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Every once in a while, a gadget comes along that makes you go, “They did what?!” The O+ 8.17 is one such gadget. It’s the first and the only smartphone in the Philippines with a hexa-core processor, and on top of that, it’s also a pure Android device with some custom O+ software tweaks thrown into the mix.

As the current flagship model in O+ USA’s long-running 8.x phone lineup, the 8.17 is equipped with some high-end features (for a local phone). Up front, it has a 5-inch HD IPS touchscreen display, and you can see it here showing the default Android launcher with a custom theme running on top of it. The icons may look different, but this is an Android phone through and through, so using it is just like using any other phone with similar software.

Hardware and design

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Hardware-wise, the O+ 8.17 is barely remarkable. While the bright, responsive touchscreen display dominates the front, a glossy plastic back cover can be found on the opposite side. This is where you’ll find its main camera, which uses an 8-megapixel sensor and has a built-in LED flash. The O+ logo can be found directly below it, while more O+ USA insignia and the built-in speaker port are both present further down.

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In our testing, we found the 8MP rear camera to be impressive. It was able to capture photos with lots of details and very little noise in them in well-lit environments. And sharp-looking photos are always great to look at.

In situations where the LED flash becomes necessary, the 8.17 also performs rather well. We wish would could also say the same about the front camera, but from our experience it will always have to take a backseat; the front camera is good for selfies in well-lit areas but quickly becomes unusable otherwise.

Camera samples

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Software

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The O+ 8.17 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat as its default OS. As you can imagine, it practically flies through the menus thanks to its speedy processor and ample amount of device memory.

O+ USA didn’t do much to clutter the app drawer, only adding a handful of pre-installed apps on top of the default ones, so the overall experience of navigating the phone is mostly problem-free.

One thing we did notice, however, was that because some of the icons here looked totally different from the standard ones, we couldn’t help but do a double-take on some of them. For instance, on the homescreen there’s an icon that’s colored green and has a bunch of lines going across it on the center. That’s Spotify, right? Wrong, it’s actually the Dialer.

Fortunately, icons in the app drawer itself have corresponding labels. But still, we got a fair amount of confusion using the 8.17 with its custom app icons.

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In the app drawer, you will find a few pre-installed third-party apps like iWantTV and iWant Stars. There’s also the O+ Air Store for even more apps that can be downloaded online.

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As a phone running KitKat, the 8.17 has no trouble downloading pretty much any app from the Google Play store. Whether it’s the latest games or the latest trending apps, the O+ 8.17 proved that it was able to handle them. The hexa-core processor and graphics chip combo on board didn’t give us any problems when we tried multi-tasking, so regular users should have an even better experience of using this phone.

Verdict

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The O+ 8.17 brings just enough to the table for it to be considered a good incremental upgrade to its predecessors. More than just a novelty, the hexa-core CPU is actually quite useful. Most Android phones that are out today carry quad-core chips, and the one on this phone outclasses those easily.

As far as pricing is concerned, the 8.17 is definitely on the more expensive side. It’s over 10,000 Pesos at retail, which O+ USA aims to justify by including premium freebies in the package (there’s a pair of Sennheiser headphones in the box as well as an 8GB microSD card).

If you’ve got the money and you plan on buying all those extras anyway, then they surely make the 8.17 worth it. Otherwise, this phone may be ripe for a price drop.

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