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O+ Ultra 3.0 Review: Battery and storage on steroids

The O+ Ultra line-up is one of the few range of smartphone in the market that delivers extra large batteries. This category is seeming to be an emerging one, as most people are getting tired of charging their devices several times a day.

Both the first and the second iteration of the Ultra had large 4000mAh batteries. And now, the company is stepping it up a bit more with the O+ Ultra 3.0. The third iteration now has a larger 4700mAh battery. Plus, O+ also claims that this is a “Photographer’s Choice” smartphone.

However, upon comparing the spec sheet with its predecessors, the device has the same characteristics with its older brothers. So, the question is this – will the larger battery be enough to satisfy a customer, even those who are just looking for a device that lasts more than a day? Does the O Plus Ultra 3.0 really has what it takes to be admired by photographers? That’s what we’ll need to figure out.

O+ Ultra 3.0 Video Review

Design and Build Quality

O+ tweaked the Ultra’s looks this time around. As what I have said in our first generation O+ Ultra review, it really did feel like a utilitarian device with its tall build and sharp corners, which really strained my hand after hours of use. But it is now a completely different scenario with the O+ Ultra 3.0. The device now has rounded corners, and the edges at the back are now also curved to increase ergonomics when holding the device. This rounded aesthetic is also carried at the front, thanks to its 2.5D arc glass. The front panel is slightly curved at the edges as well.

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However, the O+ Ultra 3.0 is still entirely made with plastic, which is actually a good thing rather than bad. First, it made the price still relatively cheaper. Second, the device is surprisingly thin, despite the large 4700mAh that’s inside it.

Speaking of the battery, the back panel is removable, but the battery isn’t. O Plus may have some confidential technology on how they were able to achieve such large capacity that’s why they sealed it in. No, they probably don’t, I’m just kidding. But still, users will now have a hard time replacing the batteries when they start to crap out over time or swap it with a fully-charged one when it runs out of juice. Battery longevity is extremely long these days, so you probably wouldn’t need to anyway.

Taking a tour, we have a large 5.5” IPS display in front, together with the earpiece, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with LED flash, ambient light and proximity sensors, and the capacitive buttons with an outdated layout. Yup, despite the fact that I liked how they utilize the chin of the device other than having on-screen buttons to save precious screen real-estate, the button’s order and functions doesn’t please me. The layout is Menu, Home button, and back; instead of Back, Home and Recent Apps. I am also surprised that they still didn’t include a Recent apps button as you have to long-press the Home button to activate it. Holding the middle button must also give you access to Google’s On Tap feature, which we are now missing in this case.

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Left side is clean, while at the right we have the volume controls and the lock/power switch. The buttons felt satisfying to press, quite mushy but still decently tactile.

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At the top, we have the 3.5mm headphone jack. I strongly believe that this port should be at the bottom of the device, as using the device while a headphone is plugged in at the top is quite irritating.

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At the bottom, we have the microUSB port and two speaker grills. The one on the right serves as the actual loudspeaker, while the left has the built-in microphones. The speaker quality on this thing is pretty decent. It has decent volume when playing music or watching videos, but clarity is a little disappointing. Also, this thing can get easily muffled and go completely muted when you’re using the device in landscape as your fingers may obstruct it.

At the back, we have this stealthy, yet luxurious looking brownish back panel. When removed, it shows the non-removable 4700mAh battery, two micro SIM card slots, and of course, the 8-megapixel primary camera with LED flash.

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On the downside, we don’t see a microSD card slot in here. And I’m suspecting that the board actually has it, and O+ may have pre-occupied it with a 128GB microSD card. The O+ Ultra 3.0 may probably only have a 16GB of internal storage, then the addition of an extra 128GB – that’s a total of 144GB, the storage capacity that the company is bragging about.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the O+ Ultra 3.0’s design and build quality. It’s straightforward, lightweight and subtle.

Display

The O+ Ultra 3.0 has a large 5.5-inch IPS 2.5D arc display, which only has 1280 x 720 pixel resolution. It’s got a pixel density of 267.

Now, there’s actually pros and cons of only having a 720p panel on the Ultra 3.0. Having a 720p panel means that there are fewer pixels to power, which compliments the long-lasting battery title that the brand brags. But on the bad side, having a panel with fewer pixel count on a large 5.5-inch screen isn’t really ideal. The integrity of the sharpness and details are now at stake.

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But nonetheless, unless you’re pixel peeping, the display quality is still acceptable for the average consumer. Colors are decent, with deep blacks. The large display gives a really large real estate for productivity and immersive gaming.

Performance and Hardware

This is where things get a bit disappointing. The O+ Ultra 3.0 has a MediaTek MT6580 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and a Mali-400MP GPU. The processing power that this thing has is quite underwhelming, even on paper. We’ve seen other devices in this price range that even have an octa-core processor. But I guess processing performance is not the focus of this device.

With that said, I did experience a lot of bumps while using this device. Browsing through social media applications like Facebook and Instagram, and even just through the home screen, there is some noticeable bumpiness. Gaming experience is also middling. All game titles are playable with decent frame rates, but it isn’t as smooth as what I have expected. However, if you plan to run the latest AAA titles, get ready to get disappointed.

Also, 2GB of RAM feels too small these days due to the existence of 3GB and 4GB options. With the Ultra 3.0, it would take a few seconds for an app to launch (because they are not kept in RAM). Also, switching between applications isn’t as seamless when compared to the competition.

But on the flip side, thanks to its underpowered processor, I didn’t experience any overheating issues when playing games extensively. Well, at least we have that one.o-ultra-3-0-29

Like what I’ve said earlier, the device has a total of 144GB of storage, which is immensely large even to some enthusiasts. In my experience, I was able to save my whole Spotify library offline which
consists hundreds of songs and albums. I was also able to store a whole season of Big Bang Theory, and there was still a lot of room left to store other media.

And since O+ was really promoting the storage prowess of this device, the company also included a USB OTG cable on the package, filled with pure O+ looks thanks to that obvious branding and the red color theme.

Software

The O+ Ultra 3.0 runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. And just like any other smartphones in this category, the interface isn’t tailored with any manufacturer-made interface. Which, as what we’ve seen in other devices like the Asus Zenfone 3, can cause the device to be bogged down a little.




With that said, the O Plus Ultra 3.0 is clean and uncluttered, like what it really should be. Everything that Android intended to happen is displayed here, especially on their Marshmallow update. However, the Now on Tap feature is missing on this device. The said feature works when you long press the home capacitive buttons, but on the Ultra 3.0’s case, it displays the Recent Apps tab, instead of triggering the Now on Tap feature.

But nonetheless, all of the other features are working fine. Plus, we’re also seeing other standard features that we previously saw on other O+ devices: the trademark Air Shuffle technology, which the company pioneered is still here – allowing you to control your music, gallery, camera and FM Radio just by hovering your palm at the top (sensor) of the device.

Doodle control is also present, which lets you draw specific shapes and/or letters to quickly launch an application when the screen is off. The designated app per shape/letters are can be customized on the settings menu. Double tap to wake is also available.

Camera

Now, to answer the question, “Is the O+ Ultra 3.0 a photographer’s choice smartphone?”, the answer is a definite “No.”. Although don’t get me wrong, this is not the worst thing that I have seen on a smartphone, but it is also not the best. So clearly, it really won’t appeal to photographers.

We have an 8-megapixel primary camera with LED flash that delivers decent performance. Photos taken looks sharp, dynamic range is decent and colors look a bit pale but quite acceptable. Shooting at low-light scenarios is also middling. Photos are serviceable, but not as stunning as it should be.

The 5-megapixel front-facing camera also has satisfactory performance. It clearly is not made for extensive self-portrait shooting, but it sure is capable of making video calls.o-ultra-3-0-11

Connectivity

Now this is probably the most left out section of this device. The device only has Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and 3G HSPA+ networks. Yup, that’s all we get, not even a 4G LTE connectivity.

It’s 2016 alread and I believe that almost all of devices that are being offered today should be capable of supporting 4G networks. Entry-level handsets should be exempted, but missing it out in this price range is completely unacceptable. With the applications and internet activities becoming more data extensive, network antennas should be able to cope up.

The 3G connection of the O+ Ultra 3.0 wouldn’t cut it. It even has troubles in connecting to networks at times; I tried toggling on the wireless data, and it took about half a minute before it got connected. We’re not sure if this is just specifically with out unit, though.

Battery

And now to the main event of this O+ Ultra 3.0 review. Like I have said earlier, the O+ Ultra 3.0 has a 4700mAh battery capacity. That’s 700mAh more than the previous iterations.

The results that I’ve garnered from my tests were unsurprisingly impressive. Screen-on time reached up to 5 hours and 40 mins, that is significantly longer than the standard 4-hour mark that I’m getting in other devices.

O+ also said that the device can last for up to 2 days with light to moderate usage, but I was even able to reach a third day, with still 15% battery left. Now if that ain’t impressive, I don’t know what is.

 

Conclusion

To wrap it up, I think the O+ Ultra 3.0 is really targeted to those people who are serious about their battery game. And why not? The entire line-up is made for that. However, I think it is just not fair to disregard the other components of this device. This thing is worth Php8,995, and I think having a large 4700mAh battery and 144GB of onboard storage wouldn’t be enough to justify its asking price.

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O+ Ultra 3.0 Specs

  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Dual micro-SIM, Dual standby
  • 5.5-inch IPS 2.5D Arc Display, 1280 x 720 pixel resolution, ~267ppi
  • 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582 processor
  • Mali-400 MP2 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage (+ 128GB microSD)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot
  • 8-megapixel main camera, with autofocus and LED flash
  • 5-megapixel front camera, with LED flash
  • GPS, A-GPS
  • 3G, HSPA+
  • Bluetooth
  • Colors: Expresso / Midnight Blue
  • Li-Ion 4700mAh battery

I can forgive O+ for compromising some things. Having a 720p panel rather than a 1080p one is forgivable, thus also complimenting its intended prowess. The all-plastic build instead of metal is actually beneficial. And lastly, its claim of “Photographer’s Choice”, I can let it pass since the sensor, despite being not the best nor worst, is still capable.

But what kind of grind my gears is the underpowered processor and the lack of 4G LTE. Like I said, it’s nearly 2017, and processing performance and connectivity hurdles should be the last thing we are facing in today’s smartphone.

But nonetheless, it’s hard to discount the fact that I’m really impressed with its battery performance. My power bank went for an indefinite leave – sometimes as long as 3 days. Also, that large 144GB of onboard storage is ridiculously spacious. You can store a 1080p whole season of a TV show, with still tons of memory left.

Overall, O+ really did deliver a really Ultra device. It gave importance to its main selling points, instead of trying to be a jack of all trades. If you’re a fan of O+ USA, you might want to check it out.



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