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THL W8S – solid, fast quad core budget phone makes the Galaxy S4 look a little over priced [Review]


thlw8s2 THL W8S   solid, fast quad core budget phone makes the Galaxy S4 look a little over priced [Review]

The idea that you can only guarantee top quality smartphone quality from a big name brand is fast becoming an old concept. We’ve been tracking the rise and rise of the Chinese smartphone brands for a while now, and it’s clear that these ‘lesser’ brands are starting to produce handsets that are every bit as good as the major brands, but at a fraction of the price.

This THL W8S is the latest quad core handset to prove the point, and it has really taken things to a new level in terms of features and all round quality levels. The phone features a 1.5GHz quad core processor, with a 5 inch 1920 x 1080 441 PPI capacitive Gorilla Glass toughened touchscreen, along with 2 GB of RAM, Android 4.2.1, a 13 megapixel camera, and 32 GB of internal storage, plus 32 GB microSD card support.

This is not a shabby spec by any measure.

thlw8sa THL W8S   solid, fast quad core budget phone makes the Galaxy S4 look a little over priced [Review]

In Use
The phone comes the usual accessories in the box, so there are no real surprises. A standard USB power block (with a socket adapter for your region), headset, USB cable, screen protector and small but serviceable user quick start guide.

thlw8sd THL W8S   solid, fast quad core budget phone makes the Galaxy S4 look a little over priced [Review]

One surprise is there’s only a single battery in the box, unlike previous THL phones which typically come with two batteries included as standard. We can only assume the company is trying to save costs to keep the price down at this premium level.

THLW8sB

Opening up the rear reveals the massive 2000mAh battery which is enough to keep the phone powered up with general use for at least a day. As usual we’ll add the usual caveat about GPS, gaming, extended WiFi browsing draining the handset faster, so your actual experience may be different depending on how much you use the phone day to day. See our video below for an in-depth hands on review.

The dual SIM slots are, of course, by now a familiar sight on these THL phones, and along with the sophisticated SIM management utility included in the operating system, make using dual standby SIM cards a real breeze. You can allocate 3G data to either SIM as well as particular contacts (useful for keeping a work SIM separate from a leisure one), and so on.

It’s a brilliant feature.

Comparisons

THLW8sG

THLW8sH

It’s easy to see from side by side shots above just how more rounded the W8s is compared to the THL W200 which we have reviewed in the past. The corners make the new phone more like a Samsung Galaxy S4 of course, but it also gives it a more hefty appearance, which some may prefer. We kind of like the sleek W200 personally, but it’s all a matter of subjective preferences right? Below are shots of the W8s next to a Galaxy S4.

THLW8sJ

You can see how similar the design of the W8s is to the Galaxy S4 from these side by side photos (and from the video above). It’s clear that THL felt the Galaxy shape was popular enough to warrant bringing out a similar look for their premium handset. The Samsung is slightly smaller (136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm) versus the THL (143.0 x 74.0 x 9.0mm), but it’s not a huge amount. The biggest difference is the weight of the W8s, which feels very solid in the hand compared to the Sammy.

THLW8sK

The functional specs of the two phones are similar in some respects and quick distinct in others. The W8s contains five sensors (including proximity, light, magnetic and accelerometer) which is several short of the amazing Galaxy S4, but the cameras are notionally equal on both phones at 13 megapixel for the rear, although the THL sports a 5 megapixel for the front, while the S4 only has a 2 megapixel.

Camera Samples

GalaxyS4sample1 THLW8ssample1

GalaxyS4sample2 THLW8ssample2

[Samsung Galaxy S4 13 mp shots on the left above, THL W8s 13 mp on the right]

In practice both of these cameras will deliver solid results in daylight shooting, and relatively average results in low light, so there’s not a lot in it. If we were to choose, we’d say the S4 definitely has the edge in sharpness, but again it pays to remember that it’s over 3 times as expensive as the THL.

THLW8sFCollage

Conclusion
So what’s the verdict? Well this new W8s is definitely a solid and carefully considered progression on previous THL handsets that we have seen. The company clearly listens to it’s customers and the market, because you can see how things have been added or improved (for instance the addition of Gorilla Glass, the green notification light for incoming messages, and the rapid GPS lock-on which the new handset has) and the build quality is a huge step up from earlier phones we reviewed back at the beginning of this year.

The improved build quality and additional features such as 2GB of RAM do add to the cost of course, but the good thing is you can still buy the lower cost W100 and W200 handsets and you’ll get solid dependable quad core phones for a great price. But if you want to step up a gear, you’ll probably want to take a long hard look at what the W8s offers.

Overall you’ll still have to accept that you’re buying a smartphone which is 2nd tier to the best the world has to offer, but again, at the price it’s an amazing bargain of a phone, and one which we feel deserves to be considered alongside any handset currently available on the market.

Price
$249.99 / £160.61

Specifications

OS Version: 4.2
CPU: MT6589T Cortex A7 Quad Core
GPU: Power VR SGX 544MP
Processor Speed (max): 1.5GHz

Display Size: 5 Inch
Display Resolution: 1920×1080 IPS 441PPI
RAM: 2GB

2x SIM Card Slot – WCDMA/GSM

WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
GPS
Bluetooth

Portable WiFi Hotspot (3G Tethering)

13 Megapixel Rear Camera + 5 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera
Video Resolution: 1280×720 (Rear), 640×480 (Front-Facing)

Battery Size: 2000mAh

Memory
Internal: 32GB
Micro SD Card up to 32GB

Sensors
Proximity Sensor
Accelerometer Sensor
Magnetic Field Sensor
Gyroscope Sensor
Light Sensor

Dimensions
Main product dimensions: 143x74x9mm (L x W x D)
Main product weight: 108g

Package Contents
Android Phone
USB Cable (Product Specific)
User Manual (Product Specific)
Earphones (Product Specific)
1x Battery (as of 10-18-2013) (Product Specific)
Power Adapter (Product Specific)
Screen Protector (Product Specific)

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.



  • Lester B

    Excellent review. On the back of your last review of the THL W200 I bought one for me and then one for my wife. Cracking bit of kit at a fraction of the price that we are both very happy with, thanks for making me aware of the best of china. The only downside is it doesn’t work with many of the north American carriers when I go over to see relations. Small price to pay though.

    • http://www.redferret.net/ Nigel Powell

      Hi Lester, thanks very much. :)

      Yeah, it’s a shame that the US market is so fragmented. We’re pretty lucky in Europe I think.

  • miles

    Another great review Nigel! Tried a goophone which turned out to be 2g only. W200 keeps tempting me but here’s another’s temptation!!

    • http://www.redferret.net/ Nigel Powell

      Thanks Miles. Yes I didn’t review the Goophone for that very reason.

      Regarding the W200/W8s. I have to say I still love the W200, even if it doesn’t have 2 GB of RAM and the other frills. The W8s is great too, but just a bit bigger and heavier in the hand (which some people prefer).

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