MyPhone strikes it big with the Rio
MyPhone’s newest smartphone, the Rio, has managed to dominate most discussions in the local technology scene. Depending on who you talk to, you’re either going to hear “bang for the buck” repeated a lot with most end-users and “how?” when you talk to their competitors. It’s difficult to express just how much interest there is in MyPhone’s latest Php 4,999 quad-core smartphone, suffice it to say that their kiosks are almost always out of stock, and whatever stocks that does arrive are quickly snapped up by waiting customers. It’s not hard to see why when you look at the specs and the price of the Rio: it’s truly one of the best bang for the buck devices out there. It’s not perfect, but its positives greatly outweigh its negatives as you’ll find out in this review.
MyPhone Rio Specs
- 1.3GHz quad-core MT6582M Processor
- 1GB of RAM
- 5-inch HD IPS Display, 1280 × 720 resolution
- 4GB of internal storage, expandable up to 32GB
- 8-megapixel main Camera with Autofocus
- 2-megapixel front Camera
- Wi-Fi, Wireless Display, USB-OTG, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS
- 3G, HSPA+
- 2000mAh Baterry
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
Colorful and vibrant design reminiscent of Nokia smartphones
One of the first things that you’ll notice about the Rio is obviously its colorful design. The Rio comes in a variety of colors, and uses an ABS shell that encapsulates the actual device. This shell fools casual observers into thinking that the Rio sports a unibody polycarbonate construction. The way the Rio is designed reminds us a lot of Nokia’s smartphones, primarily their recently announced X. Much like the X, the plastic back of the Rio can be removed quickly and easily, revealing the important bits inside.
The overall build quality of the Rio is pretty good, and whatever small faults of the actual phone in terms of its construction is cleverly hidden once the plastic shell goes on. The matte plastic shell is pleasant to hold and isn’t slippery to the touch. The Rio has curved corners and somewhat rounded edges. Even though the Rio is a budget device, it’s evident that whoever designed it had an eye for detail – the earpiece for example, has the same color as the body and has an LED notification light embedded inside it. The speaker grille has a nice design, etc.
Probably the only thing we can fault on the Rio’s externals is that the plastic back isn’t that resistant to wear and tear. We’ve had our device for around a week now, and we’ve already noticed several chips on the back of the device exposing the white plastic underneath. We’re not particularly rough with gadgets, and the Rio usually just went inside our pants pocket if it wasn’t being used to text, call and update our social networks. Clearly, some sort of extra protection is needed if you want to keep your Rio pristine.
The button layout of the Rio is typical of what you’dl find on a 5-inch Android smartphone – volume rocker on the left side, power button on the right. The capacitive buttons for navigation are on the bottom of the device, while the 3.5mm jack and USB port are all located on the top of the device. We found that the power button on the Rio is too recessed, which means that you’ll sometimes won’t positively engage it, especially when you’re in a hurry.
Best in class display
The Rio is remarkable because it’s probably the only smartphone in its category that has a quad-core processor AND an IPS display. Other smartphones below 5K usually have to settle with inferior TFT displays with horrible viewing angles. That’s not the case with the Rio, and not only does it have an IPS 5-inch display, that same display has a resolution of 720 x 1280 – in short, HD. That’s unheard of for the price category, and is a major coup for MyPhone.
That being said, the quality of the IPS display isn’t stellar. Examining the display of the Rio reveals less than ideal contrast levels, as well as somewhat muted colors compared to other IPS panels. It’s understandable of course – MyPhone couldn’t deliver the specs that the Rio carries without compromising on a few things, and the display is one of them. Still, looking at the big picture the display is still an improvement over the TFT displays of its rivals and to some extent, some of MyPhone’s own offerings that still sit on their roster at around the same price range as the Rio.
Has some hiccups in performance, but is generally a very capable phone
The MyPhone Rio sports a 1.3GHz quad-core MT6582M processor paired with around 1GB of RAM. On paper, this pairing should give the Rio plenty of power to plow through most tasks with ease. In practice, we found that the Rio had some performance hiccups during use. Navigating through menus and various transition effects weren’t as smooth as we’ve anticipated, as there’s certainly some amount of lag evident when doing so. We also discovered that playing YouTube videos via the app wasn’t a smooth experience either, but it never became so bad that we found ourselves genuinely frustrated.
Which is odd, considering the Rio’s AnTuTu score of 16853 and its generally good performance with demanding games like Dead Trigger 2 and Asphalt 8. Both games managed to fare well with the Rio, though it struggled a bit on higher graphical settings, which is understandable considering the processor and RAM combination. HD and full HD video playback was pretty smooth as well, which further puzzled us to why we had such a laggy YouTube experience. As far as the less than buttery smooth navigation goes, we found that installing Nova Launcher on the Rio takes out most of the lag, though there will still be some jitter present it’s not as bad as without the launcher.
There is one big flaw in the Rio though – you cannot install apps onto the microSD card, which essentially limits you to the tiny 4GB internal storage (which in reality you only get to work with less than 2GB). You can fix this via rooting the device and modifying how the phone treats microSD storage, but since not everyone can root an Android smartphone (and doing so voids your warranty) it’s a potentially big flaw that some users may have an issue with when considering the Rio. Without that feature, the Rio is relegated to a light Android gaming machine and multimedia player. We’re really hoping that MyPhone is able to address this via a software patch.
Because of the price of the Rio, we naturally assumed that the camera module would be one area where the manufacturer would have cut costs given the impressive specs of the device.
We were pleasantly surprised to learn that this is not the case, as the Rio’s 8-megapixel camera performed well when there’s decent lighting around. Color reproduction is very good, with plenty of detail. Images taken in low light takes a bit of a hit though, but are still perfectly acceptable.
We were also surprised at the flexibility of the camera when it comes to the number of settings you can tweak. The camera can even take burst shots, which is a pleasant surprise.
Acceptable battery life
We ran our standard battery loop test of the MyPhone Rio to determine just how far this particular smartphone can with its 2000mAh battery. With 50% brightness, full volume and Wi-Fi set to on, the Rio managed to last for around 6 hours and 47 minutes before the phone completely died. That translates to around 8 hours with moderate use, with some texts, calls, internet and light gaming thrown in. While the battery life is acceptable for some, packing a powerbank is a must since you’ll probably be near 10% at the end of the workday with the Rio.
Verdict: A game changer, even with its flaws
Even with its faults, the MyPhone Rio is a gamechanger in the local market. Its specs is unheard of in its price range. Aside from the inability of the Rio to install apps onto the microSD card, all our other complaints with it is simple nitpicking, and can easily be dismissed by simply looking at the Rio’s price. We’re not hesitant to give the Rio the title Quad-core ng Bayan, though that title may be short lived now that Cherry Mobile is set to release their own price-busting IPS equipped 5-inch smartphone in the near future. But for the time being the Rio is king of the budget quad-cores.
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