Ulefone Vienna Review – Audio centric on a budget


ulefone vienna review

I’ve been using the Ulefone Vienna now for a couple of weeks, and have to admit they have done what they set out to do with audio, but what about the phone as a whole?

When Ulefone announced that they would make the Vienna an audio centric phone it was quite a surprise as the company had never made any indication of wanting to do such a device, but that’s what they did and now it’s on sale it’s time for a review.

Ulefone Vienna Review – Design

With the Vienna Ulefone have gone for an all plastic and glass construction which is a little different for them. In the past their Be Touch and Paris phones all had CNC alloy chassis, but the Vienna feature a unibody plastic body.

ulefone vienna review

This hardly detracts from the package though as the plastic is nicely curved and moulded to make a phone that is almost like a slim, flat pebble. The plastics are of good (not top) quality, and there are no creaks or gaps.

ulefone vienna review

With such a curved rear Ulefone made the correct decision of have a 2.5D curved display up front, and to add an extra degree of curvature to the phone there is a small black plastic bezel around the screen.

ulefone vienna review

All in all its a good-looking, well made phone, only let down by the rather large and very ugly icons on the chin for the hardware buttons. I’m sure a more elegant solution is out there, one which doesn’t cheapen the overall good design.

ulefone vienna review

Features around the Ulefone Vienna include a 5.5-inch display, headphone jack and IR remote at the top, standard USB in the base, 3 physical buttons on the right side (for volume up, down and power) and a final extra physical button on the left.

The rear of the phone is non removable so a SIM tray on the left is how you add your SIM/SD card.

ulefone vienna review

On the back you fill find a 13 mega-pixel main camera (slightly protruding), dual LED flash, fingerprint scanner, Ulefone logo and a single (but very loud and clear) speaker.

Our review sample is the space grey version of the Ulefone Vienna, but Grace Black, Silk White and Rose Gold models are all listed on the Ulefone site too.

Ulefone Vienna Review – Hardware

Priced at around $180 (depending on where you buy) the Vienna isn’t a particularly expensive audio centric phone. Other smartphones with audio features include Vivo, Nubia and Meizu, all of which cost considerably more.

The price point is helped with the use of plastic construction, and we also see a cost cutting measure in the use of an octacore Mediatek MT6753 chipset. Now don’t let this put you off as with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage there is enough memory for all of your apps and many games will run just fine on the phone, but heavy gamers need to look elsewhere.

In fact other than the basic quad-core chipset, there aren’t any obvious signs of cost cutting in the rest of the hardware.

ulefone vienna review

That 5.5-inch display is a Sharp LTPS 1920 x 1080 FHD model, and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Internally there is a Sony sourced 3250mAh battery with quick charge features.

ulefone vienna review

Cameras are a 13 mega-pixel Panasonic MN34150 rear and 5 mega-pixel OmniVision OV5648 front.

ulefone vienna review

There are other nice features too such as the built-in IR remote, rear fingerprint scanner and of course that Smart PA Audio HIFI chipset, and yes it really does make a difference.

Here are a few notes on each item to give a little more information.

ulefone vienna review

The screen is very very nice, offering very deep blacks and nice (if not the most vibrant) colours. It also looks great with the curved display and although the bezels are think, its nice that Ulefone haven’t tried to hide them.

ulefone vienna review

That fingerprint scanner on the rear is a very good additional feature for the phone. It’s actually surprising that Ulefone managed to squeeze it in to the budget. In use it’s about as good as the fingerprint scanner on the Nubia Z11 Mini, meaning that its not super fast or 100% accurate, but compared to the OP2 its miles ahead.

Battery life for me using the phone under normal conditions saw me squeezing almost 2 days from a single charge. However, if you do intend to take advantage of the audio chipset (and it’s well worth doing) your mileage is going to vary.

ulefone vienna review

Audio is the big selling point for the Vienna and Ulefone have done a damn good job of this. Audio from the rear external speaker is leagues ahead of phones from the likes of UMi, Blackview, and even Xiaomi, Meizu etc. Plug in a set of earphones and performance is actually shocking! Ok it’s not as good as Vivo, but it is a much more simple (and afford) audio set-up, and it sounds better than most other phones of a similar price.

ulefone vienna review

One last detail that the Ulefone Vienna offers that most other phones don’t is the Smart Key. Currently you can use this dedicated button for the camera, or to quick start a voice recorder. If you’re a journalist or just like spying on people this can be something to consider.

Ulefone Vienna Review – Camera

ulefone vienna review

So far so good, so what about the camera? Well the main camera is a 13 mega-pixel Panasonic sensor, and we don’t tend to see Panasonic used all that often, the last time being in a Jiayu phone.

What’s good about the Ulefone camera is that it is very fast at snapping and saving, and it seems that Ulefone have actually chosen better than average optics for the phone. This means in good light you can get some nice photos, but on very bright days the images do get a little washed out (see samples below).

ulefone vienna review

Like most budget phones, it is when there is very little light about that the Vienna tends to struggle, but compared to similar spec/price phones from brands of a similar level, the Ulefone actually performs well.

Ulefone Vienna Photo samples

Ulefone Vienna Review – Gallery

Ulefone Vienna Review – Conclusion

Ulefone have managed to surprise me with the Vienna. Not only have they made something that looks quite nice and is very good to hold, but they have achieved what they set out to do and made a good performing audio-centric smartphone.

I’m also surprised with some of the spec choices too. It shows that Ulefone have thought about what their customers wanted by adding an IR remove, fingerprint scanner and 32GB memory, it would have been easy to remove those features and just add 16GB memory and most people probably wouldn’t have blinked.

Overall a good phone for those wanting high-end audio at a decent price.

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84 Comments

  1. Lazar Prodanovic
    May 20, 2016

    More & more I think of it Alcatel Flash 2 Plus looks as the best offer so far this year as it’s most complete one. Would love to see review of it.

    • Assefa Hanson
      May 20, 2016

      im waiting for the qiku n4 review already on paper and in price the N4 seems to be the best alround phone of the year so far

      • Lazar Prodanovic
        May 20, 2016

        Yes one with f 2.0 aparature & P-DAF It also has dedicated DAC amplifier amoung other things like good build quality, software suport, costumer care availability in most parts of the world, 2 years warranty & possibility that you would be able to get it on contract. So that makes him most complete offering this year even it lacks NFC.

        • Karly Johnston
          May 20, 2016

          Isn’t PDAF pretty standard at this point?

          • Lazar Prodanovic
            May 20, 2016

            Well it should be… Pointed out its a newer Omni senzor.

          • balcobomber25
            May 22, 2016

            It’s probably about as close to standard as it will get. Most new phones ship with it. Although some do use just LAF (laser). Others use both.

    • balcobomber25
      May 20, 2016

      Depends on the price. Overall I would say the Zuk Z2 Pro is best value. Meizu M3/Note for a budget device.

      • Lazar Prodanovic
        May 20, 2016

        Starting price is 162 160$ & 32/3 190$. That is of course Asian market price. Best value is probably Le 2 with S652 & Meizu is a letdown in all segments this year so far.

        • balcobomber25
          May 20, 2016

          I like most of the Meizus released this year, the only thing keeping me from buying one is lack of US LTE.

          As for Alcatel the two I had were good phones overall but terrible with updates and camera was average at best.

          • Lazar Prodanovic
            May 20, 2016

            I see new Alcatel as a old Huawei but at this moment if you appreciate normal warranty & at home purchase (at least where I live) currently their isn’t anything better.

            • balcobomber25
              May 20, 2016

              Fair enough. The two Alcatel I had were older phones. Wouldn’t mind trying them out again. Idol 4 looks nice.

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              May 20, 2016

              Actually I think they missed it with Idol 4, Idol 3 5.5″ whose nice last year & I think Flash Plus 2 will also be solid.

      • Karly Johnston
        May 20, 2016

        The M3 Note is a dropped framed disaster.

        • balcobomber25
          May 20, 2016

          People i know that have it love it.

    • realjjj
      May 20, 2016

      360 N4 is by far the best value so far. For 899CNY(137.4$) you get – 5.5 inch 1080p , Helio X20 ( MT6797m at just 2GHz not 2.3GHz and the GPU at 700MHz) , 4GB RAM, 32GB NAND and microSD , 13MP and 5MP cams, 3080mAh with fast charging, fingerprint , 149 × 75.7 × 8.35 mm , 140 grams.
      Unlike the LeEco it has microSD and audio jack. Getting 4GB RAM and fast charging at this price is notable too.
      Official page http://www.360shouji.com/zt/n4/index.html
      vs SD820 Lite https://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench3/compare/6658077?baseline=6590136
      GFXBench https://gfxbench.com/device.jsp?benchmark=gfx40&os=Android&api=gl&cpu-arch=ARM&hwtype=GPU&hwname=ARM%20Mali-T880&did=33752802&D=QiKU%201503-M02
      And a 3GB RAM version just showed up on Geekbench today so they might soon have a cheaper version.

      https://youtu.be/7m9kGgPvzM0?t=385

      • Lazar Prodanovic
        May 20, 2016

        Well it sounds fantastic. Hopefully it will be good & available outside the China as company is not known out side of China & changing name certainly doesn’t help.

        • realjjj
          May 20, 2016

          They sold 150k units last Friday and some 120k on the 19th. Seen it listed on some retailers and Aliexpress at 175-180$. Prices not being way higher this early is a good sign.

          • Muhammad Yasir
            May 20, 2016

            so it’ll be EVENTUALLY cheaper in the next few months ?!

            • realjjj
              May 20, 2016

              Hopefully.
              I consider a 15-20% premium over China prices as acceptable but some of the high profile devices lately seem to have a much higher premium , at least early on.

              If this one is listed at 180$ or a bit less now, maybe it gets 10-15$ cheaper when supply catches up with demand in China.

            • Muhammad Yasir
              May 20, 2016

              GREAT 😀

      • Muhammad Yasir
        May 20, 2016

        @realjjj:disqus , i love this heroic intervention … how you absolutely bamboozled the defence and won your case by present an offer almost irrefutable on a GLOBAL level !

  2. coolgreek
    May 20, 2016

    It would be a winner if they had just replaced that old 6753 soc with a newer and better one (like Helio P10). That 6753 soc is showing great signs of oldness. It is slow yet needs enough battery juice compared to some newer chips.

    • Samuel Odan
      May 20, 2016

      Not so true, the 6753 is slow, it doesn’t need more juice.

      • balcobomber25
        May 22, 2016

        Depends on many factors, battery life is determined by a lot more than just the SoC. Display type, Camera, Audio Chip, Flash, Battery type etc all factor in.

    • Muhammad Yasir
      May 20, 2016

      x10 would be MUCH MUCH CHEAPER than p10 !

      and a hell lotta better too !

      • balcobomber25
        May 22, 2016

        I doubt it would be “much, much cheaper”. In fact I doubt it’s cheaper at all. The X10 is an upper midrange chip for MTK, the P10 is an entry level chip.

        • Muhammad Yasir
          May 22, 2016

          but why do we have phones with x10 costing HELL lotta less than p10 phones then ?

          • balcobomber25
            May 22, 2016

            Because phone prices are determined by hundreds of factors not just by the SoC. The two most expensive parts of a phone usually are the display and the logo. Some brands charge a lot more than others with equal or better parts because of that logo. For instance the HTC One M9+ uses the X10 and the cheapest price for one is $461, the MX5 using the same chip is $206. Both prices were sourced from Kimovil. A lot of people only look at the SoC and then determine “X phone is overpriced because of that SoC”.

            • Muhammad Yasir
              May 22, 2016

              damn … i was so blind :/

            • balcobomber25
              May 22, 2016

              Youre not alone a lot of people make that mistake. The smartphone world is centered completely around SoCs.

            • Muhammad Yasir
              May 23, 2016

              hmm …
              that last phrase got me thinking … how to take FULL ‘advantage’ of a good SOC.
              let me start by giving u something a bit earnest. the MTK 6732 was touted as one of the most popular , well priced and very powerful Quad-cores , even by today’s standards. apparently , it beat its direct competitor from Qualcomm afaik.

              so , to reference one’s WILDEST and MOST OUTRAGEOUS imaginations , what is the 6732 capable of at its highest limit , at the ZENITH of its capacity ?

            • Sanjay Jha
              May 23, 2016

              Very much agree with your opinion, for most people to use mobile phones Soc performance is excessive, so in actual use, X10 and MT6753 not a big difference, I just use the X10 SOC, I did not feel faster than the speed MT6753 .As you open super sports car, but in the city, your speed is not much difference with other cars, because the city is not a road track.

  3. Sanjay Jha
    May 20, 2016

    ulefone is serious business, excellent design, use of materials is also very good. Although it does not have a cheapest prices.Gearbest do promotions, the price is $ 149.99.

  4. Lazar Prodanovic
    May 20, 2016

    More & more I think of it Alcatel Flash 2 Plus looks as the best offer so far this year as it’s most complete one. Would love to see review of it.

    • Assefa Hanson
      May 20, 2016

      im waiting for the qiku n4 review already on paper and in price the N4 seems to be the best alround phone of the year so far… wait a mother****ing second, the flash 2 plus is using a PRIMARY omnivison sensor! some tears in my eyes

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      May 20, 2016

      Yes one with f 2.0 aparature & P-DAF It also has dedicated DAC amplifier amoung other things like good build quality, software suport, costumer care availability in most parts of the world, 2 years warranty & possibility that you would be able to get it on contract. So that makes him most complete offering this year even it lacks NFC.

    • balcobomber25
      May 20, 2016

      Depends on the price. Overall I would say the Zuk Z2 Pro is best value. Meizu M3/Note for a budget device.

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      May 20, 2016

      Starting price is 162 160$ & 32/3 190$. That is of course Asian market price. Best value is probably Le 2 with S652 & Meizu is a letdown in all segments this year so far.

    • balcobomber25
      May 20, 2016

      I like most of the Meizus released this year, the only thing keeping me from buying one is lack of US LTE.

      As for Alcatel the two I had were good phones overall but terrible with updates and camera was average at best.

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      May 20, 2016

      I see new Alcatel as a old Huawei but at this moment if you appreciate normal warranty & at home purchase (at least where I live) currently their isn’t anything better.

    • realjjj
      May 20, 2016

      360 N4 is by far the best value so far. For 899CNY(137.4$) you get – 5.5 inch 1080p , Helio X20 ( MT6797m at just 2.1GHz not 2.3GHz and the GPU at 700MHz) , 4GB RAM, 32GB NAND and microSD , 13MP and 5MP cams, 3080mAh with fast charging, fingerprint , 149 × 75.7 × 8.35 mm , 140 grams.
      Unlike the LeEco it has microSD and audio jack. Getting 4GB RAM and fast charging at this price is notable too.
      Official page http://www.360shouji.com/zt/n4/index.html
      vs SD820 Lite https://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench3/compare/6658077?baseline=6590136
      GFXBench https://gfxbench.com/device.jsp?benchmark=gfx40&os=Android&api=gl&cpu-arch=ARM&hwtype=GPU&hwname=ARM%20Mali-T880&did=33752802&D=QiKU%201503-M02
      And a 3GB RAM version just showed up on Geekbench today so they might soon have a cheaper version.

    • Karly Johnston
      May 20, 2016

      The M3 Note is a dropped framed disaster.

    • Karly Johnston
      May 20, 2016

      Isn’t PDAF pretty standard at this point?

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      May 20, 2016

      Well it should be… Pointed out its a newer Omni senzor.

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      May 20, 2016

      Well it sounds fantastic. Hopefully it will be good & available outside the China as company is not known out side of China & changing name certainly doesn’t help.

    • realjjj
      May 20, 2016

      They sold 150k units last Friday and some 120k on the 19th. Seen it listed on some retailers and Aliexpress at 175-180$. Prices not being way higher this early is a good sign.

    • Guest
      May 20, 2016

      so it’ll be EVENTUALLY cheaper in the next few months ?!

    • Guest
      May 20, 2016

      @realjjj:disqus , i love this heroic intervention … how you absolutely bamboozled the defence and won your case by present an offer almost irrefutable on a GLOBAL level !

    • realjjj
      May 20, 2016

      Hopefully.
      I consider a 15-20% premium over China prices as acceptable but some of the high profile devices lately seem to have a much higher premium , at least early on.

      If this one is listed at 180$ or a bit less now, maybe it gets 10-15$ cheaper when supply catches up with demand in China.

    • balcobomber25
      May 20, 2016

      People i know that have it love it.

    • balcobomber25
      May 20, 2016

      Fair enough. The two Alcatel I had were older phones. Wouldn’t mind trying them out again. Idol 4 looks nice.

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      May 20, 2016

      Actually I think they missed it with Idol 4, Idol 3 5.5″ whose nice last year & I think Flash Plus 2 will also be solid.

    • Guest
      May 20, 2016

      GREAT 😀

    • balcobomber25
      May 22, 2016

      It’s probably about as close to standard as it will get. Most new phones ship with it. Although some do use just LAF (laser). Others use both.

  5. coolgreek
    May 20, 2016

    It would be a winner if they had just replaced that old 6753 soc with a newer and better one (like Helio P10). That 6753 soc is showing great signs of oldness. It is slow yet needs enough battery juice compared to some newer chips.

    • Samuel Odan
      May 20, 2016

      Not so true, the 6753 is slow, it doesn’t need more juice.

    • Guest
      May 20, 2016

      x10 would be MUCH MUCH CHEAPER than p10 !

      and a hell lotta better too !

    • balcobomber25
      May 22, 2016

      I doubt it would be “much, much cheaper”. In fact I doubt it’s cheaper at all. The X10 is an upper midrange chip for MTK, the P10 is an entry level chip.

    • Guest
      May 22, 2016

      but why do we have phones with x10 costing HELL lotta less than p10 phones then ?

    • balcobomber25
      May 22, 2016

      Because phone prices are determined by hundreds of factors not just by the SoC. The two most expensive parts of a phone usually are the display and the logo. Some brands charge a lot more than others with equal or better parts because of that logo. For instance the HTC One M9+ uses the X10 and the cheapest price for one is $461, the MX5 using the same chip is $206. Both prices were sourced from Kimovil. A lot of people only look at the SoC and then determine “X phone is overpriced because of that SoC”.

    • Guest
      May 22, 2016

      damn … i was so blind :/

    • balcobomber25
      May 22, 2016

      Youre not alone a lot of people make that mistake. The smartphone world is centered completely around SoCs. The SoC companies have done a tremendous marketing job to get people to think they need a lot more powerful processor. Most people will never even come close to taking advantage of their SoC.

    • balcobomber25
      May 22, 2016

      Depends on many factors, battery life is determined by a lot more than just the SoC. Display type, Camera, Audio Chip, Flash, Battery type etc all factor in.

    • Guest
      May 23, 2016

      hmm …
      that last phrase got me thinking … how to take FULL ‘advantage’ of a good SOC.
      let me start by giving u something a bit earnest. the MTK 6732 was touted as one of the most popular , well priced and very powerful Quad-cores , even by today’s standards. apparently , it beat its direct competitor from Qualcomm afaik.

      so , to reference one’s WILDEST and MOST OUTRAGEOUS imaginations , what is the 6732 capable of at its highest limit , at the ZENITH of its capacity ?

    • PSGF1
      May 23, 2016

      Very much agree with your opinion, for most people to use mobile phones Soc performance is excessive, so in actual use, X10 and MT6753 not a big difference, I just use the X10 SOC, I did not feel faster than the speed MT6753 .As you open super sports car, but in the city, your speed is not much difference with other cars, because the city is not a road track.

  6. PSGF1
    May 20, 2016

    ulefone is serious business, excellent design, use of materials is also very good. Although it does not have a cheapest prices.Gearbest do promotions, the price is $ 149.99.http://www.gearbest.com/cell-phones/pp_335456.html?wid=4

  7. Joel Adames
    May 20, 2016

    On a smaller note, I do like the soft key BIG and chromed like buttons, imho. Wish I had that on my phone as it is not backlit.

  8. balcobomber25
    May 20, 2016

    Not a bad phone at all, first Ulefone I would consider buying.

    • NextHype
      May 20, 2016

      Even if its driven by a MT6753 ? I can’t believe there is no lag except in games, MT6753 phones weren’t really snappy.

      • balcobomber25
        May 20, 2016

        Depends on a few factors, what you use it for, UI, RAM, etc. Even the MT6735 is powerful enough to handle every day tasks with little lag.

        The MT6753 will struggle with the most intensive games but it will have no issues with most of what is offered in the play store.

        • Lazar Prodanovic
          May 20, 2016

          With FHD display it will lag a lot in games & A53’s @ 1.3 GHz aren’t performer’s either but you are right it will run apps with good enough speed.

    • Muhammad Yasir
      May 20, 2016

      WOAH !

      hory shet !

  9. Joel Adames
    May 20, 2016

    On a smaller note, I do like the soft key BIG and chromed like buttons, imho. Wish I had that on my phone as it is not backlit.

  10. balcobomber25
    May 20, 2016

    Not a bad phone at all, first Ulefone I would consider buying.

    • NextHype
      May 20, 2016

      Even if its driven by a MT6753 ? I can’t believe there is no lag except in games, MT6753 phones weren’t really snappy.

    • balcobomber25
      May 20, 2016

      Depends on a few factors, what you use it for, UI, RAM, etc. Even the MT6735 is powerful enough to handle every day tasks with little lag.

      The MT6753 will struggle with the most intensive games but it will have no issues with most of what is offered in the play store.

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      May 20, 2016

      With FHD display it will lag a lot in games & A53’s @ 1.3 GHz aren’t performer’s either but you are right it will run apps with good enough speed.

    • Guest
      May 20, 2016

      WOAH !

      hory shet !

  11. Samuel Odan
    May 20, 2016

    I don’t like this review at all, i didn’t give me an idea of how long the phone lasts, how long it takes to charge the phone and stuff

    A review should make us sure if we’re buying the phone or not.
    Almost seems like you rushed the review.

    • balcobomber25
      May 22, 2016

      “Battery life for me using the phone under normal conditions saw me squeezing almost 2 days from a single charge. However, if you do intend to take advantage of the audio chipset (and it’s well worth doing) your mileage is going to vary.”

      Battery time itself can be very subjective and vary greatly from user to user. As for charging time a 3250mAh battery with quick charge should take between 55-70 minutes to fully charge.

  12. Samuel Odan
    May 20, 2016

    I don’t like this review at all, i didn’t give me an idea of how long the phone lasts, how long it takes to charge the phone and stuff

    A review should make us sure if we’re buying the phone or not.
    Almost seems like you rushed the review.

    • balcobomber25
      May 22, 2016

      “Battery life for me using the phone under normal conditions saw me squeezing almost 2 days from a single charge. However, if you do intend to take advantage of the audio chipset (and it’s well worth doing) your mileage is going to vary.”

      Battery time itself can be very subjective and vary greatly from user to user. As for charging time a 3250mAh battery with quick charge should take between 55-75 minutes on average to fully charge.

      A review should be one of many tools you use when purchasing a phone, but it should never be the determining factor. A review in itself is an opinion of one person, and your opinion and priorities could be completely different from the person who is reviewing it.

  13. toioioio
    May 21, 2016

    So between that and umi touch,who wins?

  14. toioioio
    May 22, 2016

    So between that and umi touch,who wins?