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THL 2015 – cool new budget 4G Android phone comes with fingerprint security and lots of Octa Power [Review]

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There’s a brand new budget Android smartphone coming along at the beginning of next month, and it’s pretty fancy. Not only does it have full 4G/LTE built in, as well as dual SIM, dual Standby, but it’s one of the first of its type to feature fingerprint security as standard, which is something usually reserved for much more expensive handsets. And did we mention the price?

The THL 2015 is one of the newest generation of budget Android smartphones, which offer features which really match those on phones costing much much more. And in this case, not only is the build quality superb, but you get the kind of product support which even the big brands struggle to provide. We took a look at the new phone to see what it offers.

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First impressions
The THL 2015 (we’re assuming it represents the year), is a typically solid styled phone from a brand we’ve come to respect over the years. Unlike many other budget manufacturers, THL don’t go for flashy bits and pieces, their phones are instead designed to deliver real power and robustness in a practical format. This latest phone does however come in a rather stylish black box, instead of the usual white, inside of which are the typical user guide, headset, screen protector, and USB charge kit.

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The specifications of the phone are also pretty impressive. It comes with a 1.7Ghz octa-core processor, 2 GB RAM and 16 GB of storage, a 5 inch 1920×1080 full HD screen, 13 megapixel Sony rear camera, and a surprising 8 megapixel front camera, with dual SIM, dual Standby, microSD support up to 32GB, fingerprint security, full 4G/LTE, Android 4.4.4 and a good sized removable 2700mAh battery. Check out our video below to get an idea of how well it performs.

In use
As you’d expect with all that firepower on board, the phone really eats through the work, with no problems at all. And no over-heating. We tried games (Asphalt 8), maps and browsing on WiFi and 4G and it all went smoothly, with the processor dealing with the demands impeccably. Again as with other of the latest generation MediaTek powered phones, we noticed that the previous glitches with GPS satellite lock-on have gone completely, it’s now fast and stable.

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As with most of the THLs we have reviewed over the years – apart from the THL 5000 – this handset comes with a removable battery and microSD support. We like the flexibility this gives, since it means you can upgrade memory and replace batteries as needed to extend the useful life of the handset. The phone also handles 4G in both SIM slots, which makes for some nice choices in service providers, in that you can switch from one data plan to another quickly and easily if you need to save money or get better coverage.

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In terms of performance, our Antuttu test delivered a score of 38995, which is slightly less than others who have managed 40805 on this phone, but we’re not going to quibble. The upshot is it performs like a phone twice it’s price. And in terms of battery life we’ve been able to get at least a day and a half of normal use (a bit of browsing, a few calls and texts and some light game playing and satnav), and with light use this can go up to two days, which is not bad at all.

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The camera also delivers a good result from those mega megapixels, and for normal day to day snapshots it shouldn’t disappoint. It’s not quite as good as some of the other 13 megapixel cameras we’ve tested recently, since the image can be slightly soft in places, but that could be an issue with our early release test model. In other aspects it performs very nicely, and gives solid results under varying conditions. We were surprised, for instance, to see how little noise it gives under low light conditions if you use the Night scene mode.

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The other surprise is how well the fingerprint security works. It’s super easy to set up from the integrated app, and once you’ve set up your selection of fingers and acquired them as unlock tools, you’re set to go. It’s a little fiddly at first when you’re learning how to run your finger over the sensor (hint: you need to do long swipes to ensure reliable unlocking), but once you’ve done it for a bit, you soon get the hang of it. The sensor is not as accessible as on the iPhone since it’s on the back, and you can find yourself squeezing the power button as you swipe with a right hand finger, but again you get used to the ergonomics after a while.

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Conclusion
We’ve been fans of the THL brand for a while now, mainly because the phones are really solidly built, well priced and designed to deliver great performance and value for money. This new handset does not disappoint at all in this respect. It definitely won’t win any prizes in a cool design competition, but if you’re looking for a no-nonsense, fast, value priced 4G phone which will handle whatever you throw at it, then this should definitely be one of the phones on your evaluation list.

One of the other points about THL we should mention, is it’s one of the very few budget handset makers which actually takes the time and effort to run OTA (over the air) firmware upgrades on its handsets. Our test THL 5000 for example, has had three OTA upgrades to the phone over the past few months, which is something no other brand has ever achieved in our experience. It’s the mark of an operation which is thinking about its customers. Nice!

Price: $239.99 / £158.39

Note: The product is shipping on 1st March.

Samples:

IMG 20150224 141524 IMG 20150224 142329

IMG 20150224 141424 IMG 20150224 141755

IMG 20150224 141910

Specifications
O/S – Android 4.4

CPU – MTK6752L Octa Core 1.7GHz

Screen – 5 Inch 1920*1080

Memory – RAM 2GB

Storage – ROM 16GB

Micro SD 32GB

Camera – Front Camera 8 MP

Rear Camera 13 MP

Bluetooth 4.0

Network – WCDMA 900/2100MHz, FDD-LTE B1/B3/B7/B20, GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz

OTG

Security – Fingerprint Identification

SIM – Dual SIM Dual Standby – One Standard Card, One Micro Card

Battery – Capacity – 2700mAh

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.


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