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We review Starmobile’s Knight Spectra!

Whatever you think of Starmobile as a company, you can’t deny that they’re not afraid to try new things. Instead of following the herd, the folks behind the Filipino brand continuously tries to march to the beat of their own drum, refusing to get sucked into a price war that’s being waged by the company’s domestic competitors and instead offer unique smartphones with feature sets that other local brands don’t offer. It’s with that attitude that the company released the Knight Spectra, one of the last few locally-branded flagships released this year.

Starmobile Knight Spectra specs:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 405 GPU
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 5.5-inch full HD, On cell AMOLED display, scratch resistant glass, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 32GB of storage, expandable via microSD
  • 13-megapixel rear camera with flash + 2-megapixel rear camera
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • Dual-SIM 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, ISDB-T, OTG, DVB Digital TV
  • 3500mAh battery
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop

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Gorgeous design that’s a fingerprint magnet

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The Knight Spectra is a lot of things, but ugly isn’t one of them. We’ve seen it up close and personal before during the official launch a few weeks ago, and it’s still one of the nicest-looking smartphones offered by a local brand today.

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The Knight Spectra looks to have a metal frame which is sandwiched by scratch-resistant glass on both the front and the back. The overall design isn’t the most original in the world, and there’s a lot of similarity in the curves to Sony’s Xperia line of devices. The phone does get some minus points for having a plastic frame, though to its credit the chamfered edges are good enough that you probably won’t notice anyway – we mistook the frame as metal on our first encounter with the device.

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All the relevant buttons are on the right side of the phone, while the 3.5mm jack is on the top and theUSB port is located on the bottom, along with the speaker grille. Once you flip it over, you’ll see just how reflective and shiny the phone is, thanks to the scratch-resistant glass. You’ll also see the two rear cameras near the top of the phone, with an LED flash in between. A closer look at the camera module will show you that they’re not the same size – one is bigger than the other. That’s because one is a 13-megapixel snapper while the other one is just 2-megapixels. The former takes the actual photos while the latter takes in depth information, which is what makes the refocusing magic of the Spectra work.

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Probably our only complaint with the Knight Spectra’s overall build is that the dual-glass setup is a smudge magnet, and if you’re the type that likes keeping your gadgets nice and clean, you’ll constantly be wiping the Spectra down.

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The Knight Spectra uses a 5.5-inch On Cell AMOLED display that sports full HD resolution. Starmobile’s becoming fond of using AMOLED panels for its more expensive smartphones, and we can’t say we blame them. While AMOLED-equipped phones aren’t as accurate color-wise compared to IPS panels, they’re more vibrant, easier on the eyes and have excellent blacks and contrast, qualities that the panel on the Knight Spectra has. The phone utilizes on-screen Android navigation keys.

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Snapdragon 615 may not impress, but it’s a certified workhorse

Starmobile has favored Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 over MediaTek’s other mid-range processors for the Spectra, and paired it with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. We’re probably drowning in 615-equipped processors by now, so you know what that means – mid-range performance, okay-ish gaming with slight slowdowns when you’re gaming with more graphically intense games.

We did notice some occasional slowdowns when navigating and general use with the phone, which is odd, considering the higher than normal RAM inside the Knight Spectra. We’re going to attribute that to the number of pre-installed apps on the phone.

Starmobile’s also thrown in a D-TV receiver inside the Knight Spectra, which can watch up to 10 free, digital TV channels. Coverage for all the channels is largely dependent on your location.

Call quality is excellent, and we never found an issue with connectivity while we were using the device.

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Dual-camera setup is cool, but not groundbreaking

So, does the dual-camera setup on the Knight Spectra work as advertised? Yes, but there are caveats. Before we get into that, let’s talk about the actual image quality of the photos for a bit. As we mentioned earlier, the Spectra has dual-cameras that work in tandem with one another, with one doing the actual shooting bit while the other one provides additional depth information for the refocus magic.

Alright, so let’s get to the real meat and potatoes of the review: photo quality. They’re good, but fall short of what we were expecting, considering the price of the device. Colors come out a wee bit oversaturated, though to be fair the images are pretty vibrant, if a little too exaggerated. Low-light shots were okay, but you could really see the camera struggling with the lack of OIS in some of the photos.

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As for the vaunted re-focus tech? Well, it’s cool, but it’s not ground breaking. Best results come when you’re shooting in brightly lit environments, and the refocsing tech is done within the camera app itself. The app is easy to use and gets the point across easily.

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Typical battery life from a mid-range smartphone

The Starmobile Knight Spectra has a battery life that’s typical of what you’ll see on a Snapdragon 615 equipped smartphone. The 3500mAh battery manages to keep the phone running for 6 hours and minutes. That translates to almost a day’s worth of battery life with a teensy bit left over for the next day if you forgot to charge the battery.

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Verdict: A phone that has a nice camera and design, though that may not be enough to convince buyers

Many people don’t like the idea of local brands coming out with flagships that’s the price of a mid-range phone from an international brand. In truth, many people who bash Starmobile’s products aren’t going to buy them anyway, so in a sense the company is moving to the beat of their own drum. There is certainly something to be said about a beautiful phone that’s capable of refocusing a shot after it’s taken, though many people will need a lot of convincing before they plop down the substantial amount of cash that the Knight Spectra demands. If you like a phone with a good camera, decent featureset and are absolutely dead set trying out the refocus tech yourself, you can buy the Knight Spectra for Php 14,990.