LeEco has ambitious plans for India and aims to be among India’s top three smartphone manufacturers by the end of this fiscal year. The company recently unveiled its new mid-range competitor – the Le 2, a complete overhaul of its highly successful Le 1S range.
LeEco recently released a slight update to the original Le 1s in the form of the Le 1S Eco, which did very well in our official review. The company managed to sell 500,000 units of the Le 1s range in less than 100 days, making it nothing short of an absolute success.
However, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 has affected Le 1s sales and the Le 2 aims to retake the budget throne.
The LeEco Le 2 is a revision of the LeEco Le1s and features a similar metal design, an oct-core 1.8GHz Snapdragon 652 processor, 16+8MP cameras, 32GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM.
The phone’s USP is in its ‘revolutionary’ CDLA audio technology and the company’s ecosystem-based LeEco membership program. Users can access over 2,000 movies, 50 live shows throughout the year, over 100 live TV channels and over 3.5 million songs right from their smartphones. In addition, the company is also offering 5TB personal cloud space storage space.
Does the Le 2 have what it takes to continue the success seen by the Le 1s and stand out among recent releases such as the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus, the Lenovo Zuk Z1 and the recently revised (hyperlinked) YU Yunicorn? Let’s try to find out in our practical review.
The Le 2 looks identical to its predecessor, with a full metal unibody design that looks and feels very premium. The build quality is fantastic with no creaks or rattles. The design and construction of the device is one of the highlights and it can easily rival any high-end smartphone.
The Moto G4 Plus, with its all-plastic construction, looks like a device from a segment below. The YU Unicorn with its metal unibody made from an alloy of manganese, magnesium and aluminum gives the Le 2 a run for its money, with the Le 2 only advancing by a small margin.
However, the lack of major design changes compared to the LeEco Le 1 might be seen as a negative by some.
There’s a highly scratch-resistant, mirror-finished fingerprint scanner on the back, which according to LeEco has an accuracy of 99.3%. The fingerprint scanner is extremely fast and accurate, and it’s a pleasure to use. There’s a USB Type-C port and speaker on the bottom, and the power and volume controls on the right.
The display is a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS panel with a pixel density of 403 PPI. It also features Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for scratch resistance. In my limited time with the device, the display looked quite impressive, with ultra-vivid colors, good viewing angles, and adequate brightness levels.
In contrast to the Le 1s Eco which weighed 170 grams, the Le 2 weighs a much more manageable 153 grams and its dimensions are 74.2 x 151.1 x 7.7 mm.
For a smartphone with a 5.5-inch screen, the LeEco Le 2 is quite easy to use, mainly due to the extremely thin vertical bezels.
CDLA audio technology
Where is the headset located? Well, there isn’t one. There is only one I/O port on the Le 2 – the USB Type-C port. LeEco has developed a proprietary audio transmission technology called Continuous Lossless Digital Audio (CDLA).
The CDLA transmits audio digitally using the device’s Type-C port, completely avoiding the analog conversion that occurs through the traditional 35mm headphone jack. LeEco promises that this results in transmission with a higher bit rate, more power and less signal noise, delivering high-resolution, near-lossless audio.
LeEco has also introduced a USB Type-C Headphone and USB Type-C Headphone to accompany the Le 2 and Le Max 2, priced at Rs 1,999 and Rs 2,499 respectively. It’s unclear whether the retail box will come with any of them packaged.
LeEco, during the launch event, spoke about how audio technology has remained stagnant for the past 50 years, stuck in the 3.5mm headphone era. The company claims that CDLA technology will bring a revolution in audio and take it into the digital age.
I tried out the headphones, which have a rather un-ergonomic and quirky design, at the launch event, and they sounded crisp and detailed. However, I really couldn’t discern the difference that CDLA technology brings over the traditional headset with such limited testing.
While the Le1s has a 2.2Ghz octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 processor, the Le 2 advances the game with an octa-core Snapdragon 652 processor clocked at 1.8GHz. The Le 2 will be the first smartphone in India to come with the Snapdragon 652 SoC.
LeEco claims that the Snapdragon 652 is the most powerful octa-core CPU in the world and it performs 21% better than the Snapdragon 800. In fact, LeEco said that the 652 outperforms the Snapdragon 808.
As we know all too well, more than just specifications, what matters is how well the hardware and software are optimized. To see if these high claims translate into real-world performance, you’ll have to wait for our full review.
In addition, the Le 2 comes with the same 3GB of RAM as the Le 1s, Adreno 510 GPU, 32GB of internal storage, 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display and microSD support.
Among the competitors, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 offers a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor, 16/32 GB of storage, a 5.5-inch full HD screen, micro SD support and 3 GB of RAM while the Moto G4 Plus is powered by a processor. octa-1.5 GHz. Snapdragon 617 CPU paired with a 550MHz Adreno 405 GPU, microSD card support and 2GB RAM + 16GB internal storage or 3GB RAM + 32GB internal storage.
The LeEco Le 2 comes with a 16MP rear camera, f/2.0 with dual LED flash and a sensor size of 1/31″ inches. It is capable of recording 4K video at 30fps and 720p slow motion video at 120fps. front is an 8MP case with an aperture of f/2.2.
In my limited testing, the camera looked pretty decent for the price, though I have to test it extensively to get a sharper image.
The smartphone comes with a non-removable 3,000mAh battery. The battery life of the Le1s and Le1s Eco was solid, if not spectacular, and the devices lasted a full day with moderate use. Heavy use, however, killed the battery the moment the sun went down.
We have to wait and see if Le 2 improves on its predecessor.
The Le 2 runs on LeEco’s own EUI 5.6 running on Android Marshmallow v6.0.1. While fast and agile, the extensive amount of customization made by Le Eco doesn’t suit everyone. The lack of an app drawer and notification shortcuts are the main irritants. Instead, quick shortcuts are located on the app switcher screen.
LeEco has embraced the inclusion of its own gallery, music and video apps, leading to confusion between its own apps and Google’s. In fact, the default browser out of the box is not Chrome, but LeEco itself.
As mentioned above, LeEco heavily advertises the content ecosystem you get along with on your phone. Users get free access for a year to the content along with the phone, which the company claims is worth Rs 4,900. There is 5TB of cloud storage that can be accessed after making a LeEco account. There are two main apps that offer the range of content – ‘Levidi’ and ‘Live’.
Levidi allows users to access Bollywood and regional movies, while Live (Yupp TV) allows users to access YuppTV’s entire catalog of live TV channels. A service called Le Music, which will launch in Q3 2016, will give users access to more than 3.5 million songs in 25 different languages in partnership with Hungama.
In addition, LeEco will also provide live streaming of 50 shows worldwide throughout this year, and will also give some lucky superfans the chance to attend these shows in person. The company claims that this is just the beginning for its content ecosystem and much more is to come in the future.
Priced at Rs 11,999, the LeEco Le 2 appears to be a great value for money proposition. It promises to deliver great performance with the Snapdragon 652, has a fantastic display and comes with ‘revolutionary’ CDLA audio technology and upgraded cameras. However, the lack of a headphone jack and the same design as the predecessor pulls it down.