ThL T6 Pro Review
ThL has managed to make what is probably the cheapest 5 inch, 720p HD smartphone on the market. For the price there isn’t much to complain about. But if I have to moan about something then it is probably the battery life.
The Chinese smartphone maker ThL has released some interesting phones recently, including the ThL 5000, which featured a 5000mAh battery; the ThL T200, with its 6 inch display; and the ThL L969, the company’s first 4G phone. ThL has now launched the ThL T6 Pro. Not only does this 5 inch, 720p HD device use the same octa-core processor as the ThL 5000, but it costs less than $120.
So what kind of phone can you expect for $120? I got hold of a T6 Pro and I tested it out for a few days, and this is what I discovered.
|Display||5 inch, 1280 x 720|
|Processor||1.4GHz, octa-core Mediatek MT6592M, Cortex-A7|
|Storage||8GB, microSD card slot, up to 32GB|
|Camera||8 Megapixel Rear Camera, 2MP Front Camera|
|Connectivity||GPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth|
|Networks||GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz. 3G 900/2100MHz.|
|Software||Android 4.4 with Google Play|
|Dimensions||143.9 x 71.6 x 8.2 mm|
|SIM slots||1x Normal SIM, 1xMicro SIM|
The T6 Pro is about the size you would expect for a device with a 5 inch display. It isn’t the world’s thinnest, at 8.6mm, but neither is it thick. The bezels down the sides of the display good, but not ultra-thin. Compared to say a Nexus 5, the T6 Pro is a few millimeters longer, 2 mm wider and about the same thickness. In other words to hit this price point the designers at ThL have made the phone’s dimensions distinctly middle-of-the-road, which is perfectly acceptable. I am used to 5 inch devices, my daily “go to” device is a 5 incher. So for me this means the T6 Pro is easy to handle, has a good grip and actually feels quite light.
On the front is the 720p HD display, with three capacitive buttons on the bottom (menu, home and back). Toward the front top edge is the speaker grill and the front facing camera. Looking around the sides, the power button is on the right, and the volume rocker is on the left. The power button can be easily reached by your index finger when held in your left hand. On the top is the micro USB port and the headphone jack. On the bottom is a small thumbnail space to help prise off the back cover, it also acts as the gap in the outer shell for the microphone. For a little bit of decoration the phone has two metal bands running down each side.
On the back is the slightly protruding camera lens, the LED flash, the “thl” logo and the speak grill. Since the camera protrudes from the back then the phone is prone to rocking when placed on a flat surface. This is most noticeable when trying to type. The back cover is matte plastic with a slight dimple effect. Overall the design is pleasing and the phone is easy to handle.
The 1280 x 720 pixel IPS display on the T6 Pro is good considering the price point of this phone, however there are some negative aspects. The viewing angles are OK, but not excellent, and overall the color reproduction can only be classed as fair. The display can’t be called vivid and when placed side-by-side next to a device with a better display, you can see that the whites are slightly grey and the primary colors lack punch. Also the display supports just two simultaneous touch points and not the more standard five, however that really isn’t a problem at all, except for the most advanced Fruit Ninja players! Having said all that, having a 293ppi display on a budget device is a big plus. Overall the display adds to the user experience, and although there are better 5 inch displays out there, you won’t find one on a phone in this price bracket.
For a budget device the choice of processor in the T6 Pro is excellent. The octa-core MediaTek MT6592M runs at 1.4 GHz and gives the phone more than sufficient processor power for most tasks. The processor packs 8 x Cortex-A7 cores and while the Cortex-A7 core isn’t as fast as ARM’s Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 cores, the Cortex-A7 is more energy efficient.
The T6 Pro’s AnTuTu scores are surprising for this price point. The device hasn’t been designed to take one of the top spots, however it still manages a score of 26696. These octa-core devices are very good for tasks which perform a lot of multitasking, however you will likely see the lower performance of the Cortex-A7 core on tasks that only have a single thread, for example when browsing the web.
For Epic Citadel, the demo app for the Unreal 3D engine, the T6 Pro managed 52.9 frames per second (fps) on the High Performance setting and 52.7 fps on the High Quality setting. These are good results considering that the processor uses the Mali-450 GPU. The Mali-450 is a good choice for budget phones, however it is starting to show its age.
In terms of GPS performance the T6 Pro does surprisingly well. I stepped outside and activated the GPS and within a few seconds the device had a lock. I then disabled the GPS and went inside. After leaving the phone for a few hours I activated the GPS inside the house, and although it took longer, the GPS acquired a lock indoors. It is also worth mentioning that the T6 Pro doesn’t have a built-in compass.
Previous ThL phones have had an issue with the GPS working simultaneously with Bluetooth. The situation had vastly improved by the time ThL released the ThL 5000. The T6 Pro behaves basically the same as the ThL 5000. In other words, there is still some stutter and lag in the Bluetooth output (tested by playing background music to a Bluetooth speaker) when some GPS related apps start. But the interruptions to the Bluetooth output are only temporary and last, at most, only a couple of seconds.
The battery tests I performed have turned out to be a little inconclusive. The combination of the 5 inch, 720p display and the octa-core processor could leave the 1900 mAh battery struggling to provide a full working day of power. However ThL decided to clock the processor at 1.4 GHz rather than the customary 1.7 GHz. This means that even with a sub 2000 mAh battery, the device should have reasonable battery performance.
I ran my customary set of tests: YouTube streaming, Epic Citadel, and playing an MP4 file from the internal storage. I had an initial problem that the battery didn’t discharge evenly. Tests conducted when the battery was near full yielded significantly different results than when the battery was half used. However after several discharge/charge cycles the results started to even out.
My Epic Citadel test showed that the phone will handle about 3 hours of intensive 3D gaming. Simpler 2D will likely run for much longer. YouTube will work for around four hours on a full charge, while watching an MP4 video stored locally will work for around four and half hours. I did a simple 3G calling test and the phone has a talk time of at least 20 hours.
All tests were performed with the screen on half brightness, with Wi-Fi and sync enabled.
The phone has all the standard connectivity options like Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth, 2G GSM and 3G, but it doesn’t have NFC or LTE. There are two SIM card slots, one normal sized and one for micro SIM cards. The device is compatible with two 3G frequencies, 900 and 2100MHz. The latter is the most common 3G frequency and should work in most places around the world, however a lot of carriers also use secondary 3G spectrum ranges. In Asia and South America this is often 850MHz and 1900MHz, for Europe it tends to be 900MHz. The 3G won’t work in the USA, however 2G calls should work fine. You need to check with your carrier to ensure compatibility or check the List of UMTS networks page.
I compared the Wi-Fi signals strengths of the T6 Pro with other devices I have and it performed equally as well. I was able to access the Internet from all around the house and outside without any problems.
However, there were a couple of times when I had to toggle the Wi-Fi off and on again to restore Internet connectivity. This happened mainly during my YouTube battery testing. After about 15 minutes of streaming, access to the Internet would cease. Stopping the Wi-Fi and restarting it again solved the problem. I had a similar problem with the ThL 5000. This could be a local problem at my end, I am not sure.
The 8 megapixel shooter on this phone is reasonable and certainly good enough for any snaps you want to take when you don’t have a better camera with you. It works best outdoors, but since it has a F2.2 aperture, the indoor results are OK. The back camera can be set to automatically extrapolate up to 13MP, however it isn’t the megapixel count or the aperture size that is the problem. The biggest problem is with the colors. For the most part the colors are bland. Having said that they can be easily tweaked in just about any photo editor.
For those into selfies the front camera is may be a little weak at only 2 megapixels, however it can be set to extrapolate up to 8MP. In terms of video, the rear camera can record at 1092 x 1088, while the front facing camera only records video at 640 x 480.
Overall the camera is OK but not exceptional. The camera app is the fairly standard app with features like HDR, face detection and burst mode etc. If you don’t like the built-in camera you can install Google’s default camera app from the Play Store.
The best thing is to judge for yourself. It is fall now where I live, so there aren’t many flowers out and there are lots of leaves on the ground, but I hope this selection of photos is useful:
The T6 Pro comes with stock Android 4.4.2 with a few minor tweaks like an extra setting under Battery which enables “CPU power saving mode.” According to the description this limits the maximum CPU performance to conserve battery life and lower the device’s temperature. There is also a section in the settings to enable the “Multitasking Window”, a little “always on-top” menu which gives you quick access to a few miniature apps including a notepad and a music player.
The Security section also features an Apps permission setting. When enabled you can control which apps have permission to make calls, send SMS messages, get your location and so on. Once enabled the default permission is for each app to ask before using a restricted service.
The built-in launcher is ‘Launcher 3? from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and not the Google Now Launcher. You can install the Google Now Launcher from the Play Store if you don’t like the default one. This build of ‘Launcher 3? also has some ThL custom icons. One minor point is that all the icon backgrounds are squares with curved edges. This means that if you install an app with a transparent background then it gets placed on a colored square.
The device comes with full Google Play support and all of the normal Google apps are available. For those Google apps not pre-installed, a quick trip to the Play Store gets you everything you need. It is worth mentioning that the 8GB of flash is divided into 2GB of internal storage and 4GB of phone storage. The 2GB partition does limit the number of apps you can install, however the storage is expandable and once you insert a memory card you can set the preferred install location to the SD card.
Pricing and conclusion
The ThL brand isn’t that well known outside of China, however in China the name is quite established and the company has over 340 stores across the mainland. The ThL T6 Pro is a great phone for the price and its excels in many areas including its performance. But it also has its weak points, like the lack of LTE and the mediocre display. However when you consider the price these lacks are more than forgivable. The T6 Pro is available for just $117 or 92 Euros, plus shipping and any local import taxes. Our review unit was supplied by Chinavasion which ships worldwide.