Review: iOcean X7 Elite

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2013, is probably the year of the Chinese phone with similar specifications. It seems that they are following this order of 5” Displays, 1080P, a Mediatek MT6589 Processor, and either 1GB of RAM with 4GB of ROM or 2GB of RAM with 16/32GB of ROM. It’s then come down to things like build quality, aesthetics, international support, and community support.

It’s with that in mind that I decided to pick up a device that has probably been reviewed countless times again, due to its popularity of probably one of the most highly anticipated Chinese Phones of early 2013. Thanks to the folks at GeekBuying, I got myself a unit, and have been testing it for the past week.

The question is though, amongst all the other phones from the orient out there, does the iOcean X7 Elite have what it takes to take top spots?

 

Unboxing


 

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The iOcean X7 Elite has probably one of the nicer boxes I’ve seen coming from a Chinese manufacturer. That said though, the contents of the box didn’t seem as snugly fit, as shaking it around had plenty of rattling noises. Popping open the box, I was greeted with the following:

  • iOcean X7 Elite mobile phone
  • Original iOcean X7 2000mAH battery
  • User Manuals
  • 1x Glossy Screen Protector
  • White Micro USB Cable
  • US Plug USB Wall Charger @ 5.0v, 1 A + EU Adapter

The wall charger that came with is is nice and study, and as I can tell, is of pretty good construction, and feels really solid. The same can be said for the USB cable, though not so much for the phone, but more on that later.

The manuals that we find inside the box are all written in Chinese, though for the most part, the usage of the phone should be pretty straight forward and a manual should not be necessary.

On to the devices, but first, its specifications.

 

Specifications


 

  • OS: Android 4.2.1 Jellybean
  • Processor: Mediatek MT6589T Quad Core Cortex A7 @ 1.5Ghz
  • GPU: PowerVR SGX544 (Single Core)
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Internal Memory: 32GB
  • Camera: 13.1 MP rear camera with LED flash, 5MP front Camera
  • Display: 5.0” IPS TFT LCD Display @ 1920×1080 (440 ppi)
  • Connectivity:
    • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
    • Bluetooth 4.0
    • GPS
  • Battery: 2000mAh
  • Dimensions: 8.9mm x 141mm x 68.7mm
  • Weight: 147g

 

Walk Around


 

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Up front, you have the 5” 1080p OGS IPS LCD Panel, which in use comes up to a really nice, sharp looking display, that has great viewing angles, as well as excellent colours.

Outdoor viewing is a bit difficult, with the screen reflecting a lot of the background. You pretty much have to bump the brightness up to full in order to actually see anything on the screen.

Bezels up front, is relatively minimal on the sides, though the bottom finds itself pretty big. It’s not deal breaking in any way, and it does look a little bit like a cross between a Sony Xperia and a Nexus 4.

Beside the earpiece, you’ll find the front facing 5mp camera, certainly a nice step up from the usual 2mp that you’ll find even in big name devices.


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The capacitive buttons that you find on the front of the device are nice and crisp, and easy to see, but if you’re hoping to find them backlit, you’d be disappointed. Using the device for a while, I noticed something though. Even though the capacitive button on the far left is clearly the icon for the task/ window switcher, pressing it brings up the options menu instead. The software just doesn’t seem to match up with the hardware.

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On the back of the device, there’s the iOcean branding logo, together with the speaker port. On testing, though the speaker DOES sound good, I find that the volume is just a bit on the soft side, with things like the device locking sound as well as others, hardly audible. Once the phone rings though, you’ll definitely get to hear it.

Moving away from glossy back surfaces, this model has a nice white matte back that feels great to the touch, and doesn’t gather much fingerprints. It has a silky touch to it, and overall, I find myself rather fond of the aesthetic designs of this phone. I appreciate that they don’t’ try and make a device that looks either like a HTC Clone or a Samsung Clone.

There is one thing about the device that bugs me though, and that’s the back cover of the phone itself. Walking around the edges of the back cover, it bugs me that it doesn’t sit flush with the actual device in itself, and there are micro gaps that can be seen, even if you try to snap the back tightly close. The build quality material of the back as well feels like prolonged opening of the rear could possibly snap off the latches that hold the back cover in place, so that’s definitely something to take into consideration as well.


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On the top rear of the phone sits the 13.1MP camera with the LED flash and the text that says FHD on the other side. Antutu shows it as 12.6MP, but the built in camera still recognizes it as a 13 MP camera. Sample photos down below.

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Right of the device is home to the power. It extrudes a little from the body of the phone, making it easy to press, with a nice solid feel with a coat of silver on top of the plastic.

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On top of the device, you’ll find the 3.5mm jack that fits alright, though perhaps not as snugly as how I would have liked it.

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On the left you’ll find the volume rocker, that like the power button, also had a nice press to it and feels nice and solid, and doesn’t move or bump around.

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Finally, down bottom, you’ll find the micro USB port, for any data transfer or charging needs. Upon hooking in the USB port, I found myself just a little bit disappointed as the charger head seemed to move up and down as well as left and right, which could possibly mean that it’s slightly more open to wear and tear over the years.

You’ll find the microphone down below as well, but more on that in Sound Quality.

Overall, the phone leaves just that little bit more to be desired in terms of build quality. The phone seems to warp a little as well, if you hold it by its long side and try to bend the device (with a fair bit of force). A little more reinforcement to the frame of the body would have been nice. Given though, that the phone costs about $300 USD from GeekBuying (with a $15 off coupon, that comes to 285), it’s not particularly a dealbreaker. You could do a lot worse at this price point, though the end user should probably keep these points above in mind.

 


Hands On and Benchmarks


Firing up the device for the first time, you’re greeted with a boot screen that looks suspiciously like the Samsung logo, but has the iOcean branding instead. Fortunately however, there’s no cheesy boot up music that accompanies this (I’m looking at you Zopo).

On first boot, you’re taken right into the home screen, without any set up screen like the ones you’ll find on bigger name phones like HTC, Samsung etc. The user interface looks very much like stock vanilla Android, but as usual, with these Chinese phones, there are basically a few changes; the Developer Options menu is severely limited on the device, with no ability to turn on ‘Force 2D GPU Rendering’ which I found works really well in MT6589 devices that have a custom ROM. It’s a shame that they don’t come with this option though. Through past experience, turning on ‘Force 2D GPU Rendering’ on these devices boosted the fluidity and smoothness of the UI dramatically, whether it be browsing through home screens, or in App. Window animations and transitions are turned off, with no way to turn them off as well.

Preinstalled on the device is Google Play Store, so if you ever need to use Google’s services, they’re right there for you to use. The default apps that usually come with will be missing however, stuff like YouTube and Maps and even Gmail have to be obtained from the Play Store. It comes with its merits, where a person who relies on these applications will have to download them from the Play Store, but at the same time is able to pick and choose exactly what they like and need, keeping their device slim and lean.

The one thing you’ll notice on hitting up the App Drawer as well is that you’ll find SuperUser installed. I can confirm that the device comes rooted straight from the box, so for those who desire to tinker more with their device to get more out of it, good news, it just got easier for you guys.

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Once loaded, heading into Antutu Benchmark shows that everything checks out and that the specs are as they should be, though as usual, the processor shows at MT6589, though it’s actually the 6589T, something you can easily tell apart from the highest clock speed of 1.5Ghz.
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In terms of benchmarks, the X7 Elite has probably got one of the highest scores I’ve seen coming out of an MT6589T Phone, scoring better than the Zopo ZP980.
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3dMark is a good program to gauge the prowess of the SGX544 MP, and though it can be a strenuous test, take the results as an extreme test, rather than actual in game performance. In 3dMark, the X7 Elite fares reasonably well for a device in this price segment, though the FPS only hit above 30 in Physics test. In standard graphics test, you’re looking at about 15fps at best.
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I always liked Epic Citadel, as I felt that it was more in line to actual in game performance rather than just being a benchmark. As I feel most devices can handle the ‘High Performance’ Test, I usually opt to run the ‘High Quality’ and ‘Ultra High Quality’ @ 100% rendering tests instead.

For both tests, you’re looking at an average of 41.8 fps and 14.7 fps and a high of 50 fps and 25 fps for ‘High Quality’ and ‘Ultra High Quality’ respectively. A very good score if I may say so myself. You’re definitely not going to run into problems running most games, provided the games themselves are well coded that is.

*Note: There is an fps cap on Epic Citadel on MT6589 devices that doesn’t allow it to run past 50 fps. As such, the fps fluctuates at about 49-51.

Sound, Speakers and Usage


 

Taking and receiving calls, the earpiece is nice and loud, and the microphone is clear enough to be heard, though not particularly the best out there. For some reason unknown to me, the music app seems to crash every time I try and run it, kind of irritating, but easily solvable by loading in your own choice of music player, in my case I decide to load in Google Play Music.

While we’re on the topic of phone calls then, a related topic to touch on would be the phone’s vibration. Not that weak, but neither is it very strong. Right smack in the middle. What I’m getting at is that if you have these in your pockets and if you’re wearing some form of tight pants (oh you.), you would probably feel them. If not, it probably gets by unnoticed relatively easily.

Through normal usage, speaker volume can be a bit soft, though when it comes to ringtones and actually playing music off the phone’s speakers, it fares a lot better. Though not necessarily the loudest of the bunch, it’s certainly more than audible though. The good news is also that there doesn’t seem to be any discernible distortion in the speaker playback when pumped up to full volume.Hooking in my JVC HA-M750, I decided to play some of Armin Van Buuren’s tracks in his latest album, Intense (The More Intense Edition). I listen to quite a bit of Vocal trance, and I can say that I’m just a little bit disappointed with the clarity of the mids and the trebles, though the bass isn’t too particularly bad. Certainly, if you’re not an audiophile, it may not matter that much to you, but assuming even if you are, you probably have your own separate individual music player with amp ready. Just that if you really love your music, don’t expect this device to replace a Cowon or Sansa player anytime soon.

Hooking in the phone via USB, prompts with the option of USB Storage, MTP, PTP, Charge only or Connecting as a CD-ROM where you have access to a single PDF, which details the USB specifications. Transfer speeds are about 14-15mbps for a 1.4gb movie, which is pretty much standard USB speeds.

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The X7 Elite is capable of registering up to 5 touches at the same time, so that’s pretty much all fingers from one whole hand, more than enough fingerprint smudges to work your device, and a standard story as far as Chinese mobiles are concerned. Sure the Galaxy Note 3 can handle up to 10 touches, but I hardly ever find it necessary.

Camera


 

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The Camera interface on the X7 borrows itself similarly to cameras on HTC devices, and by all means, that’s a good thing. You’ll find the ability to take photos and videos directly from the UI, without having to switch modes, a plus in my books. You’re also able to take photos while recording, though they’re restricted to 2MP photos. Another thing to note is that you’re unable to choose the recording video size, and instead given vague settings like “Low, Medium, High and Fine”.

Videos are recorded in a 3gp format, and below lists the resolutions in which they’re captured at:
– Fine = 1920×1088
– High = 1280×720
– Medium = 640×480
– Low = 176×144

Overall the Video recording quality is average, where the videos don’t seem to be all that sharp, and in my opinion, just a little underexposed at times. The noise levels at low light seem to be alright, and not all over the place.

Even though the camera is rated at a 13 MP shooter, the default application that comes with the phone only allows me to take in a maximum of 8MP, which is extremely perplexing, and also quite disappointing. I however, downloaded Focal (Which used to be a CM exclusive) off the Play Store, and I can confirm that I can take photos at the full 13MP, or rather 12.6MP in this case.

As mentioned above, the one thing that I have an issue with is the focusing of the camera. Where I’m generally alright with the focus speed, which is neither too fast or too slow (takes about a second to focus), the photos don’t seem to come out very sharp at all, which becomes quite apparent in a few shots. They’re going to be fine if you’re going to be uploading them into social media websites such as Facebook, Imgur or G+, but I wouldn’t use them as prints.

Colour balancing for photos come out at a little overexposed, with the dynamic range lacking, resulting in photos that clearly lack a nice colour punch, and come out relatively dull. Noise control is where I’d have to commend it however, where the photos come out with very well controlled noise, making them look that much nicer.

Don’t expect to take photos at night without much lighting though, as the camera doesn’t handle it very well, and most photos just come out quite black, and are plain unusable. Flash performance isn’t too bad however, though you don’t want to be too close to your subject when using the flash, or they’ll come off just a little bit too overexposed. The flash has a slight bluish tinge, but nothing major.

Connectivity


 

Connectivity on the X7 Elite is generally a good story, until you hit the GPS.
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In wifi signal strength and pickup, the X7 Elite does pretty decently in the 5m and 25m away from Access Point test, coming in slightly short of the Galaxy Note 3, though as you head further out, the signal strength starts to fall off quicker.
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In network connectivity signal strength, the X7 Elite performs very similarly to the Galaxy Note 3 in terms of signal pickup, whether it’d be indoors, or outdoors. Pretty good scoring for a device in this pricing category.

I got HSPA+ in terms of data connectivity speed, meaning that there wasn’t much of a problem with surfing and streaming content in the device.

The sad story however, comes in the form of the GPS. Where I had better luck with the Zopo ZP980, the X7 Elite just refused to get even a single GPS lock, or see a single GPS satellite. I ran MobileUncle’s MTK Tools to try and see if I could get better scores, and updated the gps.conf file in /system/etc, but even with those, I only managed to get the X7 Elite to see 13 Satellites, with 0 lock on, after waiting for close to 2-3 minutes, which by my counts is more than long enough, especially if you’re on the road and need that navigation right away.

Battery Life


 

I ran some applications, collected their battery usage, and based on that, extrapolated the results to bring you these estimates on battery life:
  • 8 hours 20 minutes of video playback+
  • 4 Days 1 hour of pure standby (no GSM, Wifi)
  • 2 Days 12 hours of pure standby (GSM, Wifi)
  • 23 hour 40 minutes of normal usage

 

Conclusion


 

Pros

  • Nice packaging and box
  • Nice looking device that has an original styling that feels great to hold on to.
  • Great 1080P OGS Display
  • Fast Quad Core Performance
  • Good 3D Performance
  • Unbloated, i.e. doesn’t come preinstalled with a lot of nonsense.
  • White on black contrast looks great, even from a distance.
  • Price Point. At current time of writing, it’s 279.99 USD at GeekBuying, coupled with the 15 USD off coupon, that makes it hard to beat at 264.99 USD

Cons

  • Build quality a bit disappointing, especially the battery cover. Capacitive button mix up is slightly annoying as well
  • GPS is unreliable and doesn’t work most of the times.
  • Some bundled software didn’t work or function right (Music, Camera)
  • Weak vibration, could be stronger
  • Speakers, while not entirely soft, could be somewhat louder
  • 2000 mAh battery. Could be bigger, but it does last reasonably long.
  • Body flexes horizontally without much effort, could have been more solid and rigid.
  • Camera quality. Slightly washed out by my standards, and unable to get REALLY sharp images.

All in all, I give the iOcean X7 Elite a good 7.5/10

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Looking to get the iOcean X7 Elite from a reliable source at the best prices? Hit up the link below to get it from Geekbuying, and remember to add this code ASBARTOH in order to get an additional 15 USD off the listed price to bring it down to 264.99 USD (As of time of writing). The code is only valid till December 15th.
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