Lately, Iíve been trying to check out as many phones in the under $200 segment which as many strong entries like the Alcatel OneTouch Pop Icon, Blu Studio 5.0C HD, ZTE Grand X, Nokia Lumia 635 and of course, the now venerable Moto X (8GB HSPA version). Then, thereís the under $400 segment which is basically owned by the Google Nexus 5.
But what if youíre trying to spend between 200 and 300? What choices are there? For some reason, there arenít a lot of choices here. Off the top of my head, the only offerings I can think of are the LTE version of the Moto G for $250 unlocked, the Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+ and the new Moto G which isnít released in Canada yet.
Fortunately, if we expand our field of view we can consider phones not normally sold here. GearBest was kind enough to send me the iNew V8, a phone that sells for $219 USD. They also gave me a coupon to share that brings the price down to $195.99. The code is:
With the coupon and after currency conversion, import taxes and brokerage fees, the V8 works out to around $260 CDN.
Never heard of the iNew company? Donít worry, neither have but I will say, their phones never get old (sorry I couldnít resist).
What about the Moto G LTE?
The regular ďoldĒ Moto G which came out last year can now be picked up for around $110 CDN when it goes on sale. The Moto G LTE adds LTE and a MicroSD for $140 more. LTE is a great feature as is a MicroSD slot but the thing is, $140 is a bit steep.
Letís not forget that the Moto G LTE comes with a 4.5Ē screen which these days, is a bit undersized.
While the V8 doesnít come with LTE and chances are, it probably wonít receive updates as frequently as the Moto G. The Moto G also makes a superior phone in that it has a louder earpiece and speakerphone and superior RF performance
In benchmarks, their browser scores are pretty close. While in gaming benchmarks, the V8 takes a small lead.
Other then that, you get a bigger screen, a higher resolution camera, double the RAM (2GB), double the storage (8 vs 16GB).
If you donít talk on the phone much, you should take a look at the V8, the bigger screen and extra RAM can really make a big difference.
What about the Alcatel One Touch Idol X+?
Both phones are pretty close. The Idol X+ has a higher resolution screen and 2 more processor cores which are clocked at 2Ghz instead of just 1.5Ghz on the V8. Both have 13 megapixel cameras, 2GB RAM and 16GB storage.
The Idol X+ costs a couple of bucks and for what it costs, youíre better off getting a Google Nexus 5. In that sense, if youíre price sensitive, then the V8 is a better bet.
Letís see what you get:
- 5.5Ē 1280x720 IPS display
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB Storage
- MediaTek MTK6591T 6-core SoC
- Rotating, 13 megapixel autofocus camera with dual LED
If the V8 looks familiar that's because it appears to be a knock-off of the OPPO N1.
The back has a low gloss clear coat on it. Itís slightly smooth to the touch and feels interesting. On the sides are a nice mix of chrome and white. Overall, itís a good looking phone.
At the top of the phone is the rotating camera.
Thereís a bit of resistance when you move it from its default backwards facing position.
Other then that, it's smooth and quiet when you turn it.
On the back is a trackpad. To use it you have to first make sure the back is firmly attached. I mention this because pushing down all the attachments on the sides is not enough. Thereís one more snap right below the camera that I didnít think to push down. If you donít press it down, the pins that connect the back cover and trackpad to the back of the phone wonít touch.
The trackpad is a very interesting feature. I remember back in the day most Android phones came with some sort device for navigation like arrow keys, or a trackball. Some even had trackpads located on the back.
Itís used mostly for scrolling - I guess the advantage is that you can scroll webpages without having to cover the screen. In theory, thatís a nice option but in practice, I found that the trackpad just gets into the way. If you do use it, the included case comes with cutouts for it..
Fortunately, there are quite a few different options you can enable including turning it off completely.
The only real complaint I have about the V8 is that the buttons on the sides donít really have any feedback to them and they donít stick out enough.
Included is a smoked plastic case.
The trackpad is on the back (look carefully):
MicroUSB and headphone jack, microphone on the bottom:
Rotating camera module/earpiece on the top:
Power and volume buttons on the right:
Nothing to see on the left:
Mini SIM, Micro SIM, MicroSD, 2400mAh battery.
1280x720 on a 5.5Ē screen yields a pixel density of 270ppi. Donít forget that the V8 has a fairly large 5.5Ē screen. We tend to hold larger phones further away so most of the time, the V8ís screen is pretty sharp.
When I use the V8, I do see that text can be jagged sometimes but usually, itís not something that really bothers me.
Whatís more important is how nice screen looks, how well it performs when youíre not looking at it straight on and if itís still usable when youíre outdoors.
While the V8 has an IPS screen, its viewing angles, black levels and colours are more typical of what youíll find on a $300 phone rather than a flagship. That is to say, the screen is probably good enough to please most users - no surprises there.
The only problem with the display is that it's not that bright, even when that setting is maxed out. Itís bright enough for indoors but outdoors, it can get overpowered by the sun.
Out of the box, the screen comes with a screen protector already applied.
The most interesting thing about the V8 is its rotating camera. This feature used to be some what common before we all started using smartphones. I used to have an old Samsung flip phone (back when all their phones were silver) that had this.
What is the point of a rotating camera? Typically phones have 2 cameras; the rear facing camera is usually optimized for a wide variety of shooting conditions and usually has higher image quality. The front facing one is meant more for low lighting and selfies and is almost always lower resolution.
With a rotating camera you can use the same camera on the back as your front facing camera to take higher quality selifes.
The idea is solid and the specs are good; 13 megapixel, f/2 lens, dual LED flash, similar to an Android flagship.
While the specs are similar, you definitely wonít confuse the cameraís performance with a flagship. Itís not to say that the camera is terrible but with a $260 phone you have to manage your expectations.
The lens is a bit soft. The sensor isnít that sensitive so youíll have to hold the camera very still and take multiple shots in doors. It focuses fairly quickly.
Itís not as good as a 13MP camera that youíll find on a $700 phone but itís pretty decent for a $260 phone. Itís definitely better than the cameras on the Moto G LTE and the Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+.
Video doesnít look great and the microphone picks up a lot of handling noise.
You get Android 4.4.2 with a custom launcher that mostly looks like the stock Android one. The only real difference is that the lock screen is changed.
By default, the V8 doesnít come with all the usual Google bloatware like other Android phones. I forgot to write down what it comes with by default but I had to run out and install YouTube.
One thing you do get out of the box is the Google Play store so you can pick and choose what goes on the V8.
Under the hood of the V8 is a hexa-core Mediatek MT6591T. With a name like V8, the octa-core Mediatek MT6592 would be more appropriate.
The MT6591T does well compared to a Snapdragon 400 in browser benchmarks:
Itís also decent when it comes to gaming:
Hereís the Antutu score:
The V8 is actually configured with 2 internal memory cards; Internal device storage which is just over 1GB in size and Phone storage (around 12.29GB available). Even though the V8 runs Android 4.4, you can tell it to install apps in one or the other or just let it decide.
Even though you can tell apps to install into the phone storage by default, some apps donít like this. If you install a lot of apps onto the V8, thereís a good chance you might run out of space.
You can also add a MicroSD.
As a Phone:
Sound quality is quite clean but part of that is due to the fact that the maximum earpiece volume is quite low.
The speakerphone is also very quiet. If you make a lot of calls, you should skip the V8.
RF performance is average.
Behind the battery cover are two slots for SIM cards, a regular sized one for a (mini) SIM card and a Micro SIM slot.
Included is a 2400mAh battery. While the 5.5Ē screen is pretty big, itís not that bright so the 2400mAh battery should last the day for most.
The built-in speaker is not very loud and it has a fairly narrow range.
The headphone amp sounds is powerful and sounds good.
Thereís room for a MicroSD card.
I was a bit surprised that the V8 comes with both support for dual-band WiFI (so you also get 5Ghz) and NFC.
5Ghz WiFi is usually something reserved for fancier devices so itís nice to see that iNew snuck that feature in.
NFC is another feature thatís not common in the V8ís price bracket. I wonít debate how useful NFC is (itís not terribly useful for most) but having it is better than not having it.
Since the iNew is meant more for foreign markets and considering the price, itís not that surprising that it doesnít support LTE. It supports HSPA+ on 850/1900/2100. Itís too bad it doesnít support AWS because it would be perfect for Wind/Mobilicity users.
If you want a phone that no one else is going to be carrying around then you should definitely check out the iNew V8. For the price, you get a lot of value.
Just make sure you can deal with the quiet earpiece.
- Large display
- 2GB RAM for under $300
- 16GB of storage for under $300
- comes with a screen protector already applied
- comes with a case
- Quiet earpiece
- Screen doesnít work well outdoors
- Quiet speakerphone