Jul 14 2015

Review: Landvo S6

Landvo S6

China has many smartphone manufacturers that the West has not even heard of and some of them specialize in making clones of famous big brand phones. The design of such phones is already proven and the manufacturers can mix in different components to achieve a specific (often luringly low) price point. Landvo S6 is a Samsung Galaxy S6 clone with a very affordable price tag but how does it fare in real use?

The Landvo S6 in this review was kindly provided by GearBest.com.

What is Landvo?

Landvo-logo

According to Landvo website, the word Landvo itself is formed from “L” (life; technology being a vital part of lifestyle), “and” (communicating), “v” (value) and “o” (Landvo’s teams are their families with shared interests of delivering great price, quality and service). The company behind the brand, Shenzhen Jin Huiteng Communication Equipment Co. (founded in 2006), has been OEM manufacturer for several years (making devices for other brands) and has been operating jointly-owned factories (meaning there are other OEM manufacturers using the same factories) before. Manufacturing for different brands has required strict quality control procedures and thus all Landvo products have passed the certificates of ISO9001, ISO14001, UL, CSA, TÜV, CE, FCC, RoHS, SEMKO, SASO and CCC. In 2010 Jin Huiteng Communication Equipment introduced three of their own brands representing different product groups, Landvo being their smartphone brand.1, 2

Specs

Landvo S6

Priced at $110/100 € (summer 2015) here are the “official” specs:

  • 5″ 1280×720 display
  • MediaTek MTK6582 Quad Core 1.3GHz
  • 1 GB RAM + 16 GB ROM
  • Mali-400 MP GPU
  • Dual nano-SIM
  • 3G WCDMA 850/2100 MHz
  • 8 MP back camera + 2 MP front camera
  • 2550 mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 143.8 x 68 x 7.07 mm
  • Weight: 160 g (with battery)

Unboxing

Landvo S6 comes in a compact glossy white carton box. Besides the phone itself the box contains: a quick manual, a charger, a stylish flat micro-USB cable, two protective films for both front and back side of the phone (the phone already has a screen film applied), a micro fiber cloth for cleaning the screen and a nano-SIM tray ejecting pin.

The charging cable is a stylish and flat one, similar to the stunning OnePlus One red charging cable. The length of the cable is rather short: 73 cm (29″) so you may need to consider buying a longer one.

Chassis

Landvo S6

It is obvious that the chassis is a 1:1 replica of Samsung Galaxy S6, even the name “S6” is the same. I took the phone to a local phone shop and compared it with Samsung Galaxy S6 side by side. Neither me nor the sales guy could distinguish which one is Samsung and which one is Landvo. It is up to you to decide whether it is a good or bad thing :).

Landvo S6

Landvo S6

Landvo S6

Landvo S6

Landvo S6

Landvo S6

The bottom of the phone has micro-USB connector, a 3.5 mm audio jack and machine drilled holes for the mono speaker. The top of the phone appear to have a noise-cancellation microphone and an infrared blaster. However, there is no IR transmitter, it is just a dummy dark plastic made to look like one. The left side of the phone has volume up/down buttons. The right side has two trays for nano-SIM cards (no slot for a memory card) and the power button. The chin has a Samsung-like physical home button surrounded by two back-lit capacitive buttons “Context” and “Back”.

Landvo S6

Now the back side has a really disturbingly large protruding camera module, exactly like in the Galaxy S6. Notice that the sticker says that the Landvo S6 has a heart rate sensor, but there is no heart rate sensor in reality.

Landvo S6

The back is in my opinion absolutely stunning glossy glass and it makes the phone unique (of course it is exactly how it is in Galaxy S6 as well, though). The glass back gives the phone a really premium and exquisite look, I love it!

Landvo S6

I always personally measure the phones I test because all manufacturers tend to exaggerate the measurements and Landvo is no exception.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

The true weight is 158 g which is actually less than the official 160 g. The official height is 143.8 mm, my measurement is 143.5 mm, again slightly less than the official. The official width is 68 mm, measured 71.3 mm, this time slightly wider. Thickness is usually exaggerated meaning that the measured thickness is more than the official. Landvo S6 is no exception as the official thickness is 7.07 mm and my measured value is 7.42 mm. The thickness is 9.80 mm when measured from the protruding camera module. The bezels are rather thin at 2.15 mm.

SONY DSC

There is a notification/charging multi-color LED in the top left corner.

Display

The display Landvo has chosen is really great! It has wide viewing angles, the colors are vivid and it is bright enough. The resolution of 1280×720 is perfect for 5″ size and it consumes less electricity than a full-HD panel. Also you need to look at the display really close in order to distinguish any pixels, so it is just perfect.

2d-25d-3d-glass

Currently there are three different types of glass: 2D, 2.5D and 3D as seen above. Landvo S6 has 2.5D glass which adds another great detail and smoothness to the device. You can feel how the glass curves nicely on the edges.

2.5D glass of Landvo S6

2.5D glass of Landvo S6

My major complaint however is that the digitizer is insensitive. Smartphone displays consist of three layers: the top layer is a hardened plastic/glass cover that is scratch-resistant, the middle layer is the digitizer that senses touch and converts it to electric information (converts analogue touch to digital information, hence the name “digitizer”) and the bottom layer is the display panel itself. The digitizer in Landvo S6 is really insensitive, meaning that some parts of the screen can sense touch while others may not register touch at all unless you press it several times and hard. This can drive you crazy for example when you are texting. It not only means that you need to press a character several times but it also mean more typos to drive you crazy! While the LCD panel Landvo has chosen is excellent, it is too bad that same thing cannot be said about the digitizer.

Android OS & Apps

Landvo has chosen not only to clone the hardware of Samsung Galaxy S6 but the mammoth TouchWiz as well. Why would anyone want to use slow and memory-hog Samsung UI in a non-Samsung phone (or in a Samsung phone for that matter)????!!!!. That seems to be insane. Why would Landvo use valuable resources to make an Android skin that mimics TouchWiz in all ways? It would have been faster and way easier to give a close to Vanilla Android (AOSP) ROM with little customization and most of the customers would have loved it!

Screenshot_2015-06-19-13-00-42

Screenshot_2015-06-19-13-00-48

The Android version Landvo has chosen for the S6 is unfortunately KitKat 4.4.2 instead of newer Lollipop 5.x. Don’t hold your breath for a Lollipop upgrade coming soon if at all.

Screenshot_2015-06-19-15-15-43

Screenshot_2015-07-10-00-23-23

If you love Samsung TouchWiz you will love how Landvo have cloned every datail of it. Unlike other Chinese phones, Landvo S6 does not come with a horde of useless Chinese apps that in worst case can not even be uninstalled. Also I was happy to see that Google Apps (GAPPS) were pre-installed and worked properly.

Screenshot_2015-06-19-14-22-02

Screenshot_2015-06-19-15-11-38

Screenshot_2015-06-19-18-19-22

Screenshot_2015-06-30-08-11-23

The side panel app is in my opinion totally useless and it only bothers using the phone. Also, I found that many of the Samsung apps don’t work and could confuse the user so they do not give any additional value and in my opinion would be better if they weren’t there at all.

Screenshot_2015-06-30-10-26-53

Screenshot_2015-06-30-10-30-17

Storage

Screenshot_2015-06-19-13-09-46

Screenshot_2015-06-19-13-10-00

Screenshot_2015-06-19-13-10-08

Android manufacturers and Samsung particular have made some odd choices regarding storage partition and allocation in the past. The flash memory is often divided into two or three different parts: first part is the “Internal storage”, the default location for installed apps. The second part is the “Phone storage” which in fact is just another chunk of memory allocated from the large amount of flash memory. Now there could be a third part, as is with Landvo S6, which is called “SD card”, but in fact it is not a separate card at all but a chunk of internal memory. I have no idea why they have divided the memory into three different partitions. Feel free to comment below if you know the reason. Of course if the phone had a micro-SD card slot, then there would be an “External SD card” in the system, but unfortunately the Landvo S6 does not have such a slot so this is all you’ll get. If we sum up the sizes we get: Internal memory 1.44 GB + Phone memory 4.6 GB + “SD card” 7.43 GB = 13.5 GB which is 2.5 GB shy of the advertised 16 GB.

Screenshot_2015-06-28-21-15-48

Now the problem here is that usually the default app installation location is the tiny “Internal storage”, a mere 1.44 GB in this case. In many Samsung phones it is impossible to change the default location, luckily Landvo S6’s default write disk is “Phone memory”, 4.6 GB, and it allows to change it to the bigger “SD card”, 7.43 GB, as well. I managed to run out of space in Phone memory during my test period and it resulted in “There is insufficient space on the device”. I changed the default write disk to “SD card” and was able to install apps again.

RAM Usage

Screenshot_2015-06-21-23-01-20

Screenshot_2015-06-21-23-01-39

Although Landvo S6 has only 1 GB of RAM and I have had terrible experience of such Android phones in the past, in this case Landvo has done magnificent job with the RAM management. I found that there was always enough memory available to run my apps, no matter how many apps I had running. Great job, Landvo!

Languages/Locale

Screenshot_2015-06-19-13-16-21

Screenshot_2015-06-19-13-16-30

Screenshot_2015-06-19-13-16-36

Screenshot_2015-06-19-13-17-33

The supported languages can be seen in the screenshots above (some of the names of the languages I cannot even read).

Mediatek and GPS

Screenshot_2015-07-10-11-16-58

Mediatek chipsets are notorious for taking their time to get GPS fix. It is the time that it takes to get a proper location set based on different GPS satellites’ positions. There is a well-known fix to correct the slow positioning on Mediatek powered phones but during the test period it was not necessary to apply.

Normally it got the fix (found enough satellites to determine an accurate location) quite fast but when I came back from my holiday trip from Bulgaria it took a while to locate satellites but that is normal if you relocate by plane. I also tried navigating with it but found that it lost the signal often when compared to the Huawei Honor 3C that I had next to it. So I would not use it in critical situations.

Unobtrusive Call Recording

Screenshot_2015-06-30-22-17-30

None of the “mainstream” Android smartphone manufacturers (Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG) support phone call recording at all. It is available in some of the custom ROMs, such as MIUI, for the big brands. Call recording was possible with a 3rd party app on Nokia phones but it resulted in nasty “beep” sound that was constantly audible on the receiver end. The Chinese manufacturers are a welcome exception. Unobtrusive call recording has been in Xiaomi Mi2, Jiayu G3, ZTE Nubia Z5 mini, TCL Idol X, Lenovo VIBE Z K910 that I have previously reviewed and now in Landvo S6.

Benchmarks

Screenshot_2015-07-02-14-13-52

With the price tag of $110 you don’t expect Landvo S6 to be a “flagship killer” or a performance monster. But in my daily use it performed well and I could not experience any annoying lagging caused by a slow processor or insufficient amount of RAM. My only wish is that they had delivered the phone without replicating Samsung TouchWiz.

Screenshot_2015-07-02-14-22-25

Screenshot_2015-07-02-15-02-33

Screenshot_2015-07-02-15-02-40

Screenshot_2015-07-02-15-04-40

Screenshot_2015-07-02-15-05-00

Screenshot_2015-07-02-15-05-25

Screenshot_2015-07-02-15-13-21

Screenshot_2015-07-02-15-18-17

Screenshot_2015-07-02-15-20-13

Audio & Speaker

Screenshot_2015-07-10-13-10-36

The mono speaker is surprisingly loud and clear but you can’t expect any deep bass from a mobile phone (yet), not even from the most expensive flagship devices.

Phone calls were clearly audible and I had no problems hearing the opposite side and vice versa.

The standard 3.5 mm output provides great power and it is up to your favorite headphones to deliver the sound and bass. My Xiaomi Piston headphones were rocking with the Landvo S6!

FM Radio

Screenshot_2015-07-10-13-24-05

The FM radio works perfectly, the receiver is really sensitive, picking up all the available FM stations in a heartbeat. A nice (but useless) feature is that you can tune stations “analogically” using the analog tuner. Even recording is supported, perfect! Remember that the FM radio needs a long antenna and thus it is necessary to use a headset as the radio uses its cord as the antenna.

Proximity Sensor

The proximity sensor does not work properly. If you do not know it is responsible for shutting down the display (and the digitizer) when making phone calls and placing the phone on your cheek. When the screen remains on and thus it reacts to touch, you may accidentally press and activate things on the screen while talking on the phone. Also, I noticed that the screen could unlock itself when the phone was in my pocket. I found that I quick fix to that is to activate a security pattern on the screen to unlock it.

Heating

The phone is so thin that it would be a real surprise if it did not heat at all. When the phone performs some CPU intensive tasks, the top right corner heats up (where the processor supposedly resides) but I found that it was not disturbingly hot at all. This is perfectly normal and typical to smartphones.

Battery Life

Screenshot_2015-06-21-16-53-03

The claimed battery size of 2,550 mAh is in my option heavily over-exaggerated, the true capacity is close to 2,000 mAh, based on my use. Even with a smaller capacity the phone typically manages through the day without charging. A normal day’s worth of use (08-22) should be possible while the battery status being around 10-30% at ten o’clock at night.

Camera

With a cheap price tag I did not expect quality photos. The resolution of the 16:9 photos is 5120×2880 which yields 14.7 million pixels per photo. The sensor itself is 8 MP but the resulting photos are interpolated to 16 MP so the photo size is artificially doubled. If you select “preview size” 4:3 it gives photos of 4608×3456 (15.9 million pixels) resolution. The sensor actually has a native aspect ratio of 4:3. The 16:9 aspect ratio is achieved by simply cutting the picture from the top and bottom and thus losing some of the pixels of the “full frame” photo. What annoys me is that we are living the year 2015 and still all camera sensors are 4:3 even though we have not had 4:3 televisions or monitors or displays in ages.

Camera Settings

Screenshot_2015-06-19-15-18-13

Screenshot_2015-06-19-15-18-33

Screenshot_2015-06-19-15-18-44

Screenshot_2015-06-19-15-20-59

Screenshot_2015-06-19-15-21-23

Notable settings are:

  • Zero shutter delay: It literally is what it says, the camera takes the photo immediately when you press the shoot button.
  • Picture size: The only option is 16 MP and in my opinion it is total waste of disk space. 8 MP, that the sensor natively supports, would be perfectly fine for even large prints so why would you double the file size artificially when it does not produce any better photos? And why the option does not have any other choices for the file size? I would have at least expected 8 MP and perhaps 3 MP as well as choices.
  • Preview size: Now this is actually the aspect ratio (16:9/4:3)!
  • EIS: Electronic Image Stabilization: This only works when shooting in 16:9 aspect ratio as it is done by vertically moving the area that is captured. As the phone shakes in the hand, the camera software moves the window in an opposite direction and thus cancelling the vertical movement. It obviously cannot correct horizontal movement because the captured area is as wide as the sensor (wall-to-wall).
  • Time lapse: You can leave the phone for example on a tripod and let the camera take pictures between specific intervals. These photos can be then combined to make a “fast-forward” video where everything happens super fast.
  • Panorama: The camera software takes multiple photos as you move the phone either vertically or horizontally, stitching the photos together, creating super wide photos.
  • There is no HDR, but you can install a third-party camera app, such as HDR Camera+, so it is not a big deal.

Normal Shots

IMG_20150626_114651

IMG_20150623_160203

IMG_20150626_155200

IMG_20150623_190303

IMG_20150623_165105

IMG_20150622_154401

IMG_20150621_162236

IMG_20150622_190039

In optimal lighting (not too bright) the camera delivers very good quality in my opinion. The photos are razor-sharp, the colors are vivid and the objects look natural.

Macro Mode

IMG_20150622_101424

As usual with Chinese phones, also Landvo S6 produces stunning macro shots. When focusing to a near object, you can see how it changes mode so that it can focus super close while giving the background a nice bokeh.

IMG_20150625_151651

Zero Shutter Delay

IMG_20150621_110149

I wanted to emphasize this feature because in my opinion it is amazing! In photography timing is often critical and what drives me crazy is that if there is a noticeable delay between pressing the shoot button and actual photo capture. This can lead to nasty situations where I try to take the photo “in advance” so that when the camera actually captures the photo I hope it will be the right time. And if the timing is not right, the moment may have been gone forever. But this is something you don’t need to worry about with Landvo S6! Just switch “Zero shutter delay” on (why not keep it on all the time?) and the camera captures the photo immediately when you shoot it. I am not kidding, it is awesome!

Panorama Mode

Portrait Panorama

Portrait Panorama (160°)

Landscape Panorama

Landscape Panorama (180°)

The panorama mode in Landvo S6 is absolutely awesome. I would use it all the time. When shooting, it shows you the frames where it wants to take the needed photos and you can quickly move the camera between the frames and hold it still when you approach the frame and then skip fast to the next one. This makes shooting panoramas super fast and fun!

IMG_20150622_202456

IMG_20150624_141637

IMG_20150624_150209

IMG_20150625_162153

Low-Light Conditions

The true quality of the optics is revealed when there is little light available. For comparison I took the same photo at the same time with Landvo S6 and an SLR camera using a tripod. Of course there is some noise in the Landvo shot because the sensor is smaller and the optics have less luminosity but in my opinion the shot is really good for a $110 phone!

Landvo S6 Night Shot

Landvo S6 Night Shot

SONY DSLR-α300

SONY DSLR-α300

IMG_20150624_014132

IMG_20150624_022300

I also took some freehand shots because a tripod is not often available. Again the Landvo S6 performs really well! I was totally surprised by the quality and the amount of light and detail it can capture in very dark environments. It is amazing what such an affordable device can produce.

Bright Conditions (Over-Exposure)

The main camera of Landvo S6 would be pretty much perfect for the given price point if it did not perform quite strangely in very bright environments (e.g. sunny days). The camera software cannot adjust to bright light and it renders photos heavily over-exposed. Also in some cases it creates a “foggy” surroundings in the photos. Take a look below.

IMG_20150621_143625

IMG_20150622_142358

The pint by the pool is an example of a “foggy” photo in bright sunshine. The same effect comes usually from a lens that is covered in grease from fingerprints. I double checked that the lens was clean so that was not the cause. The second photo is an example of over-exposure, the sand was not that white at all.

IMG_20150622_142905

IMG_20150623_162148

In the left photo you see my legs that shine bright like ivory. Yes, they are white but not that white. What is interesting though is that the camera software did not over-expose the photos always. Sometimes it produced very good photos in the bright sunshine but sometimes they were over-exposed.

IMG_20150625_141101

Secondary Camera

The secondary or “selfie” camera on Landvo S6 has the resolution of 2560 x 1920 yielding 4,9 million pixels. It is more than enough for regular Instagram/Facebook selfies but it is not the resolution that is a problem but the quality of the sensor. It is not totally useless but pretty close. All photos are “blurred”, nothing is sharp. You can get the idea what is happening in the photo but that is about it. Also in bright light it renders the photos dark as if a film was put on top of the camera lens. See for yourself below.

Cloudy

Cloudy

Sunny

Sunny

IMG_20150623_175444

If you take a closer look at the photo, you will see that it is not sharp at all but as if a blur filter had been applied to it.

Video

My video recording tests above show that the primary camera is yet again very good for the given price point but it does over-expose in very bright sunlight. Other than that, it produces sharp video with vivid colors. Now the secondary camera is worse but not totally worthless in shooting videos as it was in still photos. I did not notice any dropped frames so the phone does have decent and fast enough hardware to run the video recorder.

The video resolution for the primary camera is 1920×1088 (full-HD is 1920×1080) and 640×480 for the secondary camera.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Thin and sturdy chassis
  • Affordable
  • Stylish glossy glass front and back
  • Lightweight
  • Good display with vivid colors
  • Good RAM management
  • Unobtrusive call recording
  • A great primary camera (in all environments except really bright sunlight) for the price
  • Dual nano-SIM

Cons:

  • Insensitive digitizer
  • Camera software over-exposes in very bright environments
  • Bad secondary camera
  • Heavy and unnecessary “Samsung TouchWiz” UI layer
  • Proximity sensor not doing its job

Where to Buy?

The Landvo S6 in this review came from GearBest.com, they were kind enough to provide me a sample to be reviewed. At the time of writing the price is around $110/100 €.

Summary

It really is amazing how overall good of a phone can cost as little as Landvo S6. Obviously the design is 1:1 Samsung Galaxy S6 but the chassis is nicely slim and sturdy. The phone would have been great if the digitizer would have been more sensitive (picking up all touches precisely) and the camera software could have handled really bright environments well but if you are looking for a cheap secondary phone (around $110) or a phone to a child this is in my opinion – even with its flaws – a very good alternative for the price.

Leave a Reply