Once you’ve experienced 4G, there’s really no turning back. Pages load faster, videos stream without a hitch, 4G makes your smartphone, well smarter. 4G used to be something of a premium feature. What used to be exclusive to flagship models, 4G in smart phones are becoming more accessible to more people, thanks to more affordable LTE enabled devices that are entering the market.
One of the latest brands to bring affordable LTE-enabled phones into the market in BenQ with the release of two new phones in Malaysia, the BenQ F5 and the BenQ T3, both of which are priced below RM800. The F5 is BenQ’s top-end offering with a 5-inch display and a Quad-Core processor. Read on to find out what you’ll get from a RM799 smart phone.
Let’s start off with the specs. The BenQ F5 runs on a proven 1.2GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 400 that’s mated to 2GB RAM. While most smartphones at this price range would have you struggling for storage space with just 8GB on board storage, the F5 offers 16GB. If that’s not enough, you can easily expand storage up to an additional 64GB with a microSD card.
At the front, the F5 gets a 5-inch display with a reasonable 1280×720 resolution (295ppi) that’s more than enough to deliver a sharp and pleasent viewing experience. The 5-inch display is also incorporate IPS technology allowing for a wide viewing angle than standard LCDs. What sets BenQ apart is its Low Blue Light feature that reduces the amount of blue light produced by the display to reduce eye strain that typically would occur with prolonged viewing with normal displays.
According to BenQ, blue light have a shorter wave length similar to UV rays. This may cause eye fatigue and possible vision problems in the long run. First introduced on its desktop monitors, the technology is now available on the F5 with 3 preset modes – Multimedia, Web Surfing and Reading. This can be switched on under the display setting for a more comfortable viewing experience.
Performance wise, the BenQ F5 is fast enough to get things going and Android purists will appreciate the vanilla Android interface. For those who are particular with the software version, out of the box, the F5 is already running Android 4.4.2 KitKat.
To make the F5 easy to use, BenQ has removed the App drawer, that you would typically get with other user interface. This provides a more seamless interface allowing you access all your apps and shortcuts right on the home screen. To make things even easier, when you add new apps on the phone, the UI will conveniently place them in a “New Comer” folder so that it is easy to spot after it’s installed.
Overall, the F5 user experience feels fluid and smooth. Multi-tasking is seamless too thanks to the generous 2GB of RAM. On Antutu v5.1, the F5 scored a respectable 17,602 which is on par with other Snapdragon 400 smart phones in the market.
The camera on the F5 is unlike many devices within this price bracket. BenQ has specced a Sony-sourced 13MP f/2.2 BSI camera sensor that can shoot Full HD 1080p videos for the F5 with performance on par with phones much more expensive phones. Apart from having high-spec camera features including HDR and slow-mo videos, the BenQ F5 boasts an Ultra-Sensitivity mode to improve images taken under low-light. The feature works impressively well in dark situations.
With the mode enabled, the camera increases its sensitivity up to 4 times than normal. This makes objects visible even in extremely low light. To achieve this, the F5 combines nearby pixels in am image to produce an improved low-light image. The result is an output picture that is slightly smaller at 3MP instead of its full size 13MP resolution but you get a remarkable low-light shot.
At the front, you get a 2MP camera and thanks to the voice-activated shutter and smile detection shutter, taking selfies is a breeze with the F5.
In terms of exterior design, the BenQ F5 is pretty straight forward with illuminated keys at the bottom and it has a notification light at the top. The volume rockers are placed conveniently on the right while the power button is located at the top, which is still comfortably reachable even for a 5-inch device.
The back cover is removable giving you access to a micro-SIM and microSD slots. Where devices within this price range would get 2,000-2,200mAh batteries, the F5 is gets a large 2,520mAh non-removable battery.
With a full charge, the F5 delivers about 24 hours of usage on a single charge and that’s with over 4 hours of screen-on time. The battery life can be extended further by enabling the UI’s Smart Connectivity mode which manages your WiFi and data connectivity during off peak usage or while the screen is off. There’s also a Network Access Optimization feature which manages the number of times data is activated when the screen is off, so that power is better utilised without losing connectivity completely.
Overall, the BenQ F5 is a great affordable alternative that stands out with more RAM, storage and battery capacity than other 4G LTE enabled class competitors. While the F5 is not a flagship model, it over delivers for its asking price of RM799.
BenQ F5 Hands-on Gallery