It wasn't more than a month when we discovered that chinese knockoff devices can be as good as a 700euros mobile phone. It was a shocker, really. A good one on top. But if you fail to see how China is on its way to dominate markets, you'll see it now. I'm talking about the none other than The STAR S7589 QUAD CORE or, as it's stated in its box, the Star Note 111.
The device in question was purchased from the http://cect-shop.com. If you take this as an advertisement, you should. Because they have pretty descent support on top of exceptional prices and devices. The price was around 180euros and we haven't really tried those before. Plus, I was out of Cheap-o-Matics. So we did the first order.
The order that followed was kinda epeisodic due to the Greek customs charging way too much for nothing. Ended up really well with the help from those guys, so it's a big shout-out for them too.
Anyway, I was about to review the phone and I did a small review to the store. So, buy from them with confidence. If you are in Greece, remember not to put more than two phones per order and make absolutely sure you select to post them with China Registered Mail instead of DHL because DHL Greece are a bunch of pricks and WILL point out your parcel in order to convince you to use their own customs service to redeem the package. So having that in mind, let's go to the miracles.
The phone specifications are advertized as follows
Networks GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz, 3G/WCDMA 850/2100MHz
SIM Slot Dual SIM (Dual Standby)
SIM Lock No
Operating System Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
CPU Mediatek MT6589 Quad Core 1.2GHz
RAM 1 GB
ROM 4 GB
Expandible Max. 32 GB (TF/microSD)
Display Size 5.8 Inch
Display Type Capacitive (Multitouch)
Screen Resolution 720x1280 pixel
Gorilla Glas No
Camera 12.0 Mega Pixel
Front Camera 5.0 Mega Pixel
Languages Deutsch, English, Türkçe, Nederlands, Italiano, Español, Português, Français, Hrvatiski, Čeština, Dansk, Svenska, Română, Polski, Norsk, Pу́сски (Russian), ελληνικά (Greek), Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Melayu, ไทย (Thai), Urdu (Hindi-Urdu), Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese), 中文 (Chinese), (العربية (Arabic), 日本語 (Japanese), 한국어/조선말 (Korean)
Wi-Fi 802.11 B/G/N
TV Function No
Connection Ports Earphone Port (3.5mm), Micro SD (TF card port), Charging Port
Shell material Plastic
Size 157 x 84 x 10mm
In the Box 2x Batteries, 1x Earphones 3.5mm, 1x Data Cable, 1x Charger
Here are the good news. The phone IS a Quad Core 1.2 GHz and the IPS display is there. The screen is a five-point multitouch and there's also a stylus that comes with the phone since it's a 5.8" Samsung Note Mega.
As stated above, in the box you will find two batteries, 3200MAh each that are shaped much like the batteries Samsung uses. Earphones, charger and data cable are standard.
What's not stated though, is that in the box there are, along with the normal back cover, a flip cover, and a bumper. Also, there's a protective membrane pre-installed on the screen. Pretty handy, if you think that the screen is not covered by Gorilla glass or any type of glass. You'll have some reflections of your face and limited viewing when you're directly under a bright sun, but nothing worse than having permanent marks on your screen.
So the build quality is.. well... let's say better than what we expect from a brand originated from China. Or, to put it better, what we believe we could from a brand originated from China. The phone in design resembles Samsung's philosophy. As I already said, the front of the phone is plastic. Same goes with the rear which is plastic too. The phone is held together with a metallic stripe - probably holding the innards in place too. The back cover can be removed in order to access the battery, the sim slots (there are two of them) and the memory card slot. Removing the back cover can be a little tedious because the clamps are a bit too tight, so there's always fear of breaking it if you put more pressure than needed. But fiddling around might just do. After all, after you setting the sims you want to use as well as a big micro SD card, you'll remove the cover only when you're tired of the flip cover and want to use the normal cover with the bumper. That's really rare because I believe the most important thing to be protected is nothing else but the screen.
The phone itself feels alright. It's not the lightest phone and I don't expect it to be, concerning its screen real-estate. It doesn't creek on every touch and it doesn't feel like it's made of recycled water bottles. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against recycling stuff - especially plastic - but I don't like the materials feel cheap too. So, it might be out of recycled water bottles or milk cans but it doesn't feel that way. That pretty much means no creaking when some force is applied on the phone and it looks and feels like it would survive just fine after one or two falls.
So we pretty much solved the outsides of the phone. What about performance and usability?
Under the hood, there's Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on its naked, pure form. That might turn off some of you, but you don't need to be harsh on google's default launcher options, as they are still quite flexible and offer better memory and battery management. The OS moves silky smooth and the device flexes some serious muscle when displaying 3D interactive wallpapers. The Play Store is intact (meaning that this device is Google Certified) so you can download free and payed software from there.
Menus and web browsing is done effortlessly, it feels perfect. There's no stuttering when you scroll a website while it loads neither on Dolphin nor on the default browser or Chrome mobile. Apps open almost immediately while the main screen rolls from page to page smoothly, no matter how many widgets you choose to load to them.
AnTuTu gave it a score of 13043 which scores between the Nexus 7 tablet and the Galaxy Note 2, which are way more expensive devices than the phone in question. Come to think of it, on everyday usage and games, I get an estimation way above than the AnTuTu indication. And we're going right to the most power-hungry and battery requiring things you can do on your mobile: The games.
Thus far, I haven't encountered a game that might stutter or won't run with consistent framerate. Minecraft Pocket Edition works like a charm. Temple Run 2 is silky smooth while 2D games like Sonic CD and Sonic 1 are an absolute blast on that huge beautiful screen. (ha, get it? Because of BLAST PROCESSING) Another remarkable thing is that emulators work great on the phone. The most impressive treat I could get out of it was the working Nintendo 64 emulator. The phone is able to run Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time almost with a perfect framerate, save from the times that facebook or other backgrount agent apps will start to thrash the phone's memory in order to load notifications. So, in a nutshell you can and you WILL love gaming on that gorgeous and HUGE IPS HD screen.
The only downside I can find - and might be a real downer for most of you - is that the phone does not support LTE. It's a 3G CDMA only device. Also, the cards aren't active all at once. That's partially good because it would fry your brain, should you put your phone on your head, but it still does not break the deal that much. So, if you're enjoying the fruits of 4G in your area with your current device, besides the admirably good performance and the 5.8 inces of awesomeness that is its screen, there's a little to no incentive to swich your device.
The cameras of the mobile are quite nice. Well, you won't find any special treats found in Lumia devices, nor the plentiful post-processing tools of Samsung, but that's a 12 mexapixel camera with alright optics. On plentiful light it gives some great results but on darker condition the use of flash is mandatory and sometimes the flash included isn't enough. Still, it's quite nice for the occasional stop-and-shoot situations since it outputs full HD pictes and video with audio. So, Instagramming and event recording is a go.
Also a go is the front facing camera with a whooping 5 megapixels (for front facing shooter it's A LOT). Its colours are a bit washed out but it's more serviceable than most of the middle end (and significally more expensive) devices that are out today. So Skyping and Viber Video Calls are pretty much essential part. Also, you can make a 3G Videocall if you like, but charges will apply.
So all in all, the phone is great for its given price. It features the performance and characteristics of much more expensive devices while it lacks in certain areas that normally it shouldn't. But for its price that breaks 200euros limit right in its face, it's a great deal. It's highly recommended and if you look on some flashy hardware without dropping much money on it, you should absolutely consider it.