I guess we can all agree that 2017 is the year of the full display (18:9 ratio) smartphones. Xiaomi Mi Mix started the trend, LG carried on, Samsung Galaxy S8 pushed it forward adding a 19:8 screen ratio and now dozens of other OEM’s have followed their lead. The new combination took over the smartphone market adding a much needed touch of fresh design after a couple of years of stagnant copying of the iPhone 6.
Manufacturers rushed to create new models and grab any piece of the market’s share. MHORSE is not a newcomer in the industry, but a rather shy company from China that chooses to launch specific model from time to time. This month the decided to launch one of the cheapest and most affordable bezel-less, 18:9 smartphones, named MHORSE Pure 1.
It comes with a price tag less than $119 and for that money you get 4G/LTE connectivity, plus dual front and back cameras, a truly beautiful design and a fingerprint scanner!
impressive quaLITY FOR ITS PRICE
MHORSE Pure 1 – Technical Specifications
- CPU– Quad-Core 1.5GHz ARM Cortex-A53
- Chipset– MediaTek MT6737H
- GPU– ARM Mali-T720 MP2 600MHz, 2-Cores
- Camera– 8 MP+2MP with Single-LED and AF Rear Camera | 5 Megapixel Front camera
- Memory– RAM- 3GB | ROM 32GB External Memory Support up to 128GB
- Display– Screen size 5.7 inches HD+ (1440×720 Pixels)
- Battery– Removable 4,380 mAh Lithium-Polymer
- Sensors-Proximity Sensor, Accelerometer, Ambient Light, Fingerprint, Compass
- Operating System– Android 7.0 Nougat
- I/O Interface– 1 x Micro SIM Card Slot,1 x Nano SIM Card Slot, microSD/TF Card Slot, Micro USB Port, 3.5mm Audio Out Port, Power Button, Volume Button, Microphone, Speaker
- Dimensions– 279 x 7.3 x 0.98 cm
- Weight– 203 Grams
- Features– LTE CAT4 150 Mbps Download, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps Upload, HSDPA 21 Mbps Download, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps Upload, HSDPA 21 Mbps Download, Computer Sync, OTA Sync, Tethering, VoLTE Support, FM Radio,USB On-The-Go (OTG) Support, Fast Charging Technology, 18:9 Display Aspect Ratio.
The box contains the basic stuff for the price range it competes in:
- one USB cable,
- a power adapter,
- a SIM tray ejector needle,
- a see-through (transparent) silicon case,
- a warranty
- and a User’s manual in multiple languages (in big clear font).
This is clearly a design focused product. You can read in the back:
“Designed in Italy, Assembled in China”
The sample I reviewed, has the beautiful and shiny Titanium silver color in the back. The curvy panel looks like the front of the Samsung Galaxy S7 combined with the back of Xiaomi Mi 5!
The front has small side bezels while larger ones existing in the top and lower part. The 5.7″ display comes with a typical (budget) resolution of 1440×720 pixels (HD+), but still manages to look fine while in everyday use. The colors are vibrant and the viewing angles are great, but it seems that the black color appears washed-out some times. Also while in direct sunlight you need to create a shadow with your other hand to see the display clearly but this is something that can be expected from a really budget Android smartphone.
Note also that there is no physical button in the front and the lower bezel of the display is empty. The top one, has another pair of camera lenses, a speaker offering quite decent sound quality, along with proximity and lighting sensors.
The display has a screen protector on it, but unfortunately the way it has been applied by the company is not impressive. Air bubbles are visible and the top is angled a bit closer to the right. You just don’t pack a smartphone with “Designed in Italy” label with this screen protector application!
The MHORSE Pure 1 has a metallic frame and a plastic back panel that has – surprisingly- very good quality. If you take a good look at the back side, and start from the left you can see: the double vertical placed LED flash, the double vertically placed camera and the fingerprint scanner. It was a clear design decision to place all three of them horizontally, similar to the way we can find them on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 flagship – and this means… trouble. It thus has the same fault as Samsung’s flagship. When reaching for the scanner your finger touches the camera lenses. If you manage however not to touch the camera with the tip of your finger, then the fingerprint scanner really works and it takes about a second to unlock the screen.
As I mentioned earlier the plastic back looks great but it will get scratched easily, so – thankfully – the accompanying case in the box will help you with that.
NOT LIGHT, BUT SURELY A FUN TO PLAY WITH
The phone is not light I have to stress this. At 203.9 grams it’s surely heavy due to its metallic frame and the large battery you will find inside. Its dimensions are 15.279 x 7.3 x 0.98 cm, so it is smaller than the Xiaomi Mi A1 but surely a lot thicker, giving you the sense of a sturdy well built device. The phone is also available – beside of the Titanium silver variant – in black, titanium gold and blue. The blue one is a solid winner as it has a silver frame, turning the phone into a luxury “i want to have it now” object.
In the bottom of the metallic frame there is a single speaker, a micro-USB port and a microphone. The sound of the microphone is loud although it sounds distorted at maximum volume. The top has a 3.5mm headphone jack! On the right side of the frame you can find the SIM tray. You can fit two micro SIMs inside, or one SIM card along with a microSd card if you want to expand its storage. The power and volume buttons are placed at the left. I am left-handed user and until now (except LG’s back volume placement) I had to stretch my fingers or use the other hand in order to reach the volume buttons when on a call. So if you’re a right handed person (like almost 90% of the population) you might find the placement weird and uncomfortable. For us ‘lefties’ this is truly a gift. Using Pure 1 feels so natural to me. I hope more companies will follow on, using buttons on the left side for some of their models.
Note also tha the phone supports OTG (On-The-Go) and fast charging features. With the first you can connect it to a huge range of peripherals and flash discs, while with the fast charging feature you can expect it to be fully charged in just under 2 hours.
Specs and Performance
The M-Horse Pure 1 is using the entry level MTK6737 CPU that is paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The MTK6737 is a quad-core CPU clocked max at 1.3Ghz, announced at mid-2016. The accompanying ARM Mali-T720 MP2 GPU is two-cored and clocked at 650 MHz. All of the above combine normally, providing typical performance for the low-mid segment of the market, with an average Antutu score of approximately 36000.
MHORSE Pure 1 is running Android 7.0, with some preinstalled apps and a small touch in the settings. The software runs properly without any issues. You will not break any records for faster app loading but at that price range this can be expected. This is a phone for light usage, and keeping that in mind, M-Horse has done a good job.
I played some games, that do not need the latest Mediatek or Qualcomm SoCs to run smoothly, and I had no issues at all. Nougat gimmicks work too. You have two apps running in two windows simultaneously, you can swipe three fingers down to take screenshots etc.
M-Horse has added an Intelligent “assist menu” in the Setting menu, to control the available gestures like Double-tap to awake the screen etc. The other menu in the settings that I found really interesting is the one with the “Fingerprint” functions. By touching the sensor you can answer a call, take a photo, and play/pause the music and video players. FM Radio is included too in the application package, something that those of you who are always on the move will surely appreciate!
The phone has a 4380mAh non -removable battery. The results that I got from it aren’t that amazing. The battery lasted a full day with heavy use and has about 7h of SOT (screen-on time). It is not bad but M-Horse could do much better with a battery pack of almost 5000 mAhs. Perhaps the software needs a bit more tuning? I believe so…
The phone has 4 cameras and seems to be on par with the current flagship trend, as several small OEM manufacturers use it to attract more customers. On the front we have a dual 5MP + 2MP camera and on the back a dual 8MP + 2MP camera. The ‘Camera’ app offers Video, Photo, Beauty, Panorama and SLR modes. It has HDR and full menu in the settings. Given the budget nature of the smartphone, don’t expect much from the cameras.
The pair of lower+higher resolution lenses is used to gather depth information, as to produce a ‘bokeh’ effect where the main object has a background blur effect. Bokeh here is simulated on the SLR mode but fails miserably – and it cannot compete against the rest of some under $250 smartphones that have a dual camera.
With plenty of light, the pictures are ‘ok’ and better than other same-range mobile phones. At low light conditions however, things are… not that good. The phone follows the path of all budget category phones, having a lot of digital noise and low quality results. At least, the Autofocus function is excellent for the price range, offering fast and reliable performance while in everyday use.
The MHORSE Pure 1 has a full-view display and 4G/LTE connectivity, offering really decent value for it’s super low price (it costs 119$ at the time this review was published). If you want the pros of this phone, then you don’t have to try hard to find them: it’s the software it uses, along with 3GB RAM, 4G/LTE connectivity and a trully reliable fingerprint scanner at the back.
Yes, I know that the placement of the scanner is as bad as it can get, but even Samsung failed at that. The camera is proper for the price you’re about to pay, just don’t use the SLR mode or expect any good results while in low light conditions. I have to say however that the HD+ resolution of its display was a bad choice. Considering the energy needing 5,7 inch display, the company wanted to keep the phone going on for longer times and HD stretches the battery duration a lot.
As a left handed person I loved the button placement. This is a good, tight budget phone, that really looks amazing and could become an excellent gift for the Christmas period.