• Saturday, April 21, 2018

Leagoo M9 Review - Premium specifications at the low-end

Introduction


After we’ve seen the M8 Pro in September, the next budget device from Leagoo came to us – the M9. This is a device that breaks all prejudice saying that there are not good cheap devices. Leagoo, as a manufacturer, points out several characteristics of this device – 18:9 aspect ratio “infinity display” and 4 camera sensors, two on each side of the device. Next to the cameras and the display, Leagoo aims for the low price point. You can get this device through web shops for as little as 50€. Hardware that powers up this device is signed by MediaTek, and later we’ll see how it compares to the predecessor. Inside the factory box of the Leagoo M9 there is: a Leagoo charging adapter microUSB cable, gel case and user manuals. Today we’re testing the M9 in Black color, and next to this also available are Champagne and Blue.

Let’s now see together what we get for the very low price.

Video review


Unboxing


Display

What is definitely the main selling point of this device is its display. Infinity displays were, up to now, reserved only for high-end devices, and only sometimes some upper middle-class devices from the end of 2017, but Leagoo breaks the rules. This is the first device of the lowest price segment of the market with an infinity display. We have a 5.5” IPS LCD display which covers around 80% of the front panel of the device. As this is an 18:9 aspect ratio display, there is also the fitting screen resolution: 1280 x 640, which is a tiny bit less compared to what we’re accustomed to seeing in the lowest segment – HD 720p 16:9.

This resolution combined with a 5.5” display translates to 260 pixels per inch (PPI). We, however, must take into account that this is still non-standard aspect ratio. Viewing video material, for example on YouTube, will still cause the edges of your infinity display to go black in order to reproduce the 16:9 video, so the viewing experience will definitely not be the best. Luckily, YouTube has built the “Zoom to Fit” option into their application which will eliminate the black edges. Still, the maximum resolution for the M9 is only 480p which is far from acceptable in 2018. Browsing the web is a pretty pleasant experience because this is still a 5.5” display, and typing won’t be an issue either, especially taking into account that we have the standard Google keyboard (Gboard) preinstalled. Going back to viewing quality. This is, as we’ve previously mentioned, an IPS display, which is a great prerequisite for realistic views and good visibility on the sunlight. Luckily, we have Mira Vision here, a system that we’ve encountered before with other devices and that will let you adjust the views on your display, either by loading from a range of presets of by manually adjusting image parameters – Contrast, Saturation, Picture Brightness, Sharpness and Color Temperature. Brightness is pretty good, and it can be manipulated either manually or by using the ambience light sensor which is located between the front facing speaker and an LED diode. This panel lets your contrast go up to 1200:1.

The display itself is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, while the M9 also comes with a preinstalled film foil over the display, which is a very neat touch. Viewing angles are pretty good.

Hardware and OS

As we’ve said, the Leagoo M9 is powered by a MediaTek chipset. This is a very well-known chipset that we could see countless times in various other manufacturers’ devices. Yes, you guessed it, the MT6580(A) found its way to the M9 as well! As you already know, this chipset is built in 28nm technology, and it consists of a quad core CPU with ARM Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.3 GHz. It is not a beast, but it does the job as an entry level MediaTek CPU. Next to it, there is an ARM Mali-400 MP2 dual core GPU clocked at 500 MHz. Again, not exactly a beast, but for this price range, we cannot really ask for more. We have 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM clocked at 533 MHz. What all this means is that you should not expect crazy multitasking performances. There are 16GB of internal storage memory out of which 5GB are reserved for the Android OS itself and another 1GB for preinstalled applications. This means that you’ll be left with around 10GB for your personal files and applications, which is really too little, but luckily there is a microSD card slot that supports expansions up to 64GB.

After we’ve gone through the specifications, we’ll turn over to the user experience of the Leagoo M9. Navigating through the menu is pretty fluent, although from time to time there can be a little bit of lag if there are 3-4 somewhat more demanding operations running in the background. Gaming side of this device surprised us a bit with a rather good GPU performance on a low-resolution display. Traffic Rider, Temple Run and Flip Diving all work perfectly well. We, however, did notice slight overheating after about 10 minutes of gaming, but nothing too much – it did not impact the performances whatsoever.

A great addition to the whole story about the M9 is definitely a fingerprint scanner built in. It works very quickly and precisely, but we did notice that it slightly heats up after you unlock the device a few times in a row. It is located just below the camera sensor, and it can be easily mistaken for the camera sensor, which means that the sensor might get dirty, and that in turn can greatly impact the quality of photos. A similar issue to the one on the Samsung Galaxy S8. Sound reproduction speaker is located at the bottom of the device. The sound is not very good – it is pretty quiet and it lacks the bass. We wouldn’t mind slightly better sound quality, but obviously you get what you pay for.

Leagoo M9 is powered by Android 7.0 Nougat with Leagoo 3.0 Lite user interface. During testing, we installed one update of 25MB which brought slight improvements of performances and security patches for January. Next to the basic Google applications, there are several more preinstalled applications: File manager, Leagoo App Store and Info Hub. As we’ve said, the system itself takes up around 5GB of internal storage and it works pretty well, which means that we cannot really ask for any more, especially taking into account the price. Future upgrades are, for now, not announced.

Camera

Little by little, we come to the part that definitely draws the most attention on a device from the lowest market segment. In the Leagoo M9 we have 4 camera sensors. Only several manufacturers opted for 4 camera sensors for their device, and Leagoo brought it a step further implementing them into a very cheap device.

We have 2 front and 2 rear facing cameras. Let’s start from the main camera sensor.

The main advantage of having a double camera setup is taking portrait photos with blurred backgrounds. These are two CMOS sensors with the aperture of f/2.4. This device has a Face Beauty mode, as well as a Blur mode for portrait photos with the bokeh effect. ISO values go up to 1600 and Geo-tagging is also present. Other photo parameters that you can manually adjust are: sharpness, saturation, contrast and brightness. You can change the aspect ratio of photos, which means that you can take photos in 4:3, and Full Screen 18:9 aspect ratio. Sadly, the quality is just the same as the price – low. There is simply not too much to say. Portrait photos look pretty bad, with very inaccurate edges around the object, which makes the effect as a whole look very bad. Day time photos are ok, but you can forget about high quality photos in environments where light is not plenty. Poor contrast, washed up colors and too little details. Focusing speed is ok, as is the shutter speed. Night time photos can be somewhat improved by using the double LED flash, but you should really not expect any marvels since the device tends to overemphasize certain parts of the photo when you use the flash.

Maximum resolution is 8MP, and next to this, also available are:
  • 5MP
  • 3MP
  • 2MP
  • 1MP
  • VGA (QVGA)
Video recording is also possible, and the quality is in line with the photos. Frames get doubled up, there are very few details and high levels of noise. It is a good thing that the M9 supports FullHD video capturing, but the flip side is that it uses the ancient .3gp format to store those videos, which greatly impacts the quality of these videos. Stabilization in implemented via EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization), and its effect is very minor. Next to FullHD videos, you can also take them in:
  • HD 720p
  • SD 480p
  • QCIF 176p
The front facing cameras have very similar use to the ones on the back, but they are different in that we have a 5MP and a 2MP sensor on the front. The Blur effect is supported by the front facing camera setup as well, results are below average, but they are still acceptable for this price. Options to change ISO values are again here (up to 1600 which makes very little sense of a sensor like this), the aspect ratio of photos (4:3, 18:8 Full Screen), auto scene detection mode etc.

Next to the maximum 5MP resolution, also available are:
  • 3MP
  • 2MP
  • 1MP
  • VGA (QVGA)
Videos captured with the front facing cameras aren’t even worth talking about. They are recorded in maximum VGA (640 x 480) resolution and stored in .3gp format, and you can also record videos in QCIF (176 x 144) resolution. EIS is also available on the front facing camera as well, and just as on the back, the effect is very minor.
Long story short, the sensors built into the Leagoo M9 are basically the same low-end sensor built into cheap Chinese devices, and you should really not expect too much from them – not even if the are four! Good marketing though!

Connectivity

Another huge advantage of the Leagoo M9 is its capability to operate with two SIM cards simultaneously. The M9 uses one nanoSIM and one microSIM card, and the microSD card slot is physically separated from SIM card slots. You will still be able to use your favorite 3.5mm headphones, since the port is still here, and it is located on the top of the device, right next to the microUSB charging port.

Wireless connections supported by the M9 are:
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (HotSpot mode)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 – A2DP
  • A-GPS
  • FM Radio
NFC is not supported, and as this is not a 4G device, supported frequencies are:
  • 2G GSM: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
  • 3G UMTS: 900 / 2100 MHz

Battery

Leagoo M9 can boast with a removable battery with the capacity of 2850 mAh. This capacity combined with a pretty power saving chipset means that the battery life will be pretty long. This is a Li-Polymer battery. The M9 does not support fast charging, and for a full charge it needs about 2 hours. With one full charge you can get about 7 hours of SoT (Screen on Time) with the device connected to WiFi, screen brightness at around 60% and mediocre use of social media applications and cameras.

Final words

This should’ve been the ultimate photography machine with 4 camera sensors. It failed miserably in that field, that is for sure. Simply, Leagoo made the whole story of 4 cameras much better than it actually is – they just don’t offer the quality. But again, you only get what you pay for. Advantages are definitely DualSIM capability, infinity display which looks pretty nice, and microSD card expansion. And yes, the 50€ price point is more than just good for any new Android smartphone.

Do you like the Leagoo M9? We’d love to see your opinion in the comment section below. If you have any suggestions or you would like to see a specific device being reviewed, feel free to write to us either here on our Facebook page. If you liked our review, please subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook, and sit comfortably as we’re working hard on new material for you!

Leagoo M9 Full Phone Specifications

Advantages and disadvantages

Reasons for and against it

Price
Removable battery
Decent display with a modern design
Decent gaming performances
MicroSD + DualSIM capability
Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box
Poor cameras
Old chipset
Build quality