During the CES 2016 Qualcomm press conference, CEO Steven Mollenkopf has surprised the audience by announcing that the first company to use the new Snapdragon 820 high-end chip would be a relatively unknown (in the U.S) Chinese media company called LeTV (Chinese site) (U.S official site).
LeTV has an Amazon-like approach in which the goal isn’t so much to make money with the hardware, but to enable customers to consume more goods (TV Shows in this instance) that are the primary business driver of LeTV. In any case, this leads to a phone that is built to have the most “bang for the buck”
Since you’re probably interested by the guts of the phone, let’s start with that. Besides the quad-core Snapdragon 820 (+Adreno 530 GPU) chip running at 2.2 GHz, there is 4GB of RAM and local the storage can come in either 32GB, 64GB 0r 128GB. There’s also a Qualcomm X12 LTE modem, and the charging is done with QuickCharge 2.0 (aka Q.C) despite the fact that Snapdragon 820 does support Q.C 3.0.
In the back, there is a 21-Megapixel camera that seem good but still has to prove itself (we can’t wait to take it for a spin). HD photos would look sharp on the 6.33-inch WQHD (1440×2560) LCD display. The screen itself is decent, but that’s probably one of the spots where a higher budget would show up instantly. But given that this is a performance/price phone, there must be sacrifices.
The fingerprint sensor uses Sense ID, a great Qualcomm technology that makes fingerprint unlocking and security much more accurate, hard to falsify – and fast. It is based on ultrasonic technology and can basically “see” the 3D surface of the fingerprint instead of trying to read a 2D version of it.
Higher levels of performance aren’t typically seen by browsing the user interface. Video games, video compression or other hard-hitting (on the processor) activities would push the hardware to the limit. At the moment, this is still a prototype, so we’ll have to run the benchmarks later, but LeTV was showing the Antutu benchmark hitting 132,609.
To give you an idea, that is about 2X what the Galaxy S6 gets today, so the number is impressive in itself. All of this performance drains energy from a 3400 mAh (non-removable) battery.
In terms industrial design, there’s no question in my mind that Huawei’s Mate and Honor line of products were the inspiration for this design. It’s not surprising since Huawei is so respected for its designs worldwide, but particularly in China where it is revered.
That aside, the build quality is very decent but doesn’t seem to match Huawei’s, and certainly doesn’t match something like the Galaxy S6 Edge. But again — keep in mind that this was built to be affordable.
The most interesting part -the price- is, unfortunately, missing from the equation at this point. Without it, it’s hard to tell what the exact added-value is to the consumer, but hopefully, we’ll know soon enough.