There is a plethora of choices if you’re looking for a phablet nowadays. If you’ve got the budget, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 and LG’s G2 are top contenders. But if you’ve got a scant budget and you don’t need the fancy features that the latter devices offer, getting a phablet of lesser value with highly capable hardware specs is very fitting.
Meet O+ USA’s 8.16, a 5.7-inch phablet that features O+’s celebrated gesture control features, impressive camera and 1.2Ghz quad-core processor. It’s supposedly a follow-up to last May’s 8.15, but in a different form factor and improved specs. Take a look at its full hardware specs below:
- Dual SIM , Dual Standby
- Quad-Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, 3G/HSPA+
- 5.7″ capacitive IPS High Definition touchscreen Dragontrail LCD
- Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean
- 1.2GHz Cortex-A7 Quad Core CPU, PowerVR SGX544MP GPU MediaTek MT6589 chipset
- 1GB of RAM
- 8GB internal, expandable up to 32GB via microSD (FREE 8GB)
- 13MP auto focus main camera with LED Flash
- GPS with A-GPS and EPO assistance
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- 3.5 Audio Jack
- FM Radio
- Multi-media Player
- Micro USB with OTG support
- 2500mAh Battery(removable)
- Gesture Controls: Flip to silent, shake to answer/hang-up call, air-shuffle music, photos
It’s obvious that the 8.16 is a huge device. I can easily slide it in my pocket, but it is almost always imperative for me to remove it from my pocket whenever I sit down. Phablet-persistent problem.
I would have wanted the 8.16 though to have software buttons rather than capacitive ones just below its screen. If you’ve got tiny hands, you might have a hard time grabbing it from edge to edge with just one hand. It would be generally more comfortable if there was an option to turn off the capacitive buttons and switch on software buttons.
As a pre-O+ Imagine device, 8.16 exudes a flagship-worthy design. I personally do not like its matte back cover though. Its side bezel, camera-cover and speaker in chrome accents look really good and give the device a premium look. Its subtle brand markings fit very well to its overall design philosophy.
8.16’s 5.7-inch IPS Capacitive Dragontrail glass display is highly impressive. It displays media content vividly, which is somewhat akin to my Galaxy Note 2 with a very minute absence of color saturation.
If you’ve got HD videos, this device can effortlessly render your content so you can enjoy them even on the go. Playing high definition games with this mobile phone is an experience to behold. Not that your fingers have ample space to move around, but its screen can show even the littlest detail of your favorite games.
Performance and Software
The device is installed with an inexpensive but totally efficient Mediatek quad-core processor (MTK6589). I am very satisfied with how this device managed to handle several opened applications like Gmail, Chrome (with 4 opened tabs), Play Store, Facebook, Facebook Pages Manager and Messaging without experiencing too much performance hiccups.
There was also another instance when I tried to play Angry Birds Go while updating some applications. I was able to play the game quite flawlessly, but as expected, I experienced very brief lags especially during the times when the updated packages of apps are installed.
This impressive feat isn’t just because of its quad-core processor, but because of its 1GB RAM. Because of this, the device effortlessly handled multiple opened applications. For its price though, I would have loved this device more had O+ installed additional 1GB more RAM.
Playing games equally impressive. Thanks to its PowerVR SGX 544MP Display Renderer. 8.16 was built with gamers and multimedia consumers in mind. I was able to play Angry Birds Go and GT Racing 2 (by Gameloft) very fluidly on this device! Unfortunately, due to its screen size, Google Play wouldn’t allow me to install some games I recently purchased/downloaded on my other Android devices like Thor The Dark World and Real Boxing.
The phone is installed with Android Jellybean 4.2.1. Its secondary skin blends with the stock firmware look of Jellybean. I personally would have wanted if O+ used smaller icons rather than big ones, which I find too inappropriate with the title text.
Google Now can easily be setup by simply tapping “Get Google Now” upon initial search using Google Search. You may alternatively download and install Android Kitkat Homescreen Application, but ditch the idea of doing so if you’re not into “experimenting”.
Call quality is good on this device. If you’re into texting, you may want to install Swype or SwiftKey so you can type conveniently with one hand.
Perhaps, the best feature that 8.16 has is its set of camera (front and rear facing). I am astounded with the quality of its rear facing camera. Take a look at a sample photo I took using this device.
The photo above was only resized and watermarked. But I did not, in any way, edited it using other 3rd party applications. Notice the depth and detail of the subject above? If you zoom in 7x to the center, you will notice that part of the subject still has enough details left.
Shooting in low-light ambiance is quite challenging for most phones. 8.16 is not exactly spared from this, but it is evident during my tests that the quality of photos are less grainier compared to other local brand phones.
The combination of a energy-efficient processor and 2,500mAh battery can indeed produce a likable power up-time. This is another good reason why you should consider 8.16 as a good option. At 3G-enabled and moderate usage (occasionally replying to FB group and individual messages, tweet promotional content, check email, auto-sync is off), this device stayed up and running for up to 18 hours.
I sold my aging Galaxy Note 2 because I knew that 8.16 would be enough to keep me connected and productive. So far, 15 days since I let go of my Note 2, 8.16 did not disappointment me. Of course, my action begot plenty of trade-off, but I ended up loving it and making it my personal primary phone. No kidding.
Price has always been a primary issue for Filipino buyers. This is what O+ has been constantly battling… and winning. Filipinos are now slowing embracing the O+ brand and loving the devices the American Company launched. The 8.16 is a bit pricey – PhP12,995, but you’re getting a device that has impressive display and camera.
Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of gadgetpilipinas.net, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.