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MyPhone Agua Vortex Review: Premium, Stylish, and Solid Build

It's our full review of the MyPhone Agua Vortex!
It’s our full review of the MyPhone Agua Vortex!

MyPhone Agua Vortex Full Review

MyPhone recently expanded their Agua line-up of smartphones with the Agua Vortex, Agua Rain 2G, and Agua Rain 3G. The Vortex was positioned as their flagship smartphone while the Iceberg continues to stand as their flagship phablet. The two Rain variants constitute their new budget offerings. Slowly buy surely MyPhone is building a complete slate of competitive and very able devices.

Last week we got ourselves a MyPhone Agua Vortex. This particular smartphone was intriguing because it addressed a lot of the criticism thrown towards the Agua Iceberg like the massive size and non-expandable storage. This was also their first “official” Agua smartphone offering since we considered the Iceberg as a phablet and that’s a product category on its own.

Let’s quickly go over the specifications again before hitting the full review.

MyPhone Agua Vortex Spec Sheet

  • 1.2GHz quad-core CPU, MediaTek MT6589
  • PowerVR SGX544 GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage, microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
  • 5.0-inch 720p display, Corning Gorilla Glass 2
  • 13.0-megapixels primary camera with LED flash
  • 5.0-megapixels secondary camera
  • Dual SIM, Dual Standby
  • 2,000mAh battery
  • Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1
  • SRP: Php12,388

It’s a pretty solid offering. All of the flaws brought up with the first Iceberg addressed with only a marginal price increase. However the moment a company passes the 12,000 mark for their smartphones that puts them in very competitive and dangerous territory. There are a lot of superb phones in the Php13,000-Php15,000 mark including those that have LTE connectivity and superior battery life. The big question now is if the MyPhone Agua Vortex is indeed worth Php12,388 considering your other options. We’ll try to answer that in this review.

>>> SEE ALSO: MyPhone Agua Vortex Unboxing

Aluminum Frame, Plastic Back Plate, Glass Up Front

Aluminum Frame
Aluminum Frame

In terms of hardware the header above pretty much sums up everything. The main highlight is the sturdy, solid, and cool aluminum frame around the device. It reminded us a lot of the aluminum band of the iPhone 4/4S (which isn’t a bad thing). Unfortunately they decided to scrap the metal back plate. The trade-off though is expandable storage and a removable battery so over-all we’re kinda okay with it.

In lieu of the aluminum back like what we saw with the Iceberg, we have a plastic one with some sort of pattern. There’s no print of the map of the Philippines. The MyPhone logo is centered at the middle and the Vortex logo is centered at the bottom. At the top is the 13.0-megapixel shooter.

What the back looks like
What the back looks like
What you'll see when you remove the back plate
What you’ll see when you remove the back plate

When we removed the back plate we found two full sized SIM card slots, a micro SD card slot (up to 32GB), and the 2,000mAh battery slot.

Up front we have the 5.0-inch screen made by Corning Gorilla Glass 2. There usual three capacitive buttons are at the bottom and the 5.0-megapixel secondary camera is above the display. Speaking of the display, MyPhone definitely hit gold with the manufacturer of the Agua Vortex. The HD 1280x720p display is brilliant! Definitely one of the better displays (due to brightness, detail, and over-all quality) we’ve seen on a 5.0-inch smartphone.

Really good display
Really good display
Still useable even with one hand :)
Still useable even with one hand 🙂

There’s a comfortable heft to the Agua Vortex as well. There’s just enough weight to reassure you that it’s sturdy. In terms of manageability, it’s useable with just one hand but best with both. It feels comfortable to hold and the sides are cool to the touch, a cold but joyful reminder that what you have in your hand has premium materials and not just another generic glossy plastic smartphone.

Over-all in terms of build the MyPhone Agua Vortex strikes the perfect balance in using glass, plastic, and metal. MyPhone was definitely on the money to focus the marketing efforts on this particular device on the chassis and the build.

Accessories: Two Cases Available

Faux Leather Flip Case
Faux Leather Flip Case

MyPhone is also offering two cases for the MyPhone Agua Vortex. First is the faux leather flip cover. It has card slots on the inner flap and you can also use it to prop the device up for viewing mode. Our main concern with it is that the silicon case doesn’t provide a snug and tight fit. SRP is around Php400.

The second case is the usual jelly/silicone variant. It’s literally the silicone case used in the flip cover without the flip part, hehe. SRP is Php150.

It’s nice that MyPhone is offering accessories at the get-go but we would have really liked it if they made the fit tighter.

Turbo MT Quad-core, Where Art Thou?

Antutu Benchmark Score
Antutu Benchmark Score

Moving on to performance and software, the current processor delivers the usual 13,000+ in Antutu Benchmark and that basically means the device can handle almost anything you throw at it from games, video playback, social networking, to “kill-time” apps. Now this is where we’re a bit concerned. We felt that with a price tag of over Php12,000, the minimum should already be the turbo version of the MediaTek quad-core CPU. The difference in performance between the two chipsets spells a big difference in gaming, especially once you hit later stages of titles like Dead Trigger wherein hordes of zombies try to go after your brains.

It’s even more pronounced when you try playing the crazy graphics intensive games like Asphalt 8. In our tests the stuttering was very noticeable. Don’t get us wrong though… the game was still playable but we couldn’t get the best gaming experience out of it because the occasional stuttering and lag was very frustrating.

Now before you go berserk, let me just clarify that this issue is isolated to the super high-end RAM hungry and demanding games. If it’s the usual suspects like NBA 2k13, Wild Blood, Candy Crush, and Angry Birds, you shouldn’t have any problems. Those games will play very smoothly on the Vortex.

Phone actually has a hard time with Asphalt Heat 8
Phone actually has a hard time with Asphalt Heat 8
Vroom vroom!
Vroom vroom!

Everything else though worked flawlessly. Because of the gorgeous display, we used it more for web browsing and video playback. By the way, we just have to point out that the internal storage is 16GB but it’s still expandable via microSD card. That’s a lot of TV series, movies, and random videos folks. 😛

Watching videos on the MyPhone Agua Vortex is a joy!
Watching videos on the MyPhone Agua Vortex is a joy!
Great browsing experience too!
Great browsing experience too!

Over-all in terms of performance the MyPhone Agua Vortex is quite good. However since it’s priced at Php12,000+ we honestly felt that they should have at least put in a turbo quad-core processor so that we wouldn’t have issues with games like Asphalt Heat 8.

Clever Motion and MyPhone Custom Apps

Clever Motion
Clever Motion

MyPhone also ported over their custom suite of apps and features that debuted on the MyPhone Iceberg. This includes Clever Motion, their gesture-based controls system. They also threw in TARA, their anti-theft app and an app that looks like a videoke player (we weren’t able to test it though).

While the software isn’t super refined yet, we’re very appreciative of MyPhone’s efforts to differentiate themselves via what’s inside their phone and not just your usual specifications. It will be interesting to see how their play on custom apps will evolve and if this will eventually lead to more sales and deeper relationships with their customers.

Camera: Colors Need to Pop Out More In Outdoor Shots

The MyPhone Agua Vortex has a good camera… but it’s far from great. There seems to be a problem with the contrast since colors tend to become flat when you’re taking shots outdoors. Sample shots for your reference:

IMG_20131013_170558

IMG_20131013_170441

IMG_20131013_170407

IMG_20131012_181838

Here’s a sample shot of the 5MP front-facing camera. It’s actually pretty good! They definitely nailed the color balance here.

IMG_20131013_172918

If you know some editing, the color reproduction and contrast is actually something you can easily fix. Over-all it’s a good camera. Very similar to the quality of shots you get with the MyPhone Iceberg.

Battery Life: You can get through the day

Next up we have battery life. The MyPhone Agua Vortex is powered by a 2,000mAh battery. It’s enough to get you through the day but you’ll definitely need to charge it in the late afternoon if you want the battery to last all night. Based on our tests with heavy usage you can get around 6-8 hours, with moderate around 10, and light you can hit up to 15-16.

Verdict: Premium and Solid Build

Verdict?
Verdict?

The main draws of the MyPhone Agua Vortex are the premium, stylish, ergonomic, and solid build, the gorgeous 5.0-inch display, and the 16GB expandable internal storage. It’s a fantastic media player and it can handle almost anything you throw at it save for the most demanding games. With that said we can say that the Agua Vortex is ideal for people who are looking for a nice looking phone they can be proud and use mainly for media playback, casual gaming, social networking, and occasional photos without spending the usual amount for a global flagship device (Php25,000+).

There are definitely more value-for-money options out there but we believe that the Vortex is still a good buy especially for those who put a very big weight and value on design and quality.

The MyPhone Agua Vortex is now available for Php12,388. If it’s too expensive for you there’s a 0% interest for 6-months option if you have a credit card. 🙂

MyPhone Agua Vortex on the Unbox Video Podcast

We did a live review of the MyPhone Agua Vortex during the most recent podcast. Check out the full episode below!

Carlo Ople

Carlo is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Unbox.ph. During daytime he’s the Managing Director and Partner of a Digital Marketing Agency in the Philippines and by nighttime he’s living out his passion as a gadget enthusiast and story teller through Unbox.

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35 Comments

  1. I believe the camera shots here aren’t focused. But this is a good review. The phone is not really built for gaming basing it on the processor and battery capacity. Just wondering if the LED notification is just colored red or is it multi-colored?

  2. “There are definitely more value-for-money options out there”- can you name a few sir if i may? i just want to expand my options… although i’m planning to get this.

    1. google Nexus 4 cost less around $150 to $250 (for the nonLTE), If you know someone from abroad, but adding around 5K to Agua’s price to buy a nexus 4 here in the Philippines is actually a better idea.

      But this phone is already making it’s way. It’s actually a nice phone but too costly for a budget phone.

    2. Don’t forget This is a dual sim smartphone. That being the case It’s one of the better dual sim phones if not the best.

  3. “In lieu of the aluminum back like what we saw with the Iceberg, we have a plastic one with some sort of pattern…”

    According to the product description at MyPhone’s website, the back cover is of “brushed-metal finish”. 🙂

  4. MAS MAGANDA PA RIN UN COSMOS NG CHERRYMOBILE KC 18MP UN CAM NUN AT MAS LAMANG SA SPECS UN MURA PA KESA D2.. TSK! TSK!

    1. mas madali naman masira ang cherry mobile kesa myphone… ung myphone ko halos araw araw bumabagsak pero buhay pa rin 🙂

  5. Don’t forget This is a dual sim smartphone. That being the case It’s one of the better dual sim phones if not the best.

  6. The COSMOS X2 of Cherry mobile isn’t really an 18mp cam. Magkaparehas lang sila nang Agua Vortex. Yet, subok na ang tibay ng myphone. I had a cherry mobile phone before, it’s android perolaging naglalag. Mas maganda pa rin yung quality ng myphone, matibay and their customer service is very great and approachable. Mas matagal din ang warranty 🙂

  7. Need help! I got my Agua Vortex 2 weeks ago. The wifi won’t work when I set it to ON. It just says “Turning WiFi on…” and proceeds to turn itself off. I’ve done the factory reset and still it doesn’t work. Can’t return the phone ‘coz I’m currently in another continent. I’ve checked in some forums and from similar issues it seems that I need to flash the phone. Now, how exactly do I go about flashing the Agua Vortex?

  8. bumili ako ng brand new vortex 2 days ago, npansin k yung power button ay maluwag nung ibinalik k s store sadya dw yung ganon. sadya b tlga o factory defect?

  9. Hi Vicoy . are you already a member of Facebook community for Vortex. Check the facebook community that support Myphone units like Vortex. you can ask question and assistance from co-member.. just search for Mylphone Vortex.. My “small L” phone = Mylphone

  10. Puro kayo comment subukan nyo nga kung makapag design kayo ng cellphone galing sa sariling utak nyo ako proud ako sa nag design ng Vortex meron din ako ng vortex walang problema sakin nasa paggamit lang yan ingatan nyo para d masira

  11. I always check unbox.ph first for the latest in gadgets. I like the balanced reviews very much. It helped me decide to buy my 1st midrange phone. Good work Sir Carlo! Mabuhay po kayo.

  12. Mahina ang wifi signal in regards to distance from the router, mga 3 meters difference versus sa iphone 3gs at ipad2 3g. Other than that ok nmn at stylish design. D ko pa n try 3g signal pro sabi friend ko mabilis nmn nag load cla 1 day unli net

  13. kakabili ko lang ng vortex oct.30 pero ngayon lang may napansin ako lines sa ilalim ng phone lcd nag punta ako SM para mag tanong kun ano kaya yun defective na daw lcd ko,nakakainis kasi wala pa 1 month ganun na agad.and promise di man lang napapabagsak yung unit..hay kainis

    1. Sa ngayon hindi na sya worth it, mas maraming bagong models ngayon na pareho ang specs but much more cheaper than this.
      Balita ko nga nag slash na ito ng 50% off sa ibang online shop.
      If ever na bibili ka ng new phone edi sa mas new model ka na tumingin.
      I hope makatulong ito. 🙂

  14. I just wonder why the price of MP Vortex is slumped down to half its standard price in some mall stores. Could there be many bugs in the model? Please inform me .

  15. matibay ang vortex hanggang ngayon buhay pa yung sa akin! worth it ang presyo pangmatagalan tsaka panalo yung cam lalo na pag nag custom rom lalong gumanda! 2yrs and 5 months na to…kaya lang ginagawa ko nlng na back up phone hehehehe

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