The good: Neon N1 refreshed my judgment on the hardware of MTK6582 plus 1GB RAM by its smoothness. The 720p display belongs to the good kind, showing crispy details and pleasing eyes. Fine craftsmanship.
The bad: Front camera is as low as the phone’s price, or worse. Battery capacity is low, unable to stand heavy use.
Bottom line: As a low-end Chinese-branded phone, it does have drawbacks that we can anticipated while it has a few points that are pleasantly surprising. Altogether, I feel the phone is worth, or fantastic for, its price.
My interest in lesser known Chinese-branded cellphones was aroused when I saw some of them, powered by the MTK6592 octa-core chipset, able to run demanding games in a decent manner. Since then, I’ve seldom looked back to 4-core MTK stuffs, which have nothing to flaunt in my opinion.
Neon N1 should have been ignored if the Axgio company didn’t draw my attention with translated Lewa OS. And when I saw MTK6582, 5-inch 720p display, 1GB RAM, 8GB ROM, 8MP/5MP camera, and a price of 99.99 US dollars, I spoke to myself “it’s as cheap as rubbish”. I meant it would be too cheap to be good.
Quite on the contrary, the N1 gave me a good first impression on the lock screen, where I saw the wallpaper shown with vigor before my eyes. I subliminally unlocked the screen and slid my finger on it a few times. The switch of home screens was very smooth, smoother than on all the 8-core smartphones I’d experienced. The reason will be stated later, but anyway, I felt the passion to know more about Neon N1. And the following is the record of my tryout.
Axgio has “chosen” a design for its new phone, rather than “design” it. I can name at least three models with similar appearance, Doogee DG2014, KINGELON HD5000, and iNew V3. The aesthetic language of cambered back plus narrow and flat metal edges was derived from HTC One to my memory, or Apple’s iMac if not limited to mobile phones.
Of the three imitators aforementioned, I like the DG2014 the most, while Neon N1 is not bad either. The Axgio stuff looks as thin as its right or left edges, which were plated with champagne like the golden iPhone 5S -- I think the sliver on its black version seems less gaudy. As the palm is curved when forming a grip, Neon N1’S back cover fits quite well into a hand. However, the swelling camera lens is vulnerable to abrasion and collision.
In comparison with hideable onscreen menu, home and back buttons, Neon N1’s touch sensitive buttons are a little fogyish and add to its size. Well, I’m being captious to a product worth only 105 US dollars.
Craftsmanship-wise, all inevitable seams on the N1 are so narrow as not to collect dusts; the back cover has a smooth texture but does not reflect lights in a cheap way; all physical keys are elastic and responsive.
Neon N1 has a passable look for me in a word. By the way, girls may like the extra pearl white leathery protective case, which delivers a feel of Anna Sui wallet.
I didn’t expect any highlight on a phone too far below the average price of its peers (the DG2014 has the same preferences with Neon N1 but cost USD35 more). Neon N1 changed my opinion somewhat by its image defining ability. The display shines steadily with pleasant saturation and sharpness, while an image is shown with great integrity so that you don’t feel granules.
To examine my feeling at first glance, I borrowed from my friend 3 other mobile phones with good reputation for displays in comparison with the N1, including THL T11, Doogee DG2014 and iNew V3. All of them are equipped with 5-inch 720p displays.
We can see from the real-time photo that the three displays differentiate very little in terms of details. Rather, the N1 shows more distinct layers than the DG2014 and THL T11 in over-bright areas such as the doggy’s hind part of body.
Color-wise, yellow, green, and red colors are true to life on Neon N1 where you can see the grass greener. On the other hand, the display is weak in showing purple, so this color tends to blue here.
The N1 has a cold display in terms of color temperature, much colder than iPhone 5.
To sum up, Neon N1 is equipped with a nice 720P display, with some tolerable weakness though.
The real resolution of the N1’s back camera is low, as low as most Chinese phone cameras, so details are hardly clear in distant view and objects in close view are not so lifelike. Color-wise, the camera is true to bright green and yellow, too, but dark tones are a little bit grey. Besides, you should hold the phone firmly and hold your breath in low-light environment or under fluorescent lamp, or you may get unfocused photos.
The front camera exists just because it’s weird that a phone does not have one. I can judge from the selfie picture that it is myself. That’s all.
4. Operating System.
A Spanish Youtube guy made a very explicit introduction plus review over the Noenado OS, or translated Lewa OS, on Axigo’s last model W2. It was a Beta Test version with many bugs, which have been corrected in the ultimate version. After a few weeks of experience, I found the custom-made android operating system quite lovable, which resembles somewhat to Huawei’s Emotion system.
To be specific, the task killer and traffic control widgets are very useful to me, who uses mobile Internet as often as the fixed-line. And I recently got crazy about themes. As a regular user of iPhone, I never felt the magic of thoroughly changing UI style, except once, when the iOS was upgraded to the 7.0 version.
A new theme made me feel it was a new phone. The HTC Sense-style and Transformers interface below is in fact two of the themes I downloaded from Lewa’s forum. Lewa OS has got many fans on XDA, and some of them may upload their DIY themes here. You can drag such files to the Lewa – Themes – Lwt folder in the Phone's storage and apply it in the Lewa theme store, which was preinstalled on the cellphone with dozens of themes for free downloading.
By the way, the Neonado OS does not contain all language packages of pure android, but only Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian, Italy and Germany.
I was wondering these days why all the MTK6592-powered Octa-core cellphones had more or less hiccups in the switch of home screens while N1 is much smoother in this aspect. Initially, I thought it was the Lewa OS that counted for the higher speed. And the OS did perform better than the pure android 4.2.2 in a comparative test I made between iWing WTD2 and Wing W2, two same MTK phones with different operating systems.
But my conclusion changed a little when I tried out Doogee DG2014, which, with the same original Android 4.2.2, MTK6582 chipset, and 1GB RAM, is agile, too. Factory optimization is important, surely, while the 8-core CPU may have been weak in some points.
We know that MTK6592 has a clock speed of 1.7GHz, but it is achieved by 8 processing cores united. So its single-core capacity may be below that of MTK6582, which has 4 cores with a combined frequency of 1.3GHz. When we are carrying out some simple actions or using non-demanding apps, only one or 2 cores are activated, so it’s natural if you see more 8-core mobile phones with sluggish user interfaces. And err…., Geek bench does not agree to my point of view.
After too much reasoning, I feel Neon N1 has reassuring smoothness and you can see that from my video. Though I know the phone is not able to run demanding games, I still played NFS Most Wanted to see its max capacity. And, it’s not too bad.
Benchmark scores are also essential to a complete review, so they are here.
The face-value of 1,800mAh is a little bit embarrassing at a time when 5000mAh has emerged. Well, I didn’t find it too poor for one-day use, perhaps because I seldom used it heavily. As before, I let a 720p MV loop on the N1 with middle display brightness, and finally, it sustained for less than 4 hours.
The phone supports screen mirroring to digital TV. But I don’t have a TV dongle at hand, so I didn’t test this function.
I did not mean that the Axgio company made a cellphone with outstanding display and smoothness in all handsets. In general, it is a normal mediocre phone without prominent defects, while it is excellent if compared with its ridiculously low price. Its adoption of Neonado (Lewa) operating system, especially the changeable themes, is a bonus point. If you just use a phone for phone calls, mobile Internet, and simple games, Neon N1 is a fine choice.