The brand Neffos isn't just new to anyone of you out there. It is to me as well, since none of us are know-it-all's. I first stumbled upon that brand when I was strolling as per usual at a local mall. Lo and behold, Neffos was conducting a roadshow for the weekend at the event space. I then thought to myself that it's probably one of those companies that will never succeed in the smartphone game, till I was asked to review a Neffos smartphone myself.
It was then I started doing searched on the interwebs, discovering that Neffos is by TP-Link, a brand which is no stranger when it comes to networking solutions and products. Neffos is a fairly young company, which started out not more than 2 years ago back in 2015. Neffos came into a proper presence during its first outing at IFA 2016 Berlin. Till now, the company has a fair amount of smartphones to boast about, and the one I have here with me is of mid range standard - the Neffos X1. Let's find out how it performs.
After reviewing a couple of mid range smartphones, I began realizing a pattern - most flagships are slowly adopting glass panels while metal built mid rangers are getting way too common. It isn't a bad thing however, as metal built smartphones are definitely more solid looking than the cheap looking plastic ones. The Neffos X1 is no exception. The review unit happens to be of Cloudy Grey color. Its metal unibody, like others, is prone to slips, but thankfully its back has a subtle curvature which definitely helps providing better grips with the phone. There's a slight bump on the back, housing the camera and the fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor works as advertised, but feels a little too small in size when compared to other fingerprint sensors.
An added bonus is the alert slider on the left side of the phone, allowing the phone to go in silent mode with just a flick.
Up front, you'll find a 5-inch display, which to me is rather refreshing after 3 years of using 5.5-inch smartphones. Given the fact that I have small hands, the 5-incher Neffos X1 feels like a perfect fit to me. The display unfortunately, is of 720p resolution, which can be deemed as unacceptable within the mid range spectrum of today. But it isn't hard to look past this "flaw" given its smaller screen size. Colors look decent on screen, but the phone's screen will falter slightly under sunlight, as its maximum brightness level isn't up to par. Nevertheless, this phone is a god sent for small sized hands.
Performance & Battery Life
Did I mention that the Neffos X1 is my first ever MediaTek powered device as well? Qualcomm has been building a stronghold in my life, even when it came to review units of various smartphones. After using phones from Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600 series and 800 series, the Neffos X1 is indeed something new. The phone sports a MediaTek Helio P10 octa-core processor, seen in many mid range smartphones. Alongside the processor are 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage which is expandable. There's another model which has 3GB of RAM and double the storage at 32GB.
Admittedly, I had a prejudice toward MediaTek processors, but fortunately the Neffos X1 changed my mind. Day-to-day performance does not slack with this phone. I also thought that the 2GB RAM might turn out to be insufficient, but for the most part I was wrong. I lived out my days with the Neffos X1 mostly without complains from the performance aspect. There will be the occasional lag from time to time but that is to be expected for a mid range smartphone. You can afford pushing this phone slightly above standard usage and still see it performing optimally. Any more than that and the results may vary.
Software greatly affects performance, and Neffos took great care in making sure that its own software won't burden the internals of its handsets too much. Known as NFUI, Neffos' own software on top of Android Marshmallow is pretty lightweight. Other manufacturers might want to take a couple of cues here as the Neffos X1 has ZERO added bloatware. Its app icons are square and pastel in color, reminding me of a crossover between CyanogenMod and MIUI. It doesn't have an app drawer but Android has its customizability perks. Eventually, I slapped on a Nova launcher along with a KLWP custom wallpaper to make this phone like my own.
If you need fast charging, you might want to stop reading for this segment of the review. Sadly enough, the Neffos X1 has no fast charging technology. If you need fast charging, there's the larger and more premium Neffos X1 Max. The Neffos X1 packs a 2,250mAh battery underneath the hood, which theoretically should be enough. Battery life of the Neffos X1 isn't bad, but it isn't great either. The phone managed to last throughout the day with normal usage, consisting of web browsing, music, and the occasional picture snap for social media. I didn't have a lot of apps installed on the phone, so as far as running background apps go, mileage may vary.
The camera performance is when you'll start to hear the bad of mid range devices. The Neffos X1 happens to suffer from the same fate as well.
The rear camera is of 13 megapixels, performing fairly decent under daylight. As long as you're under optimally lighted environments, the phone will do fine. However, till some extent, the Neffos X1 suffers from over exposure, causing colors to be washed out. Performance heads for the worse when you move into dim lighting conditions. You'll see a significant increase in image grain as the phone begins to suffer. Night scenes aren't any better as images will turn out to be blur as the handset finds a hard time to even focus. The camera software does try to enhance the exposure in night scenes but they turn out to be rather murky instead.
The 5MP selfie camera on the other hand performs up to par like the other mid rangers of the same standard. Pictures turn out to be of fairly good quality as you would expect from a selfie camera. Other than that, there's nothing too special about it.
If you're able to overlook the Neffos X1's poor camera performance, which also means that you aren't much of a smartphone shutterbug, the phone can actually be taken into consideration. The lightweight NFUI software certainly helps with the overall performance of the phone. Its display might be sub par but you need not worry if resolution is your concern since its a 5-inch phone.
For a price of RM769 and a higher end model which costs RM849, the Neffos X1 might lose out to Chinese competitors in the mid range world of countless smartphones. Value for money? Not so much. It's not exactly wise to price a phone this high for its debut, when you factor in the price to performance ratio. But having said that, the Neffos X1 will probably sell better if it carries a cheaper price tag.
- Sleek metal unibody design
- Decent performance for a mid ranger
- Lightweight software with zero added bloatware