There are a lot of reviews on this phone. This is more or less a write up regarding my experience with it. I was in the market for a new phone, and I wanted something that was fast and responsive with a decent camera using the latest Qualcomm chipset. In my past experiences with Android phones, there were always some sort of lag between apps and answering a call or it would freeze often and required constant reboots. After many very frustrating experiences I had switched to a Windows Lumia 920 and have been quite happy with its functionality and stability. I didn’t want to spend an exorbitant amount on a new phone this time around and was curious to see how the mid-range flagship phones were with the high-end specs.
I opted to try LeEco’s Le Pro 3 Ecophone, US version LEX727 running firmware 18.104.22.168S, gold color with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage (52GB usable) with an instant rebate, for 299.00 during LeEco’s flash sale (only option for this model). It came with a 3-month free EcoPass to their streaming content, 5TB free storage called LeCloud Storage which includes unlimited storage for videos and photos and the 5TB may be used for all other files. The ecophone comes with a 2 year warranty and other rewards that or discounts would be introduced to be used at their LeMall, their online store. EcoPass with the Le app which is a part of the LeTv experience has add-on subscriptions at a reduced fee like IndieFlix and dedicated content channels like Screambox for scary movies.
At this point in time, I don’t know how much EcoPass would be after the free trail and I would have to call in to cancel the service before it starts billing for the service. For the price of the phone at 299.00 and the benefits LeEco brings to the platform, it is an absolutely terrific phone for the value and price. Their intent is to sell hardware at a reduced cost to win over customers that will want a high-end phone while providing a device that will deliver the best performance for the end user to experience their Le content and its ecosystem. Very much like Amazon’s model with selling the Fire tablet and phone to increase their brand and content to consumers.
People can compare benchmarks to other phones and declare their favorite or winner, but the LeEco Le Pro 3 is no slouch. With the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 and fast internals, it is quick, switches between apps effortlessly and it doesn’t seem to struggle in this area. I haven’t had any issues, opening or closing apps, taking or making phone calls, emails, browsing the web, watching videos, everything overall is snappy and it doesn’t disappoint. It just works and it’s stable. One minor UI critique, and maybe it’s on other Android phones too, when I have no other app open and I open say the browser, and I press the home key to get back to the main screen, press the multi-function button, it will show the last app I had open, but I can’t exit/close that particular app.
The camera uses Sony’s IMX298 camera sensor which is the same sensor used in the Asus’s Zenfon 3 and the One Plus 3T. The difference, is in the optimization and implementation of the software with OIS. The camera doesn’t come with any type of optical image stabilization (OIS) technology (neither digital or physical). It makes it a bit difficult to take a good picture or recording that doesn’t end up giving you a headache. Stills in mid-light to low light has ghosting and blurring affects if there are movements and for video, lots of shaking. In order to take a good photo, it takes a steady hand and a well lit environment. In lower lit areas, some manual settings is required to produce a good photo. The lower the light, the more grainy and noise the image has if using higher ISO. The Camera application records well at 4k and 1080p videos with good audio pickup. In auto settings (point and shoot), the camera typically will use higher ISO ranges than what we can manually select.
LeEco definitely could have and I hope it will take some time to work on optimizing the Camera app and at least implement digital image stabilization if possible for their next software update. For 399, I feel at least this should have been included to make this phone a real competitor and to give the end user the rich experience that LeEco intended, but at 299, it’s a great value without OIS, water resistance, and other high-end profile phones may have. The camera software doesn’t look like it uses the Camera2 API, where it would have allowed for newer features to be used such as using RAW format and focus distance.
Overall, it takes decent photos with manual intervention. Definitely not the go to camera for the quick point and shoot that has movement in it, and I found, with using a different camera app, like Camera ZOOM FX, it does add additional options for the photographer’s need and in general, it works okay.
Images below were taken using the stock camera app. If you click on it you can see the noise in the photos and the difference between manual and the auto selection of ISO.
Phone calls and Bluetooth
Phone calls are crisp, clear, on both ends. Sometimes the volume is a bit low depending on whom you are speaking with and what device they may have on their end. Bluetooth connectivity is quick and responsive and connecting it to my car was rather simple. The sound quality over BT is ample and clear, no pops or interference, and callers could hear me clearly. The phone also supports HD Voice or VoLTE (voice over LTE) on At&t and Wifi calling on T-mobile.
I’m still getting used to the whole part of the USB-C port and not having a 3.5mm jack. Not being able to simultaneously charge and use my wired ear piece is a bummer especially when my BT headset runs out of battery. Majority of the time if you have a portable battery, it can quick charge to 50% in about 30 or so minute, but it is an inconvenience. The wired headset that comes with it works well, loud, works like any other headset that isn’t poorly made. One interesting thing that I’ve encountered, when my screen turns off, the headphone gets muted and I have to push the power button to wake it and audio is restored.
More of an Android annoyance, and not the phone itself. If a music player is suspended in the background, when the BT connects to the car, it will autoplay where it was left off. If you want to prevent it from autoplaying, simply end the task and clear the cache of the application to prevent it from starting the next time the car starts. The other difference I’ve noticed compared to my Windows phone and or an iPhone, with the LeEco Pro 3 (I don’t know if this happens on other Android phones), in order to hear navigation guidance from Waze for example, I have to be on the Bluetooth source to hear the voice navigation vs on the Windows Lumia and iPhone, I could be listening to the radio on the FM source and the navigation would interject to announce its guidance.
Screen, Wifi, and GPS
Overall the screen is nice. Colors are vibrant, warm, and a little dim and to the darker side. Other than that, nice, crisp, clear and very readable even in sun light. It could be brighter though but, overall it’s very usable. Wifi and LTE picks up signals very well with its antennas. Haven’t had any issues or have had experienced an issue with the phone not being able to function in circumstances where there’s low signal. GPS picks up very quickly. So far it has worked well in triangulating my position and providing the proper coordinates to the few GPS software that I use.
UI, Speakers and LeTV
The UI reminds me a little bit of the iPhone where icons are all on the screen in a grid. I prefer the Android stock app drawer. I ended up installing the Nova launcher application with the Arrow Launcher as the default. This gave me the app drawer that I liked combined with swiping left/right to see quick information on the panels. Easy to see messages, tasks/notes, documents etc. that I was working on or see whom I’ve been communicating with. LeTV works well as expected as I watched a few movies on it. Be nice to have a bit more control and the ability to cast it to Chrome cast, Mira cast, DLNA, other than to a LeEco TV product. Select your video to watch and it plays. It has simple subtitle controls. Subtitles, depending on movie/video, it doesn’t display well as it can fit the entire middle section of the screen and it isn’t formatted well. Swiping left or right will fast forward or rewind.
Speakers are plenty loud, even for sitting in a loud room or small and noisy restaurant. Dolby® Atmos™ settings for EQ are basic with Movie, Vocal, Music and custom settings.
EcoPass is different than the LeTV subscription and LeVidi; is a bit confusing all around of what does what. One does live tv, the other is a Hulu/Youtube setup, and EcoPass is like their membership card to join the LeEco world and not knowing how much it all will cost to continue to use it when the trial ends.
I found the battery life on average use to last me 12 hours per day from 100 to 0% which included a few applications syncing email, about 40 minutes using GPS, a few calls/text and and use of the web browser for research and news (on screen). On a heavy day, I get about 8 hours which also includes a lot of phone calls and heavy LTE usage as I’m responding to text messages, emails, remote sessions, broswer, or writing up proposal drafts. On days where I barely use it, where it’s basically syncing emails, and a few calls lasting about 3 minutes each and a few text message, and the screen is off majority of the time, the battery seems to last about 22 hours. With some more optimization by LeEco this 4070 mAH could go a long way and battery life over all is fantastic. One other critique, on heavy usage the phone tends to get a bit warm if it has to do a lot of screen/graphic processing. If it completely shutdowns, you’ll need at least a 2.1A charger to recharge it. Anything less, the screen doesn’t even show the battery icon charging.
My overall experience with the phone has been positive and for the price, what’s there not to like besides wanting a better optimized Camera application with RAW format. The phone works well and the phone encrypts the drive by default. It is responsive and overall it exceeded my expectations for a 299.00 phone that works just as well as a 500-700 dollar one, minus features like OIS and water resistance. At The end of the day, this phone does what I need it to do, communicate with clients, stay in touch with people effectively and it keeps me up to date with news, alerts, taking pictures for notes and references and the occasion streaming of a movie while traveling, streaming music or a podcast.