Vernee Apollo Review: A wannabe OnePlus 3(T)


Vernee Apollo Review

The Apollo is Vernee’s answer to one of the most successful phones of the 2016, i.e. the¬†OnePlus 3/3T. While that may be true on an aesthetical¬†& physical level, the same cannot be said about performance & overall usability of the phone.

Does that mean the Vernee Apollo has no reason to exist? Well, let’s get into the review to find out!

Vernee Apollo Specifications

Processor MediaTek MT6797T Helio X25 @2.5GHz with Mali T880 GPU
Display 5.5″ 2k 2560x1440px, LCD IPS Sharp IGZO
RAM 4GB
Storage 64GB (expandable)
Operating System Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Cameras 21.0 MP SONY IMX230 PDAF Rear, 8MP Front Camera
Battery 3180mAh
Physical Properties 188g, 152 x 75.6 x 9.3mm

Vernee Apollo Packaging

Vernee Apollo First Impressions

The Vernee Apollo comes in a big black and heavy box. That’s (the fact that it’s heavy) not entirely because of the phone itself though; Vernee does include a pair of VR goggles to take advantage of the high resolution 2K display for Virtual Reality purposes. Inside the box we also find a 5V/7V/9V – 2A USB charger and an USB type-A to USB type-C charging cable.

Vernee Apollo Review

Design & Build

Vernee Apollo First Impressions

This department is where the Vernee Apollo shines the most. While the design is rather ordinary and similar to dozens of phones we get to see on GizChina (OnePlus 3(T) being one of them, the build quality is actually pretty top-end.

The device feels solid in your hands as it features a thick metal back cover and, while that adds a bit of weight to it, I definitely prefer this to the light and generic-looking phones we find on the market, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is one example.

Vernee Apollo Review

The Apollo also comes with a 2.5D glass coating, nano molding antenna bands, up to 98% metal coverage for the body and an unique matte texture achieved through a 360-degree sand-blasting. The phone has a premium build quality — there’s no doubt about that.

On another note, the camera protrudes quite a bit, but do not worry, there’s a thin metal ring that will protect it from getting scratched.

Size and weight wise, it’s a big 5.5-inch phone, so no surprises about that. The weight is a bit over my comfort zone and it being made of a smooth metal surface has me holding very carefully every time. I think an ordinary silicon¬†case would fix most of my problems, though. On the plus¬†side, I still haven’t dropped it yet!

Display

Vernee Apollo Review

The biggest selling point of the Vernee Apollo is its 2K 2560 x 1440px Sharp IGZO IPS display. It is as stunning as you would imagine, super clear and colors are appear to be quite on point.

The viewing angles are above the ordinary. With that I mean that you still get to see the screen perfectly at insane angles, definitely more than what you would probably ever need. The display is also very bright but at times you may have to fight to avoid direct sun light as it is a tiny bit reflective (or at least it is with the included screen protector).

Vernee Apollo First Impressions

Since the high resolution 2K display pushed Vernee to include a VR headset in the box, let’s talk about¬†the Virtual Reality experience in this section as well.

In a word: bad. Beware, it’s not the phone’s fault, but the VR headset they include is pretty pants. It doesn’t even include a button, which is usually just a magnet! How do they think I will get my “VR experience” without a way to start it?

If you guys aren’t aware, most VR demos ask you to push a button to begin them, without one you are just left in the home waiting for nothing to happen.

That said, this is pretty easy to fix by buying a cheap VR headset with an included button. I only wish Vernee had thought about it.

As far as the actual VR experience goes, it is really interesting and fun. The 2K screen sure does improve the video quality; I had already tried VR on 1080p and it was much more pixelated compared to a 1440p display. I think it’s still too early to get good VR on smartphones, so take it with a grain of salt.

Hardware & Performance
Vernee Apollo Review

The Vernee Apollo comes with one of the most powerful CPUs from MediaTek, the Helio X25. This processor can go up to 2.5GHz and is paired up with a Mali T880 GPU. Other than that, there is 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable internal storage.

But you could have found all this info in the spec sheet. How does the phone actually perform, though? Well, the Apollo is snappy and you can definitely see an improvement over the older Helio X10. It opens up apps faster and multitasking is rather flawless. Sure there are some minor bugs here and there, but overall the user experience is pretty good.

Games also run fine and, while the 2K resolution may only make it worse in some cases, they are still playable. Don’t expect the performance of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, though.

As many MediaTek SoCs, the Helio X25 is not immune to overheating. I’ve noticed it the most while taking photos and recording videos, that also caused the phone to discharge relatively fast. Hopefully they can fix this later in a small update, or even a new Android Nougat ROM.

If you’re interested in real numbers, here are its Antutu and Geekbench scores:

4G LTE connectivity is good, at least here in Europe. It supports Band 20, which is pretty fundamental over here. Call quality is good as well, no complains about that. The phone has a Dual SIM / 1 SIM + 1 microSD setup.

WiFi and GPS also work flawlessly, meanwhile I’ve been having some problems with Bluetooth (weak signal), I’m not quite sure if it’s the phone itself or my headphones got damaged somehow, I’ll update the review¬†when I finally figure it out.

Vernee Apollo Review

The fingerprint scanner is¬†placed on the back and although not recognizing my finger 100% of the times, when it does, it’s¬†lightning fast. And no, I’m not over selling it, they use a special algorithm (specially after¬†the last update) that recognizes your fingerprint instantly, you need to try it to get an idea!

Battery life is decent,¬†but that also depends on your usage habits. The way I use it, I can get through a day, that is if I don’t go out snapping photos or playing games. I sure wish it had a slightly bigger battery or having a more optimized software. Battery fully charges in about 1hr and half with the included charger.

Vernee Apollo Camera & Photos

Vernee Apollo Review

The Vernee Apollo sports a 21MP rear camera with an aperture of f/2.2. The shutter speed is fast but not the fastest,¬†that said, if you take your time and hold your phone steady you can get very nice high quality sharp photos. White balance is a bit all over the place, I’ve noticed. Meanwhile the front camera is decent and has a resolution of 8 megapixels.

The camera can shoot 4K videos at 30fps, but for some reason they aren’t fully compatible with YouTube.¬†I get an error and the upload fails. Meanwhile 1080p videos don’t suffer of this problem.

Here are some photos so you can judge for yourself:

Vernee Apollo Gallery

Vernee Apollo Review

Vernee Apollo Review

Conclusion

In my opinion the Apollo is a missed opportunity for Vernee to create a very appealing¬†OnePlus 3(T) alternative. Or at least, they shouldn’t have marketed it as such, if not just for the fact that the OnePlus 3(T) packs superior hardware and software support.

If you take the¬†Vernee Apollo¬†by itself though, I think it’s a rather spectacular phone. Sure, it is on the heavier side and battery life isn’t amazing, but the build quality is really outstanding, the phone is powerful, snappy and, most importantly, it rocks a stunning 2K display which in my opinion¬†is on-par with the best screens present on Samsung flagships and the likes.

Coming at about $250 the Vernee Apollo is just a tiny bit more expensive than what I would pay for it. But if you’re after a premium phone with an amazing display then you can give this phone a try.

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55 Comments

  1. MattD
    January 30, 2017

    It shines in no department… I see no reason to buy it at that price (I wouldn’t buy it anyway because of the weak battery, but that’s just me)

  2. Assefa Hanson
    January 30, 2017

    Sigh i know its traditional to say chinese phones are copying or answering to some other brand, but please how is the apollo an answer to the 3t look how long it has been in production long before the 3t was in the air

    • January 30, 2017

      Well, I’m not sure when the Apollo was first announced, but the OnePlus 3T looks like the OnePlus 3, which was revealed on June 14, 2016.

    • lildwell
      January 31, 2017

      They marketed it as a cheap One Plus alternative a lot. If they didnt do that they could stand on their own merit. Chinese phones are answers to other brands because they want to be. It’s stupid and devalues the phone.

      • Assefa Hanson
        January 31, 2017

        I agree that it is an “Alternative” but to say its “Answer” is a whole other mechanic, an answer comes after something that is established before (in a conversation this called a question) i just had a little issue with the review marketing it as an answer when the apollo was announced way before the oneplus, generally chinese phones are answers and i agree i just dont think in this case it was

        • lildwell
          February 1, 2017

          Semantics.

  3. johala02
    January 30, 2017

    I dont think Vernee Apollo are a answer to OnePlus 3T. The OnePlus device are priced for over $400 not even close to the pricing of Vernee.

    But I think the next Vernee might be a more close competition. They will show a new smartphone in MWC 2017 with the new MediaTek Helio X30. That device I might buy.

  4. Muhammad Yasir
    January 30, 2017

    cam sucks … nuff siad

    • E8hffff
      February 3, 2017

      The camera is good, but you’d hope they make it super good.

      • Muhammad Yasir
        February 3, 2017

        yeah

  5. mf1gt3r
    January 30, 2017

    Vernee has a long way to go. By the way, why 9.3mm thickness for just 31xxmah battery? Why would a camera protrude at 9.3mm?

    • E8hffff
      February 3, 2017

      It doesn’t matter as the phone feels good and I have zero issues with the camera slightly protruding. The phone is the same size as the Jiayu S3 and feels much the same but better quality.

  6. MattD
    January 30, 2017

    It shines in no department… I see no reason to buy it at that price (I wouldn’t buy it anyway because of the weak battery, but that’s just me)

  7. Assefa Hanson
    January 30, 2017

    Sigh i know its traditional to say chinese phones are copying or answering to some other brand, but please how is the apollo an answer to the 3t look how long it has been in production long before the 3t was in the air

    • Pierre
      January 30, 2017

      Well, I’m not sure when the Apollo was first announced, but the OnePlus 3T looks like the OnePlus 3, which was revealed on June 14, 2016.

    • lildwell
      January 31, 2017

      They marketed it as a cheap One Plus alternative a lot. If they didnt do that they could stand on their own merit. Chinese phones are answers to other brands because they want to be. It’s stupid and devalues the phone.

    • Assefa Hanson
      January 31, 2017

      I agree that it is an “Alternative” but to say its “Answer” is a whole other mechanic, an answer comes after something that is established before (in a conversation this called a question) i just had a little issue with the review marketing it as an answer when the apollo was announced way before the oneplus, generally chinese phones are answers and i agree i just dont think in this case it was

    • lildwell
      February 1, 2017

      Semantics.

  8. johala02
    January 30, 2017

    I dont think Vernee Apollo are a answer to OnePlus 3T. The OnePlus device are priced for over $400 not even close to the pricing of Vernee.

    But I suppose the next Vernee might be a more interesting option. They will show a new smartphone in MWC 2017 with the new MediaTek Helio X30. That device I might buy.

  9. Guest
    January 30, 2017

    cam sucks … nuff siad

    • E8hffff
      February 3, 2017

      The camera is good, but you’d hope they make it super good.

    • Guest
      February 3, 2017

      yeah

  10. mf1gt3r
    January 30, 2017

    Vernee has a long way to go. By the way, why 9.3mm thickness for just 31xxmah battery? Why would a camera protrude at 9.3mm?

    • E8hffff
      February 3, 2017

      It doesn’t matter as the phone feels good and I have zero issues with the camera slightly protruding. The phone is the same size as the Jiayu S3 and feels much the same but better quality.

  11. January 31, 2017

    It’s a really nice phone that works, did a review on it.
    Camera is definitely good considering the price, I believe it to be a true flagship offering at this price and a good OnePlus 3 alternative and you get a free VR kit plus QHD display.
    Honestly, I really don’t know what more can you ask at that price point.

    • E8hffff
      February 3, 2017

      Agree.

  12. Steven Fox
    January 31, 2017

    It’s a really nice phone that works, did a review on it.
    Camera is definitely good considering the price, I believe it to be a true flagship offering at this price and a good OnePlus 3 alternative and you get a free VR kit plus QHD display.
    Honestly, I really don’t know what more can you ask at that price point.

    • E8hffff
      February 3, 2017

      Agree.

  13. yalok
    January 31, 2017

    Only the screen stands out, the rest fails to attract..

  14. lacertosus
    January 31, 2017

    I really failed to see how it’s a 1+ 3T alternative! But the company is on the right path.

    • February 9, 2017

      It is, a great camera, good specs, 2K display, full-metal body, stock Android.
      It sells for more than a 100$ cheaper, at that price it’s a great cheaper alternative!

  15. yalok
    January 31, 2017

    Only the screen stands out, the rest fails to attract..

  16. lacertosus
    January 31, 2017

    I really failed to see how it’s a 1+ 3T alternative! But the company is on the right path.

    • Steven Fox
      February 9, 2017

      It is, a great camera, good specs, 2K display, full-metal body, stock Android.
      It sells for more than a 100$ cheaper, at that price it’s a great cheaper alternative!

  17. E8hffff
    February 3, 2017

    Really nice phone. If it had NFC and an IR Blaster/diode then this would be the ants pants for value and quality. The major issue at the moment is community support. There’s zero support at the moment for recover images or alternative roms. I’ve decided to develop on it but I need to get familiar with Android Studio and C++ side of Android development. I have zero interest learning Java. Then aim is to get a working TWRP image done and then look into using libhyris to hijack into Ubuntu Touch or other options. The other problem is there is no silicone covers available to protect the phone. Chinese New Year celebrations are on but I hope to see something available soon to protect this phone when dropping.

  18. E8hffff
    February 3, 2017

    It’s a great replacement for the Jiayu S3 which I owned and loved since it came out.

  19. E8hffff
    February 3, 2017

    Really nice phone. If it had NFC and an IR Blaster/diode then this would be the ants pants for value and quality. The major issue at the moment is community support. There’s zero support at the moment for recover images or alternative roms. I’ve decided to develop on it but I need to get familiar with Android Studio and C++ side of Android development. I have zero interest learning Java. Then aim to get a working TWRP image done and then look into using libhyris to hijack into Ubuntu Touch or other options. The other problem is there is no silicone covers available to protect the phone. Chinese New Year celebrations are on but I hope to see something available soon to protect this phone when dropping.

  20. E8hffff
    February 3, 2017

    It’s a great replacement for the Jiayu S3 which I owned and loved since it came out.

  21. Robert Johnson
    February 4, 2017

    Sadly no low light photos during the review

    • February 7, 2017

      Sorry, I usually don’t take many photos indoor. But what I can say is that the quality is average, high pixel count and small sensor mean lot of noise in the pictures.

  22. Robert Johnson
    February 4, 2017

    Sadly no low light photos during the review

    • Pierre
      February 7, 2017

      Sorry, I usually don’t take many photos indoor. But what I can say is that the quality is average, high pixel count and small sensor mean lot of noise in the pictures.

    • Steven Fox
      February 9, 2017

      See my flickr profile, I have low light shots. Camera works great, and btw it’s a f/2.0 aperture.

      https://flic.kr/s/aHskMBjjWt

  23. Fuselman
    February 7, 2017

    It ia s great phone, I have only one problem with the camara. The cameraworks fine when taking pictures, but when I want to film the camera freezes. After a restart the camera is working again. The same problem occurs when using an app with camera use (eg bar code scanner)or an app with flashlight use, the the camera freezes.
    I already did a factory reset and I have the latest OTA.
    I think (hope)it is a software problem and the next update will fix it. So except for the camera issue it is a great phone.
    Any one else with this problem???

    • February 9, 2017

      Download the full OTA from Vernee, install it and then do a factory reset. Had battery and camera issues with the small OTA myself. Installed the full thing – phone runs like a dream now!

      • Fuselman
        February 9, 2017

        Thnx I will try.

        • Fuselman
          February 9, 2017

          Didn’t work.

          • Fuselman
            February 9, 2017

            Camera still doesn’t work when filming. After restart I had the flashlight icon. It worked. When using a barcode app the camera freezes. After restart the flashlight icon is gone??.
            I had the first download from Vernee and the second, same result. Camera works so it should be a software issue I think.

  24. Fuselman
    February 7, 2017

    It ia s great phone, I have only one problem with the camara. The cameraworks fine when taking pictures, but when I want to film the camera freezes. After a restart the camera is working again. The same problem occurs when using an app with camera use (eg bar code scanner)or an app with flashlight use, the the camera freezes.
    I already did a factory reset and I have the latest OTA.
    I think (hope)it is a software problem and the next update will fix it. So except for the camera issue it is a great phone.
    Any one else with this problem???

    • Steven Fox
      February 9, 2017

      Download the full OTA from Vernee, install it and then do a factory reset. Had battery and camera issues with the small OTA myself. Installed the full thing – phone runs like a dream now!

    • Fuselman
      February 9, 2017

      Thnx I will try.

    • Fuselman
      February 9, 2017

      Didn’t work.

    • Fuselman
      February 9, 2017

      Camera still doesn’t work when filming. After restart I had the flashlight icon. It worked. When using a barcode app the camera freezes. After restart the flashlight icon is gone??.
      I had the first download from Vernee and the second, same result. Camera works so it should be a software issue I think.

  25. ebuy door
    May 24, 2018

    i bought one vernee usb board in alixpress in ebuydoor shop ,is it original one ?