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THL W100 – is this Quad Core, Jelly Bean phone at just $159 worth buying? Yep. [Review]

thlW100smartphone

High end smartphones are all well and good, but not everyone has $700+ to drop on a mobile, even if it’s got more processing power than the space shuttle. For those on a budget the choice is limited when it comes to top spec handsets, unless you’re prepared to compromise in some way.

The THL W100 smartphone is a brand new quad core, Android 4.2.1 powered smartphone which is threatening to reset the balance between cheapo Chinese source phones and top name branded handsets. The product comes with all the goodies you’d expect to find on the major brands except the designer label, and at a price which is lower than many earlier generation dual core phones which are currently on sale.

w100a

It’s a fact that while most of us in the media obsess about things like ultra high screen resolution and mega benchmarks, the general guy or girl in the street worries more about affordability and value for money. Those with the cash and the need for a label will never buy cheap, but for the rest of us lavish spending is often not an option. Judging by this latest model, THL is well on the way towards establishing a reputation for delivering excellent value for money, by offering a generous amount of bang for your buck so to speak.

w100h

First impressions
As with all THL products, the packaging and branding is excellent, with a decent user manual, two 1800mAh batteries, headset and charger block included in the box. The battery is quick to charge and as with most of these later Android handsets easily lasts a day of use as long as you’re not indulging in heavy video, GPS or other power sucking activities.

w100b

Unlike it’s earlier cousin the W5, the GPS on this new model works flawlessly, although for some reason (maybe because we have an early model?) the A-GPS and EPO assistance is not switched on by default, which makes time to first satellite lock impossibly slow. A quick trip to Settings – Location Access – GPS Satellites easily fixed that, and from then on the GPS was as responsive as any other handset we’ve tried.

Check out the video hands-on review below (full specifications are after the jump).

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

W100 S4

If you are interested in things like benchmarks, then you’ll not be surprised to learn that the Galaxy S4 walks all over the W100 in just about every respect, although as we state above, the end result for the user is not going to be hugely noticeable unless you’re looking for optimum resolution 3D gaming or super high res movies. For everyday use, the quad core 1.2GHz processor of the W100 is more than a match for just about anything you can throw at it, and the beautifully responsive screen is a pleasure to use.

w100k

The camera is also an adequate snapper, and takes reasonable photos in decent light, as so many of these phone cameras do, but once again you’re going to suffer the same kind of noise with low light images that comes as a result of the inferior lens and firmware at this budget level. Pay $500 more and you get the higher amount of detail and less noise in the dark that the Galaxy S4 gives you, it’s your call. The S4 images are on the left below (click thumbnail to expand).

s4night w100night

SamsungS4 W100

*Sample video clip*

Conclusion
Samsung, HTC and the other top tier brands don’t have to worry – yet – but this new phone from THL doesn’t bode well for the poor unfortunate phone makers sitting in the middle tier. They have all the same brand marketing problems of the top tier, but none of the competitive strengths, and it looks as though THL is on a mission to carve out a very lucrative chunk of this market segment.

For the consumer it’s win-win. The phone is fast, stable, responsive and comes with all the features you expect a top end smartphone to ship with, but at a fraction of the price. Apps and games run faultlessly, Google Play is fully accessible and features like the dual always-on SIMs deliver an added touch of value to an already great package.

If you’re in the market for a new Android phone or an upgrade, you’d do well to add this budget model to your list. It may not impress the phone snobs, but then again that’s a race no-one ever wins, eh?

Specifications

General:
OS Version: Android 4.2.1
CPU: MT6589
Processor Speed (max): 1.2GHz Quad Core
GPU: PowerVR SGX 544MP
RAM: 1GB
3G: WCDMA: 850/2100MHz
2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
GPS
Bluetooth
Adobe Flash
Portable WiFi Hotspot (3G Tethering)
Google Play
8 Megapixel Rear Camera + 5 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera (Interpolation 12MP Front-Facing + Rear)
Mic and Speaker
Battery Size: 1800mAh
Usage Time: 4 Hours
Battery Standby: 72 Hours

Display:
Display Size: 4.5 Inch
Display Resolution: 960×540
5 Point Capacitive Multi Touch Display

Memory:
Internal: 4GB
Micro SD Card up to 32GB

Media Formats:
Video: 3GP, MPEG4
Audio: MP3, WAV, AMR, AWB
Picture: JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, GIF
eBook: TXT, CHM, DOC, HTML

Ports:
3.5mm Audio Out Port
2x SIM Card Slot – 1x WCDMA, 1x GSM
Micro SD Card Slot

Sensors:
Proximity Sensor
Accelerometer Sensor
Light Sensor
Magnetic Field Sensor

Dimensions:
Main product dimensions: 134x70x9mm (L x W x D)
Main product weight: 102g

Price: $159.99 / £105.95

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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.


23 Comments

  • Will it work on Verizon?

    • The phone is compatible with the following network frequencies:

      – 3G: WCDMA: 850/2100MHz
      – 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz

  • Anyone selling it in the UK ??

  • Great review, do you by any chance know anything about its SAR rating? I’d love to buy this phone but i am concerned if the chinese phones still are the massive radiation bombs they were a few years back.

    • Thanks. Well the SAR (Head) for the THL W8+ which is a similar spec phone is 0.506 W/kg. I believe this is considered a low figure? So if it is the same with this handset, then it should be within recommended levels.

    • hello! just checked… they give very unprecise answers to that question (citing from their website, on older models http://www.thlmobilestore.com/thl-w5-smart-phone-4-7-inch-ips-screen-android-4-0-mtk6577-cortex-1gb-ram-3g-gps-black.html )

      “Can you say how much is the SAR (Specific
      Absorption Rate, which is the unit of measurement for the amount of RF
      energy absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone) for W5 and W6.
      Thank you.

      Dear Serge, Hello. (…)
      Please don’t worry ,it is within the normal value of the radiation .
      Thanks for your requirement.
      Any other question, contact us any time.
      Best regards!”

      On the THL W6, they say “hello,

      THL W6 for SAR is 2275SAR. Thanks for your requirement.” and on the W3:

      “SAR level for thl w3 1.5”

      I don’t know what “2275” means, but even 1.5 W/kg is huge. Considering they don’t bother to mention the levels or even say they don’t have that data (read that, too!), the levels must be very high. Where did you get the SAR info on the W8?

      Best regards! Anna

  • Does it have NFC ?? thanks great review
    Michael T.

    • I bought one and it’s compact and lightweight. I found it at a U.S. reseller that’s carrying it for $179. It’s a site called TabletSprint.

      Performance is excellent with a quad core processor and so is the speaker quality. You can’t get a much better deal on a contract free phone with quad core performance.

    • Hello marcus w thorton
      Which US carrier are You using and How is the 3 G function ???

      thanks in advance

      Michael T.

    • Thanks. ;) Sorry, NFC is one thing that’s not featured.

  • what about it’s radiation level?

    • There’s no record of it, but the THL W8+ which has a similar spec comes out at around .535 (Head).

  • how is the tethering function

    • Very good question. We’ve had lots of problems getting WiFi tethering to work properly. Both devices say they’re connected, but nothing gets through. This is both with and without passwords set up. Could be an Android issue or a hardware issue we’re not sure.

  • Hi, I’ve notice that in the video your weather location is set in Ealing, which is where I live also, would 3G work here? Thanks in advance!

  • Bought this phone – OK but can’t read mail attachments (eg .doc, .docx). Downloaded documents to go but still no success – phone says no application to read.
    What am I doing wrong?

    • Hmm…not heard that one before. Maybe you need to save the attachments first? And I would definitely suggest you try another .doc reader apart from Docs To Go.

  • Hello, i have a question,i just wanna know if w100 and w200 have a sms conversation like samsung?
    and can someone please tell me the difference between w100 and w200.
    thank you very much

    • Hi there,

      Yes they have a similar text message system, with color coded replies. The W100 is smaller (4.5 inch screen vs 5 inch), slower (1.2GHz vs 1.5Ghz) and is not as stylish. The W200 also has double the internal storage, higher resolution screen.

      W100 specs – http://tinyurl.com/m7bx67v
      W200 specs – http://tinyurl.com/qdtmpxy

      In my opinion the differences are well worth the extra £30 you spend on the W200.

      Hope that helps.

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