Can this local brand flagship compete against global brands?
The Starmobile Knight is probably now one of the most anticipated local branded smartphones here in the country. The very competitive specifications combined with the stellar form factor and the fair pricing makes it a compelling offering for Filipinos who are thinking of upgrading their smartphones. We’ve had the chance to use it for a few days ahead of everyone else and we made the most we could with it so that we can give you guys a review.
As an appetizer though let’s quickly do a refresher on the specifications.
Starmobile Knight Spec Sheet
- 1.2GHz Quad-core Processor MediTek
- PowerVR SGX544MP GPU
- 1GB RAM
- 4GB Internal Storage, expandable up to 32GB via microSD Card
- 4.7-inch IPS Display, Corning Gorilla Glass
- HD Resolution, 315 pixels per inch
- 18.0-megapixels rear-facing camera with LED flash, autofocus, and BSI
- 8.0-megapixels front-facing camera with autofocus and BSI
- Dual SIM, Dual 3G, Dual Standby
- WiFi, WiFI Hotspot, Bluetooth, HSPA+, 3G, GPS/aGPS
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
- 2,000mAH Battery
Okay, now that we have that out of the way let’s jump right into the main course!
Form Factor: It’s like slightly bigger iPhone 5
As we mentioned during our unboxing and initial impressions post, the Starmobile Knight looks like a slightly bigger iPhone 5. In fact some people would probably mistake it as an iPhone 5 (or maybe iPhone 5S) if they didn’t know any better, hehe. It features the same long vertical shape with full glass at the front and in lieu of the aluminum slate at the back we have a smooth black matte finish with the red Starmobile logo proudly displayed at the center.
For this review we won’t dwell to much on the details on the form factor as we’ve covered that quite extensively during the initial feature. If there’s one thing we’d like to zero on for this review is that we found the Starmobile Knight to excel in over-all usability and ergonomics.
Despite the bigger screen the over-all width isn’t that too big which makes it usable with one hand. The 4.7-inch display is perfect if you’re looking first and foremost for a phone and not a tablet experience (phablets are usually the 5.0-inch and up gadgets).
It’s not just the messaging part that becomes easier. Social networking apps like Twitter and Facebook are more enjoyable and easier to navigate since you don’t need to use both hands to key in content or to fully appreciate the images and videos. The fact that it’s lightweight also reduces potential arm and hand fatigue (helps a lot when you’re watching long videos like movies or multiple TV episodes).
If you’re looking for a phablet this might not be for you but it you’re in the market for a sleek, powerful, and easy-to-use smartphone then you seriously might want to consider the Knight.
For a better appreciation and feel for the Starmobile, watch the latest episode of the Unbox Podcast where we did a live feature on the Starmobile Knight. We’ve embedded the full episode below. If you want to skip straight to the segment go to 33:20.
Fluid, smooth, and fast Android 4.2 Experience
We did the usual Antutu Benchmark Test (measures over-all performance compared against other smartphones) and the Starmobile Knight scored over 13,000 which puts it in the same league as other quad-core devices running Mediatek processors. Basic core functions all work smoothly and you won’t encounter problems with transitions and animations. We did encounter a slightly longer loading time for graphics intensive apps like Dead Trigger but that will probably get ironed out once they release the commercial unit (what we had was just the final prototype).
Here’s a rundown of the performance of the Starmobile Knight in different real-world use scenarios.
The Starmobile Knight handled all of the games we threw at it. It was even able to play Dead Trigger at max settings for the lower levels (it struggled a bit after the later parts though so we had to put it to mid but that’s already awesome). We also tried out NBA 2k13 and Wild Blood and both games also were, for the most, part smooth. Less demanding titles like Temple Run 2, Angry Granny, and Candy Crush were all very much playable.
By the way, one thing we appreciated about the Starmobile Knight in a gaming scenario was the form factor. Since it was light and compact we had no problems holding it with both hands and not getting fatigued due to the bulk.
Watching videos on the Starmobile Knight was definitely a far more enjoyable experience than watching it on the smaller 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5. However it was really as fulfilling as watching movies on a full blown phablet (5.5-inches and up). It’s good for watching an episode or two of your favorite TV series while on the road but eventually your eyes will start looking for a bigger TV.
The good news here though is that the HD resolution of the Knight works wonders on your content, regardless if it’s HD video on YouTube or you’re watching downloaded stuff. Images just looked much better with the sharper colors and tighter details.
The Starmobile Knight is the perfect device for one-hand browsing. Since most browsers like Chrome will allow you to zoom in on a section by just double tapping on the screen with your thumb, you can easily enjoy your favorite sites without the need to pinch and zoom all the time. Speaking of reading, the Starmobile Knight is also quite good for the usual reader apps like Pulse, Flipboard, and the custom-made readers for websites like Rappler and The Verge.
Lastly it’s good to note that you can get faster internet with the Starmobile Knight because it actually has HSPA+ connectivity (not just 3G).
When it comes to the software the Starmobile Knight roars powerfully due to the internals. The best thing about it is that it keeps the lean and slim form factor which makes it an even more desirable gadget to have.
Camera: 8MP front-facing camera is better than a lot of the primary cameras of other smartphones
Now we get to the part most of you have been waiting for — the cameras. The Starmobile Knight has a rear-facing 18MP camera and a front-facing 8MP camera. Let’s do the good stuff first. The front-facing camera of the Starmobile Knight is superior to a lot of the rear-facing cameras of other brands. The optics are great and they’re able to capture a lot of light in detail in the images.
Here’s my first ever selfie. Ugh.
The rear-facing camera has the usual optics but it can take better macro shots. We did find that it over-all color seems to be a tad too dark (software adjustment can fix this).
Here are sample photos with the rear-facing camera:
So our verdict for the cameras? Front-facing camera is one of the best we’ve ever seen. The rear-facing one is competitive but not really that much better compared to the 12MP shooters with BSI of other smartphones.
Battery Life will last you the day
The Starmobile Knight packs a 2,000mAH rated non-removable battery. Based on our experience that’s more than enough to get you through the day without a charge unless you abuse it thoroughly by making non-stop calls every 30 minutes. In actual numbers we got around 9-10 hours with moderate-heavy usage and around 14-15 with light usage. This is with 3G and Sync on.
Verdict: It’s a solid flagship offering that can compete head-on with global brands
So what’s our final verdict on the Starmobile Knight? It’s arguably one of the best local branded smartphones to date. Not only does it have the specs but it also has the nicest form factor as well as kick ass optics (especially the front facing camera). While it’s quite “expensive” for a local brand at Php11,290, we believe that it’s actually a fair price given all the features and benefits you get with this phone.
Can it compete with global brands? Oh hell yeah. If Starmobile comes out with something like this in Q4 with LTE connectivity we’ll probably sell our current smartphone and just go for that instead. That’s how much we love the form factor of the Knight.
Congratulations Starmobile! You guys have a hot one here!!!
The Starmobile Knight retails for Php11,290 and will debut in Starmobile stores and kiosks in July.