The KIICAA MIX is a stylish phone that won’t cost you a lot of money
LEAGOO is one of many Chinese smartphone brands that have been available to consumers in the region for a few years now, and one of the company’s more recent devices, the KIICAA MIX, is a device we’ve been spending the past week or so with to see how it stacks up and how well it works as a device. One thing to note is that while this is a modern Android smartphone with most of the same capabilities as other phones released in 2017 and 2018, this isn’t an international device so it can’t be used for voice calling and messages over a cellular network within the U.S. That said it does still function for anything else if it requires data as long as it’s connected to Wi-Fi. Let’s take a closer look at the KIICAA MIX and see what it has to offer.
To start things off the KIICAA MIX is equipped with a 5.5-inch display making this a phablet-sized device though not as big as most phablets these days which tend to be closer to 6-inches or larger. It’s also got a near bezeless display with almost no bezel on the sides or top, leaving just enough room at the bottom to house the fingerprint sensor and the front-facing camera. It’s powered by Android 7.0 Nougat software so it’s fairly up to date though many phones are starting to launch with Oreo installed instead of Nougat, and with Google getting ready to officially release Android P this fall the software on the KIICAA MIX won’t stay as relevant for long.
On the inside the phone has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, which is a lot lower than most phones these days but it should be plenty for the average user. Plus, expandable storage is also supported so you can add more room through the use of a microSD card if you need to. As far as the processor and cameras go, MediaTek’s MTK6750T is in use, and it’s got a 13-megapixel camera on the front for selfies and video chat, as well as one 13-megapixel sensor on the back for the main photos and a secondary 2-megapixel camera on the back for enhanced photo capabilities. Lastly, it has a 3,000mAh capacity battery which might seem fairly moderate, but it’s lasted quite a while for this phone and quite honestly more than was expected.
In The Box
As is often the case with phones from some of these brands the KIICAA MIX comes with a few extras to make it more of a value and the phone is already inexpensive. Aside from the phone you’ll find the wall adapter and charging cable, in addition to a set of earbuds and a clear silicone case to slap on the phone if you want to keep it protected from drops and dings. It also has a screen protector that’s applied to the device upon opening so the display is protected from scratches, though you can also peel this off if you don’t care for them.
Hardware & Design
The design of the KIICAA MIX from LEAGOO is very reminiscent of the design of Xiaomi’s Mi MIX phones, with the slim to almost non-existent bezels on the sides and top, and a thicker bezel on the bottom for the fingerprint sensor and front-facing camera. This isn’t a bad design at all but it isn’t an original one either, and while that might not bother some consumers there is something to be said for having a device that comes with an original design. It also gives off the idea that a good amount of effort was put into designing the product, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
Similar design aside, the KIICAA MAX feels like a solid phone with decent build quality. It doesn’t feel premium really but it doesn’t feel cheap either, it just feels like a nice well-rounded entry-level phone. The backside of the device has a nice matte finish to it that seems to really help cut down on the amount of fingerprints or smudges that build up. This is really just an aesthetic thing but if you hate fingerprints on your device, whether on the display or elsewhere, it’s nice when manufacturers think about this fact and do what they can to ensure that they show up as little as possible. One thing that seemed a bit odd at first but more normalized the more you think about it is the placement of the earpiece. Since there’s no top bezel, the earpiece is located on the top side of the phone frame so it’s still close to the ear. On the right side of the frame you’ll find the volume up and down buttons and the power button, with the SIM card tray on the left side of the frame and the charging port as well as single speaker on the bottom.
There’s nothing wrong with the display here but there’s not much to write home about either. For the most part the display is otherwise standard both in size and resolution quality. That said it’s more than fine for a device of this price range as it’s not bad, it’s just not top quality. During use you get the same types of issues you might get with any display, which is some moderate glare if you happen to be using the phone under bright lights or in direct sunlight, though this is also easily counteracted if you turn up the brightness on the display when needed.
With resolution being a bit lower the sharpness of the graphics quality is not as high as you might find on some other devices, but then again that’s to be expected in this situation as the display is lower resolution.
Resolution aside the color reproduction of the display is a bit off as colors feel more muted than on other devices we’ve used recently so that means you simply won’t see things with as much vibrancy. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for everyone as some users won’t notice the difference or simply won’t care, but there are bound to be those who prefer to have as much color-pop and vibrancy as possible when it comes to their smartphone screens, and those users might be disappointed with what’s on offer with the KIICAA MIX. When it comes to the response from touch interaction everything seemed to work just fine. There were no areas with missed touches or any dead spots that could be found, and there were no issues with light bleed or anything like that, so overall the display is ok. It’s a little more average, but for an entry-level phone it’s certainly not bad.
The battery on this device has a 3,000mAh capacity so nothing outrageous but due to the lower resolution display and the lower powered processor the battery life is decent. It was able to take the phone through about five or so hours of screen on time which wasn’t expected, and during normal use with the display going back and forth between sleep and awake with moderate to heavy use, the battery easily lasted through the entire day without needing a charge and could have kept going, but would almost certainly need a charge at some point in the middle of the following day so charging it every night is recommended if you’re a heavy user. If you tend to use the phone very seldomly then it’s likely you’ll get about two days or nearly two days out of the battery before needing to plug the phone in.
Performance seems to be one area where the phone stumbles a little. While the performance was ok during things like playing most games, the phone has noticeable lag when doing simple tasks like opening up the Play Store. On numerous occasions when simply entering the Play Store to look at applications it would take the phone longer to render the graphics of what was supposed to be on screen than many others devices by comparison. There was also noticeable lag when loading other menus and overall the feel of the phone just felt a little bit sluggish. This is a bigger issue than it may seem if you rely on your device to be quick and snappy for any reason at all, as quick and snappy are not the words that would be used to describe the performance of this phone. Multitasking becomes a little bit of a problem if you have too many apps open at once as the software doesn’t seem to be optimized enough to handle things like you would expect, so that’s something to keep in mind if you use your device with more than a few apps open in the background. While gaming is not going to be the strongest point of this device, it is possible to play games on it and you will be able to play most games, though you may experience lower graphics quality as the phone is not equipped with a top tier processor. On the reverse side there may be some games that run less smooth so if you demand higher graphics quality and prefer a better frame rate, then there may be a phone better suited to your wants than the KIICAA MIX.
Phone Calls & Network
Since this is an international phone it can’t really be used in the U.S. for cellular calls, data, or messages, so we couldn’t test any of the call and network capabilities of this device. The supported frequencies are listed below as the phone will work in China and potentially other international markets if the network frequencies are the same.
As always benchmarks aren’t the end-all be-all of information in regards to device performance but they do provide a good background on what you can come close to expecting. We ran three different tests on the LEAGOO KIICAA MAX to see how it would stack up. Those tests were 3DMark, Geekbench 4, and AnTuTu.
Sometimes fingerprint sensors work great and other times they’re simply terrible. So far the fingerprint sensor on the KIICAA MAX has been flawless when it comes to recognizing the recorded fingerprint, without any issues that would cause the requirement of a reattempt. Using the phone for a little over a week, you’d think the sensor would mess up at least once but on the contrary the sensor picked up the fingerprint every time without any problems. That said the sensor is a little bit slower in both the sleep state of the display as well as after waking it to the lock screen. There’s only a little bit of a delay so it’s not too bad, but if you’re used to devices that have a really quick fingerprint sensor then you’ll want to get used to the change as it is noticeably slower than quite a few other phones that we’ve tested. The important thing is though that the sensor works and it works well.
As with most phones with a single speaker the sound quality with the KIICAA MAX is average. Not terrible, but not fantastic, just average. It’s passable for light music streaming, watching video clips and shorter videos with the volume up to maybe mid levels, but if you’re watching a movie or trying to binge watch a series or two on Netflix, then you may want to plug in a pair of headphones or connect up a Bluetooth pair. Speaking of headphones, there’s no 3.5mm audio jack so you’ll need a pair that uses USB Type-C if you’re going to use be using a wired set, and you’ll definitely want some kind of headphones for longer sessions of media consumption or gaming if you want to make the most of your experience. In the end the audio quality isn’t the best but it should suffice for those who don’t necessarily need or want the best audio and simply want something that is good enough to allow for enjoyment of the content being consumed.
There’s a few differences with the software here that will set it apart from other Android devices, the first thing being the user interface. The UI is not completely unlike any other UI but it’s unlike most Android devices. Instead of an app drawer you’ll find all of your apps on the home screen as the UI takes on more of iOS look and feel than anything else. Lots of Xiaomi’s phones have been like this in the past and there are quite a few other Chinese brands who manufacture smartphones that use a similar UI build, so it’s not entirely uncommon, just uncommon in the U.S. Aside from the UI and the location of any installed apps, the software has a couple of different features that aren’t really found in stock Android devices. You can double tap the display to wake the screen, which admittedly is getting implemented in more devices these days but it used to be on a lot less devices, and you can also use three fingers on screen to grab a screenshot.
LEAGOO also allows you to change up the nav bar a bit, though only by reversing the order of the icons as you can’t really completely customize them to be in any order you wish. These are really the only things about the software that set it apart, save for a slightly different looking settings menu. By all accounts the software is a rather bland setup and doesn’t bring anything to the table that you won’t find in at least one or two other phones, and there’s nothing exciting about the software that should grab people’s attention.
Despite having some lackluster software for the user interface and less than desirable performance, the camera actually offers a handful of different capture modes to make the most out of the setup. You’ll have a standard photo mode for normal pictures, as well as an SLR mode which makes use of the secondary camera to give pictures a depth of field effect, which you can adjust on the fly right on the screen using a little slider bar. There’s also a panorama mode, an HDR mode, a night mode, a beauty mode, a pose mode, a child mode, and a watermark mode. Interestingly enough you can delete some of the modes out of the quick access menu which you can get to from the main camera viewfinder when you open it up by swiping to your left. That said if you remove any of the modes it’s not exactly user friendly when it comes to adding them back as it’s not easy to find them, so you might be better off leaving them where they are if you think you’ll ever use them in the future.
Worth mentioning is that if you were going to remove just one, then it should be SLR mode as there is a constant dedicated button for this mode on the main camera viewfinder screen. You’ll also find options for flipping over to the front camera, the video recording option, and setting up timers for the shutter so if you’d like to time your photos for any reason those are all located at the side of the screen. In regards to actual camera quality, the pictures are decent enough if you have enough light to make out the details of whatever you’re taking pictures of. Color reproduction isn’t bad but you can tell the camera sensor is of a lower quality, and the moment you start to lose a little bit of light photos get way more grainy as the software tries to keep up and compensate. Overall the camera is a standard smartphone camera with a limited set of features and will work just fine for anyone that doesn’t mind giving up a few things to save on the phone cost. If you’re looking for a much better phone camera, prepare to look at other devices and perhaps spend more money.
Extremely accurate fingerprint sensor
Decent build quality and design
Battery life was pretty good
Charges up pretty quickly
A fair amount of camera options for a low-cost device
Dual rear-facing cameras
Fingerprint sensor is a bit slow
Audio is not that good
Doesn’t work in the U.S. for cellular calls
Performance was lackluster
UI is bland with very little extra features
Not everyone is looking for a high-end expensive device and for those consumers phones like the KIICAA MIX are a great option as they tend to provide a decent list of features for little cost. You do give up on some things like the snappier performance and in this case a faster fingerprint sensor but you still have a phone that performs ok for the most part and offers more than you’d probably expect from a device in this price range. That said the KIICAA MIX is a stylish phone that won’t cost you a lot of money and for what it offers it’s a fairly good value.
Should you buy the LEAGOO KIICAA MIX?
If you’re looking for a Wi-Fi-only phone and don’t want to spend a lot of money, or if you need a phone for traveling in China and potentially other international markets, then this should work great as it won’t cost more than $130 USD, and it could be used as a nice backup for travel.Buy The Leagoo KIICAA MIX