There are litreally hundreds of Samsung Galaxy S3 clones on the market from various Chinese manufactures making it extremely difficult to know which one to buy. Luckily we Gizchina has an exclusive review of the Star B92M HDC Galaxy S3 by our guest writer Daniel Ahmad!
[Note]This review of the HDC Galaxy S3 Ex was written by our guest blogger Daniel Ahmad. If you are also interested in writing a guest post/review for Gizchina.com please feel free to contact us now with your ideas![/Note]
Hi guys, I have been a long time reader of Giz China and like many of you, I have been looking around for the best dual sim phone that is cheap, reliable and has great specs. For the past few years now I have always had to carry around 2 phones, one for work and one for personal usage. So this year I decided to take the plunge and buy the Star B92M (also known as the HDC Galaxy S3 EX).
HDC Galaxy S3 Ex Review
I had considered waiting for the Jiayu G3, or one of the many quad core devices that have been announced recently. But as I soon found out, The Jiayu G3 and many other high spec dual core phones had either been delayed or cancelled. Also there was no chance of me getting a quad core dual sim phone until the new year. Because I had smashed my HTC One X screen recently, I took the plunged and purchased the phone from AliExpress for £135 inc shipping and tax.
Now here in the UK, The HTC One X costs around £450, The Samsung Galaxy Ace costs around £129. And I had just got this phone for £135, according to the specs it should be very similar to the HTC One X but with a dual core processor rather than a quad core processor. The Star also had other advantages like a micro SD Card slot, it was dual sim compatible and had a removable battery. So for £135 I was very pleased. I will be reviewing this phone, comparing it to my old HTC One X, HTC Sensation, Motorola Atrix 2 as well as the similarly priced Galaxy Ace.
Here is a run down of the specs-
- HDC Galaxy S3 EX/Star B92m
- 4.7Inch IPS Display 1280×720
- 1.0GHz MediaTek MT6577 Dual Core
- 1GB RAM + 4GB ROM (Up to 32GB Micro SD Card)
- 12MP Camera (rear) + VGA Camera (Front)
- 2000mAh Battery (x2)
- Android ICS 4.0.4
This phone has been on the market for 3 weeks now. I have had it for 1 and a half and I believe this is enough time to tell you the good, bad and the ugly. Lets start with build quality.
Star B92M HDC Galaxy S3 EX Build Quality
The phone is a Galaxy S3 Clone, and so from the outside you could easily mistake it to be a Galaxy S3. However, the phone comes in black rather than “pebble blue”, a much welcome addition for me as I can’t stand the pebble blue colour of the actual S3. A few other differences include the volume rocker being where the power button should be, and the power button being on top of the phone. The power button being on top can make it a bit hard to turn the phone on if you have small hands, but I’ve found that if you press the physical home button on the bottom of the phone it unlocks the phone as well just like the normal S3 does. Problem solved!
The back cover and front is made from plastic just like the actual S3. It does not have the premium feel of the HTC One X, Sensation or Atrix 2. However, when compared to the actual S3 and Ace it feels roughly the same. If anything the B92m’s home button feels much sturdier than the S3’s. Like I said, it is not a premium build, but it isn’t rubbish either. It was better than I was expecting. I haven’t dropped it yet so I can’t tell you how it fares there. The phone is very much a fingerprint magnet, been having to wipe them off much more than on the One X etc…
Star B92M HDC Galaxy S3 EX hardware
The Processor it uses is a MediaTek Dual core processor clocked at 1Ghz. Now compared to the One X or S3 it’s not as fast. But when I was comparing it to the Atrix 2 and Sensation which both have dual core processors the MediaTek processor was much faster at opening apps and multitasking. In fact I found that compared to the One X the Mediatkek was actually better at multitasking. The processor is speedy and fast, it’s not the huge downgrade I was expecting coming from the One X. However, the one place the phone completely falls over is in the Graphics department. The phone uses an older graphics chip and even small animations such as entering and exiting the app tray can be choppy at times. With that being said though, it can easily play back 1080p video/games but like i said, at times you can see it’s struggling to keep up. HD games are great as well.
The phone is running Android 4.0.4 ICS out of the box. It is fast and fluid and works great. There are even a few extra features which I love that stock android does not have. One is having a battery percentage built in, another is having a large number of toggles to choose from in the notification bar just like the S3 has. Like I’ve mentioned, the graphics chip isn’t amazing, so while the processor is fluid at navigating the OS and opening apps, the animations can be a little slow and choppy, not as smooth as the One X/Sensation etc… similar to the Galaxy Ace. The phone only has 4GB of onboard storage, with the OS installed this only leaves around 600mb available to the user. Not enough if you plan to install lots of apps and files. However, the phone comes with Micro SD card support and the OS has a setting to save everything to the SD card as default to save space. This is really great and something I really missed from the One X. The OS has proved to be quite stable but I have experienced a few graphical related crashes. A reboot fixes this. No word on any updates from the manufacturer, but there is a small dev community on XDA who have rooted the phone, got CWM working and are working on a custom rom.
The 1GB of RAM is great. On the Ace there is not enough RAM to multitask. On the Sensation my phone would slow down sometimes due to Sense taking up too much ram. On boot with the sensation I would only have 150mb free ram. On this phone I have over 450mb free on boot. This allows for seamless multitasking, like I said above I can easily compare the multitasking to the One X and in some cases this phone beats the One X for multitasking. Those of you with HTC phones will know that the speaker volume can be quite low. The speaker on the B92m is much louder than the Sensation and One X. Notifications and incoming calls can be heard easily and clearly. Music playback is loud as well. Not as clear as the One X but it’s good enough.
Star B92M HDC Galaxy S3 EX screen
The screen is a large 4.7 inch IPS screen, same as the One X and S3. .Text is clear and sharp, colours are a bit unsaturated, the viewing angles are impressive, not as good as the One X, but much better compared to the Sensation, Atrix and Ace. . The screen is really bright, not as bright as the One X but brighter than the Super Amoled screen on the S3. It’s easy to see and a breeze to use because it is capicitative. I don’t think it is gorilla glass but i haven’t had any scratches so far (touch wood). The screen is better than the Sensation and Atrix 2 if you ignore the fact colours aren’t amazing/100% accurate. But compared to the One X it is not as good. One X has much better colours and viewing angles and is gorilla glass. Plus the screen on the Star does pick up fingerprints quite easily. The screen is multi touch as well.
Star B92M HDC Galaxy S3 EX call quality
The voice quality is good as well, it can sound a bit tinny and distant at times but it’s not far off the One X’s call quality. Compared to the Motorola the sound quality is not as good, but like I said the quality is good enough. The speaker phone isn’t amazing. It is good enough but I think all the other phones are better, apart from the Ace of course! The Dual sim functionality is great. I can use both sims at the same time in a dual standby mode and the OS has a management setting so I can set certain preferences for each sim. E.g which one makes calls/texts to certain numbers & which one uses the internet.
Moving on to connectivity, you have Wi-Fi which works as well as my other phones. 3G and 2G support. The radio is surprisingly good and holds a signal similar to the One X. Infact in some fringe locations it has been better which I found shocking. There is Bluetooth as well, I haven’t used it yet so can’t comment there. The one thing I will say is that the GPS is goddamn awful. I can get a fix but it takes around 3-5 minutes each time, sometimes it doesn’t even pick up a satellite indoors or outdoors. There is a fix in the works and I will let everyone know how it gets on.
UPDATE: The fix means gps fixes straight away now. No waiting, thanks to XDA member vesien for fix!
Star B92M HDC Galaxy S3 EX battery
One of my worries was battery life. Thankfully i got 2x 2000mAh batteries in the box which are bigger than the Motorola and HTC’s batteries. And i was shocked that they actually worked well… Got over 4 hours on screen time with heavy usage. Thats over 8 hours on screen time with two batteries. it is easily able to get me through a day, maybe two on low usage for me. I could probably just use 1 battery tbh, no need for battery swapping. The only thing I would say is that the standby time isn’t amazing. Obviously this is due to the fact that two sims are working at the same time. To give you an idea of what I mean, if you don’t use the phone at all you’ll lose about 50% of the battery in 24 hours due to the phone trying to keep the signal on both sims. The phone is not as thin as the S3, but i find that better as it is easier to hold in the hand.
Star B92M HDC Galaxy S3 EX Camera
The camera is 12mp on the back and vga on the front. This means that you can take picture in 4000 x 3000 resolution. However the MT6577 only supports up to 8mp camera so my guess is that it is a 8mp camera with software to allow it to take 12mp. Camera is your stock android camera with all the settings including panorama etc…
It’s good enough, does not live up to it’s “12mp” potential though. It is good for taking pictures in natural light, colours are accurate if just a little washed out. Low light pictures are not great and can be pixelated. Flash is bright and makes low light pictures better but still pixelated. I compared it to the 8mp on the Sensation and i was getting similar shots, infact the Star seemed better quality in some pictures with natural/artificial light. Not as good as the One x due to the fact you can’t record/take pictures etc… plus the One X is a better camera in other ways.
Here are a few pictures to have a look at. Some indoor and some outdoor. The video quality is 720p and is good as well. The autofocus could be quicker and the sound quality could be a lot better. Not the best video camera in the world. It’s better than the Ace but the Sensation Is better I would say.
Star B92M HDC Galaxy S3 EX Conclusion
When I compare this phone to the similarly priced Galaxy Ace all I can do is laugh. There is no competition at all, the B92m is miles better, when compared to the Sensation and Atrix 2 I would say they are quite similar. The B92m does beat them in a few departments and vice versa. The current UK prices for these phones are £280+ So I am happy that I can get a dual sim phone for under half the price with similar performance. For those of you that wish to know, the highest Antutu score I got was around 5313.
When compared to the One X and S3 the B92m is not as good, it is better at certain things like multitasking and having a removable battery and SD /dual sim.
But the One X and S3 are better phones with support. Overall I am very happy with being able to get this for £135 inc shipping/tax. When I was comparing to other dual sim dual core phones this was the cheapest price I found. Only the Jiayu G3 came close in price/spec but seeing as there were too many delays and I needed a phone right now I wasn’t willing to commit.
So if like me you are looking for a phone with similar specs/price I really recommend this phone. It can be bought of Ali Express for £135/$215/€170/¥1360.
Note- At the time of writing this review, the 1GB RAM version seems to have been replaced with 512mb ram with the same price. I have heard a 1GB version will be released at a higher price soon. The reason for this according to the manufacturer is the increases in price of RAM. If you can find 1GB version from trusted seller go for it. However even with 512mb ram I feel the phone would be good, just not in multitasking dept.
I would like to thank Andi of GizChina for giving me the opportunity to write up this review on this website. I wish him the best and hope this site becomes very well-known and so that a community can be built up based on the idea of technology in China today.
–Daniel (AhmadCentral)[/Author Info]