Smartphones have gotten a lot bigger since the introduction of touchscreen phones years ago. The original Apple iPhone with a 3.5″ screen was considered to be huge at the time and so was the Dell Streak which had a 5 inch display. However, since then, the ideal smartphone display size has grown larger and larger and most flagship smartphones have screens northwards of 5 inches. Although a few brands did experience with 6 inch and above in terms of display size, not many of them did well and few pushed it as much as Letv are pushing their 6.33 inch Le Max smartphone. Specs wise, the phone is a beast and the smaller bezels mean that you have a larger than 6 inch display on a smartphone without the phone being too difficult to manage. But will it be able to sway customers out of buying sub 6 inch phablets and if so what can it offer that they can’t? Let’s find out.
We have already unboxed the Le Max and below is the video. For the full fledged unboxing post, visit this link.
- LeEco (Letv) Le Max 64GB smartphone in Silver color
- 2-pin charger (5V-2.4A / 9V-1.2A / 12V-1A)
- USB Type-A to Type-C cable
- Micro USB to Type-C converter
- SIM ejector tool
- User manual
Design, Materials and Build Quality
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Letv Le Max is an HTC device and to be specific a Max variant of the One series. The metal body and design language all communicate that. The smartphone is huge, there is no other way to look at it. However, to be fair, it is quite compact for the kind of screen size it packs. The bezels on either side are quite minimal and even though there are black borders on all 4 sides, they are quite slim and minimize the overall footprint. I’ll let the numbers do the talking for a bit. The Motorola Nexus 6 measured 159.3 x 83 x 10.1 mm while the 5.5 inch iPhone 6s Plus measures 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm and the 5.7″ LG V10 measures 159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6 mm. In comparison, the Le Max measures 167.1×83.5×8.95mm which is still the biggest of the lot but considering that it has a much larger screen, the size is quite minimal. In fact, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra with its 6.4″ screen which is practically the same as the 6.33″ Le Max screen measured 179.4 x 92.2 x 6.5 mm which is much larger than the Le Max. The Le Max also manages to pack in much more advanced internals and features.
In terms of build quality, the phone is built like a tank and when I say tank, take it in the most literal meaning of the term. It feels extremely robust, almost comically so and everything feels perfectly solid. The phone does feel heavy even with the good weight distribution and the 204 grams does get translated into your palms. However the handling isn’t that difficult thanks to the curved edges. The phone can be handled in one hand unless your hands are tiny and there are several UI features that make life easier for those who do as well. However, for the most part, you would be happier to use the phone with both hands in order to get a good grip on it. The matte metal finish at the back offers decent grip but it can slip out of your hand from time to time especially if your palms are sweaty.
Up front, the display takes up most of the real estate but there is still space left for the earpiece, front facing camera as well as ambient light and proximity sensors above the display. Below the display, you have a set of 3 capacitive buttons that are backlit and offer haptic feedback when pressed.
At the right side, you find the DualSIM slot and the power key. The left side houses the two-stage mute button and the volume rocker button. The power key and volume rocker button are positioned well and offer good feedback. However, the two-stage mute key is really difficult to slide either way. There is too much resistance and is positioned a bit too high up on the smartphone.
At the bottom, you find the USB Type-C port, loudspeaker grille and a secondary dummy grille that houses the primary microphone. At the top, you have the IR blaster and 3.5mm audio jack.
Moving over to the back, you again get reminded of HTC devices from the One series due to the metal back panel which is non-removable. The battery too is non-removable. The antenna lines are present at the top and bottom. Below the top set of antenna lines, you have the rear camera module and dual-tone LED flash. Finally, you have the fingerprint sensor below the camera module which is recessed into the casing.
The smartphone is available in 3 different colours – Silver, Gold and Pink. The Silver variant is the 64GB version while the Gold variant is the 128GB version. The Pink version too comes with 128GB of storage but also has a sapphire glass display for protection.
The Le Max has a massive 6.33 inch 1440p display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. The glass is pretty resistant to scratches but if you want ultimate protection, your go to device is the Pink 128GB version with Sapphire Crystal display which is the same as the glass found on high-end watches. The display is quite good in terms of contrast ratio and brightness as well but is a bit reflective and that affects sunlight legibility a bit. It still is good under sunlight but could’ve been a bit better. The viewing angles are really good too and you can look at the display from really insane angles although we wouldn’t really advise it. The display has what Letv call a floating glass display technology where the entire front face of the phone is covered by a single piece of glass. This glass extends to all the four sides and corners of the device and is visible as a thin layer even if you look at the phone from a 90 degree angle.
While that is definitely some cool engineering feat, we would’ve preferred if they actually had some sort of 2.5D curved glass finish to further refine the user experience. Right now, it looks visually appealing but doesn’t really add much of a value to the user’s touch experience. In fact, the corners of the glass seem quite sharp and could be considered uncomfortable for some people to hold. The 3 capacitive keys below the display are backlit but the backlighting seems a bit low at times.
On the software front, Letv has you covered. In case you don’t like the colour saturation or balance, you can easily choose one more suited to your liking within the colour mode in settings. There are 4 different modes on offer – Letv, Vivid, Natural and Soft. In our experience, Letv settings seemed the best as it offers good saturation but not too punchy. Natural seemed a bit too under-saturated and vivid felt the other way around. Soft will come in handy for users who want to reduce strain on their eyes as it reduces the amount of blue light emitted and thus reducing eye fatigue.You also have a scale view that basically allows you to adjust the DPI to fit more or less contents onto the screen. Finally, you have a video display enhancement which increases the saturation and smoothens the video for a better visual experience.
The fingerprint scanner on the Le Max is located at the back below the camera module. It has a square shape and is recessed into the casing. We personally prefer the round shape of the Le 1s over this square shape but this too does the trick. although the scanner seems quite small and might not recognize your fingerprints, it does with ease and is quite accurate and fast. You can either unlock your smartphone by waking it up then placing your finger on the sensor or directly from sleep by just placing your finger on the sensor. The accuracy does get affected a bit if your finger or the sensor is a bit wet but nothing too much to worry about.
It is quite easy to add a fingerprint and takes around 20 – 30 seconds to do so. Ideally, you would want to add your index finger since that is the finger that rests on the sensor when you are holding the phone. The phone can store and recognize upto 5 different fingerprints and you can also use your fingerprint to take photos in the camera app. Placing your finger on the sensor first focuses onto the object or subject and then takes the shot. This method works even for fingerprints that you haven’t registered on the phone so just about anyone can use this easy method to take shake-free photos. As of now, the uses for the fingerprint sensor are quite limited but once the phone gets the update to Android Marshmallow 6.0 and above, users should be able to use it for other aspects as well.
Calls and Messaging
Call quality on the Le Max is loud and clear both over the earpiece as well as the loudspeaker. The smartphone has a large dialer as well that makes good use of the screen’s real estate and there are quick shortcuts to make a call using either sim. You voice gets relayed to the other end clearly as well with minimal noise thanks to the secondary noise cancelling microphone.
Messaging too is a breeze since the smartphone comes pre-loaded with Google Keyboard which has one of the best layouts in terms of efficiency and ease of use. The added advantage is that Le Max have also added emojis to the keyboard which is something that Google Keyboard lacks by default. If you want to use any other keyboard, you can simply download and install something of your own liking from the Play Store.
Software and UI
At the time of writing the review, the Le Max is running on Android Lollipop 5.0.2 with their own eui 5.5 on top. There isn’t any newer version available but we hope that LeEco/Letv decide to update the smartphone to Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later at the earliest. The smartphone comes with Letv’s own services that allows users to backup their data to the cloud. Since the smartphone has a large screen, users can bring down the notification drawer by swiping down from anywhere on the screen and you don’t have to swipe from the top of the display itself.
As with most Chinese OEMs, there is no app drawer and all your apps and games are on the homescreen itself. If you want, you can group them into folders and you can even install a different launcher if you want an app drawer. The notification drawer only has the list of notifications and you can customize which apps to show notifications from as well. For quick toggles, the user will have to access the multi-tasking menu which opens when you hit the left most capacitive button. Once you access the multi-tasking mode, you can see shortcuts to launch different apps, toggles for features as well as brightness controls and music controls apart from the regular multi-tasking app view. You can swipe each app upwards to delete them individually or hit the clear apps button to kill all apps at one go. The Le Max also supports scheduled power on and power off modes which can be customized to your liking.
Storage, Connectivity and Performance
The Le Max comes with a DualSIM slot that supports one nanoSIM and one microSIM. It supports 4G LTE on both the slots but only one SIM can remain on 4G LTE at a time while the other will change to 2G only mode. The phone supports Dual-Band WiFi 802.11 a/b/n/ac as well as Bluetooth 4.1 and LTE Band 3 and Band 40 for India. There are 2 different storage options available – 64GB and 128GB.Neither comes with expandable storage and the 64GB version comes with 58.24GB of free space out of the box.
The smartphone is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor with Adreno 430 GPU and also has 4GB of RAM. Performance is top notch and we didn’t face any issues with stuttering or lag. The phone does get hot but only when shooting 4K video or when using the camera for an extended period. Below are some of the benchmarks of the smartphone. For the full list of benchmarks, visit this link.
Music Player and Audio Quality
The built in music player is quite simple but performs all the functions you need. Tracks can be sorted according to titles, artist, album or playlists. The now playing screen offers a large album art along with the song information and track controls. You can choose to favourite a song as well as enable shuffle and/or repeat. There is also a quick access to other songs from the same album that lets you remain on the now playing screen itself. The player also has a timer which can be set to turn off automatically between 15 and 90 minutes. You can also filter out songs based on their minimum running time.
Audio quality through the speakers is pretty good but lacks in terms of loudness. There isn’t much distortion but the speaker won’t be apt to listen to in a loud environment or at parties. You’d be better off connecting it to an external speaker for that. However, if you wish to go solo, the Le Max provides a really good acoustic experience. The dynamic range is really good and the songs are really clear. There is minimal crosstalk and the volume can be pumped up to levels that are beyond what we would advise for long periods of listening. There is also a LeHi-Fi audio powered by AKG that you can enable over earphones to provide punchier bass which works well especially if the song and earphones match the profile.
The LeEco (Letv) Le Max comes equipped with a 21 Megapixel primary camera with a Sony IMX230 sensor. It also has OIS, PDAF, f 2.0 aperture and a dual-tone LED flash to help. Thanks to the 21 Megapixel resolution, the Le max manages to capture pretty impressive detail in the photos. Photos are sharp and the shutter speed is really quick when in regular mode. The focus is quick to lock on as well and the smartphone is capable of focusing on objects really close. Coupled with the f2.0 aperture, you can capture images with a really shallow depth of field and good bokeh as a result. Colours are pretty natural most of the time but the phone does have the tendency to produce images with more of yellow than normal every now and then. The smartphone can capture 21 Megapixel images in 4:3 aspect ratio and 16:9 aspect ratio in 16 Megapixels and 8 Megapixels. The panorama mode is quite efficient and does a good job at stitching the photos even if you take the shots quickly. We recommend using it in portrait mode to get even more detail from the camera as opposed to capturing it in horizontal mode. We also found that stitching works better when held in portrait orientation. Click on any of the images below for the full resolution samples.
The dynamic range too is pretty good and in case you want to capture more, you can use the HDR mode which takes it a notch higher. The downside is that the HDR mode takes longer than most other flagships to capture the shot. Luckily, OIS comes into play and does mitigate it to some extent but more oten than not, you do have a bit of shake in the photos unless you are careful. The photos on the left are taken in HDR while the ones on the right are taken in normal mode.
Up front, you have a 4 Megapixel Omnivision OV4688 sensor with 2 micron pixel size. The front camera is pretty good in terms of being able to capture a bright image but does lack a bit in terms of detail. The processing too seems to smoothen skin out a bit too much at times but overall, it is to have a more pleasing skin tone and that is what most people are looking for when it comes to the front facing camera. It is more than enough for social media content. It is also pretty wide thanks to the 81.6 degree field of view which makes it easier for group selfies as well.
Videos can be recorded at a maximum resolution of 4K at 30 fps. Detailing is pretty good and the colours are natural. The OIS does help stabilize videos to a certain extent but still seems a bit jaggered if the movement is too sudden. The smartphone can also capture slow motion videos in either 2X or 4X speed at 720p resolution. The detailing becomes very less in this mode but the effect is definitely fun to play with.
The camera UI is pretty basic in terms of the layout and UI but still offers several manual controls. You can easily set your own white balance just like you can adjust the ISO, exposure, saturation, sharpness etc. You have 4 modes, Slo-mo, Video, Photo and Pan. You need to swipe left or rigght across the screen in order to switch between the different modes. Alternatively, you can click on any of the modes as well. When held in portrait mode, you have the gallery shortcut, shutter button and beautify option from left to right at the bottom. At the top, you will find the flash and camera toggle as well as shortcut to the settings.
For the full fledged camera samples post, please visit this link.
The Le Max packs a non-removable 3400 mAH battery under the hood which should be massive for most smartphones. But considering that it has to power a 6.33″ display with a resolution of 1440p, that amount might not be enough and in our battery tests, we found out just that. The Le Max got a one charge rating of 9 hours and 5 minutes in our battery tests which is less than we expected. The main battery drain could be attributed to the big and dense display.
The smartphone also supports QuickCharge via the USB Type-C port which means that when you do run out of juice, you can easily fill it back up again. The issue is that you will need to carry around an adapter or USB Type-C cable to do so.
The LeEco (Letv) Le Max is an impressive smartphone. It offers plenty of value for the price and ticks almost every right box when it comes to specifications. It has very little flaws but a lot of pros. There is no question as to whether this smartphone is good or not, it is great. The only real question is whether or not you can live with a big phone. It is great for content consumption and creation but some people may not be a fan of carrying a device of this size. If you don’t mind the added size then this is one smartphone that you probably won’t regret buying. It would also make a great secondary device to have and a possible replacement to your aging tablet.
- Large 6.33″ Screen with 1440p Resolution
- Good Performance
- Brilliant Audio Quality through 3.5mm Audio Jack
- Great Build Quality
- Fast and Responsive Fingerprint Sensor
- Good Camera Quality
- USB Type-C Port with Quick Charging
- Size may not suit everyone
- Battery Life not as good as expected
- Loudspeaker lacks volume