Today we are looking at a super affordable 4.7 inch Android smartphone from a UMI, the X1-Pro. Running Android 4.2.2 on a quad-core MediaTek processor, the UMI X1-Pro can be purchased for a snap above $100. But for this incredible price point, are you getting a device that would stand up to scrutiny in Western markets? Mobile Geeks investigate.
UMI, not Xiaomi
UMI is a relatively small player in Shenzhen China who have recently co-opted some of the style and branding we have come to recognize from Xiaomi, a very significant player in China and now also in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. The motivation for this recent change in branding from UMI is probably due to Xiaomi having created a very strong brand and reputation in China, and the pretty close similarity of their names – both integrating the Chinese character for rice. Whereas Xiaomi (小米) means small rice, UMI (优米) literally translates to excellent, or quality rice. What we are seeing looks like a piggybacking of a successful brand by a smaller brand. Then again, what’s in a font?
The UMI X1-Pro arrived in packaging that obviously pre-dates the new Xiaomi-esque branding and logo usage, with the company logo and presented in straight forward English. However, the UI within the device does feature the revised UMI logo which is very reminiscent of Xiaomi.
You can also watch a detailed video review of the UMI X1-Pro here:
UMI X1-Pro: Hardware Overview
The UMI X1-Pro uses a decent looking IPS LCD display with a 720p HD resolution. Inside the device we find a MT6582 MediaTek processor with 1GB of RAM and a paltry 3GB of internal storage. The X1-Pro does support microSD cards however, which is a relief. The front facing camera is a 0.3MP shooter, with a 5MP cam on the rear. Standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity is present and accounted for, but this is a 3G only phone in terms of network telephony.
UMI X1-Pro Specifications:
• 4.7 Inch IPS LCD Display
• 1280 x 720 w/Multi-touch
• MediaTek MT6582 Processor
• Quad-core, Cortex A7 @ 1.3GHz
• 1GB RAM
• 4GB Internal Storage
• microSD up 32GB
• 5MP Rear Camera w/LED Flash
• 0.3MP Front Camera
• Wi-Fi b/g/n
• Bluetooth 4.0
• 139mm x 69mm x 9.3mm
• 156 grams
• 2,000 mAh Battery
• Android 4.2.2.
Overall there is nothing in the specifications to get too excited about. It’s a hundred US dollar Android smartphone, and the specs reflect that. However, on the surface a 720p display is pretty decent – there is certainly no way you can reasonably expect a 1080p screen at this price point, so we will be relatively satisfied with 720p. The MediaTek platform we know to be a capable, if not a high-end performer, and it is good to see it paired with a full 1GB of system memory. It seems that the days of 512MB are finally behind us thankfully.
One area where we do feel we have the right top gripe, is the paltry 4GB of storage which has been divided into two partitions. For apps you are left with far less space than you need, which is a real bummer when it comes to installing games and other larger apps. The microSD card however will accept game installs due to the OS being Android 4.2.2.
UMI X1-Pro Gallery
Design and Build Quality
The UMI X1-Pro is actually a pretty original and unique design, using what many of the Shenzhen players refer to as ‘exclusive tooling’. The top and sides of the X1-Pro are held together by a chrome band which actually feels like aluminum. The bottom edge of the phone has a thin plastic bezel, which is the same finish as the back cover – a pattern design that incorporates hundreds of tiny reflective squares which looks relatively stylish and has a nice glossy finish. The X1-Pro comes in white and black, we acquired the white version, but if I’m honest I think I might actually prefer the black model.
The 5MP camera on the rear peeks out above the removable back cover by just a millimeter or two, and is located centrally at the top, with the LED flash just below it. There is an X1 logo just below the camera and a Pro logo just below that. No sign on the outside of the device of any UMI branding. The devices navigation is with three standard Android hardware buttons just above the rounded, white bottom edge.
The USB port is on the top right-side edge of the phone, with the headphone jack on the left side. The power button is located about two thirds up the right-side edge, with the volume rocker on the opposite side. A small mono speaker is located on the lower rear of the phone, next to some details about the hardware inside (Processor, Screen and Storage for example), but again, no UMI branding at all.
Overall the device feels good and solidly built. The balance is ok and there is very little indication that you are holding a phone that retails for just over $100 dollars. The styling might not suit all users, but there is a feeling of originality about the X1-Pro. The squared pattern design on the back and lower bezel has been employed by UMI on other devices in the current line-up, representing a somewhat signature look and feel. The white version we have here, does well to not cling to fingerprints, although I would be less certain about the black version.
God quality displays cost good money, so expectations here were somewhat tempered by the retail price of the X1-Pro. As I mentioned earlier, the 720p resolution is actually pretty decent and generous at this price point – we may begin to see 1280 x 720 as a standard for entry level devices of this size, but for now it represents a plus point for the UMI X1-Pro. The colors look reasonably vivid with viewing angles that actually impress. The brightness of the screen is ok for indoor use, and actually fares reasonably well in bright sunny conditions too.
Overall, the only drawback from the UMI X1-Pro’s screen is the capacitive touchscreen experience it provides, which I found could falter on occasion. Navigating from app to app quickly, and trying some pretty fast typing revealed some hits and misses in terms of accuracy that I guess you would not find with a more expensive panel.
Generally speaking, the display of the UMI X1-Pro was a pleasant surprise. The overall image quality produced was very impressive, even if the capacitive touchscreen skipped a beat once in a while.
The less said about the 0.3MP front facing camera the better – it is almost unusable, and capable of creating only very rudimentary, pixilated shots. We have seen this kind of camera used in front facing cameras before (I recall the 1st Nexus 7 was almost criminal…) but it still annoys me that manufacturers think that having a virtually useless front camera is still better than none at all. If it’s this level of camera, I would just as well do without.
The camera app on the rear is similar to that which we have seen on several MediaTek devices coming out of China. It’s great that we get basic functions like HDR, auto-focus, panorama, beatification and plenty of filters that you can apply after the fact, but if you compare the cameras available on several entry-level phones like the ASUS ZenFone 6 we reviewed recently, this 5MP rear facing shooter just doesn’t not make the grade. It similar to the camera on the iPhone clone we tested a few weeks ago; you mostly get either over saturated, washed out pics, or really dull and pixilated ones. Unless you happen to have ideal conditions.
The cameras on the UMI X1-Pro are not best-in-class by any means. We are seeing cheaper devices that handle light better and also offer tons of features too. It seems to be one area where this device falls down.
There are few really affordable smartphones out there that really pack a good audio punch, so I was not really expecting to find anything too breath-taking with the UMI X-1 Pro. The device features one mono speaker located on the bottom left of the back side. In terms of volume and general output, the speaker is actually quite loud, without too much in terms of distortion or buzziness.
There is little in the way of real bass frequencies however, so it does sound tinny compared to larger efforts like the HTC One M8 – ok, an unfair comparison to make seeing just how far ahead HTC are compared to most manufacturers. If there is one complaint it is that if your palm is covering the speaker holes of the back cover, then the output level drops considerably.
The UMI X1-Pro, like the majority of affordable smartphones currently being sold in China, is powered by a MediaTek system-on-chip, in this case a Quad-core MT6582 clocked at 1.3GHz. When we tested the device with our usual suite of benchmarks we found that the MT6582 to be occupying the lower reaches of today’s performance spectrum. Check out the benchmark comparison table below which shows the quad-core MT6582 to be a long way off current high-end smartphone levels and also someway behind MediaTek’s new Octa-core architecture processors.
UMI X1-Pro: Benchmark Comparison
|UMI X1-Pro (MT6582 - Quad-Core)>||Xiaomi Redmi Note (MT6592- Octa-Core)||Sony Xperia Z2 (Snapdragon 801)|
|GFX Bench T-Rex||3.7fps||NA||26.9fps|
|3DMark - Ice Storm||2865||6008||18753|
|Sunspider (lower is better)||1299||1316.9||762.4|
In general however we did not see too much in terms of lagginess within the Android 4.2 OS, although occasionally you would see animations and transitions stutter. In most cases however the overall experience was certainly slick enough.
The specifications sheet describes a 2,000 mAh removable battery; reasonable enough for a 4.7 inch device. And in tests we actually found the performance to be pretty good, certainly much better than some cheaper handsets we have encountered over the years. The device holds its charge on standby very well and in general will give you a solid full day of normal usage. The battery is also bright orange… no idea why. Either way, it appears to be a quality component that does a really good job.
What we get in terms of UI is what looks like a standard Android 4.2. implementation with very little in the way of customization, beyond adding some nice and colorful wallpaper options. The apps that are bundled with the UMI X1-Pro are solid and simple, mostly comprising of standard vanilla Android efforts like clock, gallery, calculator, sound recorder, email plus a handful of pre-installed Google apps.
The UI uses the three regular hardware buttons on the bottom bezel of the device, with a quick launcher on the bottom which stores four customizable apps plus a central UMI logo (Xiaomi inspired for sure…) which takes you to an app and widget folder. The widgets again are standard vanilla Android.
Overall the software bundled is typical of devices using MediaTek processors, and with UMI you are getting with very little additional customization beyond the MediaTek bundle. It looks reasonably good and showed very few, if any glitches or issues. The UI is not too far off what you would expect of a CyanoGenMod or Nexus build, perhaps just lacking that touch of flair.
The UMI X1-Pro can be had from eFox for €76.99, which translates to $105 USD. This great value for a 720p, 4.7 inch smartphone. Even though the entry-level right now is a very competitive place with plenty of options, few will offer much better than what you are getting here. One notable competitor of course is Xiaomi who offer the Redmi 4.7 inch phone for around $135 USD.
The UMI X1-Pro is an excellent smartphone for the $105 price point is occupies. The 720p display really punches above its weight, with looks and performance of a similar ilk to devices that cost more. Likewise the build quality is also top notch, with a really good solid feeling in the hand. The performance is not great, but it is enough to power the Android 4.2 OS, which has also been honed nicely by UMI to give users a really good vanilla experience. Battery life is good, audio is totally acceptable. The camera is the only real weakness.
For $105 USD / €77, the UMI X1-Pro is a 4.7 inch Android Smartphone that has plenty of appeal.
Check out the UMI X1-Pro at eFox.com.