We’ve previously previewed a trio of handsets from O+ USA, the O+ 8.31z, O+ 8.36z, and O+ 8.37. We were able to secure two of these for review, one of which is the topic of this article: The O+ 8.31z.
As opposed to our preview, though, we now have more concrete info regarding specs, price, and most importantly a unit to play with. The O+ 8.31z is the most affordable of the budget phone lot, retailing for just PHP 2,995.00. Even the specs are uber modest.
O+ 8.31z Specs
- 3.5″ 320 x 480 pixels (HVGA) capacitive touchscreen LCD TFT display
- 1GHz Dual Core ARM Cortex A7-based MediaTek MT6577 processor
- Dual SIM , Dual Standby
- Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2
- 256MB RAM
- 256MB ROM
- Expandable storage up to 32GB
- 3.2MP auto focus main camera with LED Flash, 0.3MP Secondary camera
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Hotspot
- 3G, HSDPA, HSUPA
- 3.5mm Audio Jack
- Stereo FM Radio
- 1,500 mAh Li-Ion battery
To sweeten the deal, it comes with a couple more accessories, like a headset (has a built-in mike for phone calls), and a free 4GB MicroSD. Given the price point, that’s a really good addition you won’t easily find on other devices
Design and Construction
Aesthetic-wise, there’s nothing to write home about the O+ 8.31z. In fact, holding it makes you feel that you’re really getting what you paid for. That might seem fair, but normally, we want to feel that we’re getting the most out of our purchase.
The way the rear camera and accompanying LED Flash protrudes at the back is really unsightly, or at least for me. It may not matter to most, though. Other than that, the form factor actually feels good on the hand. For most people, especially to the target consumers of this device, that’s all that matters.
The screen, while quite small by today’s standard is acceptable. Unfortunately, given the requirements of today’s games, you won’t want to run anything more than the uber casual games like Candy Crush or Temple run. Anything like Angry Birds or above will be rendered unplayable because the resolution won’t be able to fit the game onto the screen. But again, remember: the price.
The amount of RAM leaves much to be desired, however, and it really pushes Android Jellybean’s Project Butter component to the limit. It works for the most part, though, but you can still feel it. Battery life is average at best, though you’ll get a lot of usage when used for basic stuff due to the relatively small display which means it eats less power than most smartphones today.
Software and UI
On the software side, it comes with O+ USA’s vaunted Air Shuffle, a concept popularized by Samsung’s Air Gesture (Oh, Samsung, how similar you are to your rival, Apple). Yup, O+ came out with this first. I have to be honest, though. I rarely use this feature, if at all. I never used Samsung’s version in my Galaxy Note 2, and the only reason why I used it here is just to test it. It’s entertaining for a few couple of tries, but the novelty wears off.
The novelty of the feature becomes cumbersome when you take into account the paltry 256MB that’s running the whole show. You could really feel the lack of RAM in its performance. At the least, though, phone aspect performance is good. Basic usage is smooth for the most part, despite the paltry RAM, which says much about Jellybean’s awesomeness.
Call reception is great and sending SMS is trouble-free. But once you start using it like a smartphone, then you’d feel the performance drop considerably. Apps take longer to open. Sometimes, even casual games take a nosedive (Not good if you’re playing Temple Run and its kin). O+ 8.31z seems like an proof-of-concept on how low Jellybean can go and still perform acceptably. And while the experiment can be deemed a success, I double that I’ll be willing to pay the asking price for it. Lower, yes. But that’s just me as I’m used to a powerful android phone.
Related: O+ 8.37 Hands-on Review
The most important update on the software side, however, is that O+ USA now incorporates OTA Software update on their phones, so you no longer have to go to any of their service centers to update your phone’s firmware. I know this is very trivial for those used to using phones from more reputable manufacturers (and granted that you aren’t rooted), but OTA updates are uber convenient (I should know, I almost always NEVER get to use OTAs, being rooted and all).
Camera performance is as expected for phones of this caliber. While it means that it can compare with the best of them, it also means that it doesn’t fare any better. If you can feel that I’m somewhat frustrated by this, it’s because I am. Not that its performance is wonky but because I’m trying to find a way that the phone can differentiate itself from the competition. I don’t see any but again, it’s just Php2,995. Sample images will be added later today.
As far as budget phones go, O+ 8.31z performs acceptably well. You’d even be surprised at how smooth it is (initially) given the RAM. Using it for something more than basic stuff, and you would feel the perfromance dip. To add to the situation, its price point puts it in direct competition against two budget phone stellar performers: Cherry Mobile LIFE and MyPhone Agua Rain 3G. Both are priced the same, and yet they have double the RAM, adding more responsiveness, which is absolutely more important to most people. In fact, one trumps the others by offering a larger screen (always a good thing), and while the other has a similar screen size, it does offer added security feature, which is actually more practical than air gestures. But then again, it all boils down to durability which is one of O+ USA devices’ main strength.
While all three share similar specs, the deciding factor would be your priority of screen size, “wow” feature, or added security (and in the case of the two competitors, a more generous amount of RAM, which equates to more stability), and durability which is extremely important especially for people who are coming from rock solid Nokia phones.
Overall, I would still recommend the O+ 8.31z because of its good design and brand. It’s one of the cheapest 3G android phone out there without much compromises that could break the deal. But before choosing which device is for you, do yourself a favor and give them a test run in kiosks/stores near you.