Living on a $100 Phone: The Leagoo KIICAA Mix Review

Everyone’s been there, a failing phone just a few month away from the latest and greatest new phones being released. If you only have a $100 budget or just aren’t willing to spend I thought I would take a look a the Leagoo KIICAA Mix a bezeless smartphone that looks great and makes everyone I had it to say “That’s $100?!”
by Nicole on November 12, 2017
Positives
  • amazing price point!
  • Good design
  • Nice display
  • ok camera
  • call quality is good
Negatives
  • not all day battery life if you’re using your phone more than 2-3 hours.
  • Poor low light
  • slow fingerprint reader
  • UI can lag
  • no guarantee for how long Android will keep getting updates
  • no 3.5mm headphone jack
  • no ambient light sensor

As a Smartphone reviewer, I spend most of my time with the latest greatest and fastest phones out there. So with my benchmarks set so high the pain points of a truly budget device should be painfully obvious.

Having said that I spent 5 days with my SIM card in the Leagoo KIIRAA Mix let’s take a look at my day and when I wish that I’d had more phone.

Design

The KIICAA Mix design is inspired by the Xiaomi Mi Mix which launched last year with a similar thin bezel format. The single fingerprint scanner in on the bottom and the front-facing camera awkwardly appears on the bottom left-hand side. It’s unusual placement and you have to get used to flipping the phone over to take selfies.

Selfie Camera on the bottom left-hand side of the smartphone.

The back cover is made of a plastic that does feel very premium and the dual camera set up isn’t flush to the back.


Display

At this price, it’s really hard to find a better screen.

Setting up the Leagoo took some time, the display is a bit dull or washed out, don’t get me wrong, it’s is all screen and has narrow bezels that screams “I’m a modern handset”. It went through nearly all their wallpapers looking for something that would show off the display and minimize the fact that it lacks any kind of saturation or pop.

The display is also missing auto brightness, not such a big deal, but I did notice it was missing. Not including an ambient light sensor is where we start to see cost savings.

Once my eye’s adjusted to the FHD Panel I didn’t mind it. Sure the viewing angles suck so if I want to share video with the person beside you one of you will have a very white film fogging up your view of the display.

If I didn’t hold it up to the standards of the blacks on the AMOLED display’s Samsung uses or the obscenely crisp text of any 2K display out there. But the KIIRCAA’s Sharp panel is acceptable. In fact, I handed it to someone who recently bought a Pixel 2 stood there with both in hand and said: “I can’t believe this is $100” and his girlfriend commented: “bet you wish you didn’t drop $800 on your phone”. Shock at the price while marveling at the display is the reaction I get when I tell everyone the price.

Of course, there is a huge difference between the Google Pixel 2 and the Leagoo, mainly display, build quality, camera, battery life and software experience. You are making signification compromises when you go for a budget phone, but at 1/8th the price what do you expect?


Hardware

The fingerprint reader does feel slow, 1 out of every 5 attempts comes back as a failure. It’s also a multi-purpose button that acts as a home button, back button, and a recent apps button. It didn’t work very well and it was easier to just swipe up and access the on-screen navigation buttons.

CPU Processor MT6750T Octa-Core 1.5GHz
CPU Core Quantity Octa-Core
GPU Mali-T720 MP1 650(T)MHZ
Storage
RAM 3GB
ROM 32GB
Available Memory 30GB
Memory Card 2 Nano SIM or 1 Nano SIM + 1 TF card
Max. Expansion Supported 256GB
Display
Touch Screen Type IPS
Screen Resolution 1920*1080
Screen Size ( inches) 5.5
Screen Edge 2.5D Curved Edge
Network
Network Type 2G , 3G , 4G
Band Details GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz WCDMA: 850/900/2100MHz FDD-LTE: 800/850/900/1800/2100/2600MHz (Band 1,3,5,7,8,20)
Data Transfer GPRS , HSPA , LTE
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b,g,n
SIM Card Type 1 TF card , Nano SIM
SIM Card Quantity 2
Network Standby Dual Network Standby
GPS Yes
NFC No
Infrared Port No
Bluetooth Version Bluetooth V4.0
System
Operating System Android 7.0
Camera
Camera type 2 x Cameras
Camera Pixel 13.0MP
Front Camera Pixels 13MP
Flash No
Power
Battery Capacity 3000mAh
Battery Mode Non-removable
Other Features
features Wi-Fi , GPS , FM , Bluetooth
Sensor G-sensor , Proximity
Waterproof Level IPX0 (Not Protected)
Dust-proof Level NO
Shock-proof No
I/O Interface USB Type-c
TV Tuner No
Radio Tuner FM
Wireless Charging No
Other Features 5.5″ HD IPS + Dual Network Standby + Android7.0 + 3GB RAM + 32GB ROM + Wi-Fi + GPS + FM + 13.0MP Front camera+ 13.0MP Rear camera + 3000mAh battery + Octa-Core + Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions & Weight
Dimensions 5.59 in x 2.99 in x 0.28 in (14.2 cm x 7.6 cm x 0.7 cm)
Weight 5.47 oz (155 g)

Camera

The KIIRCAA can take a decent photo, much better than we expected for the price point, it’s got a dual camera set up, 13MP on the rear with a 2MP secondary camera. The dual lens set up is to enable an SLR mode to blur out the background. This is where the second lens should come into play, for depth sensing, but it’s weird that we’re able to see data from it in the camera app. It’s blurring black and white images and even though the color saturation and accuracy is good, you know it’s a budget phone when you see something like we see above.

Not that we’re big on Mega Pixels, but the guys over a ChinaMobileMag noticed some discrepancies in the MP listed an what was shipped. The main camera uses a OmniVision OV8856 sensor with 8MP. The secondary camera uses a 0.3MP SP0A09 sensor.We’re more about camera performance, but it’s doesn’t help the reputation of the brand when things like this pop up.


The photo quality is acceptable, but is lacking detail, when you pull them off the phone they the lines look less sharp. You won’t be able to zoom in and crop.

Portrait mode does not do a great job of identifying the edges and in low light it’s almost impossible. Low light portrait is a challenge for the Pixel 2 and Note 8, so for this price expecting good results is unrealistic.

Portrait Mode

Low Light

Selfies

Weird front facing camera placement


Software

Running Android 7.0 this isn’t the latest version of Android and smaller Chinese manufacturers generally don’t provide updates. I’ve had the phone just over a month and have gotten an update for October, and I expect that over the next few months I might get one or two more, but an update to Android 8.0 is unlikely.

The UI can often run slow we would be curious to see how this run on stock Android, in theory, this processor should be more than enough. However, waiting 2-3 seconds for something to open or to change apps happens a few times a day.

If you’re not great at using a smartphone this lag could cause confusion and if you’re used to a more powerful processor you’ll find it annoying not knowing if the press didn’t register or if it’s simply just slow.


Performance

Sometimes you’ll have to wait a second or two for your screen to react.

Benchmarks

Geeksbench Single 600
Geekbench multicore 2598
AnTuTu 43078
PCMark Work 2.0 3145
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme 387

Sound

  • No headphone jack
  • Good call quality

We wish that a 3.5mm to USB Type C adapter. Someone who is buying a budget phone won’t want to shell out for a good pair of headphones. It would have been smarter to let them use whatever headphones they were already using rather than providing a terrible pair of type c headphones.


Battery Life

  • 3000mAh Battery is likely a 2500mAh in size
  • It does have Quick Charge but it’s 2.0 and not 3.1 so charging the 3000mAh battery takes just over 2.5 hours.

Leagoo’s custom UI doesn’t allow me to look at screen on time, but PC Mark’s battery life test only put it at about 4.5 hours. This much lower than what we would need from our handsets, by comparison, Galaxy Note 8 will get around 12 hours in this test.

If I have to take 1 hour of public transport playing candy crush and looking at Facebook and I have plans to go out at night, I know I’ll need to top up. The fact that it doesn’t have quick charge 3.0 makes this below average battery life noticeable.

External tests repeatedly showed results between 2.300 and 2.400mAh. If you take into consideration production-related deviations as well as deviations due to the methods of measurement you can expect a real capacity of around 2.500 to 2.600mAh. This is in line with our testing since we would expect longer screen on time for a 300mAh battery. It’s little things like that that make a budget phone…budget.


Price

You can’t beat the pricetag on the Leagoo KIIRCAA MIX, you can pick it up at DX.com for $100, but we’ve seen it as low as 60EUR!

Rating
Design / 7
Camera / 6
Sound / 6
Performance / 5
Battery Life / 6
Software / 7
Price / 9
Editor's Choice / 8
Hardware / 7
Display / 7
Leagoo KIICAA Mix

The KICCAA Mix has a phenomenal design for something in the $100 price range. We wont be trading in our mid-range or high-end phones just yet, but if we were stuck waiting for a high-end phone to come out we wouldn’t think twice about grabbing the KICCAA.

Budget phones are getting better and better and the all screen form factor that we have here with a good enough camera it exceeded most of my expectations. What made it a phone that I had to turn away from ultimately is I have a hard time living without a 3.5mm headphone jack, the headphones were unacceptable and buying a pair of decent Type C headphones would cost as much as phone!

You have to be a light user to make it through the day, but if you’re just looking for a phone because you need to have one, this one looks punch well above its price point.

6.8
You have rated this