittery.
As mentioned earlier, there is no speaker grille in the back cover, as a result the sound is muffled. However it is still quite loud and you can adjust the volume levels and audio effects with Snapdragon Audio+ utility. This phone also has a built in FM radio, but you’ll need to plug in the headphones to use it.
Camera & Video:
Smart U5 packs a primary 5-megapixel snapper on the back, coupled with a single LED flash. On the front there is 0.3 megapixel camera, capable of taking VGA photos.
Camera is not one of the main selling point of this phone, however the performance is much better as compared to other low-end Android phones.
In decent lighting conditions, it capture images with great detail and vibrant colors. Although it struggles a bit with high contrast scenes and doesn’t perform well in low light either.
The LED flash helps taking photos in dark, however due to significant shutter lag the photos are often over/under exposed. It takes almost 2-3 seconds to lock the focus and if the subject is moving, you’ll get blurred photos.
The Camera application uses the stock UI, which isn’t very user friendly and you have to go deep down in the settings even for some basic functions like turning on/off the flash light.
Image controls are placed on the right, with the Blue button you can start shooting photos, the icon below shutter allows you to quickly switch between camera and camcorder, however the panorama mode is missing. For settings and use of secondary camera you have to use the settings button above shutter.
The camera allows you to take up to 5 megapixel images with 4:3 aspect ratio, however the live view is shown in 16:9 ratio, which creates a little confusion for users. The secondary camera can take VGA photos, but the quality is not up to mark and there’s a lot of noise in the images.
Smart U5 is capable of recording 720p videos with the primary camera with a maximum duration of 30 minutes. You can use the LED flash light while recording videos but auto focus / touch to focus feature is not available in video recording.
The secondary camera is capable of recording VGA quality videos, which on the phone doesn’t look so good, however while using the camera for video calling, the result is impressive.
Sample Images Shot by Ufone U5
This phone comes with 1450mAh battery, which seems to be quite short for a 3G enabled Android phone. The battery would not even last for a single day for most of the users.
In our tests it ran out of juice in just couple of hours while using 3G network and keeping the screen continuously on. It performs a little better with a WiFi connection, still it drains pretty fast.
Games and video playback drains the battery in less than 5 hours, so power users have to charge this device multiple times a day.
Usual and average usage may give you 10-12 hours with the battery on this phone.
It takes an hour and half to charge the battery with the wall charger provided in the box. You can also use any USB connection to charge this device.
Pre-installed Battery Guru application from Qualcomm claims to extend the battery life by analyzing the usage pattern, however it doesn’t change anything at all.
Pricing and Availability:
Ufone Smart U5 is available in all the cities where Ufone has 3G coverage. You can get this phone from your nearest Ufone Customer Service Center at a price of Rs. 5,999.
This phone comes with 6 months warranty and it is currently available only in Black color. Prepaid users will also get 500MBs of data volume each month for three months.
Smart U5 is one of the best low-end Android devices I’ve used so far. At this price it beats the competition with a clear margin. Not only it packs decent hardware, the real performance of this device is also very pleasing.
You won’t find any phone with these specifications in the market for a price this low, even the cheapest QMobile phones comes with a high price tag and low specs. I am not sure if Ufone is making any profit out of this deal, but surely they have shaken up the market.
This phone lacks a bit in Camera department and battery isn’t so impressive, but you shouldn’t expect otherwise, as it is a low end device targeted at a price conscious segment.
If you are getting your first phone or want to switch to a smartphone, U5 is the best option available in the market right now. People who are using high end devices should also consider it as their secondary phone. It offers you nearly all of the features you current smartphone has, and you can easily take it anywhere without any worries.
If you have any question or want to add anything in this review, use the comments section below.