The idea that you can only guarantee top quality smartphone quality from a big name brand is fast becoming an old concept. We’ve been tracking the rise and rise of the Chinese smartphone brands for a while now, and it’s clear that these ‘lesser’ brands are starting to produce handsets that are every bit as good as the major brands, but at a fraction of the price.
This THL W8S is the latest quad core handset to prove the point, and it has really taken things to a new level in terms of features and all round quality levels. The phone features a 1.5GHz quad core processor, with a 5 inch 1920 x 1080 441 PPI capacitive Gorilla Glass toughened touchscreen, along with 2 GB of RAM, Android 4.2.1, a 13 megapixel camera, and 32 GB of internal storage, plus 32 GB microSD card support.
This is not a shabby spec by any measure.
The phone comes the usual accessories in the box, so there are no real surprises. A standard USB power block (with a socket adapter for your region), headset, USB cable, screen protector and small but serviceable user quick start guide.
One surprise is there’s only a single battery in the box, unlike previous THL phones which typically come with two batteries included as standard. We can only assume the company is trying to save costs to keep the price down at this premium level.
Opening up the rear reveals the massive 2000mAh battery which is enough to keep the phone powered up with general use for at least a day. As usual we’ll add the usual caveat about GPS, gaming, extended WiFi browsing draining the handset faster, so your actual experience may be different depending on how much you use the phone day to day. See our video below for an in-depth hands on review.
The dual SIM slots are, of course, by now a familiar sight on these THL phones, and along with the sophisticated SIM management utility included in the operating system, make using dual standby SIM cards a real breeze. You can allocate 3G data to either SIM as well as particular contacts (useful for keeping a work SIM separate from a leisure one), and so on.
It’s a brilliant feature.
It’s easy to see from side by side shots above just how more rounded the W8s is compared to the THL W200 which we have reviewed in the past. The corners make the new phone more like a Samsung Galaxy S4 of course, but it also gives it a more hefty appearance, which some may prefer. We kind of like the sleek W200 personally, but it’s all a matter of subjective preferences right? Below are shots of the W8s next to a Galaxy S4.
You can see how similar the design of the W8s is to the Galaxy S4 from these side by side photos (and from the video above). It’s clear that THL felt the Galaxy shape was popular enough to warrant bringing out a similar look for their premium handset. The Samsung is slightly smaller (136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm) versus the THL (143.0 x 74.0 x 9.0mm), but it’s not a huge amount. The biggest difference is the weight of the W8s, which feels very solid in the hand compared to the Sammy.
The functional specs of the two phones are similar in some respects and quick distinct in others. The W8s contains five sensors (including proximity, light, magnetic and accelerometer) which is several short of the amazing Galaxy S4, but the cameras are notionally equal on both phones at 13 megapixel for the rear, although the THL sports a 5 megapixel for the front, while the S4 only has a 2 megapixel.
[Samsung Galaxy S4 13 mp shots on the left above, THL W8s 13 mp on the right]
In practice both of these cameras will deliver solid results in daylight shooting, and relatively average results in low light, so there’s not a lot in it. If we were to choose, we’d say the S4 definitely has the edge in sharpness, but again it pays to remember that it’s over 3 times as expensive as the THL.
So what’s the verdict? Well this new W8s is definitely a solid and carefully considered progression on previous THL handsets that we have seen. The company clearly listens to it’s customers and the market, because you can see how things have been added or improved (for instance the addition of Gorilla Glass, the green notification light for incoming messages, and the rapid GPS lock-on which the new handset has) and the build quality is a huge step up from earlier phones we reviewed back at the beginning of this year.
The improved build quality and additional features such as 2GB of RAM do add to the cost of course, but the good thing is you can still buy the lower cost W100 and W200 handsets and you’ll get solid dependable quad core phones for a great price. But if you want to step up a gear, you’ll probably want to take a long hard look at what the W8s offers.
Overall you’ll still have to accept that you’re buying a smartphone which is 2nd tier to the best the world has to offer, but again, at the price it’s an amazing bargain of a phone, and one which we feel deserves to be considered alongside any handset currently available on the market.
$249.99 / £160.61
OS Version: 4.2
CPU: MT6589T Cortex A7 Quad Core
GPU: Power VR SGX 544MP
Processor Speed (max): 1.5GHz
Display Size: 5 Inch
Display Resolution: 1920×1080 IPS 441PPI
2x SIM Card Slot – WCDMA/GSM
WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
Portable WiFi Hotspot (3G Tethering)
13 Megapixel Rear Camera + 5 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera
Video Resolution: 1280×720 (Rear), 640×480 (Front-Facing)
Battery Size: 2000mAh
Micro SD Card up to 32GB
Magnetic Field Sensor
Main product dimensions: 143x74x9mm (L x W x D)
Main product weight: 108g
USB Cable (Product Specific)
User Manual (Product Specific)
Earphones (Product Specific)
1x Battery (as of 10-18-2013) (Product Specific)
Power Adapter (Product Specific)
Screen Protector (Product Specific)