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UleFone Metal – great little budget phone is a powerhouse of features [Review – Editors Choice]

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You know that a market is maturing when the overall quality of the products on offer reaches a high level. With that in mind, it’s clear that the smartphone market, and Android budget phones in particular, are really hitting a high note in terms of features and quality. Take this UleFone Metal smartphone as an example. It’s a beautifully judged, solid performer from a brand name which you probably won’t see on your high street.

The handset features a 5.0 inch, 1280×720, Gorilla Glass 3 touchscreen, with a 1.3Ghz MTK octa-core processor, Android 6.0, nice sized 3050 mAh battery, dual SIM, dual standby, with 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of ROM. The rear camera is 8 megapixels, and 2 megapixels front, and there’s a handy fingerprint security pad on the back panel, as well as OTG support for connecting external accessories through the USB port. It’s a nice package all round for the price. See our video below for a running demo.

First impressions
The phone is shipped in a nice looking and very trendy black box, with the usual suspects inside. A user guide, charge plug and cable, a sturdy looking screen protector sheet and a neat case to protect against mishap. There’s also one of those SIM extraction tools, which tells you immediately that this is a unibody phone with a sealed battery.

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In use
The first thing you notice about the phone is how nicely weighted it is. The metal frame (hence the name) gives it a really solid feel, which makes you feel like you’re holding a high priced product in your hand, which is great. The first challenge is inserting the SIM card into the slot, which is not as easy as it sounds with these new generation caddies. You need to slot it in precisely and keep it balanced the right way up as you insert.

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The other challenge is the fact that the SIM caddy can either hold two SIM cards (nano and micro cards) or it can hold one SIM and a microSD card. This is a compromise we would rather not have to make, since both features are really useful in everyday life. We’re hoping that this spec will disappear and we’ll return to microSD and dual SIM capability soon with most models.

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Apart from that gripe, the phone is a really great product in a lot of ways. It’s very pocket and hand friendly, fast in operation and with the fingerprint sensor you get big daddy type security for a fraction of the price of the premium brands. Sure there are compromises with the phone, especially in terms of the lower spec cameras, but they deliver decent enough results from snapshots in good light as you can see at the end of this report.

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We also really like the addition of a good sized battery. 3050mAh is the kind of power unit you typically find in bigger 5.5 inch screen handsets, so you’re definitely going to enjoy better battery life with this configuration, since the smaller the screen the less power you need to run it. Bravo.

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Conclusion
The UleFone Metal is a great middle of the road budget phone with a great specification for the money. We can’t think of anywhere else where you can get 3GB of RAM, fingerprint security, a 3050mAh battery and octa-core processing for this kind of price. When you then consider it’s all wrapped up in a really elegant and professional body and you’re talking one nice phone all round. We couldn’t find any fault with the operation, and even the 8 megapixel camera was decent in daylight shooting. Nice. I think it even actually deserves an Editors Choice for value for money. So there.

Image Samples:

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Price: $129.47 / £100.46

Specification:
Display: 5.0 inch 1280 x 720 HD Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screen
CPU: MTK6753 Octa Core 1.3GHz
System: Android 6.0
RAM + ROM: 3GB RAM + 16GB ROM
Camera: Front camera 2.0MP (SW 5.0MP) + Rear camera 8.0MP (SW 13MP) with flash light
Bluetooth: 4.0
Navigation: GPS / Glonass
Sensor: G- Sensor, L-Sensor, Hall Effect Sensor, Compass
Features: Fingerprint scanner, OTG, Off-screen gestures, Smart power saving mode
SIM Card: Dual sim dual standby (one is micro SIM card, the other is nano SIM card)
Network:
WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz
2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G: WCDMA 900/2100MHz
4G: FDD-LTE 800/900/1800/2100/2600MHz

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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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