UMI Super review – with super promises comes super responsibility


UMI managed to produce some very reasonable midrange and lower midrange phones over the years and many users fondly remember the likes of UMI Zero and such. But UMI in the long run have probably higher aspirations and with their newest UMI Super flagship they are trying to move into the more elite company. Did they do well ? Find out in our UMI Super review.

Anybody paying attention to tech news sites have probably encountered in some way the aggresive UMI Super campaign during the past weeks and months. The hype was real and from just the list of components it was clear, that UMI tried to assemble together some quality pieces of hardware. But promises and talk is cheap so until i have my chance to torture the phone myself i’m hardly a believer in anything. Thanks to UMI themselves we got our chance to get a sample and the next few chapters will try to dissect my two week experience stint with the UMI Super. Enjoy.

Packaging

You can probably remember one of our articles focused especially on the UMI Super packaging, because the manufacturer wanted to make clear that this is something else for sure. And they actually delivered just that. The shiny square metal black box with rounded edges is looking real classy and the embossed golden model name in the front just underlines that. Sure the metal used is pretty thin, but on the other hand inside you will find insulation patches in all the right places so great job from UMI.

But of course the more important always is what’s inside the fancy black box. Aside the carefull wrapped UMI Super phone with protection filters applied both front and back the packed accessories are quite basic. The charger came directly in the proper EU plug version so no need for some silly reductions like some other brands. The white USB Type-C charging cable could be longer, but that’s nitpicking. And last but not least the simple multilanguage manual and the SIM tray eject pin. Finito, that’s everything the box contains.

Design and build

First thought that comes to mind when you hold the UMI Super for the first time is surely going to be “damn it’s heavy”. Yes the hyped full metal build and large battery are taking the toll and with 196 g of real weight (instead of the advertised 185 g) it’s not the lightweight model by any means. On the other hand it feels really solid and sturdy and some people actually prefer the heavy phones so it’s up to personal taste. Due to the high weight it also feels subjectively bulkier than it really is with 8,5 mm thickness (edit : some other people measured the actual thickness at 10 mm though). Our sample is the most common grey variant, but additional gold or silver are also available.

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Front panel is obviously dominated by the 5,5-inch display and while it’s not bezel-less, the black bezels are decent and not disturbing at all. The screen comes with the usual 2.5D curve but the edges are less chamfered and more “sharp” (pun intended) than some similar models. Below the display is the circular halo LED capacitative button similar to some older Meizu or Nubia models. It’s fully customizable with 7 different colors to assign to various notifications or events and i have to admit it’s really cool and handy and in time i liked it more and more. On the sides of the halo are capacitative Android control buttons, but with no backlight at all and you can actually turn them off altogether.

Power buton and volume rocker buttons are located on the right side and i have to say those are probably the best buttons i have ever seen on a chinese phone, not even a small hint of “wobbliness” and very precise press control. On the left side you can find the SIM tray accomodating either two micro-SIM cards or one with additional microSD up to 256 GB. Below the tray is the special shortcut key, which you can assign to launch any of the applications, but it can’t be used as a camera shutter, which is a major disappointment and oversight. Up top is only the headphone 3.5mm jack and small plastic stripes over the antennas. On the chin is the USB Type-C charging connector, two speaker grills and some more antenna plastic stripes.

Rear of the phone is just like the rest of the unibody construction made of very durable aluminum alloy with matte finish. The back is also very slightly curved (165° arc) for better grip. Camera lens is centered up top and UMI deserve a pat on the back for making it non-protruding at all. Below the camera eye we can find dual LED flash and even further below the circular fingerprint scanner and the UMI logo. Overall build of the phone is on a very high level and despite being a little bit on the heavier side it’s certainly making a good impression.

Display

The display has been hyped as one of the key features, Sharp made LTPS IPS with alleged 95% gamut, FHD  1920 x 1080 pixel resolution (401 ppi), OGS with Gorilla Glass 3 protection, 5-touch support and Sunlight technology looked all just perfect on paper. But well on-paper and reality are sometimes two very different things. If you can’t directly compare the UMI Super screen to something else you will be prolly feeling okay about it, little tendency to warmer colors and such. But when the push comes to shove and you put it next to some other phone with good screen the ugly secret will be out and screaming. There is no sugarcoating possible, UMI Super screen is just…YELLOW.

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It’s really a big disappointment, because the screen is otherwise not bad, viewing angles are fine, promised good sun legibility is there, maximum and minimum brightness levels are alright although not spectacular. But the undeniable yellowish tint to everything is just one big knife in the back. I have to stress once again that an ordinary user without many chances of comparison is not going to be mightily annoyed by that, because he will get quickly used to it, but the flaw is just there and not going away.

Small display comparison pics to document that, the UMI Super still has the filter applied in them, but rest assured it’s exactly the same without it. Up top : Meizu MX4, upper left : UMI Super, bottom left : Elephone S3, upper right : OnePlus 3, bottom right : Xiaomi Redmi Note 3.

Hardware

The popular Helio P10 (MT6755) octa-core processor is not a high-end one, even though some manufacturers are trying to convince us about that. But it’s still a good midrange or upper midrange piece of hardware capable of handling quite some load. It’s clocked at 2 GHz, accomodates the big.LITTLE architecture and brings the Mali-T860MP2 GPU clocked at 700 MHz. UMI tried to pump up the higher aspirations with providing 4 GB of Samsung LPDDR3 RAM and that certainly doesn’t hurt. Built-in 32 GB of eMMC5.1 storage is easily expandable via microSD so no memory woes.

In the connectivity department the UMI Super is doing fairly well too, 4G comes with FDD-LTE bands 1/3/7/20, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n is present just as Bluetooth 4.1,USB Type-C 2.0, GPS/A-GPS/Glonnas or OTG support. The phone has quite wide collection of sensors including gyroscope, compass, proximity or ambient light and employs even such gimmick as independent FM radio tuner. Battey comes from the Sony production and offers quite big 4000 mAh capacity and fast charge support, we will take a look at it in an independent chapter later.

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Cameras are a duo of slightly uncommon sensors, rear one is a 13 Mpix Panasonic MN34172 with f/2.0 aperture and the front selfie one is a 5 Mpix Samsung GalaxyCore GC5005 camera. You can find the detailed camera review in one of the next chapters, not going to spoil the surprise right away.

Rear fingerprint scanner received also its fair share of hype, super secure Microarray 360° 3D recognition with blazing fast unlock speed and yadda yadda. In reality the sensor feels pretty sluggish and extremely tricky to properly recognize your fingerprint, i think my success rate is way below 50 %. But at least it can wake the phone from sleep directly without touching the screen or buttons, that’s always a plus. So it’s really an area UMI can work on and the latest OTA update helped things a little, but still a long way to go in my eyes.

System

UMI Super is keeping things pretty simple and running almost fully clean Android 6.0 Marshmallow build with no bloatware and annoying things. System feels fast and smooth, probably partially thanks to the 4 GB of RAM and there are no hiccups or extensive wait times anywhere. Slightly disappointing are missing features like gestures or double-tap-to wake stuff, but we can’t have everything. In the latest OTA update UMI have implented very interesting Background Task Clear settings, allowing you to whitelist apps from being cleared from the memory. Pretty nifty feature helping with the custom memory management, thumbs up.

So far the OTA updates are coming in a reasonable pace and fixing or adding little details properly so can’t complain about that at all.

Benchmarks and performance

In my usual benchamark gauntlet the UMI Super fared reasonably well, but it once again accentuated the Helio P10 as an ordinary midrange processor, nothing more and nothing less. The performance of the Mali-T860MP2 GPU is also far from being a real powerhouse. On the other hand the results of the storage tests are very good in both read/write sections and seems like the Samsung eMMC5.1 modules are a good choice for the Super.

As for the gamer perspective it stays the same as with other Helio P10 equipped phones. You can play more or less anything, but in some games you will be forced to lower the details or mess with the settings a bit. The 4 GB RAM once again helps a bit, but it’s not a universal band aid. But a casual gamer is not going to have a problem with UMI Super at all.

Battery life

The battery performance was probably one of the main things i was curious about, because 4000 mAh Sony battery sounded promising. And oh boy this time the promises actually came through. In the PCMark battery test the result is excellent 9h55m and the daily usage fully confirmed that. With extreme daily use i managed to get over 6 hours of SOT and the phone still came home with some juice left. Very impressive endurance results, most of the users can surely get 1.5-2 days of normal use from the phone.

Promised fast charge PumpExpress Plus support is a bit of a mixed bag though, full charging of the phone takes about the 100 minutes just as advertised, but getting to 75 % in just 30 minutes is really only a wishful thinking. Packaged charger is capable of delivering 5V/2.5A or 7V/1.67A, 9V/1.67A and 12V/1.25A.

Connectivity and audio

Call quality and mobile signal reception are quite good with UMI Super, no complaint at all there. But one small complaint comes with the Wi-Fi reception, where the full metal body is probably hampering the sensitivity a little bit and UMI Super managed to catch signal slightly worse than some other phones i had lying around. But still okay result, nothing really scary or deal breaking. GPS fix and accuracy were spot on so again nothing can be said against the Mediatek solution.

Sound quality is kind of a day and night situation, headphone output is not bad at all with the help of the AW8738 amplifier and music lovers without the bat hearing are going to be satisfied. The loudspeaker on the other hand is pretty crappy with very weak sound and volume, so that’s something the UMI Super can’t be proud about.

Camera

The aforementioned Panasonic 13 Mpix sensor is not something we see in the phones every day so the curiosity kicked in once again. And surprisingly it didn’t disappoint. When you factor in the price range of the phone the pictures are actually quite good all things considered. Yes there are some focus problems around the edges, colors are fighting with the green sometimes and the dynamic range could be better, but it gets the job done. Some of the pics have also a tendency of being overexposed, but in general the software side of things is above average.

The camera is quite snappy and the focus and shutter lag are not a problem, although once again you can’t compare it with the high-end models like OnePlus 3, which are altogether on a different level. The camera app has even some nice features like Tracking Autofocus for moving targets or Picture-in-picture mode. Low-light performance is actually decent too, the double LED flash feels strong and while the pics are a bit noisy and far from the pimped ad night shots, results are usually good. Same goes for the front selfie cam.

Video capturing is capped at 1080p with 30fps option, coded with h.264 AVC and stored in 3GP format. Quality is quite good, personally i was surprised that the resulting video doesn’t feel shaky at all and the microphone sensitivity did a good job too. Check out the sample below for better idea about it.

Full sized photo samples can be downloaded here. And before you ask, the pictures were taken in the vicinity of Heidenheim and Schloss Hellenstein in Germany, if you are around i can totally recommend the Opera Festival happening there for the whole July 🙂

UMI Super review – Conclusion

UMI Super came with quite some bold promises and hype attached to it, but in most of the areas it didn’t disappoint. It’s a sturdy heavy phone with excellent build, great battery life, reasonable hardware performance and okay camera. Negative things are not so numerous, but the yellowish display certainly adds some minus points, just like the not so great fingerprint sensor. But for its price it delivers very good bang for the buck ratio and i have no problems recommending it, if you are aware that it’s not perfect and you will need to live with some compromises.

We would like to thank UMI for providing the sample for the review and if the phone would look interesting to you then head to this page , where you can find the links to all the officially supported reseller stores. Retail price of UMI Super is $249.99, but currently you can get it around $200-210 if you check out more resellers from the list above. Or if you get lucky with the discount coupon from the UMI website, then $179.99 is still possible.

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