O+ have been consistently peppering us with good quality “budget” phones as of late. Priced at higher than its contemporaries, especially when you look at the specs, their phones are nevertheless solidly built and work as advertised.
Following up the heels of our O+ 8.91 review, O+ have provided us with another unit, the O+ 8.36z. I’ve used this as my daily driver for a week, so let’s see how it goes.
O+ 8.36z Specs
- 3.5-inch IPS Capacitive Display, 480×320 pixels resolution, 160 dpi
- Dual Camera with 3.1 Megapixel AF back camera with Flash + 0.3MP Front Camera
- Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
- Dual SIM/Dual Standby
- Dual Core 1.0 GHz processor with Mali-400 MP GPU
- Quad Band GSM/Dual Band WCDMA
- 4GB Internal Memory, expandable up to 32GB microSD card
- 512MB RAM
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- 1500 mAh Battery
Specs are clearly meant for the bottom barrel of budget phone, and for the asking price of PHP 3,995.00, I’m sure most of you lifted an eyebrow. However, it is a trend of O+ to price their phones much higher than their contemporaries. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up to you.
Packaging and Accessories
The O+ 8.36z comes in their standard plastic box. The front is transparent with the big O+ logo from which you can see the phone. As always O+’s packaging is one of the better ones out there. It’s simple, yet effective and beautiful. The back displays the requisite specs and features of the phone.
As for accessories, you’re given the standard packages, like the charger, a headset, and manuals. However, one of the nice things about O+ USA is that they supply you with a free microSD card, in this case, a 4GB one.
Design and Build
With a screen that sports 3.5″, the phone is smaller than what I’m accustomed to, though that could be an advantage to some. Overall, the phone looks good. It’s an all-plastic phone with the front is shiny black, while the black is made of ruberrized plastic, something that I’m particularly fond of.
It’s not overly thin nor light, but I doubt that you’d be bothered by it since it looks good overall. The left is devoid of any buttons while the right side sport the volume rocker. At the front, you get the soft keys for menu, Home, and back buttons at the bottom of the screen, while at the top of it, you get the speaker grille and front camera. At the top, you have the 3.5mm audio jack, the power button, and the microUSB slot. The back has the rear camera with LED flash and the loudspeaker.
Display and Touchscreen
O+ 8.36z’s 3.55″ comes with a 480 x 320 screen resolution. It’s a low resolution from what we’re accustomed to, though with such a small screen, it’s not much of a problem. It’s bright and clear, however, and you won’t have any problem using it. Color reproduction is a let-down, with colors being inaccurate and muted, but given the display specs, I’ve already expected as much.
Going back to such a small screen has reaffirmed that I really no longer want to go back to such a small screen. For one, it was harder for me to type using the QWERTY keyboard. I found myself making a lot of typos. I’m not a fast texter, and the small screen didn’t help any.
Despite the meager RAM (by today’s standards) and modest processor, Android 4.2.2 runs surprisingly smooth. Much of the lag I’ve encountered were mostly with higher end games, like Dead Trigger but it didn’t really affected the performance. Running casual games is smooth all around. For telephony, the phone works remarkably well, and even running the other “smarter” side of things won’t bog you down.
However, the smaller RAM does mean that your choices of games are limited. You won’t have much problem with other apps, though, especially since Android is good at memory management. Internal memory capacity is also expectedly limited. You only get 1.2GB of the 4GB internal memory. Which is why I’m really thankful that an 4GB microSD card is included. Fortunately, almost all O+ android phones can move apps and games to the microSD card out of the box without needing to root it.
Battery life is good overall. I use it heavily for telephony and it got me through more than a day.
Software and UI
One thing that it seems you can count on with regards to O+ is their phones’ stability. As stated earlier, most apps run smoothly. Audio clarity is great on good reception, always a plus if you plan on making this your daily driver. Microphone also does well. I’ve also hadn’t encountered any difficulty sending text messages. Dual-SIM integration is pretty much stable and you won’t have difficulty using that feature. Bluetooth works as advertised, too.
As an entertainment device, it’s pretty usable despite the small screen and low resolution. I was able to play high-def videos with no problem and it’s good enough when playing casual games. It comes with Temple Run 2 pre-installed and I was able to play it with no hiccups.
One thing that I was hoping that would surprise me was the camera performance. Unfortunately, its performance is the same as the other phones: sub-par. It doesn’t matter whether you use it indoors or outdoors, and you get crappy images in any environment in any lighting condition. They come out soft with washed out colors. Of course, I can’t expect much from the specs, but at almost PHP 4,000, you’d be forgiven if you would expect at least average to a level higher in performance.
I ran it through the Antutu Benchmark app, and the O+ Plus 8.36z garnered a respectable score of 9,676. Remember, we’re talking about a phone sporting a 1GHz dual-core processor and 512MB of RAM. I’d be surprised if it got any higher. And Antutu seems to agree:
Overall, I got average performance out of the O+ 8.36z. With the specs-to-performance ratio and the asking price of PHP 3,995, O+ is quite asking a lot. There are other budget phones sporting much better specs at similar prices. However, the phone is very stable and the battery life won’t let you down. And for some, that may be all they need. While it’s true that the specs are uber modest when compared to phones under a similar price point, most sacrifice battery life. O+ usually goes the other way around, and that might be their niche.