Regular readers will know that we’ve been hunting for the perfect smartphone for a few years now. The criteria is pretty simple. First and most important, it must have a battery life of several days before needing a charge. It also has to have a great price, be as powerful as possible, offer infinitely expandable storage via microSD cards and preferably be dual SIM. We’ve just found that phone.
The THL 5000 is the latest new handset from the Chinese company, and it’s a beauty! And by beauty we don’t mean ultra thin, glistening metal with curved screen and solid silver buttons. We mean it’s a treasure of a workhorse phone, which at the end of the day is probably the most important thing for those who use their smartphones for more than just posing in cafes.
The new handset comes in the by now trademarked THL packaging – sturdy white box, and complete with extras. In this case it ships with plastic screen protectors as usual, but also a silicone protective case, headset, user manual, charge block and cable, and an OTG adapter which you can use to a) attach external accessories like hard drives and flash drives and b) charge up external devices using a standard USB charge cable. Yes your phone is now also a portable charger pack.
The specifications of the phone are also definitely top class for a budget price. The phone sports a 2GHz octa-core processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB of internal storage (expandable with up to 32GB microSD cards), 5 inch Gorilla Glass 3 1080p HD touchscreen, NFC, GPS, Dual SIM, FM Radio, that HUGE 5000mAh battery which is double your typical smartphone, plus a 13 megapixel rear camera with a Sony Exmoor RS sensor, and a 5 megapixel front camera. Oh and it runs the latest Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. It’s definitely fully featured all right. See our video below of the full run through.
The big surprise is just how ‘normal’ the phone is, even with that huge battery. The handset is just 8.5mm thick and weighs around 170g, which is a testament to how far battery technology has come since the old days (um..2 years ago?). The phone uses a Polymer Lithium-Ion pack, which is not removable (the only compromise we could see on the product) and while the phone is definitely not a lightweight, it is no heavier than some of its lesser powered rivals.
The arrangement inside is also very conventional, with the usual positioning of the SIMs and microSD slots at the top, and the huge battery consuming much of the rest of the space. The thing we really like about THL as a manufacturer is the fact that their handsets are always very solidly built, and they pay attention to detail too. For instance this THL 5000 has a very useful red reset button integrated into the top housing, to make it easy to reset the phone if there’s an Android hang or loop. Nice touch.
The phone is fast. Sure it may lack the outright raw power of the top end handsets like the HTC M8 and Samsung S5, but if we remember that this phone comes in at around half the price or less of these big brands, it’s definitely a worthy contender for your attention. At the end of the day we defy anyone to notice a significant difference between the day to day performance of this phone and one of the majors where it counts, in browsing, GPS navigation and games.
The camera is also a step up from other 13 megapixel units we have tried. As you can see from the resized samples below, the results are very good, with crisp resolution and none of the dreaded fuzzies. It’s still not as good as the Nokia Lumia 1020, but then again nothing is, so we’re not even going to bother doing a comparison. It’s enough to say that you will definitely find the camera good enough for your day to day photos, and with some skillful shooting and editing you’re going to be able to produce some cracking shots.
The battery. OK, so you’re waiting hear about the battery life, and what can we say? It’s a milestone product in that regard. The fact is that with general use you are going to be able to get days worth of use out of it, although of course that will depend on what your type of use is. Gaming, GPS navigation and extensive 3d graphics work will suck the life out of any battery, but the one thing that’s obvious is having twice the battery size in your hand is going to give you much more time between charges.
It also pays to remember that Android 4.4 has improved power handling as well, which adds to the benefits. We saw 3 days of life early on, and we would expect this to be around the norm for light to general use. Yesterday we were out gaming and doing navigation with the phone, and came back with around 65% on the battery. You’ll need to make sure you don’t install any battery hog apps though, we discovered fairly quickly that some apps can really drain the battery fast, so beware.
Image Samples (click on thumbnails to expand)
The THL 5000 is the phone we’ve been waiting for. It has the battery life, the power, the functionality and the build quality we’ve been looking for, and yet at the most competitive price out there on the market. We know from our past experiences with THL products that their phones are built well, and are robust enough to survive real world exposure to knocks and scrapes, so on that front too we’re satisfied that this smartphone will follow the trend. This is a company that takes its product quality seriously.
All in all, if you’re looking for a new smartphone, and you’re unwilling to pay premium prices for a brand logo, and you really would enjoy the benefits from that huge battery, then we’re going to say you need to buy this phone. It’s great, and easily gets an Editor’s Choice award from us. Highly recommended.
OS Version: 4.4.2
CPU: MTK6592T Octa core
Processor Speed (max): 2.0GHz
ROM:(internal + external) 16GB, up to 32GB
Display Size: 5 Inch Corning Gorilla Glass IPS, OGS
Corning Gorilla Glass IPS, OGS
Display Resolution: 1920×1080
Touch Screen: Support Capacitive
Multi-touch: Support 10 Point
Band: 2G: GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz. 3G: WCDMA 850, 2100MHz
Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot (3G Tethering)
Sensors: Accelerometer, Gravity, Proximity, Light
Mic and Speaker
Battery Size: 5000mAh,
Usage Time: 47 Hours For 2G, 30 Hours For 3G
Battery Standby: Up to 1000 Hours
Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n
5 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera + 13 Megapixel Rear Camera
Video Resolution: 640×480 Front / 1280×720 Back
3.5mm Audio Out Port
2x SIM Card Slot – 2x (WCDM/GSM)
Micro SD Card Slot: up to 32GB
Main Product Dimensions: 145x73x8.5 mm (L x W x D)
Main Product Weight: 170g