UMi eMax Mini review AH_23

Featured Review: UMi eMax Mini

November 6, 2015 - Written By Kristijan Lucic

UMi is a Chinese smartphone brand we’ve become quite familiar with in 2015. This company has released quite a few devices thus far, and we’ve already reviewed their eMax, Iron, Hammer S and Voix Blu offerings. The first three devices are smartphones, while the latter one is actually a Bluetooth headphone set. We’ve noticed the company improving both their hardware and software throughout 2015, and we were quite excited to take a look at the device we’ll talk about today, the UMi eMax Mini. This is actually a smaller variant of the UMi eMax, even though the two phones sport different specs, and the UMi eMax Mini looks significantly different. That being said, let’s see what eMax Mini has to offer, shall we.

Specifications

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The UMi eMax Mini features a 5-inch 1080p (1920 x 1080) IPS OGS fully laminated display along with 2GB of DDR3 RAM and 16GB of internal storage (expandable up to 32GB via microSD card). This smartphone is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 64-bit octa-core SoC clocked at 1.5GHz along with an Adreno 405 GPU for graphics processing. On the back of this phone you’ll find a 13-megapixel shooter (Sony’s IMX214 CMOS sensor, f/2.2 aperture) along with an LED flash, while an 8-megapixel shooter (f/2.2 aperture, 1.12um pixel size) is located up front.

The 3,050mAh battery is also a part of this package, and even though you can remove the back cover of the phone, you cannot take out the battery. This is a dual-SIM handset which offers 4G LTE connectivity (FDD-LTE 1800/2100/2600MHz). Android 5.0.2 Lollipop comes pre-installed here with OneTouch launcher pre-installed on top of it. The UMi eMax Mini is made out of plastic, sports bottom-facing speakers and a micro USB charging port. The phone measures 139.6 x 69.6 x 8.9mm, while it weighs 130 grams.

Display

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The UMi eMax Mini sports a 5-inch fullHD (1920 x 1080) IPS OGS panel, which is actually quite solid. The display is sharp enough, and it does offer plenty of contrast while it’s not unrealistic. Now, keep in mind the price of this device, I’ve seen far better displays out there, far better 1080p displays actually, but this one is actually quite good, especially if you consider its price. The visibility in daylight could be better, but as I said, considering the price it’s quite alright. The viewing angles are also good, you won’t have any issues as far as that is concerned either.

Now, as far as digitizer and touch responsiveness go, I have to say, UMi got a whole lot better in this area. Previous UMi devices had passable digitizers, some were better than others, but sometimes I’ve had issues with fast typing due to the touch responsiveness. I have to say, that’s not the case anymore, the touch responsiveness on eMax Mini is quite solid, I was actually surprised how well the phone performs in this area. I had no issues typing on this 5-inch panel, and the display was actually quite a pleasure to use.

Hardware And Build

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This is not a premium device, the eMax Mini is a mid-range budget phones, and is made out of plastic. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, at all, the phone doesn’t squeak, and actually fits well in the hand. The plastic doesn’t feel that cheap, but… it’s plastic. The back cover on the phone is removable, and you’re able to see the battery, but you can’t remove it. Speaking of which, the back cover comes with a pattern on the back, a ribbed texture which actually both looks and feels nice, and is definitely a better experience than the smooth plastic which many other phones ship with.

The power / lock and volume rocker physical buttons can be found on the right-hand side of this phone, and there’s nothing available on its left side. The SIM card slots (one of which can be used as a microSD slot) can be found below the rear-panel. This handset sports two speakers which are located on the bottom of the device where you’ll also find the microUSB port for charging. The phone sports three capacitive buttons on the front side, the circular capacitive button is located below the display, and is flanked by back and overview keys on the left and right, respectively. Another thing you should keep in mind before you purchase this device, is that it’s quite light at only 130 grams.

Performance And Memory

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The UMi eMax Mini is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 64-bit octa-core SoC clocked at 1.5GHz along with an Adreno 405 GPU for graphics. This is Qualcomm’s mid-range chip, and in eMax Mini’s case, this SoC is backed by 2GB of DDR3 RAM. That being said, this hardware is plenty powerful to keep the device run smoothly, though keep in mind that it does stutter from time to time. Those stutters are not that frequents though, and in general, this hardware in combination with a rather light software offering makes the phone run really smooth most of the time. The stutters I mention usually happen when you’re firing up apps and when the content within the app isn’t fully loaded, but it doesn’t happen all that often.

As far as gaming goes, the phone was able to run a couple of games I threw at it with ease. I fired up Looney Tunes: Dash, and even though this game isn’t exactly that graphically intensive, it’s worth mentioning that it ran just fine. The other game I ran is Dead Trigger 2, which actually loaded up on low graphics settings, after which I changed that to medium, and didn’t see any difference between the two, the phone can run this game on medium settings with absolutely no issues as well. Watching videos on YouTube, browsing and general use was quite pleasant as well. All in all, this is a mid-range device and you can expect such performance out of it, no more, no less.

Benchmarks

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This handset is equipped with the Snapdragon 615 64-bit octa-core SoC clocked at 1.5GHz, which is a mid-range chip, as already mentioned. The benchmark results are actually exactly what we’ve expected, we’ve seen similar results in other Snapdragon 615-powered devices before. The UMi eMax Mini has scored 29.707 points on AnTuTu, while the device has managed to hit 629 points in Geekbench 3 in a single-core, and 2,435 points in a multi-core test.

Phone Calls And Network

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What good is a phone which doesn’t offer good reception, call quality and internet connection, right? Well, you’ll be glad to know that UMi eMax Mini doesn’t exactly lack in either of those sections. The phone has a very solid earpiece and microphone, at least judging by the calls I’ve conducted. I’ve tested phone with better earpieces, of course, but this one is actually pretty solid and I doubt anyone will have complaints no matter what device they used beforehand. The microphone is kind of in the same region as the earpiece, it’s not excellent, but really good and works as it should.

When it comes to 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity, I didn’t experience any issues, the connection never dropped or anything of the sort. I’ve tested the device on a local network ‘BonBon’, and unfortunately, we don’t really get top 4G LTE speeds so the network couldn’t really provide enough speed to push eMax Mini to the limit, but it did great with what it could get. Now, as far as Bluetooth goes, I did run into some issues. During playback on both my Bluetooth earphones (Inateck) and Headphones (UMi), I experienced some disturbance in the sound, like it was disconnecting for fractions of a second. This didn’t happen all that often, but was quite irritating. I’m not sure if this particular device has issues with it, or perhaps this is software related, but it’s definitely something to pay attention to.

Battery Life

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The UMi eMax Mini packs in a 3,050mAh non-removable battery on the inside, which judging by the screen size and display should be more than enough to get you through the day, right? Well, yeah, it is, even though it could be better. Don’t get me wrong, I was able to get through the day without any issues using this device, and the battery life was solid, but truth be told I was expecting a bit more from this rather large battery pack. Why? Well, because the phone sports a 1080p display which is ‘only’ 5-inches in size. Now, if I put aside my unrealistic expectations, the battery life was quite solid.

I was left with over 20% battery life after around 4 hours of use, which is kind of an average battery consumption for me. In the particular example you can see down below, I had 26% battery left after 3 hours and 50 minutes of screen on time. During that day, I used my device as I usually do, but I threw in some light gaming as well, simply to test out the battery properly. I watched YouTube videos, browse the internet, used a ton of apps, some calls, played a couple of games and used the phone’s camera for a bit. I never felt like I’m about to run out of battery, which is, after all, the most important thing.

Software

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UMi’s mid-ranger ships with Android 5.0.2 pre-installed, and on top of that you’ll find OneTouch UI for some reason. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing though, the UI is rather light, and there are only a couple of pre-installed apps on there plus some gesture controls on UMi’s part. You’ll also find some additional sound goodies in here, but we’ll talk about those later on.

As you can see in the screenshots down below, this UI is rather colorful, some would even say cartoonish. Well, yeah, it is, and if you’re not into that you can always use another launcher or something. The UI performs really well, and underneath it you can see stock Android. Everything from the notifications shade to the settings design here is stock, and that’s, of course, a good thing.

UMi eMax Mini’s audio app is called ‘Mix’ for example, while FM radio is also installed here, and so is ‘SuperCleaner’, which is basically another name for the Clean Master app which is quite popular on Android. As far as gestures go, you have ‘Double tap screen’ which lets you turn the display on or off by tapping it, which is something we’ve seen a number of other OEMs take advantage of as well. You can turn over the device to mute it, and snooze it by doing that very same motion. Each of these gestures can be enabled / disabled in the options.

Sound

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As I’ve already mentioned earlier in the review, the UMi eMax Mini has bottom-facing speakers, and that’s a good thing. I believe that most of you would prefer front-facing speakers, I do, but if I can’t have those I’d always opt for bottom-facing ones. The rear-facing speaker doesn’t really makes much sense considering the sound goes in the completely opposite direction, even if the speaker is quite good.

So, are these speakers any good? Well, they’re alright. The speakers are plenty loud, though the sound could be a tad crisper. Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t think you’ll have too many complaints here unless you’re expecting really top notch audio quality. One thing you should keep in mind though is the fact that it’s quite easy to cover these speakers with your hand while you’re holding the phone in landscape mode, no matter if you’re watching a video or gaming.

Another thing worth mentioning here is the fact that UMi has built-in JBL support there. If you open up the ‘Mix’ audio app which is pre-installed on this device, you’ll get to see JBL’s logo down below, and you can actually hear JBL’s influence here when listening to music. The audio is quite good with earphones / headphones as well, but not excellent. All in all, you’ll be quite pleased with eMax Mini’s audio offerings as long as you don’t expect too much, keep in mind how much the phone costs.

Camera

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So, what about UMi eMax Mini’s camera offerings? Well, in one word, they’re quite average. The rear-facing 13-megapixel shooter (Sony’s IM214 CMOS sensor, f/2.2 aperture) can capture really nice shots under proper light, but has issues with white balance sometimes. If you take a look at the gallery down below you’ll get to see some a couple of almost identical shots which are shot with autofocus and touch-to-focus options. Touch-to-focus did a significantly better job, but the whites in the background were too pronounced in some cases. The autofocus managed to really ruin some images when the sun was shining in the background (not directly).

The camera can take some decent shots indoors as well, but it’s kind of finicky. You can get a really proper image sometimes, while you might end up with a completely different shot if you re-do it in that same conditions. Pictures tend to end up being too dark sometimes when shooting indoors. Low light performance of this camera was actually better than I was expecting, though my expectations were quite low. The phone managed to capture a couple of really decent shots in low light, which was kind of surprising, there wasn’t that much graininess in the images. As far as the front-facing camera is concerned, it’s quite average, but gets the job done and I don’t think anyone will have complaints here.

Conclusion

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What is there left to say? The UMi eMax Mini is a very capable mid-range phone. This is a very compact device which offers rather solid build even though it’s made out of plastic. You’ll get solid performance out of the phone, and even though it might not be great, it’s a very good phone and I enjoyed using it for a while. The display is good, the phone performs really well, and the audio output is not half bad. The camera might not be the best, but it’s not that bad either. All in all, it’s a very good smartphone and I do believe it’s worth its price tag.