It’s always great to be surprised by nice things, especially when you’re actually expecting something pretty ordinary. So it was with this new phone from popular Spanish manufacturer Energy Sistem, one of the top Spanish consumer electronics makers. The Energy Phone Pro is the company’s first ever Android smartphone, and instead of coming out with something boring and me-too, they’ve managed to produce a product that is really top notch in a lot of ways.
It’s pretty easy nowadays to make a reasonable smartphone, as long as you stick to the standard parts and don’t mess around with the Android system too much. The proof is the huge number of Chinese handsets currently flooding the market at various prices.
What’s not so easy is making something that is low cost, and yet delivers the feeling of quality which makes you want to buy more of the same brand. The new Energy Phone Pro (EPP) manages to achieve this from the moment you open the box. The phone specifications are also top notch, which helps. It features an octa-core 1.7GHz, with a 5 inch Dragontrail (super tough!) 1920x1080p screen, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage, 13 megapixel rear camera (5mp front), NFC, dual SIM, 2300mAh battery and Android 4.2.
If first impressions last, then the EPP delivers. The packaging is superb, with a tiny but adequate user manual, all the cables you need, all wrapped up in a pack that screams out attention to detail. It’s a very nice start. Oh and did we mention the phone comes with a full 3 year guarantee as standard out of the box? How’s that for proof of manufacturer confidence?
The next surprise is the phone itself. Instead of being thrown together in a factory back-room, you get the feeling that this was designed properly, which probably reflects the fact that it’s actually designed in Spain rather than the Far East. The finish of the phone is excellent, and while the curved design may be a little dated now, the overall effect is of a top quality product. That could have something to do with the fact that it features an aluminum frame and structure, because it really feels solid, like it means business. Check out our video review to get a feel for it in action.
The phone also provides a few nice surprises in operation. For a start the screen is one of the best we’ve ever encountered on a smartphone, and that includes the Sony, Samsung and HTC models we’ve tested. We’re not sure whether it’s the Dragontrail tech, but it’s incredibly smooth to use, silky and impossibly sensitive. Just the merest stroke on the glass and you’re navigating with ease. Hard to explain, easy to enjoy.
We were also bowled over by the functionality of the handset. The GPS lock is as fast as any we’ve seen before, around about 23 seconds in our tests, and the processor, RAM and screen make light work of any graphics intensive games or navigation apps. In short it’s a delight to use. But we’ve got to reserve our loudest cheer for the camera, which manages to deliver way better results than we were expecting from what we thought was a typical 13 megapixel chipset. It matches that of the Samsung as far as we’re concerned.
There are a couple of things we feel lets it down however. We were disappointed to see that the sealed body means no expandable microSD slot, so you’re stuck with the on-board storage, and what’s more you can’t remove and replace the battery, which we find to be something of a limitation in the long run. But for most people these things won’t matter, and we find ourselves forgiving the omissions because of the pleasure we get from the rest of the product. Battery life is also very reasonable, and while it’s not going to break any records, it will match any other standard phone with around a day to a day and a half of generic use.
The Energy Phone Pro is an intelligently conceived and delivered product in a sea of also-ran clones. Instead of heading down the cut-price cheap component dust bowl, the manufacturers have clearly decided to buck the trend and make something which can stand alongside any Tier 2 manufacturer in the world, and in certain respects even Tier 1. To be fair it is not 4G compatible, but we’re still waiting for the network providers to even deliver widespread and reliable 3G here, so we’re not going to mark it down for that until the 4G network is ready and ubiquitous.
For now, the bottom line is, if you’re in the market for an Android smartphone and you’re reluctant to pay the top dollar prices demanded of the Tier 1 players like Samsung, Sony and HTC, you really should take a long hard look at this new handset. It’s really fast, really nice to use, and has the kind of camera you can rely on to take those opportunist shots that phone cameras are made for. And at a price which is half that of the major rivals. Yeah, we’re now Spanish fans all right…viva Real Madrid. Or something.
€249 / $333 / Â£197
Octa-core ARM Cortex A7 1.7GHz processor and Mali-450 GPU.
5.0″ capacitive OGS IPS (Full HD
1920x1080p touch display with Dragontrail glass protection.
Front frame and structure in aluminum.
16GB internal memory.
5Mpx FOV 88Âº front camera with flash and 13Mpx Auto-Focus rear camera with double flash.
3G: 3G data connection to enjoy the Internet 24 hours per day.
GPS via satellite for the most reliable and precise navigation.
WI-FI N: 802.11 b/g/n module for the fastest Internet connection.
NFC + BLUETOOTH: Ultra fast wireless connection for headphones, speakers and other NFC or Bluetooth 4.0 devices.
Dual microSIM-card slot for your free choice of mobile operator.
Smartphone with optimized ANDROID™ 4.2. O.S. (Android 4.4 available soon via OTA update).
143.5 x 69 x 9.7 mm
Samples (from top line down – Energy Phone Pro, Galaxy S5, Sony Z2 – click thumbnails to expand)