UMi take pricing down to $100 with the UMi Fair and have still managed to offer a fingerprint scanner, alloy chassis and 5-inch HD display. My UMi Fair review will determine if this low-cost device is really a fair phone.
Pricing for the UMi Fair on the official UMi store is just $99, yet at this low price UMi have made sure that they have added features generally left out of budget devices. Going in to this review I wondered if UMi had maybe crammed too much in to the spec to make a good phone, so let’s see if my hunch was correct.
UMi Fair Review – Design
If you have handled $100 phones before then you are going to be in for a bit of a treat in terms of design and materials that UMi have used for the UMi Fair. This 5-inch phone has a slight curve to the glass (not quite the same as 2.5D found on other phones), an alloy chassis with matt sandblasted finish (with nice polished beveled edges), and a soft to the touch rear panel.
There is a little weight behind the UMi Fair, 120g according to the UMi website, and that adds to the overall feel of the phone.
UMi have made the UMi Fair quite compact at 143.5 x 72 x 8.4mm, this leaves us with enough room for a 5-inch 1280 x 720 HD display and 2000mAh battery. The actual usable space of the display is less than some other 5-inch phones due to onscreen Android navigation, odd considering the phone has plenty of chin space for buttons.
The battery in this case is removable with access from under the rear panel. Removing the rear also shows the single speaker, dual SIM cards, micro SD card, and the rather cheap looking dual LED flash.
A fingerprint scanner, and Sony IMX164 rear camera make up the rest of the rear details.
Physical controls for the volume and power are found on the right side of the UMi Fair, and they feel quite tight in the body with only the slightest wobble and rattle notable.
Final details on the exterior of the UMi Fair include a regular USB plug-in the bottom, 3.5mm headphone jack at the very top, and front 2 mega-pixel camera above the display.
Overall not a bad-looking phone, and pretty decent quality materials are used, let’s move on to the rest.
UMi Fair Review – Hardware
UMi have opted for the quad-core Mediatek MT6735 chipset, but running at just 1.0Ghz and with an ARM Mali T720 MP2 GPU and 1GB RAM. That amount of RAM might be enough to switch you off from the UMi Fair and is an obvious cost cutting measure.
Costs are cut further with the use of only 8GB internal memory, but at least there is space for up to 64GB SD cards under the rear panel.
Those saving are made to make space for the 5-inch HD display and rear fingerprint scanner, there is just a little left over in the budget to give the Fair a half decent external speaker (much better than the one found on the Elephone M1). Audio is also surprisingly good through earphones too (I tested the UMi Fair with a pair of OnePlus Silver Bullets).
The rear fingerprint scanner on the UMi Fair is a small and basic model and requires you to first wake up the phone by pressing the power button before it will register a fingerprint touch. The speed of fingerprint recognition and unlocking is a little on the slow side too. A simple 4 pin number is much faster in all honesty.
With the low power specification and small 5-inch display I expected battery life to be better than I discovered. According to UMi the UMi Fair has a 2000mAh battery, but with just an Antutu benchmark and running video over WIFI from YouTube and no data connection I only managed an on-screen time of just 2 hours and 37 minutes. That’s pretty pathetic battery life even for a low-cost phone.
UMi Fair Review – Performance
A quad-core Mediatek MT6735 chipset is the throbbing powerhouse behind the UMi Fair, well actually that’s a little of an overstatement. At only 1.0Ghz this quad-core chipset sounds more like the SoC we would have found in a phone 2-3 years ago, and it really doesn’t offer great performance. Pair that low-speed processor to 1GB RAM and we are looking at very low-end performance.
Benchmarks are really quite low, but it really doesn’t make much of a difference to everyday use. If you take a few photos, make a few calls and keep up with social media the Fair offers fine performance.
What really bothers me though is that with such low performing hardware the battery life is really poor. Is this really a 2000mAh battery in here UMi?
UMi Fair Review – Camera
UMi claim the rear camera is a 13 mega-pixel model from Sony. The company have said the same about other phones in their range and it usually ends up being that the sensor is an 8 mega-pixel unit.
The camera app is actually really nice and clean, and the speed of the camera firing up and shooting is really snappy. Like most budget phones you are really relying on how much natural light there is available to get the most from the sensor, but there is also a bit of a focus issue with the Fair too. Sometimes this little UMi has problems with focus this is notable at either end of the spectrum i.e. close up photos and taking pictures of objects in the distance.
UMi Fair Review – ROM
UMi have tweaked Android 5.1 Lollipop a little to give it a clean modern look and add just a few of their own elements to it. I’m a big fan of the UMi UI icons, and the clean camera application and overall the system works great on the limited hardware.
What budget phone shoppers will like most about the UMi ROM compared to say an Elephone ROM, is that there is no adware in the system. That said I do find the Super Cleaners constant notification pop ups quite tiresome.
UMi Fair Review – Gallery
UMi Fair Review – Specifications
|Color:||Black / White|
|Chipset||CPU: MTK6735 1.0GHz 64-bit Quad CoreGPU :Mali-T720 MP2
|Android Version||Android 5.1|
|Screen||Display Size: 5-inch HP IPSResolution: 1280 x 720|
13 megapixelFront Camera
|Network and Wireless Connectivity||FDD-LTE:band 800/1800/2600
|Battery capacity||Non-removable 2000mAh|
|Size||Dimensions: 143 x 72 x 8.4mm|
UMi Fair Review – Conclusion
The UMi Fair wants to be a budget phone that offers the build, materials and hardware of a more expensive phone, and this is admirable of UMi. On paper the UMi Fair offers great bang for your buck, and there are standout features. Audio is better than many other $100 phone, the screen is nice and the ROM looks good too.
What isn’t so good is the battery life, I would need an extra battery to get trough a full day of use or at least carry a power bank with me. The fingerprint scanner is ok, but I feel that this basic model (requiring the phone to be first woken before reading a fingerprint) is more of a gimmick, and I would have prefered if they left it out and upped the battery and maybe add an extra GB RAM.
It’s impressive that UMi have managed to get all this hardware in to a low-cost phone, and obviously $100 phones are going to become really impressive devices throughout next year.
However if you really are on a budget of around $100 then I would really shop around. I have seen the Meizu M2 offered at a special price of $97.99 last month, and would rate that phone over the UMi. The Xiaomi Redmi 2 can also be found for around $100 too, with proven updates and great overall performance, and Elephone will release the Ivory with octacore chipset later this month too.