Chinese electronics manufacturer Hisense has entered the phablet (tablet/smartphone combo) market with its new model – U980.
It is a mid-range device and has improved the design compared to its earlier model —U970.
It is simple and neat with flat back and front surfaces and it looks like an HTC One but without the stereo speakers in the front.
The 5.5-inch IPS screen with 1280 x 720 resolution at 320 dots per inch is powered by Mediatek quad-core 1.5GHz processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The shortage of RAM and internal storage are big drawbacks as many of the handsets in the market have bigger RAM and internal storage and at a much cheaper price.
But don’t worry; there is a microSD card slot to boost the storage capacity by 32GB. It runs on the older version of Android (4.2.1 Jelly Bean) operating system. Most of the phones in the market are running on Android 4.3 version. Hisense should look into that when they launch their next device as OS plays an important role.
The dual-SIM phone has a dedicated SIM slots for 2G and 3G. But no options for 4G or near field communications (NFC). It weighs just 162 grams with the battery.
The IPS screen offers very good viewing angles and the images are bright and rich in colours. The back of the phone is made of polycarbonate and has a solid grip. The curved sides of the phone make it easy to very comfortably fit into the palm.
Hisense has tweaked the user interface a little and much of it is the stock Android platform.
On the top of the device are the headphone jack and microUSB slot. On the right side are the volume rocker and on/off power button. On the back are the 8MP autofocus camera with LED flash and the speaker grill. The front sports a 2MP camera for video calls.
The rear camera takes decent photos with rich colours and details but snaps taken indoors look washed out and lose details even with the LED flash.
It can take 99 or 40 continuous shots and users can select the best to add to the album. Hisense has included some rich filters and effects apart from HDR and panorama shooting.
From inside the camera, users can take a shot and share it on social media sites or send it as email attachments.
High-dynamic-range (HDR) cannot be applied while recording. The videos recorded with the 8MP camera are superb in bright sunlight with right colour saturation and rich in details but watching HD videos from YouTube was gorgeous. Videos recorded in bad light conditions look grainy and washed out.
The speaker, placed at the back, produces high volume with crystal clear sound. It supports MP3, AAC, WAV audio formats and AVI, MP4, FLV, 3GP, MOV, ASF, MPEG, RMVB, H.263, H.264 video formats.
The device is not the best for playing graphic-rich games as the processor is from Mediatek and users can feel the lag. However, playing light games are a breeze with no latency.
Regarding connectivity, it has WiFi, 3G and Bluetooth 4.0. Opening websites and browsing through the pages are fast with no lag and pinch to zoom functions works well.
In the HTML 5 browser support test — html5test.com — Hisense U980 scored 427 points compared to HTC One’s 433 points and Samsung Galaxy S4’s 468 points.
The 2500mAh battery is decent enough to last for one full-day with heavy use and the device can last for more than two days of moderate use. In standby mode, it can last for more than seven days. It costs Dh1,299.
The good and the not so good
• Good design
• Decent price
• Dual SIM
• Strong build quality
• Good battery life
• Less storage capacity
• Less RAM
• Camera specs
• Older operating system
• Lags in graphic-rich games