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THL W11 Monkey King Review: Superb Display, Performance, and Selfie Shooter

Full Review: THL W11 Monkey King!
Full Review: THL W11 Monkey King!

The Full Review: THL W11 Monkey King

When we first heard about the THL W11 Monkey King we were very skeptical about it. The device bragged of having 13.0-megapixel shooters for both the front and back cameras and we thought that it was all gimmick and the quality would suck. However as you saw in our camera shoot test (click if you haven’t seen it yet), the front camera of this phone actually takes much better photos than the primary snappers of a lot of other smartphones in the market today! All that’s left really is to see how the THL W11 Monkey King performs in all other aspects and check if it’s worth the Php11,999 price tag. We’ve been using it as a daily driver for the last few days now and we’re ready to share with you guys our full review.

Before anything let’s quickly go over the specs again.

THL W11 Monkey King Spec Sheet

  • 1.5GHz Quad-core Processor, MTK6589T
  • PowerVR SGX 544
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB Internal Storage
  • 5.0-inch Full HD Display (1080p)
  • 13.0 megapixels primary camera with LED flash and Autofocus
  • 13.0 megapixels secondary camera (HD video recording)
  • WiFi, WiFi Hotspot, Bluetooth, 3G, HSPA+, GPS with aGPS, FM Radio
  • Dual SIM, Dual Standby
  • 8.6mm thin
  • Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1
  • 2,000mAh
  • SRP: Php11,999

Based on the spec sheet the only complaint really is the lack of expandable storage. 16GB internal storage might not be enough especially since you’d want to take advantage of the 5-inch Full HD display for downloading and watching videos. Anyway, let’s jump to the review!

Robin is from the Play Arts Kai series. SRP anywhere from Php2,500-Php3,000
Robin is from the Play Arts Kai series. SRP anywhere from Php2,500-Php3,000

By the way, helping us out for this is the Boy Wonder himself, Robin! 😛

>>> SEE ALSO: THL W11 Monkey King Unboxing and Initial Hands-on

Superb Hardware and Build

Let's take a closer look shall we?
Let’s take a closer look shall we?

We were delightfully surprised when we unboxed the THL W11 Monkey King and held it in our hands for the first time. Over-all form factor and design was superb mainly due to the design of the body. Measuring just 8.6mm thick, the Monkey King offers great usability and manageability even with a big 5.0-inch display. The curved edges and the smooth back plate does wonders for one-handed and prolonged use.

Form factor is good even for one-handed use!
Form factor is good even for one-handed use!
Very slim.
Very slim.

As we noted in the unboxing post, the Monkey King’s ports and buttons are all situated on the sides, including the slots for your two SIM cards (back plate not removable). The micro SIM card tray needs a pin to be opened while the secondary SIM card just needs a little prying with your fingernails.

Up front is all glass with the three Android capacitive buttons at the bottom. The LED light for three is a bit dark so that’s a little bit of a turn-off. We’re not certain as well if THL used scratch resistant glass on this since there’s nothing listed on the box or online about the glass they used.

At the back we have a smooth matte white finish. The frame of the camera has a metallic red accent giving the phone more personality. At the bottom of the back we have the slogan (or meaning) of THL — “Technology Happy Life”.

What the back looks like
What the back looks like
Funky slogan.
Funky slogan.

The thinness and the high quality display sets apart the THL W11 Monkey King from a lot of 5-inch smartphones in this price range. Speaking of the display…

Spectacular Display Quality

One of the best displays you'll find on a smartphone sold at Php11,999
One of the best displays you’ll find on a smartphone sold at Php11,999

The THL W11 Monkey King doesn’t deliver qHD or HD quality on it’s display. It’s Full HD — 1080p! That’s 1920 x 1080 pixels and on a 5-inch screen that’s 441 pixels per inch. Combine that high resolution with the brilliant screen and you have a winning combination. Images come out sharp, detailed, and vibrant. Definitely one of the most impressive displays we’ve seen on a smartphone below Php12,000.

One of the big reasons why the display is so impressive is that THL also used OGS technology, or “One Glass Solution”. This type of execution basically eliminates the space in between the touchscreen glass and the LCD layer. This gives you the feeling and the visual that you’re almost touching the icons themselves and not just a glass screen.

Unfortunately we don’t think THL used Gorilla Glass or Dragon Tail so better make sure you have a screen protector if ever you’re going to roll with this smartphone.

Software and User Experience: Fascinating Take on Android

The THL W11 Monkey King uses a heavily customized Android Jelly Bean ROM. They radically changed it so it will function a lot like iOS wherein there’s no app tray/grid. All the apps are in the home pages and you swipe the different pages to view them. The folders and widget functions still work so you can mix and match the contents of your home screens to your liking.

Their implementation of folders reminds me a lot of how iOS 7 does it now. I’m just not too sure who got it first, Apple or THL, hehe.

How it works
How it works

We did a quick Antutu Benchmark Test to see how powerful the processor was because THL was claiming that this was a turbo version of the quad-core processor from Mediatek that we usually saw with other smartphones. It looks like they’re telling the truth. The W11 Monkey King clocked in well over 15,000 which is 2,000 more than what we usually got with other smartphones carrying the regular version of this CPU. Definitely a nice bump up! In terms of comparing scores with global brands, the THL W11 Monkey King is in the same league as the Sony Xperia SP which is actually one of our personal bang-for-your buck mid-range smartphones from Sony.

Antutu Benchmark Score
Antutu Benchmark Score

In terms of use scenarios, the “upgraded” quad-core processor is able to deliver great user experience for 1080p video playback, gaming, and pretty much all other kinds of apps you throw at the Monkey King.

Fantastic for Watching Videos

Excellent for video playback
Excellent for video playback

We loaded up HD videos on the device and they all played smoothly. There were some instances when scrubbing across the different scenes becomes a little jittery but that’s okay since it never really crashes. For our video tests we used the MX Player Pro app from the Google Play Store (it can play almost any video file and it has a nice UI).

By the way, if you’re worried about the limitations brought about by the 16GB internal storage, the good news is that this phone supports USB OTG. Just plug-in a flash drive and you have access to pretty much everything that you need. This is the same solution that the highly successful MyPhone Iceberg is using to address the storage limitation.

Erratum: The THL W11 Monkey King does not support OTG. We mixed it up with another phone we were reviewing simultaneously. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Smooth Gaming Machine

Great for gaming as well!
Great for gaming as well!

For gaming we tried a variety of games ranging from hardcore graphics intensive titles like Wild Blood, NBA 2k13, and Dead Trigger on Ultra High settings. The only lag we felt was the loading time but after the game started running we barely encountered any delays or issues with the frame rate. We did however slowed down a bit in the very later stages of Dead Trigger but we were able to fix this by knocking down the graphics settings to medium. Just adjust the graphics settings and you’re good. 🙂

The quad-core processor definitely does the job
The quad-core processor definitely does the job

Unfortunately there are still some apps that won’t run. You can get around this by rooting the device but that’s a different and long technical discussion. Here’s a photo of the notice on the Google Play Store saying that Asphalt Heat 8 is not compatible with the THL W11 Monkey King.


Can Handle Almost Everything You Throw At It

Browsing is okay too, just get the Chrome Browser app and skip the default
Browsing is okay too, just get the Chrome Browser app and skip the default

Beyond the incompatible games, the THL W11 Monkey King can handle almost everything else. Social networking, photo editing, video editing, web browsing, productivity, messaging, and personalization apps all ran smoothly on it. That’s with a live wall paper running in the background coupled with a bunch of active widgets on the home screen. We’re definitely impressed with the power behind this device.

Customize the look with themes

Pick the theme you want! There are some pre-loaded but you can also download from the theme store
Pick the theme you want! There are some pre-loaded but you can also download from the theme store

There’s also a pre-loaded theme store in the device. Just tap on the app and it will show you the different themes (both paid and free) available for download. There are also several pre-loaded with themes ranging from the Avengers to Transformers. Activating these themes will change the icons, wall paper, lock screen, and even the typing sounds on your on-screen keyboard.

Transformers Theme featuring Optimus Prime
Transformers Theme featuring Optimus Prime

The heavy graphics themes tend to lag the phone though so you might want to stick to the simple ones, hehe.

Camera: Front and Back are the Killer Features

Picture picture! Pag may time!
Picture picture! Pag may time!

Now we get to the winning proposition of this awesome smartphone — the cameras. Let’s start with the front-facing camera. We’ve already written a post about this and showed some sample pics but we just have to reiterate the fact that the secondary camera of the THL W11 Monkey King beats the crap out of the primary cameras of a lot of other smartphones, especially the local brands. The sensor of the camera is able to take amazing detail and it gets the colors right even in low – moderate light environments. Let me re-embed some of the sample photos we showed earlier for your convenience:

Me and our cute new cat, Rumfold.
Me and our cute new cat, Rumfold.
Nero from Devil May Cry
Nero from Devil May Cry

Not bad right? Now we go to the primary camera. It actually packs an aperture of f/2.2 which allows it to take even nicer photos in low-moderate light environments. The sensor is also as good (if not better) than the secondary camera. Here are some sample shots for your reference:

Storm Shadow!
Storm Shadow!
Gloomy and rainy Sunday
Gloomy and rainy Sunday
iPhone 5 with iOS 7 in an Otterbox Defender Case
iPhone 5 with iOS 7 in an Otterbox Defender Case

Definitely one of the nicest cameras you’ll find in a smartphone below Php12,000!

Battery Life: Average

The 2,000mAh battery of the THL W11 Monkey King was just enough to get us around 7-8 hours of moderate usage. Heavy usage drops it down to 5-6 hours. We think the main culprit is the 5.0-inch Full HD display since it definitely takes a lot of power to push all those pixels up.

Verdict: The Best Selfie Machine with No Compromises Under Php12,000

If the THL W11 Monkey King taught us anything, it’s that we should never assume that all Android smartphones coming from China are the same, hehe. We were pleasantly surprised with everything about this device and we would highly recommend it to people looking for a smartphone that can take excellent photos and selfies without compromising power and user experience.

We only have two reservations. First is the after-sales service. While we know there’s a distributor already locally we’re not 100% confident that they can support full service operations. We’re actually having them as our guests on the podcast on Monday so we’ll definitely ask them about that. Be sure to watch 7:30PM at the New Media Factory!

Second is the price. At Php11,999, the THL W11 Monkey King comes dangerously close to the mid-range smartphones of other brands that have LTE connectivity. Just add Php2,000 and you can actually go for the Sony Xperia SP. Or add Php3,500 and pick up an LG Optimus G. If you want a very good selfie camera though, don’t mind not having LTE, and want to save the extra budget then the Monkey King makes for a good buy.

The THL W11 Monkey King is now available in Novo 7 stores and at Kimstore for Php11,999.

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  1. Bro, based on the pics above, I think they’re using MIUI Rom or MIUI Launcher. Both by Xiaomi.

  2. May expandable storage yan, micro SD, remove the back cover, remove the screws, you’ll see 🙂

    • Hello sir West, how sure r you na expandable ang memory niya? Na try nyo po sir?? 🙂

      • google mo, you’ll see 🙂 Tanong mo rin sa stores nila, example sa novo7 thing store, pag papa-install mo ng sd card, kailangan sila kasi baka mavoid warranty mo. Pero meron talaga sa likod.

  3. miui v5…using it on thrill 430X

  4. will there be available cases for this model?

  5. Eto yung King Kong variant nang W11. Parang “Big Bro” to nang Monkey King. Hopefully dumating din to sa Pilipinas.

  6. ano masmaganda ang monkey king or ang cosmos z?

  7. Wow, Great Review! It git me curious about the other phones this brand is carrying. I do hope that you will do a review of THL W8S if ever, it will be available in the Philippines! 🙂

    And oh, Question? Is the W11 KingKong also available in the Philippines?

  8. Which is better THL monkey king or Starmobile Knight?..

  9. Meron po ba itong LED notofication?

  10. What phone would this THL W11 be on par with in terms of image quality from the camera? Preferably famous international brands so that we can easily compare.

  11. Hey which camera aplication are you using?
    My thlw11 does not much such great pictures..

  12. is thl W11 use corning gorilla glass?
    Thl mobile :
    Thank you for your mail .
    Yes, it is Corning Gorilla Glass 3

    that is directly from THL Mobile Online Support, so yes they use corning gorilla glass. 🙂

  13. The best thing about THL is that thay have a demo unit you can explore and guage if it is worth buying. Unlike other local brands (CM, Myphone) you have to purchase first before you get to explore the phone. This is one brand that offers value for your money. Yup, W11 is now priced at 9,999.00.

    • Hi sir, where can I buy W11 at 9,999.00 ?

    • I think the only downside of this phone is the battery with only 2000mAh overall I guess all okay I’m referring to the black model with 2gb ram. The camera I guess is way better than the 18mp of starmobile diamond v7. If there’s a way to compare the camera of the two and post here m waiting for that.

  14. sir kung ikukumpara mo to sa lenovo s820, anu ang mas maganda bilhin?

    note: di po ako ma-selfie person

  15. not that I’m complaining but my w11 antutu benchmark reached 24k!!! this phone is a beast

  16. Hi Guys.. inform ko lang po kayo na ang current price po ng thl w11 with 32GB internal and 2GB RAM sa novotech 7 is P13,200.00. May free na siyang external 32GB microSD sa loob kaya 64GB na total ng memory. Kakabili ko lang po ng unit last Saturday. 🙂

  17. LATESt PRice sir wala pabang Roll BAck 2 🙂

  18. Hello po ask ko lang po kung may store sa davao nag bebenta neto.. thanks

  19. mga sir san po mkakabili neto..manila area..pls reply..tnx 🙂

  20. Gopd day sir can I know san pwede makabili neto manila area po.. hoping for a response

    Txy or pm me in fb 09263062147/ ish liana tan

  21. meron po bang store neto sa Sm North Edsa ? or Trinoma ?

  22. Astig talaga nitong phone na ito san po kaya pwedeng makabili nito?

  23. ano po ba mas preferred, thl t11 or starmobile knight? both have alsmost the same price na po.

  24. Thl is a very good brand, they are available at novo 7 tech or lazada (online), much better if you visit their stores located in malls, the one i was able to visit was at lucky chinatown mall, its better because you can demo a unit. I just downloaded the MIUI launcher on my T100s and i’m very pleased with it. Storage alone is worth it.

  25. Merong botique ang thl sa gateway tower cubao. Novo7 tech ang name ng store.

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