O+ USA’s has had several experimental flagship releases lately. The Imagine and Fab Elite were probably the start of the new era, which eliminated the 8.X naming pattern of previous O+ devices. We’ve become used to 8.12, 8.15, and 8.16 before, but I think this new approach was better. They’ve also started trying out other builds other than polycarbonate plastic, notably the glass-on-glass body of the beautiful Imagine and now the aluminum on this new device.
O+ Air is the company’s first ever octa-core smartphone. But not only that, it’s also their first phone that comes with a gorgeous aluminum unibody build. But is it good enough to choose over its competitors? Let’s find out on our full review.
O+ Air Specs
- Android 4.4 KitKat
- 5-inch Lumi display (720×1280 HD), ~294ppi
- 1.7GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6592 processor
- Mali-450 MP4 GPU
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB internal memory
- Free 8GB Sandisk microSD card, microSD support up to 32GB
- 13-megapixel main camera, with autofocus and LED flash
- 5-megapxiel front camera
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Dual SIM (Micro + Regular)
- 3G: HSPA+
- Sennheiser earphones
- Dimensions: 143 x 70 x 6.8mm
- Weight: 115g
- 2000mAh battery
- Introductory Price: Php13,999; SRP: Php15,999
Hardware and Design
The O+ Air has an aluminum unibody build and measures only 6.8mm thin. It’s their most compact smartphone yet, but I would say the O+ Imagine beats it in terms of design despite it being 1mm thicker. The Air feels just as premium as the latter and it’s extremely gorgeous thanks to its aluminum back. It’s slightly angular on the sides, reminiscent of the One M7, and has rounded edges which feels good in the hands and makes handling better. The back is rather smooth and is a fingerprint magnet especially if you have sweaty hands like me. Honestly, it’s quite annoying as I need to wipe it down every now and then.
But make no mistake, this is an absolute stunner. The combination of the ultra slim form factor, thin bezels, plus the elegant build makes it a looker. It is a pretty smartphone and it’s a good-feeling phone too because of its very light weight that’s just about right for its size . Despite being remarkably thin, I believe this phone can withstand a little punishment as it feels solid. As far as the materials go, I am definitely impressed and it ranks among the top android devices I’ve tested.
The 5-inch screen that covers the front is an impressive 720p panel, with great saturation and color representation. It’s certainly quite comparable to the 8.15’s screen, but this time around O+ debuted its energy-saving “Dual Crystal Lumi Display” technology underneath the scratch-resistant glass. The O+ Air is definitely not as pixel-dense as other 1080p smartphones out there but this display is still lovely to look at. It’s not one of the best but surely far from the worst. At 294 pixels-per-inch, it’s just a couple of marks below the Retina level of the iPhone. Unfortunately, this is not an AMOLED display like on the O+ Imagine. Nevertheless, this one has good depth and saturation as well.
The display has warmer colors than the standard mode display of my Galaxy S5 which I find a bit too aggressive. In terms of brightness, it’s just a notch dimmer. I rarely max it because even the lowest setting is often sufficient for me but I do let it stay at 50% to get a bit more. This is both a blessing and a curse, as it’s often too bright for night time usage which means a third-party app is needed to lower it down.
The viewing angles are splendid and it’s perfectly usable on direct sunlight as long as you max out the brightness which is easily accessible on the drop the notification bar. With a 5-inch display, this can be classified as a standard size nowadays. I was able to maneuver easily with one hand, unlike other 5-inchers out there, because of the slim profile. There are 3 capacitive buttons under the display and the earpiece together with the notification LED sits on top.
At the back, you’ll find the 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and the O+ logo below. The speakers are located near the bottom of the device. Flipping over the top we’ll find the 3.5mm headphone jack and microUSB port. As with every O+ flagship device, this also supports USB OTG.
The left side hosts the regular SIM 1 slot and the volume rocker while the right side has the micro-SIM 2 slot along with the power/lock button. The first one can be opened by pushing the cover while the latter needs to make use of the sim ejector tool included in the package.
There’s no doubt that the O+ Air is one beautiful device. It’s very well made and has fantastic handling experience which makes me want to use it as my daily driver more often.
Performance and Software
Although it seems like the design is its biggest strength, the performance is no slouch either. The O+ Air is powered by a beastly 1.7GHz Mediatek octa-core processor along with a Mali-450 MP GPU. However, it only has 1GB of RAM which is kind of a bummer considering how powerful the CPU is. It’s kind of a disappointment to be honest, but it’s still a robust package nonetheless. It does help that it has a less pixel-packed display, too.
The very first thing I tried when I turned it on was the double tap to wake/sleep feature. Thankfully, the feature makes a return here, just like what we saw from the Imagine. It’s a really convenient way of using the device and it prevents me from abusing the power button too much. While this might seem like a novelty to some, it’s pretty good once you get used to it. I really hope this get baked in one of the future releases of Android.
As expected from a powerful smartphone, the O+ Air didn’t have any problems in navigating through the UI, launching, and switching in between apps. The same goes with almost every app I tried. Well, that’s exactly what we should get with this. Moving over to the benchmarks, seeing the scores itself guarantees the zippy performance. It’s on par with last year’s flagships like the Galaxy S4 and HTC One, garnering a score of around 27-28,000.
O+ also included their own app additions called the O+ Air Share and O+ USA which is basically an app for their website. The air gestures makes a return as well. You can hover over the sensor on the upper part of the device to switch songs, view pictures, etc. I really don’t find it useful and I honestly think that it’s more of a show off feature more than anything else. The original icons are the same as before – which is something you either love or hate – but in case you want a more stock feel, downloading a third party launcher like Nova is very easy.
One of my gripes about phones these days is the annoying menu button. Instead of putting the multitasking/recent apps button there, manufacturers like to insist on that menu. Multitasking can be very useful especially with the power we have on our smartphones today. Sure we can open up the recent apps by holding down the home button, but it takes more time to do so. Anyway, if you’re using a launcher like Nova Prime which supports custom gestures, you can preset what will start up. It’s not as convenient as having a dedicated button, but it works.
Overall, I do feel like our smartphones here are quickly catching up to the speed race. Whenever I switch over this handset, it doesn’t seem like I’m taking a hitch on the performance. It’s just as fast as my S5, and then some. Of course, I’m talking about the UI and general stuff, meaning the S5 can definitely outperform this phone when it comes to gaming and other heavy tasks.
I am not a mobile gamer by far, but I do play sometimes when I have so much time to kill. I mostly play Clash of Clans and recently started enjoying Boom Beach. Both of these games ran smoothly, as expected. Meanwhile, high definition games like Modern Combat 4 didn’t ran with ease as observed from its slow launch, but the gameplay is absolutely nice. It takes HD games like a boss, with very little to no stutter. Other titles I’ve played were Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Blitz Brigade, ShadowGun, and NBA 2k14. It’s also worth noting that this thing still has the move to SD card feature, which Kitkat eliminated on other devices. Good thing O+ kept it!
As an entertainment device, the Air does very well. Watching HD and full HD videos is enjoyable on its 5-inch screen, and the speakers are fairly loud and it is very capable if it’s on a relatively quiet environment.
The camera of the O+ Air isn’t exceptional by any means, but it’s certainly a great one. Just like most high-end O Plus devices, the 13-megapixel rear camera is a performer. We can take beautiful shots with good color reproduction, decent contrast and saturation. Needless to say, it’s undoubtedly suited to people who like to take selfies and groupfies. The 5-megapixel front facing camera is very lovely as well, as every bit of detail is captured in the shot. Also, if you’re the type who wants to get a smoother face, Beautify is present here to help you with that.
The camera software is simple, much like the stock app for Android Kitkat. The camera shutter and video record button were still on top of each other, while effects and camera modes were positioned on the other side. What’s new here is the smile to capture and ‘peace sign’ to capture modes, which works the same as the name implies – taking a photo when it detects the finger signal. It’s nothing special and more of a gimmick because it’s always easier to tap the shutter or the volume buttons when taking a shot. Video recording is also great on this one.
But overall, I have to say that I’m impressed by the O+ Air’s camera. Take a look at our sample shots below.
While the paltry 2000mAh capacity looks bad on paper, real life usage is a different story. There’s nothing mind blowing, but good enough for a day’s worth of usage. We can attribute this to the new O+ Lumi HD display which we’ve mentioned before. On average, I get around 3-4 hours of screen on time which is decent for a power user like me. My usage includes WiFi and mobile data on (not at the same time), and some gaming. In extreme cases, I get less than 3 hours of screen on – mostly because I usually max my brightness – a heavy battery drainer. But under normal conditions, it’s very likely to get more than a day out of it.
As for the overall life, it gets me around 10-14 hours – just in time for nightly charging. For its small 2000mAh capacity, this is really surprising. There are times that I’ve made it to a day and a half, too. Normally, this device should not achieve more than 3 hours of screen on time but the optimizations and innovations incorporated by O+ USA on the display made it possible. I hope they keep using it on their upcoming devices.
The O+ Air is a very solid smartphone. It may not have the best specifications at its price point, but it trumps almost everyone in the design department. The aluminum back and ultra slim form factor makes it very appealing and elegant at the same time. The Android 4.4 Kitkat OS out of the box adds up to the overall package as well, as it’s one of the first few to launch with the said update.
The Air is for those who value design than raw power. It’s most definitely not the best processing package available, but it’s often enough for demanding tasks like gaming, and multitasking. To be fair, the HD display helped the phone a lot in terms of performance. Other phones which carry this Mediatek octa-core MT6592 processor usually struggle because of their Full HD displays because there’s a lot more pixels to be pushed. This made the Air considerably faster. The real letdown is the 1GB of RAM. Anyway, it’s almost always sufficient and with Kitkat’s better memory management and optimizations, this device runs like a champ.
The O+ Air is available on all O+ stores and retailers nationwide for an introductory price of Php13,999.
- Slim profile at only 6.8mm
- Excellent Aluminum build
- Android 4.4 Kitkat pre-installed
- Octa-core processor
- Fingerprint magnet
- 1GB RAM
- Slightly slippery