The Ulefone Be Touch happens to be one of the most popular Chinese phones at the moment, right alongside the Elephone P7000 (which is playing a bit of hide-and-seek). The Be Touch is Ulefone’s most powerful phone ever, and it also happens to have a design which is quite pleasing to the eye, despite being heavily inspired by another phone, the one and only — iPhone 6.
Leaks and rumours prior to the launch of this phone referred to it as the Ulefone Dare N1, but for whatever reasons it is now known as the Be Touch. It is perhaps to make the phone sound like it is one from the rejuvenated Ulefone, a company which launched a bunch of phones this year including the Be One, Be Pure and the Be Pro.
Coming back to the Be Touch, it is a phone made with some really high quality material, along with a fingerprint sensor which works ‘press’ style (as opposed to swipe). The high-quality chassis, the curved front glass and the overall ‘feel’ of the Be Touch give you a sense of holding a very well made piece of kit when the phone is in your hand. Before we say too much in this intro, let us get to the meat of the matter… in the Ulefone Be Touch review!
Ulefone Be Touch Review: Design and Build
Design of the Be Touch is a bit of a mashup, with, as mentioned earlier, a lot of the iPhone 6. The other phone that the Be Touch will remind you of is the Meizu MX4; this one’s found more impostors than Meizu bosses would’ve ever imagined (Siswoo Cooper i7 was one, too). That said, we ought to add that the Be Touch, build quality wise, is easily among the better Chinese ‘export brand’ phones that have landed in our hands in the past few months… or even couple years.
This is probably because Ulefone have been around for quite a while now, and are starting to get a hang of things — they even carry OnePlus-esque social media campaigns.
The front is covered entirely in 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass. This is one of the favourite aspects of the phone for us. Up until now it used to be pretty easy to tell between a Chinese phone and phone from a big mainstream company, but with OEMs like Ulefone including things like 2.5D curved glass, machine-drilled speaker holes, etc., it is virtually impossible now.
You’ll find a 5 mega-pixel front camera right on the top left, accompanied by front LED flash (yeah, thanks, selfie addicts). Next to it sits the earpiece, and then the usual suite of sensors (light, proximity).
There’s a black stripe of bezel right below the 5.5-inch screen. We call this a heartbreak more than anything else, because if not for that, the Be Touch would’ve perhaps been THE phone (as far as looks are concerned, at least) for a lot of people. Speaking of bezels, the very impressive Ecoo E04 Aurora had something similar; we really hope companies find a way to deal with this in the coming months. Especially on 5.5-inch phones, where there’s more space to play around with things.
Coming back to the device, below the screen, the menu, (fingerprint scanner enabled) home, and back keys sit in respective order. It must be said that the home button is really nice to touch and feels extremely high quality. It wouldn’t be wrong if we said we were surprised by how well it felt!
To top off the iPhone impostor look, the Be Touch has its own metallic ring around the home button.
A robust-looking metal frame sits around the edges of the phone, with precise cut-outs for jacks and ports, along with 6 machine-drilled holes at the bottom edge for the speaker. Between this metal frame and the front glass, there’s a barely noticeable plastic lip which is raised ever so slightly to ensure drops and falls don’t impact the glass directly.
Power and volume keys can be found on the left edge. Again, these are put together in a very, very impressive fashion — clicks are registered in a very organized manner with great feedback. However, one issue we have with the power button is its positioning — it is put way too high for a 5.5-inch phone. Swapping the power and volume keys would make for a very sweet position for the power button, right where your left thumb would sit (if it HAS to be on the left). With the current arrangement, you’ll either have to switch positions after unlocking the phone, or use the home button each time — the latter would make for a majority, we believe, especially if you’re going to use the fingerprint unlock feature (which you TOTALLY should — more on this later).
The rear cover is flexible and looks to be made out of good quality plastic. It can be a little cumbersome to pry it out, but then that’s something we like, after all you don’t want it to come off or anything after every drop.
Inside, there’s space for a 2550mAh battery and a couple SIMs along with a microSD card.
The rear is also where you will find the 13 mega-pixel IMX214 camera (according to specs) and single LED flash. The flash cut-out is made to look like there’s dual LED flash, whereas there’s just one LED module in fact.
The camera sensor is surrounded by a nice metallic ring, something which yet again adds to the build aspect of this phone. Another reminder of how well Ulefone have put together this handset!
In a nutshell, we’ll admit that the Be Touch is among the better made phones this year so far. It’ll be interesting to see how the P7000 holds up against this one!
Ulefone Be Touch Review: Components and performance
When you purchase the Be Touch you get a phone that is powered by the all impressive MediaTek MT6752 64-bit octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM and has a 5.5-inch screen. Unfortunately, the screen is only a 1280 x 720p unit. We’d have loved it to be a 1080p panel, the very least for the sake of this argument.
Other than that, the Be Touch has 16GB of on-board storage, a 13 mega-pixel main camera (Sony IMX214) and a 5 mega-pixel front camera with LED flash. The battery is a 2550mAh cell, which does sound a little inadequate for the screen size but the fact that it is only a 720p panel helps here. Also something to be kept in mind is that the phone ships with stock Android, v5.0 Lollipop.
The 5.5-inch 720p screen won’t blow you away with its color and sharpness. Instead, you’ll be a little surprised by the fact that it is in fact a little pale in front of the competition. Also, one of our favourite features that come along with the MT6752 — MiraVision — seems to be missing from the Lollipop ROM. In the past, a lot of MT6752 and MT6732 phones have benefited from MiraVision’s suite of features, especially dynamic contrast. Here’s hoping that an update soon bring MiraVision to the Lollipop ROM of the Be Touch!
The screen also isn’t the best with viewing angles; colours do ‘wash out’ every now and then when you rotate the phone in front of your eyes. In more ways than one, the screen is the Achilles heel of the Be Touch.
The 13 mega-pixel camera, which according to the makers is a Sony IMX214 sensor, doesn’t seem to have been implemented too well. The pictures have a slight bit of a dark tint to them, and the dynamic contrast doesn’t seem to be the best. That is, with a bright and dark element in the single frame, the Be Touch doesn’t do exceedingly well. One counter to that would be HDR mode, but even that doesn’t help too much.
Even yet, the phone does sometimes produce some quality images. For one, take a look at his picture taken in a relatively dark environment.
In daylight however, the Be Touch seems to take decent photos. Also worth noting is the fact that the front 5 mega-pixel camera has LED flash, and is actually quite a decent camera in itself. What is worth mentioning however is the fact that the front flash is very weak and doesn’t really enhance the frame much, unless of course you’re trying to take a selfie in a pitch black environment.
Reception on the Be Touch (GPS, call, WiFi) is fairly decent. GPS is actually pretty impressive; most MediaTek phones in the past have struggled to get a decent lock, but the Be Touch doesn’t just do that outdoors but indoors as well.
Call quality is very good. Volume could go a step higher though, but that’s something very subjective. One thing to note here is that the phone does get a little warm around the camera region (where the metallic ring acts as a heat sink, supposedly) for comfort.
WiFi however is a bit of a different story. Performance in this department isn’t as good as the rest of the phone; quite worse, in fact. Compared to phones like the Gionee Elife S7, Xiaomi Mi 4 or even the Mi 4i, the Be Touch is always second and by quite a margin.
Fingerprint sensor works very well
It hasn’t been a long while since Chinese phones started shipping with fingerprint sensors, but the rate at which these sensors have improved is unbelievable. The Elephone P5000 was among the first ones to have a fingerprint sensor, and we’re now into the third generation of these — and to sum it up in one word, the fingerprint sensor on the Be Touch is brilliant.
We even tried unlocking the phone with an inverted thumb, and it still worked — at the same speed. It just goes to show that the feature has been implemented really well and isn’t just a gimmick anymore. Rather, something that not only provides better security, but also better convenience!
Battery life is about decent on the phone. It can be a better. After 4-5 charging/discharging cycles it did get better, but there’s still some room for improvement. After lot of browsing, around 1 and a half hours of calling, and some IMing, here’s how the battery life chart stood on the phone.
Sound output on the Be Touch is one of the features of the phone which could get better. Very honestly, we’ve encountered varying sound performance from the Be Touch; the speaker sometimes sounds loud enough but other times, it simply doesn’t cut it. What stays constant however is the fact that there’s virtually no bass in the sound output.
Ulefone Be Touch Review: ROM
As mentioned above, the phone comes with a ROM that is completely stock. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t seem 100% optimized. Not just that Be Touch, non completely optimized Lollipop ROMs are, at the moment, hampering the performance of a lot of Chinese phones. What’s good is that this seems to be throttling only the UI performance, whereas performance from other 3rd party apps and games seems to be just fine.
The ROM also offers some off-screen gestures which have now become a norm. Many a time these off screen gestures can be a problem (if you keep your phone in your pockets), which is why the usage hasn’t been as widespread as the makers would’ve liked. Double tap to wake however is a brilliant feature which we’re sure most of you would already be using. The Be Touch doesn’t require that though, because there is a hardware button that can actually be ‘pressed’ (as opposed to capacitive buttons). Nonetheless, double tap to wake is a good option if you aren’t using a fingerprint as your password.
Here’s how the Be Touch performs on benchmarks. You can find more info about the phone’s benchmarking capabilities here.
- Antutu: 43,412
- Ice Storm Extreme: 6,745
- Nenamark 2: 72.0fps
- Geekbench Single-core: 800
- Geekbench multi-core: 3455
- Vellamo Metal: 1291
- Vellamo Multicore: 1884
- Vellamo Browser: 3401
- GFX Manhattan: 715.1
- GFX Manhattan offscreen: 370.5
- GFX T-Rex: 1,142
- GFX T-Rex Offscreen: 702.9
- Quadrant: 16,411
Ulefone Be Touch Review: Other
In many ways, the Be Touch is a great phone. However, a few aspects do let it down… for one, there’s no notification LED on the phone. This is pretty surprising for a 2015 phone; people have gotten used to notification LEDs. We believe every manufacturer, small or big, should have those on their phones.
Another something that isn’t as back as the lack of a notification LED, but could’ve been better: backlit buttons. While you will ultimately get used to the positioning of these buttons, having a little backlight beneath wouldn’t really hurt the company and would also save you the learning curve of hitting the buttons without knowing where they are.
The touchscreen sensor can sometimes feel a little slow to respond. It can be frustrating, and we’re once again hoping it is a ROM issue which is fixed with an update.
Charging the Be Touch takes a little longer than you would’ve hoped for. Although this is in no way a gripe, but just something a potential buyer would want to know about. It takes just about 3 hours to charge the battery using the stock charger.
Ulefone Be Touch Review: Verdict
As is very clear from what you’ve read, we’re surprised (and positively) with the build quality that the Be Touch has on offer. Performance too is quite up to the mark, but the ROM needs a lot of polishing to extract whatever the MediaTek MT6752 has on offer. It does seem sometimes like the ROM is a beta release than a full public release.
The phone has only started shipping now, so expect a lot of improvements on the ROM front. Ulefone have proven themselves with a good amount of firmware updates to their phones, and we hope to see similar treatment being given to the Be Touch also.
At this point in time, it wouldn’t be cent percent accurate to call the Be Touch a flagship for 2015. But it does come close.
We’ll be bringing more Be Touch news to you as and when we gain access to newer and better firmware for the phone. In the meantime, let us know what you would choose between this and the elusive Elephone P7000.
Thanks to Geekbuying for supplying us with the Be Touch review sample. The phone can be bought from their store for $219.99 shipped!