The XTouch Unix Pro first impressed us with its specifications on paper. But after using it for several weeks, does the device live up to its “budget flagship” moniker? Here’s our take.
Design and build
There is nothing particularly striking about the phone’s design. It looks like an average smartphone and fits nicely in the hand. Personally, the rounded edges make for a comfortable grip but that is not denying that the phone is a bit chunky.
There is no sacrifice in terms of material choice though. The phone is constructed largely out of metal for a premium feel and can even survive a fair few drops. The cherry on top is the colour. The unit we had came in a matte black finish, which instantly made it just that bit better. If it wasn’t for the slightly loose power and volume buttons, the device would truly be the complete package, build quality wise.
In terms of display, the front sports a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS panel. It is bounded by large bezels that don’t help with immersion. Nonetheless, viewing angles are very good and sunlight legibility is on par too. However, colours on the display tended to be a bit washed out on most occasions. XTouch does provide a way to fine-tune the display settings but it didn’t quite match my taste.
The audio experience on the other hand was exceptional. I was impressed to see dual speakers on the device, albeit bottom firing ones. They’re not easily muffled and get loud enough for content consumption in noisier environments. That said, the sound quality is not the most accurate and there is a fair bit of distortion when the volume is at its maximum. But the solution to this is simple. The out-of-the-box earphones do a great job of maintaining audio accuracy without distortion and they plug in via the good old 3.5mm headphone jack.
A common perception of budget smartphones is that their major shortcoming is performance. Thankfully, the XTouch Unix Pro goes some way towards debunking that theory. Its MT6757 octa-core processor makes every task on this phone a pleasure to run. Combined with the 6GB of RAM on board, multitasking is also a breeze. In spite of these specs, 3D gaming seems to stutter just a little bit due to the GPU, but 2D games run fine.
The software XTouch has bundled with the Unix Pro comes on top of Android 6.0. It keeps everything relatively bloatware-free and adds to a snappy experience. But in doing so, core customisation options that Android users may be used to don’t quite make it. Additionally, I would have liked to see at least a native multi-window feature by default to take advantage of the phone’s screen real estate and internal hardware.
The Unix Pro has a fingerprint scanner on its front. Its placement is good and it works with about an 80 per cent success rate. But it’s slightly annoying that it functions not only as a sensor but also a button. When navigating the user interface, a touch directs you to the home screen. But clicking the physical button will do the same. That makes true multitasking a bit tedious because every time you want to switch applications, you will be directed to the home screen of your phone first, before the multitasking pane opens.
The shortcomings aren’t really massive. Most of the complaints are simple software fixes that should be addressed in the near future, if the Android 7.0 Nougat update for this phone is in the works. As far as the customisation aspect is concerned, you really cannot go wrong with plethora of options the Google Play Store provides.
Photography on budget smartphones is rarely a strong point. The Unix Pro stays true to this trend. Despite taking detailed 16MP shots with good colour reproduction and dynamic range during the day, performance in darker scenarios degrades considerably. Shutter speed tends to slow down and pictures tend to a have a slight blur to them. Although the software processing does well to reduce noise in such cases, it is at the expense of a loss of detail in the picture.
On the video recording side of things, the native 4K option at 30fps was quite a surprise. However, the captured video was lacking in detail and not very stable. I think the Full HD option is adequate for any casual video recording especially because footage is much more stable. Check out the video for some samples.
Over on the front, the 8MP camera is plenty good in the day but colours tend to be washed out and inaccurate. I think it can easily accommodate group selfies as well. At night too, the pictures did not come out as bad as I expected but there is a significant amount of noise.
When I mentioned the Unix Pro being a bit on the chunky side, it has its reasons. The phone manages to cram in a gargantuan 4,000mAh battery while staying relatively lightweight and compact. In my day-to-day usage, the brightness was kept to 50 per cent with both Wi-Fi and mobile data turned on. On average, I easily got up to two days’ use on a single charge. That translates to around seven hours of screen-on time.
In addition, the USB Type-C port not only makes the phone future-proof but also allows for fast charging. The phone gains a percentage every two minutes translating to a full charge from 0 per cent in two hours and fifteen minutes.
As you might have realised, there is not much to dislike about this smartphone. But it gets even better. Features such as dual-sim functionality and microSD support to build on the default 64GB of storage are delightful.
Even the box in which the phone comes packaged in has a premium feel to it and the company goes the extra mile to bundle a variety of accessories. In addition to the included earphones, XTouch provides users with a fast charging adapter and cable, a flip case and a variety of different screen protectors.
At its Dh999 price tag, the XTouch Unix Pro is very hard to outclass. Its raw performance, design and camera go a long way towards making the phone worth your money. In fact, it is surprisingly faster than a more popular budget offering at this price point, the Honor 6X.
But that is not to say that it’s an absolutely perfect phone. Shortcomings in software features and screen quality are no doubt present but I do not think these alone are enough to sway a user to any other smartphone at this price point. Budget phones are really pushing the boundaries these days and I think the XTouch Unix Pro is a prime example.