LeEco (Formerly known as Letv), is a Chinese technology conglomerate and one of the largest online video companies in China – a la Netflix of China.
LeEco pride themselves as a company with Innovation & Disruption deeply rooted in their DNA, Le Eco’s vision is to deliver breakthrough user experiences and premium products through one seamlessly connected ecosystem. The four key pillars that help them achieve this goal are Platform, Content, Smart Devices and User Applications.
At a grand launch event on June 8th 2016 held at Siri Fort, New Delhi an auditorium packed to capacity with nearly 2000 people in attendance saw the launch of their second generation smartphones the Le 2 and Le Max2, their e-commerce marketplace website LeMall as well as the unveiling of the world’s first CDLA (Continual Digital Lossless Audio) Type C earphone.
The audiences were also treated to a live demo of the CDLA’s quality by acclaimed musician Pritam and Nakash Aziz who revealed LeEco’s official song after giving a demo of the quality difference in standard analog audio vs the rich CDLA sound both recorded & played on 2 different LeMax2s.
LeEco is essentially aiming at selling you the experience more than the actual product/hardware.
The OS, EUI is something in between iOS & Android, Le Eco would like you to believe it’s the best of both worlds. While I won’t affirm or reject that argument as it’s a young OS, with a rapidly growing ecosystem and fanbase their attempt at smoothening the chinks in the Android armour and add to it is certainly laudable. The customisations run deep and it’s really an exciting device to hold & interact with at first glance.
Getting down to the day-to-day usage and lifestyle value of the smartphones, LeEco’s three key selling points describe it perfectly: Eye popping design, performance & disruptive pricing.
I would place the disruptive pricing part as the USP of this product as they (attempt to) offer over & above the competition at a lesser price point whilst still retaining an air of premium appeal.
What’s the impact of this disruptive pricing you may wonder?
Here’s the answer via their presentation:
The driving force behind this phenomenal market penetration was their entry-level phone the Le 1s. I say entry level but, it was (is) a phone with good mid-range specs at mouth watering entry-level prices which helped them achieve those sales records and instant market share.
The successor to the Le 1s – continues in its footsteps with the India bound Le 2 getting the more reliable & powerful Snapdragon 652 processor (first phone in India with the SD652) instead of the Helio X20 which powers the Chinese variant.
Here’s a quick look at its brief specs
- 5.5″ IPS LCD Full HD 1080×1920 Display with Gorilla Glass 3
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor
- Camera: 16MP front | 8MP rear
- 3GB RAM | 32GB Storage
- 3000 mAh battery with fast charging
- Full Metal Unibody
All this at a disruptive price of Rs. 11,999/- !!
The Le 2’s camera isn’t the fastest but is good enough & better than one available on a device of this price range. Lack of Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) means taking photos on the move or in very low light will be a slight challenge.
A lack of expandable storage may be unpalatable to some but, to be honest 32GB is quite adequate. About the lack of expandable storage, to put it simply:
- Expandable memory is slower than flash (phone) memory.
- Expandable memory’s power consumption is higher than that of flash memory.
- External memory will affect stability of the operating system & performance.
- Plus, lesser circuitry = lesser costs and smaller/slimmer form factor.
- A commercial reason for not having a memory card slot is because people will very often pack their phones with a ton of downloaded/personal entertainment options and therefore avoid using the apps and content which the co wants to sell you.
Not just LeEco but all phone makers want you to engage with the apps & make the best of them, that’s why the expandable storage is a bit of an Achilles Heel for phone makers.
Again, at this price, there really isn’t much to complain about.
Now, Here’s the device LeEco really wants to show-off, the Le Max 2:
- 5.7″ IPS LCD 2k Super Retina Display with Gorilla Glass 3
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, MSM8996
- Camera: Primary 21MP (Sony Exmor sensor) with Optical Image Stabilisation & 6P lens | 8 megapixel front facing camera
- 4GB RAM + 32GB Storage or 6GB RAM + 64GB Storage
- 3100 mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0
- Full Metal Unibody
- Infrared Blaster
While the Le Max 2 looks identical to the Le 2 except for the 0.2” bigger display real estate, you can see straightaway that its specs are absolute flagship-grade!
The all metal build, almost bezelless sides and quality craftsmanship are the hallmarks of the 2 new LeEco phones.
You get a choice of two variants:
The 4GB RAM + 32GB Storage model goes for Rs. 22,999/- whereas, the top-of-the-line 6GB RAM + 64GB Storage variant is Rs. 29,999/-
The bigger & better display should auger very well for VR equipment. The photographer in me can affirm to its good colour calibration although reaching all corners of the screen in one handed use is a challenge which is why the choice of a 5.7” screen is a little perplexing but thankfully its down from the 6.3” monster that was the original Le Max. The issue of screensize/ergonomics is purely a matter of personal preference, as I personally am a little wary of screens larger than 5” as you will need 2 hands to do most things on them but then again, off late there has been a deluge of 5.5” phones and its almost become an unofficial standard.
From personal experience I can tell u metal chassis = slippery grip and long continuous usage without a soft cover won’t be kind on your fingers, thankfully LeEco supplies a silicon cover in the box for both phones.
I was also a little surprised by the choice of an LCD panel to power the display vs an AMOLED. This isn’t to say the former is inferior but, the AMOLEDs offer brilliant colour reproduction with deep contrast & combined with a dark mode, can additionally offer battery life savings as well.
Here are just some photos for comparison, the larger phone is the Le Max 2 with its 5.7″ IPS LCD screen and the smaller one is a 5” AMOLED screen, none of these following photos have been edited or retouched in any way, this is only to show the difference in contrast & colour reproduction between the two display technologies:
Now let me also add, you will almost never notice any differences (unless you are an expert) if you aren’t looking at the same page side-by-side – which, is almost never going to happen in real life. But, its something worth knowing. I will also attest that the LCD screen on the LeMax 2 is one of the best LCD screens i’ve had the pleasure of using and LeEco has calibrated it for better contrast levels and it certainly produces some of the best contrast and viewing angles of any LCD panel.
The fingerprint sensor is placed at the back and I think its the right place for it. It recognised my fingerprints about 75% of the time and quickly at that, the remaining 25% I had to lift my finger & place it again on the sensor and it detected the match.
eUI is inspired from iOS and MIUI and does a good job of providing the best of all three worlds atop the Android Marshmallow it sits on. The OS is silky smooth and I never experienced any lags anywhere, the looks and feel of the OS though are again, a matter of personal preference.
There is a lot of customisability in eUI and u can change and adjust most things. The first thing I noticed & changed is reverting to the Android default of left capacitive key for back & right for the multitask option as it’s the other way round in eUI. The left capacitive key will (by default) bring-up multitask & quick toggles.
You can even go to vanilla Android by downloading the Nova or Google launcher if you so wish. That’s the beauty of Android, that you can configure your phone the way you want it to be.
LeEco is selling you not just the phone and its hardware but the LeEco experience. eUI is bundled with LeEco’s three primary entertainment apps:
LeView – blinkfeed style curated list of videos, stories & other content which can be accessed by swiping right as it’s the window to the left of the homescreen
Levidi – premium video content like Bollywood movies and other miscellaneous curated videos
Both these apps sort of do more or less the same thing & I hope Le Eco combines them as one in the future as I don’t see the point of keeping them separate.
LIVE – This is live real-time television as you would see it via DTH or cable on your home television in the palm of your hands. This is my favourite eUI app on the phone. Unfortunately you can’t cast videos off either of these native apps which is quite a letdown and something I hope is fixed in future OS updates.
Its English channel bouquet consists of: Times Now, India Today News, NDTV 24×7, ET Now, BBC World News, CNNi, Al Jazeera, NDTV Good Times.
And there are many channels each in a variety of Indian languages such as Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.
One of the very cool features of the Le Max 2 is the IR Blaster you see on the top (which looks like the 3.5mm audio jack) It’s a very handy thing to have in a phone as you can control any remote operated appliance through the phone, how great is that¿
If I were to be picky then you can say there is no built-in 3.5mm jack but, to be honest that’s not really a downside as not only is a Type C to 3.5mm adapter bundled together but, you can enjoy a far better fidelity sound due to its CDLA and a compatible headset which thankfully is also supplied together.
About the camera, truth be told the weather has been grey & dreary ever since I got the Le Max 2 but of the photos I shot with it, I can say it’s good, quite good!
Noise levels are perfectly acceptable & the best mode to shoot in is the HDR mode except ofcourse for fast moving subjects.
Premium looks, a solid & fluid UI, brimming with new features & technology (India’s first phone with CDLA & Type-C audio) and industry leading specs at a very reasonable price make the argument for buying this fine product an even more compelling one. The more you engage with it the more you start liking it before it becomes completely indispensable.
Whatever few shortcomings I mentioned aren’t really those big a deal breakers as they are merely ripples in what is otherwise an ocean of brilliance!