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Symphony is one of the market leaders in Bangladesh especially when considering entry and mid range smartphones. The Xplorer ZV is the first Symphony device I am reviewing although we have covered their products before, and as the saying goes, first impressions are everything. Without wasting any more time, let us dive into the review and find out if the ZV is worth consideration.
[divider] Video Review [/divider]
When reviewing a new device, I try not to peek at the spec sheet first in order to experience the device without prior judgement. I was glad to do the same this time as well as I actually didn’t think the display was 720p. The 5-inch IPS display has a pixel density of 294 pixels per inch which isn’t anything astonishingly high, however it was of a greater quality than you would expect from an HD screen.
Colour accuracy was nice as well along with the viewing angles, though at steep gradients the display would tend towards a blueish tint. Brightness was on par and visibility outdoors was decent. The lower end of the brightness scale was suitable to comfortably use the phone in the dark.
Symphony provides a screen protector in the box with the Xplorer ZV like other local market competitors. The quality of the screen protector though was very disappointing. The screen protector seemed to scratch at the slightest agitation, making me cringe after playing a game every time. What is worse, the scratches cause the light coming from the display to refract which spoils the panels good quality. So if you do plan to pick up the Xplorer ZV, get a couple backup screen protectors or find something that offers more protection to your display.
[divider]Design & Hardware [/divider]
On the design front, Symphony did a pretty good job. The design is very simple whilst remaining attractive and ergonomic. The back of the Xplorer ZV is not removable and has a piece of glass sealing things off. Although the glass back looks attractive, it is a magnet for fingerprints and gunk. To keep the device looking good, you have to constantly wipe the back. Around the sides of the rear side, the edges angle inwards making the device a more comfortable fit in the hand. The camera is flush with the rear which is always a good thing.
Around the front, Symphony managed to keep the bezels at a reasonable width which makes one handed operation not so cumbersome. A small notification LED rests on the top right and is a much appreciated commodity. As the back is non removable, the SIM and micro SD card slots are to the sides. You need to use a tool like a paper clip to remove the slots. The good thing is that these remain flush with the sides so the design element is not affected.
The speaker grill is on the bottom of the device which is definitely more preferable than having it on the back. There are two speaker grills however it seems the setup is not comprised of dual stereo, rather one speaker outputting through two grills. As for the sound quality, the speakers are actually pretty decent and make for a nice experience when playing games or watching videos although I recommend not to max out the volume as the audio tends to crack at that level.
Symphony provides a free flip case with the Xplorer ZV in the box as well. The back side of the case is made up of a hard translucent plastic material with a smooth finish whilst the front feels more like synthetic leather. The cover is simple but adds no added functionality like opening to wake the screen. All the ports on the other hand are easily accessible and the cover should do a good enough job to protect the Xplorer ZV.
One final hardware point to note, the Xplorer ZV does not support USB On The Go (OTG) which is upsetting since a lot of the competition comes with this feature. OTG is not a necessity by any means but it furthers the utility of the device.
As expected, the ZV comes with a launcher on top. The launcher is very minimal though and comes with two built in themes – one of which is a stock Android theme. Other than that, everything else is plain old stock KitKat which makes the whole software experience nice and smooth, just the way I like it.
Although the experience is more or less stock, Symphony did add in a few tricks to the software. The most notable of which is the screen off gestures.
We have seen this on other smartphones before but the implementation here must be commended. You can do multiple tasks such as unlocking the screen, waking the screen, changing tracks on the stock music player and even open applications. Not only is this a highly sought after feature but the excellent execution on the ZV makes this a great addition.
The performance of the Xplorer ZV took us by surprise. Octa-core processors are powerful indeed even when clocked at 1.4GHz. The MediaTek processor is backed by 2GB RAM and a Mali 450 GPU which is more than adequate to push graphics on the 720p display.
The benchmark results are also impressive, landing right in between the LG G3 and HTC One M7 on the AnTuTu Benchmark test. The good benchmark score is reflected in real life performance as well.
Due to the light skin and near stock setup, the UI is very smooth as expected from KitKat. Transitioning between apps and multitasking are quick and easy with little to no noticeable frame drops.
When it comes to game play, the ZV shines. It was able to take on popular games like Asphalt 8 without breaking a sweat and was even able to play the highly demanding Modern Combat 5 title smoothly. That alone should tell you that the ZV is no slouch.
Finally we have battery life. The battery is an unimpressive 1850 mAh unit but do not let the numbers fool you. The device is capable of taking the average user through a full day at moderate to high usage. However don’t hope to make it past that mark. The battery is not removable but charges up pretty fast due to the low capacity.
The main camera is a 13 megapixel unit whilst the front facing camera is a 2 megapixel unit. The quality of images especially from the main camera were beyond expectations. Usually on devices within this price range, even high resolution cameras do not produce high quality images. This was not the case with the Xplorer ZV.
Images were of good quality and did not appear grainy when zoomed in. The colours were slightly washed out when facing luminescent objects but general performance in daylight was great.
In low light conditions, the camera performed better than expected. The front facing camera is decent as well as it is a 2 megapixel sensor and was adequate for video calls and the occasional selfie.
[divider]Final Thoughts [/divider]
The Xplorer ZV is a great smartphone. It is an excellent example of why the big name mainstream brands are losing out on market share; these smaller companies are offering great hardware and specifications at a fraction of the cost. In the entry-midrange game, customers look for value and companies like Symphony serve them up with just that. The Xplorer ZV’s merits outweigh any of its drawbacks and for that it receives Techetron’s stamp of approval.
Price of the device: BDT 14,990
|Ergonomic design||Fingerprint prone|
|Smooth, near stock experience||Horrible screen protector|
|Screen off gestures||Small battery|
|Good camera||Highly reflective display|
|Good display||NO USB OTG|
|Free flip cover|