Smartphones these days come in plenty of shapes and sizes and from so many different manufacturers it can be hard to keep up. In the U.S. there’s not a whole lot of different brands that you’ll find at most retailers or wireless carriers, but in countries like China there are a ton of different smartphone manufacturers, and not all of them very well-known. That said, there are really a ton of different OEMs and one of those is VKworld, a company whose phone, the T1 Plus, we’ve been testing for the past week or so. One the outside, it looks every bit the part of a premium smartphone with a big display (seriously, this screen is massive), a full metal body, front and back cameras, a fingerprint sensor, and more. On the inside things are a little bit different, and it’s clear this isn’t a top-tier device, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad device. Let’s take a closer look at what the T1 Plus has to offer.
When we said the display on this phone is massive, we weren’t kidding as it sits at 6-inches and comes with HD resolution and Corning’s 2.5D Gorilla Glass. Granted, this isn’t the largest phone display out there, and perhaps it just feels massive to me personally due to the fact that I’m used to phones with a 5.1-inch screen, or thereabouts. Display aside, which is an IPS panel from JDI, the VKworld T1 Plus also comes equipped with a MediaTek MT6735m processor complete with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage space. Compared to many of the other Chinese phones we’ve reviewed recently, 16GB is on the extreme low end as many others, like the Ulefone Power 2 for example, have come with 64GB. However, the T1 Plus does support memory cards so you can at least expand on that storage if need be, which is great especially since 16GB fills up fast these days. When it comes to battery life the T1 Plus is capable of providing plenty of it as it carries an internal battery with 4300mAh and it really does last quite a long time. For the cameras, the front sensor is 8-megapixel and the back sensor is 13-megapixel complete with Dual LED flash. It’s also using micro USB for the charging port, and it has Android 6.0 Marshmallow for the software version running on it, which means it isn’t the most up to date but at least it’s still Marshmallow.
In The Box
There isn’t a whole lot in the box for the VKworld T1 Plus, and in most cases this isn’t much different for other smartphones either, even from most of the major global brands The interesting thing though is that VKworld’s box for the T1 Plus is actually a VR headset too, so you once you get the phone and the other items out you can actually convert it into a VR headset to enjoy Google Cardboard style VR content. Aside from the phone you’ll find the quick start guide, a SIM ejector tool, the charger and USB cable, and a clear silicone case.
Hardware & Design
When it comes to hardware and the overall style of the device, this is an area where the T1 Plus really does have a good handle on things. The entire phone body is metal and uses aerospace-grade aluminum, and although it’s subtle there are chamfered edges on the backside of the device that follow around the entire body. On the front of the device the phone has no physical home button here which keeps things pretty minimal and nice and clean, though the phone does have some noticeable bezels.
Having said that they aren’t the largest bezels of any phone so that’s a plus. Up in the top bezel you’ll find the front-facing camera to the right of the earpiece while the ambient light sensor sits to the left. In a bit of an odd placement, the volume rocker is on the left side of the phone and the power button is on the right when normally things are the other way around, or both buttons are on the right side. On the bottom you have the charging port and the speaker, while on the back you have the rear-facing camera and flash modules towards the top center, and the fingerprint sensor just below those. Overall the design of the phone is nice and slick and it does feel like a good bit of thought went into putting this phone together.
Having a big screen can be great as it gives you plenty of room for any of your tasks whether those tasks are work-related, like sending emails or viewing documents, or if those tasks happen to be watching videos or playing games. That being said, things are less great when you have a 6-inch display that’s only 720p resolution. An HD screen isn’t bad by any means but it’s more suitable when the screen size is 5-inches or less. With HD resolution on the T1 Plus the clarity of the screen just isn’t there like it would be if it were Full HD, but it’s not all bad as the screen still is decent enough for the average user who is less concerned with the sharpest possible display and more concerned with having a lot of screen real estate to make the most of their phone usage every day.
Now even though the screen is only HD quality, the colors on the screen are good and the brightness is more than adequate, and because it’s an IPS display it’s not too challenging to see in direct light outside. There wasn’t much of an issue with color temperature on the screen which is a good thing because there’s no option to adjust the temperature in the display settings. Things are about as stock as they come with the T1 Plus in the software department and unfortunately that means you won’t find any extra functions like being able to choose between making the screen warmer or cooler based on what you prefer. The screen also had decent response timing so the digitizer seems to be pretty good as we didn’t seem to have any problems with it not recognizing our presses. A cheap digitizer is something that comes often in lower end smartphones, so we weren’t sure what to expect with the T1 Plus in that department, but it did just fine and we didn’t have any issues during our time wit it.
Performance on the whole was mostly ok, but that doesn’t mean that the T1 Plus didn’t have any faults whatsoever. The phone only has 2GB of RAM which is already less than many smartphones these days even compared to other devices in the same tier as the T1 Plus, and this seems to have had some impact on the performance when it comes to running multiple apps at once. For the processor VKworld used a MediaTek CPU and while it does ok for the most part there are some notable instances where it chugged along and it had a little bit of a stutter. We saw this issue when putting it through the 3DMark GPU test where it had problems rendering the graphics, and this lack of performance came through when trying to play some of the more high-end games. That said, it could still play most games just fine and although the visuals weren’t as sharp as they might have been on a phone with a better CPU and GPU combination, you have to remember that this is a low-end device as far as hardware is concerned and that means that performance is going to take a small hit.
When using the phone for apps like browsing through Facebook or Twitter, or even just browsing the web, things seemed to move right along at a decent pace and usage felt a lot more streamlined, but as stated before when too many apps were open in the background there was a little bit of lag that surfaced and it was noticeable enough to make the experience less enjoyable. This is an easy fix as you can simply close out most of or all of the apps and re-open the one you want to continue using, but this is also something that many users won’t want to worry about doing every time they open a new app. All things considered there’s a bit of a give and take when it comes to the performance on the T1 Plus, and while it might be a suitable choice for a smartphone for users who want a high-performing device with the most powerful specs, it would certainly do fine for a backup in a pinch, or for anyone who doesn’t need or want to have an extremely powerful smartphone.
One of the benefits of having a fingerprint sensor on the phone is that it can be a lot easier to unlock it as you forego having to enter in a PIN or password, so long as the fingerprint sensor doesn’t have issues, and is able to work quickly enough to where it’s still faster than punching in the PIN number. In the case of the VKworld T1 Plus the sensor did work quickly enough to where it’s still mostly efficient in getting you into the device, but there were a few times where it didn’t recognize my fingerprint the first time I pressed it. Since this only happened a few times it wasn’t such a big deal but we did also only use the phone for close to a week, and with extended use there’s a little uncertainty in whether it would have more issues with recognizing my fingerprint. So while the fingerprint sensor does work and it works well enough, it has a slight recognition problem that can’t be overlooked and users would want to keep an eye on it.
The quality of audio is never going to be great in a phone that comes at this price range, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be absolutely terrible. In this case the audio wasn’t great but it wasn’t the worst we've experienced. It’s loud enough when it needs to be and plenty loud enough for the average user, although with that said you shouldn’t be buying this phone expecting it to have the absolute best audio in the world. On top of that, it only has one speaker which is placed on the bottom and that means it’s definitely not going to compete with phones that have dual speakers. The one good thing is that the speaker on the bottom is to the right of the charging port, which means when you hold it in landscape mode with the charging port facing your right hand, the speaker sits just high enough to where it isn’t covered up by your hand, a common issue that I run into quite frequently with the Pixel as the speaker sits on the left side of the charging port and often gets muffled when holding it in landscape mode. So like the fingerprint sensor, there is some give and take here as there may only be one speaker and it might not be able to put out the best audio quality but the sound doesn’t come out muffled in most cases.
Phone Calls & Network
Not too unlike some of the other Chinese smartphones the T1 Plus doesn’t support the required bands for 2G, 3G, or 4G to be used in the U.S., though the phone is unlocked and can be used outside of the US if the bands match up. That being said, the network frequencies that it does support are listed below.
4G FDD LTE: 800/1800/2100/2600 (LTE bands 1, 3, 7, 20)
The T1 Plus may very well look good on the outside, but on paper it’s a whole other story. While the actual day to day performance of the T1 Plus didn’t feel to bad during use, the benchmarks we ran the device through don’t paint a picture of a do-it-all phone that can handle your daily multi-tasking needs, gaming sessions, and anything else you have to throw at it. We ran the T1 Plus through AnTuTu, Geekbench 4, and 3DMark to see how it stacked up, and if you’re interested in taking a look at the results you can see them in the screenshots below.
During our time of use we were able to get a solid 7 hours of screen-on time with this phone, and during average day to day use we were able to take it through the day without having to worry about whether or not we were going to have enough battery life at the end of the day before needing to plug it in on the charger at home. There was never an issue with having to bring a backup charger or battery pack when out and about because the T1 Plus simply didn’t need it.
It sports a 4300mAh battery which is quite a bit more than most smartphones these days and even though the T1 Plus has a fairly large battery capacity it’s still pretty thin when you might expect it to be a little thicker than it is. This is great for those who appreciate having a thin smartphone in addition to having a phone that just good all around, and the T1 Plus is certainly a phone that looks pretty good. During our time with it, most of the use came down to browsing the web and social media, with the occasional game session whether at home or on the go, and just a little bit of video watching through YouTube here and there. The bottom line is, if you’re worried about battery life in any way, the T1 Plus is a phone that can help lay those worries to rest.
The cool thing about getting to check out different phones is seeing how the software is different in its own special way. While we don’t always care for the software experiences that each and every company puts out there, it’s still nice to see what they have dreamt up for their vision of Android and how it should be designed. That isn’t the case at all here with the T1 Plus. The software is Android 6.0 Marshmallow and there is absolutely no alterations made to the software save for the icons. There’s no custom user interface layered on top, no extra special functions or features. Just pure, stock Android in every way. While this isn’t really a bad thing, especially for those who prefer the minimalist look of stock Android devices, those wanting a little bit extra will be a bit disappointed here. On the other hand, with it being stock Android there’s no extra things to get in the way of learning how to use the device and all it has to offer as quickly as possible, and that’s a good thing if you don’t want a whole lot of stuff making the device feel more complex.
There’s nothing too exceptional about the VR headset that comes with the T1 Plus other than the fact that it comes with the T1 Plus. It’s a neat perk that the box itself can be transformed into a VR headset, but it isn’t a ground-breaking piece of hardware by any means. It’s quite similar to what you would expect from a Google Cardboard VR which is decent for the reason that there is lots of content on the Play Store that is compatible with cardboard, but the experience just isn’t what it should be with mobile VR thanks to the performance issues that were mentioned above. That said, if you’re someone who has been wanting to check out a VR headset but just haven’t wanted to spend the money, this is a nice perk to have as you won’t have to shell out anything extra for a basic VR setup.
Just as the software is stock Android with no extra features or even a slightly tweaked user interface, the camera is as bare bones as it gets and has next to nothing extra to offer up to users. You get a couple of basic things you tweak like the ISO and the exposure levels, but there’s no pro or manual mode to work with so you can’t adjust things to the smallest of details to get the most out of your pictures. You do have a couple of additional modes such as Face Beauty and Panorama, but that’s it. As for camera settings you have an HDR option you can enable and there are color filter effects that you can turn on too if you want a little bit of a different look for your pictures. As for the quality of the images that the camera produces they’re mediocre at best. Even with the option for zero shutter lag turned on the camera still takes a tad too long to snap the photo when it should really be instantaneous.
The pictures can also come out more grainy than they probably should for a 13-megapixel sensor and it seems that the sensor could sometimes have a hard time focusing on the subject. I found myself having to tap on the things I wanted to take pictures of multiple times before it actually focused on the spot that I was trying to focus on. This could be an issue for users who value their smartphone camera above most other features as it could end up causing someone to miss a shot they’re trying to capture or the images might just not live up to what they were hoping for. In the end the camera is better than having no camera at all, as they say the best camera is the one you have with you, and if this is all you have with you then it will get the job done. That said this isn’t one of the features you would want to consider picking up the T1 Plus for, as the camera simply isn’t that great.
Great battery life
Pretty fast fingerprint sensor
Lightweight for the size
Sound quality wasn’t the best
Only HD resolution on a 6-inch screen
No USB Type-C
All things considered the VKworld T1 Plus isn’t a bad phone, but it isn’t a great phone. It’s really just a standard device that doesn’t have any “wow” features that make it stand out from other devices. It does have a good design and the large display is nice for things like videos and games, but the performance was laggy at times and the camera was pretty poor.
Should you buy the VKworld T1 Plus?
That all depends. If you want a big display and you don’t mind so much about having the best camera or the best performance, then this isn’t a terrible option. For the money it does have some value as you do get a nice feature spread, but it also lacks compatibility with US networks so it’s unfortunately not a good option as a day to day phone for US consumers. That being said it’s not a bad device for US consumers who may want something for travel.