LeTV enters the premium fray armed with aluminium bodies and an entertainment ecosystem
“That was 1984. This is 2015” was the message at LeTV’s launch party for its new phones. You probably haven’t heard of them, but LeTV’s a big shot in China’s entertainment industry and runs one of the biggest video streaming sites in the world. Why are we mentioning this? ‘Cos LeTV reckons it can pull away buyers of flagship devices (and it seems to particularly have a beef with Apple) with the promise of not just the phones themselves, but the accompanying entertainment-based ecosystem.
So what do we really have here? In a nutshell, three new phones that run LeTV’s ‘Ecosystem UI’, an Android-based system which picks up their entertainment library and drops it right on your home screen. At first glance, EUI seems smooth and refreshingly devoid of the design overdose that often accompanies heavily modded Android - while it’s certainly a step away from stock Lollipop, it still retains a clean, ‘flat’ look and seems straightforward enough to navigate.
As for the phones themselves, you get aluminium, narrow bezels, support for dual SIM LTE, and USB Type-C connectors (say goodbye to cursing and connector flipping when charging your phone). From certain angles, you might even detect hints of HTC’s and Apple’s design language, but you know what, we’ll forgive all that as the LeTV trio certainly looks good and seems rather well-built with a reassuring heft and sense of solidity.
The Le 1’s thin bezels make it super-easy to hold
First up is the Le 1, with a 5.5in, Full HD screen. Based around Mediatek’s spanking new Helio X10 64-bit chipset, the baby of the bunch also packs in 3GB RAM, a 13 MP f/2.0 rear camera, a 5MP f/2.0 camera and a 3000mAh battery. Then there’s a 1.2mm side bezel that makes it narrower than you’d expect. The gently rounded back also helps make it a lot easier to use one-handed, something LeTV says was part of their design brief.
Upgrade to a 2K screen and Dolby, DTS Audio with the Le 1 Pro
The Le 1’s brawnier brother, the all-aluminium Le 1 Pro, keeps the screen size and slim, easy-to-hold form factor, but ups the resolution to 2K (giving it a 538ppi display!), swaps out the Mediatek processor for a Snapdragon 810, and gets a 4MP f/2.0 wide-angle ‘large pixel’ front camera. The RAM also gets boosted to 4GB, and there’s support for Dolby and DTS audio, while the side bezels shrink to 1mm.
The Le Max features AKG-tuned audio and a superfast 21MP camera
And finally, rounding up the lot is the Le Max – a 6.33 in phone (phablet?) with a 2K resolution and a Snapdragon 810 with 4GB RAM (just like the 1 Pro). But the Le Max has more up its sleeve – there’s LeTV’s custom-made DAC and AKG-tuned audio, and the rear camera’s a 21MP f2.0 monster that uses a Sony sensor and features super-speedy phase-detect autofocus (yup, a lot like DSLRs) and can shoot 4K video. You also get Wireless HDMI, a fingerprint sensor at the back, a 3400mAh battery and super-skinny, 0.8mm side bezels that help the Max disguise its size rather well.
The phones are already up for preorder in China, and should be shipped sometime in May, with an Indian launch perhaps sometime later this year – LeTV says it’s going to customise EUI and source localised entertainment content before bringing the phones over. Pricing? The Le 1 starts at the equivalent of ₹15,000 while the 1 Pro will cost around ₹25,000 – all of which seems very, very reasonable considering how well specced-out the phones are. As for the Le Max, no pricing details have been announced yet – instead, Le TV’s going in for an interesting experiment on this front – it’s asking the end buyers what they think it ought to cost.