LeEco

LeEco

LeEco and Coolpad team up for Cool S1 phone launch in China

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Chinese-based smartphone maker LeEco may currently be having some financial issues, but that isn’t stopping it from launching yet another phone into the wild.  Today, it released its latest collaboration with another China-based company, Coolpad, with the Cool S1 smartphone.

See also:

Going into 2017, these are the Chinese smartphone makers to look out for

3 weeks ago

The 5.5-inch phone, with a 1080p display, is also the latest to ditch the conventional 3.5mm headphone jack, a trend which began earlier this year as smartphone makers begin to embrace USB Type-C connections. The phone does come with a headset that supports its USB Type-C port. It also comes with a fingerprint sensor and two front-facing speakers. Inside there’s a 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, a 16MP rear camera, an 8MP front-facing camera and Android 6.0 Marshmallow installed out of the box. In addition, it also has a big 4,070mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 support.

The S1 is only being sold in China at the moment, and there’s no word on when – or if – it will be made available elsewhere. As far as pricing is concerned, that depends on which model you choose. The Cool S1 with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage will cost CNY 2,499 (~$360), the model with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage will be priced at CNY 2,699 (~$389), and the model with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will cost CNY 3,199 (~$460).

LeEco planning major business changes as financial woes continue

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Things seem to be going from “bad” to “worse” for China-based smartphone and smart TV company LeEco. The company decided to halt trading of its shares this week, after rumors that its falling stock price had triggered margin calls on funds borrowed by the LeEco’s billionaire founder Jia Yueting.

See also:

LeEco Le Pro3 review

2 weeks ago

In a statement sent to The Wall Street Journal, a LeEco spokesperson stated that it is currently investigating why its stock price had dropped close to eight percent on Tuesday, and thus made the decision to halt trading. The spokesperson added that the company is “in the process of planning major matters, which are expected to involve integration of industry resources.” Exactly what types of changes are in the works are currently unknown.

Less than two months ago, LeEco was holding a big press conference in San Francisco, announcing its official launch of products in the US. That included its Le Pro3 and Le S3 Android smartphones. However, the press conference was an odd affair, full of unconnected buzzwords and demos of products like an Android-based bicycle that may now never come to market.

Since then, rumors about the company’s financial issues have continued, even though LeEco announced it had raised $600 million in new financing. Last week, sales of its phones began in the US at its own LeMall website, along with Amazon, Target and Best Buy. However, the company could decide to make an early exit from the US market as part of its upcoming changes.

LeEco ditches flash sales, will sell its phones at Amazon, Best Buy and Target

When China-based LeEco announced it was going to start selling its smartphones in the US earlier this fall, it made the decision to go with the “flash sale” business plan. It only let people purchase its products in the space of a few hours. Apparently that plan didn’t work well so LeEco is now ditching the flash sale for a more traditional online US retail business model.

See also:

LeEco Le Pro3 review

5 days ago

Starting today, the company’s LeMall.com web store is now open permanently in the US. Furthermore, it will sell the LeEco Le S3 and Le Pro3 smartphones and smart TVs at Amazon, Target and Best Buy starting on Thursday, December 1. This is definitely a switch for the business and it may show that it realizes that sales tactics that may work in China don’t necessarily work the same in the US.

This news comes as the company is also dealing with reports that its financial status is not quite on solid ground, although it did report recently that it raised $600 million in new financing. The company is one of several China-based smartphone makers that are trying to break through into the US market in 2017. Having its products sold 24 hours a day at big retail chains certainly won’t hurt, but it still remains to be seen if LeEco will stand out from this already crowded field.

Going into 2017, these are the Chinese smartphone makers to look out for

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2016 has been the year that Chinese-based smartphone companies started to slowly expand their presence in the U.S, or at the very least announced plans to expand in 2017. While hardcore Android fans may be very aware of these companies, including Huawei, ZTE, LeEco and Xiaomi, they are just beginning to make themselves known to the general consumer.

What will it take for these companies to get as well known and as popular as their rivals like Samsung, HTC, LG, and Lenovo/Motorola in the United States and North America? We think some of them will have more success than others in 2017.

See also:

Best Chinese Android phones

3 weeks ago

Huawei

Going into 2017, these are the Chinese smartphone makers to look out for

There is a ton of opportunity for Huawei to bust out into the U.S. market in 2017, as it has virtually everywhere else on the planet. But there are also a lot of hurdles that the company will have to clear to be successful in one of the biggest smartphone markets in the world.

Huawei was recently named as the most profitable Android phone maker worldwide

Huawei was recently named as the most profitable Android phone maker worldwide by Strategy Analytics in the third quarter of 2016, and its recently launched P9 smartphone has shipped over nine million units so far. The company has announced plans to launch its next big flagship phone, the Mate 9, in the U.S. in 2017. If the phone does have a successful launch in the United States, some analysts believe Huawei would become the world’s top selling smartphone maker, period, ahead of Samsung and Apple. It’s also worth noting that Huawei has already begun slowly moving into the US market with its Honor sub-brand.

See also:

Huawei Mate 9 versus the competition

4 weeks ago

However, as detailed in a recent Wall Street Journal article, Huawei still faces the lack of support from U.S. wireless carriers. Some of them may still believe that the company could be working for the Chinese government to put in spy hardware and software in their devices, as detailed in a 2012 congressional report. Huawei has denied these charges.

In addition, the company will also have to alter its hardware to comply with the standards that are required by some carriers, particularly Verizon and AT&T.  There’s also the simple fact that the Huawei brand name doesn’t have the same cache as Samsung and other phone makers.

The bottom line:

Huawei will likely continue to be successful everywhere else on the planet in 2017, but it will be hard to make a big enough splash into the U.S. market in the next year with all of its challenges. That said, it will continue to push further into North America in the years to come.

Xiaomi

Going into 2017, these are the Chinese smartphone makers to look out for

After what seems like years of waiting, Xiaomi looks like it will have some huge U.S. announcements for 2017. At CES 2017, the company plans to announced a new product that will launch globally. Also, its Global Vice President Hugo Barra stated that U.S. network testing has started with the the company’s Mi 5 phone.

Like Huawei, Xiaomi has had great success in other markets worldwide, particularly in India. It is also not adverse to trying out some new designs for its smartphones. Its “concept” Mi MIX smartphone, which it is only selling in China for now, almost completely ditches the normal bezel for a nearly edgeless display that puts a much larger screen inside a smaller case.

See also:

Xiaomi Mi MIX review – all screen, almost all of the time!

2 weeks ago

Xiaomi still isn't a very well-known brand in the United States

Xiaomi also faces some of the same challenges as Huawei, the biggest of which is the lack of a well-known brand outside of select markets. However, it looks like it is making headway towards breaking into the major U.S wireless carriers, which is pretty much required for any smartphone company to have a wide success.

The bottom line: Xiaomi seems to be doing all the right things for a bigger presence in the U.S in 2017. Let’s just hope everything aligns correctly.

ZTE

Going into 2017, these are the Chinese smartphone makers to look out for

Unlike Huawei and Xiaomi, ZTE has made some strides in the U.S. carrier market, selling devices on AT&T’s no-contract carrier Cricket Wireless. It has also had success with selling unlocked smartphones in the country like the Axon 7 and it has even become the official smartphone for some NBA basketball teams.

However, ZTE also wants to generate a lot of grassroots support for its phones through its online community, through its forums, social media channels and contests like its recent design competition. The company will develop a smartphone with an adhesive back and eye-tracking features, based on the votes from its community on a number of device concepts.

ZTE has also had run-ins with the U.S. government

Like Huawei, ZTE has had run-ins with the U.S. government. Earlier this year, the company got hit with trade sanctions from the Commerce Department, which claimed ZTE had sent U.S. technology to countries like Iran. However, a few weeks later those sanctions got lifted temporarily, and the reprieves have been extended until at least February.

The bottom line: Assuming ZTE can get a permanent lift on these trade sanctions from the government in 2017, we think that the company will be a bigger force in the smartphone market in the next year. One thing we’d like to see is closer relationships formed with the big (non-prepaid) carriers, though its unclear if or when this might happen.

Related:

ZTE Axon 7 review

July 25, 2016

LeEco

Going into 2017, these are the Chinese smartphone makers to look out for

This is perhaps the most interesting of the four Chinese companies we are looking at in this feature. In October, LeEco held what can be described best as an odd press event to announce its formal launch into the U.S. market. In between using tons of buzz words, it actually announced some products, including two smartphones, the Le S3 and the Le Pro3.  However, it is choosing to sell these devices in the U.S., along with some smart TVs, via quick online flash sales.

See also:

LeEco Le Pro3 review

5 days ago

More recently, there’s been some doubts about the financial stability of LeEco. A couple of weeks ago, the company announced it had secured about $600 million in new financing. However, another business division that’s working on an electric car, Faraday Future, is also in jeopardy, with rumors that work on the car has stopped for now.

The bottom line: LeEco is still struggling to find itself in the US market. Combined with rumors of financial issues, it will likely be some time before it will be a big force in the smartphone industry — especially in North America.


Conclusion

With Samsung’s recent problem with the Note 7 recall, combined with other smartphone companies dealing with their own issues, the time may be right for large rivals from China to make a big play in the U.S. in 2017. Which of these companies do you think will be successful in the next year overall, and in the U.S. in particular? Which of these companies do you think has the brightest future in the years to come? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

LeEco Le Pro3 review

LeEco is making it abundantly clear – they are here and are looking to really disrupt multiple segments of the tech world. They have a car concept that turned heads, bought Vizio so that they could really capture the television market, and even a smart bike that runs Android. But it all ties back – as it should – to a phone.

In Jan this year, the LeEco Le Max Pro made a splash as one of the very first phones to sport the latest Snapdragon 820 processor of the time, but now their latest outing claims to be more than just a phone and more of an ecosystem in and of itself. Does the result spell greatness for this burgeoning brand? Let’s find out in our review of the LeEco Le Pro 3.

Design

To any avid smartphone fans, the Le Pro3 may look a little too familiar – it is honestly just too hard not to think that this phone greatly resembles the OnePlus 3, right down to the antenna lines and the lens popping out at the top. Users might actually mistake the two if they happen to have them lying side by side. We just really felt the need to call that out, so with that out of the way, we can step back and explore the cues.

LeEco’s phone has a metal body with a very glossy look and feel, which puts a fingerprint reader on the back in lieu of capacitive buttons underneath the screen. With a 5.5 inch screen, the phone is not at all hard to manoeuvre in one hand and it helps that the body is a bit thicker than most of the slim profiles we’ve gotten this past year. The glossy material does take to fingerprints rather quickly, but not egregiously.

LeEco Le Pro3 review

One main aspect to note is that there is no headphone jack found on this phone – an adapter has to be used in order to port the USB-C. Speaking of audio, a bottom mounted speaker is accompanied by the phone speaker that works double time for calls and media.

Overall, it is good looking phone that is mostly hindered by the fact that the design is a bit too much like something that we have seen before. It begs the question – besides the different ‘Le’ logos that are on the back and serves as the home capacitive button, what defines LeEco’s design language in this smartphone cycle? Granted, the phone looks and feels quite good, but starting things off with a derivative style may foreshadow the rest of the story that is the Le Pro3.

Display

LeEco Le Pro3 review

A 5.5 inch screen helps in the handling experience, though an affordable phone like this had to cut a few corners to keep the costs down. As such, this is an IPS display that comes with an unsurprising 1080p resolution. As an IPS display, it does get plenty bright even in broad daylight, but it seems a bit muted in its colors, noticeably lacking in vibrancy and saturation. This is in the standard LeEco color mode found in the display settings, even though there is a vivid mode that is available for that extra bit of punch.

The easiest problem to see at first glance is the sizeable bezel that is around the entire display. It can almost be considered the mark of a budgeted phone and it is plain to see in the Le Pro3. Pixel density is obviously not as high as it would have been if this were a Quad HD screen, but it is still plenty for text and general sharpness. Reading text and websites is not difficult, and games are still fun to play despite the need for a little better coloration.

That all said, this display is about as standard as you can get. In the grand scheme of affordable flagship phones, there are definitely better display experiences. For its affordable price point, general users won’t find too much to hate about the Le Pro3’s screen, aside from maybe the bezel.

Performance

LeEco Le Pro3 review

We have to preference the performance aspect of this review by saying that the EUI LeEco put as the software is mostly to blame for the hiccups experienced on this device. The Snapdragon 821 has already proven itself a few times over as a powerful and reliable processing package, meaning that high performance tasks from productivity to gaming are actually about as good as they should be. Unfortunately, that is assuming the software can stably get from one place to another without messing up.

I did play some good games on the Le Pro 3 that included The Trail, one of the more lag-prone gaming experiences available right now, and it was not any worse than on other Snapdragon 821 performers like the Pixel. 4GB of RAM in the base model is adequate for general multitasking, though a 6GB model is available at a premium and should help the phone along a bit more. That said, jumping in and out of applications using the recent apps screen is smooth, as is going through the multitudes of homescreens that users will inevitably have because there is no app drawer.

Overall, having the Snapdragon 821 as the processor on this phone, which is meant to be quite affordable, is definitely one of the better aspects of the Le Pro 3, even if the hardware and software experience doesn’t quite live up to that offered by other Snapdragon 821-powered smartphones.

Hardware

LeEco Le Pro3 review

Which brings us to the hardware, where we’ll start with the good parts of the experience. Calls on the Le Pro3 are adequately good, with no real problems on either end of the call and with few dropped calls on the T-Mobile network. Sound, in general, is actually a bright spot for this phone because of the dual speakers – when watching YouTube or playing games, we didn’t feel too bad about the lack of a headphone jack because the audio coming out of the phone was pretty dang decent to begin with.

Speaking of the headphone jack, it does suffer from the iPhone 7 or Moto Z problem in that an adapter has to be used in order to connect wired headphones to the phone. This adapter is really small and can be easily misplaced, which is something that already happened to me on a couple of occasions. Bluetooth headsets are probably the best way to go for the sake of convenience, though it is an adjustment that many still have to get used to.

LeEco Le Pro3 review

On a somewhat related note, getting certain Bluetooth speakers and other peripherals connected to the Le Pro3 ranged from decent to anger-inducing experiences. The main issue was with NFC connections, which were highly inconsistent and had trouble connecting to my Bluetooth speakers. Even then, the Bluetooth connection to one of my speakers cut out a few times, which was frustrating.

Another point of real contention is that the Le Pro 3 wasn’t able to work with Android Auto in my car. Connecting the phone using a USB-C cord took multiple tries because the phone kept trying to connect via Mirrorlink rather than Android Auto, but that is yet another mark against the software, admittedly. However, even when I did get Android Auto to work, it would lose connection every couple of minutes to the point of it being completely useless for my driving. As an everyday user of Android Auto, this took away a key portion of my daily requirements for any phone.

LeEco Le Pro3 review

One last inconsistency came from the fingerprint reader. It often felt like I needed to hit it multiple times just to get it to trigger, making it a little annoying to wake and unlock the phone on more than a few occasions. It may be fixed with a future update but the fingerprint sensor definitely requires refining further and doesn’t have the responsiveness offered by other OEMs.

32GB of storage is available with the base model of the LeEco Le Pro 3, but 64GB and 128GB are also available at a further premium. Our unit has 64GB, which gives enough space for plenty of applications and media, but without expandable storage, you’ll want to ensure you pick up the right storage option for you. If you opt for the variant with 4GB of RAM, you can choose from either 32GB or 64GB storage while for those wanting 6GB of RAM, you storage options are doubled to 64GB and 128GB.

LeEco Le Pro3 review

Battery life is dependant on the 4070mAh battery, which is a higher capacity than found on most flagship devices. Our Android Authority battery testing app showed a possible screen on time of 9 hours, with the gaming test managing to bring the phone from 100 to single digits in about 7 hours. While on paper it certainly seems like the battery can go the distance, using the phone as my daily driver made the battery life range from 3 and a half hours of screen on time to an upper limit of 5.

That is pretty good battery life, even if it is not particularly overachieving and that upper limit is somewhat expected for a 4000+ mAh unit. If users are itching for power despite the possibility of a solid full day of battery with some change, Quick Charge 3.0 is able to get the phone up to 50% battery in around half an hour.

Camera

LeEco Le Pro3 review

The camera of the Le Pro3 is a 16MP shooter capable of 4k video recording and has a few different modes available. Before we get to that, the front facing camera does have a beauty mode that is on by default and smooths out details in selfies taken using the 8MP sensor. Selfies taken on the Le Pro3 are decent enough, though even at the middle setting, the beauty mode is a little too aggressive and makes pictures look a bit too soft. It is also quite slow to focus, which takes away from the selfie experience.

The app in general is not the fastest one out there, mainly in the sense that the shutter-to-file time is a little too long for our tastes. There is no problem changing to the different modes and activating different features, but the one big issue we have with it is that HDR is not a setting but rather a feature. This means that users would have to actively open it up in order to give pictures a little more punch and better highlight and shadow rendering.

As such, the pictures coming from the Le Pro3 are actually not all that bad. Though they won’t really blow anyone away, the pictures are all very serviceable with a good amount of detail in the right lighting situations. The noise, of course, comes out more in the lower light shots but at least it doesn’t look incredibly smudgy. All in all, it is a camera experience that you would expect from a sub-$400 handset.

LeEco Le Pro3 camera samples:

The colors are what make us give the camera a nod, with a slight bump up in saturation making pictures look more vivid and pleasing to the eye. Interestingly enough, this didn’t seem to be the case when looking at the pictures on the screen of the phone itself. This is likely due to the screen being a bit muted, as we mentioned in the display section earlier on. General users will be able to enjoy their smartphone photography on the Le Pro3, though prosumers will probably wish that there was more speed in the app and a few more options to get even better shots.

Software

LeEco Le Pro3 review

And finally, in software, the EUI brings its Asian styled flavor of Android; this means no app drawer and potentially a few different features that aren’t typically found in western versions of Google’s OS. EUI starts off pleasantly enough, with good design cues that are decidedly smaller in overall elements than other Chinese operating systems, perhaps as a way to avoid anything bleeding over their boundaries (as is rather common with overtly long translations in localized versions of Color OS and such).

The lack of an app drawer is a polarizing choice, with some users really hating the omission and others finding it rather refreshing. I am the former, but I understand that it doesn’t truly change the overall Android experience that much. LeEco, to their credit, tries a few different things in their skin, with the quick settings showing up above the recent apps screen, and the notification shade showing only notifications and a large button on the bottom to manage said notifications, even if it won’t be pressed all that often anyway.

LeEco Le Pro3 review

Where LeEco hopes that the EUI will separate itself is through its ties to the LeEco streaming services. LeEco did well to get quite a few different partnerships with networks like SeeSo and Showtime to bring a lot of content to the masses, but it requires subscription and monthly payments to the EcoPass, which has its own digital currency called the EcoPoints which can be used in lieu of cash towards options in the LeMall.

Take a deep breath.

LeEco Le Pro3 review

A lot of that content is found in the Le app, but in place of where the app drawer button would be is a wholly different application called Le Live, which brings users to a 3×3 grid of content distributors that all stream content straight to the phone on an ongoing basis. This can include the aforementioned SeeSo but also includes some Asian channels, Vice, and a few smaller outlets like TasteMade, which you might recognize from their Facebook ads or Snapchat. Basically content is consistently played and scheduled at certain time intervals, and is a portal to a lot of different streaming content that is curated, only somewhat expansive, and honestly a little hard to make sense of – the average user will probably be a bit confused and overwhelmed by the experience, especially considering there isn’t a whole lot of documentation or even built-in advertisement-style tutorials to guide the user.

What if users want an affordable Android phone, but aren’t open to getting inundated with Le’s all over the place?

SeeSo, Netflix, and Showtime are examples of subscription-based services that are all a part of the Le ecosystem, but they are paid addons on top of the already existing subscription service. While there are a few perks like 5TB of photo and video storage included, it is a little tough to recommend a whole new bill payment just to enjoy what is supposed to be the biggest part of the Le Pro3. What if users want an affordable Android phone, but aren’t open to getting inundated with Le’s all over the place? Of course, they can install a new launcher but the question bears statement.

Gallery

Specifications

Display5.5-inch IPS LCD display
1080p resolution, 403 ppi
Processor2.35 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Adreno 530 GPU
RAM4/6 GB
Storage32/64GB (4GB RAM)
64/128 GB (6GB RAM)
non-expandable
Camera16 MP rear camera, 1.12µm pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, dual LED flash
8 MP front-facing camera, 1.4µm pixel size
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
GPS + GLONASS
NFC
IR
FM radio
USB Type-C 1.0
Battery4,070 mAh non-removable
Quick Charge 3.0
SoftwareAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow
eUI 5.8
Dimensions151.4 x 73.9 x 7.5 mm
175 grams

Price & Final Thoughts

LeEco Le Pro3 review

Another perk of being part of the LeMall and the Le ecosystem is that members can get the Le Pro3 at a pretty deep discount that makes this phone one of the most affordable devices available today. Starting at $399, the phone can be put on flash sales resulting in discounts of $100, making the phone potentially $299 if you wait for those days to come. This is undoubtedly a wonderful price, but as we have found in this review, you kind of get what you pay for.

And so, there you have it. The LeEco LePro3 – a phone that has all of the tools to be competitive but is bogged down by inconsistent performance that we only really see in phones at its price point. This doesn’t come at much of a surprise, but the phone does prove to be a reminder that value and money can sometimes be an inverse proportion. For it’s price, the LeEco Le Pro 3 is a solid device, but it only really makes sense as a recommendation if acquired at the $299 price, which we haven’t seen since the days of the OnePlus One.

And for its full price, there is competition like the OnePlus 3 to consider – it is, after all, the phone that the Le Pro3 somehow manages to look incredibly similar to. It brings an inconsistent experience overall with Le features and software that aren’t particularly useful for anyone that just wants a reliable Android experience at a good price.

LeEco and Coolpad could collaborate again to launch a ‘Cool’ smartphone

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Coolpad and LeEco are collaborating again after the launch of their first joint smartphone, the Cool1 Dual, in August this year. The two companies partnered after Jia Yueting, CEO of LeEco, took over as Coolpad’s Chairman in August. The upcoming smartphone could reportedly be called just ‘Cool’ and recently passed through China’s certification website TENAA.

According to a TENAA listing spotted by GizmoChina, ‘Cool’ sports a 5.5-inch Full HD display powered by a 2.35GHz Snapdragon 821 with 4GB and 6GB RAM options, and multiple storage variants – 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB. The device will be powered by a 4000mAh battery. The Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow smartphone will come with a dual rear camera setup packing in a 16-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front shooter.

With looks similar to the Le Pro 3, the Cool smartphone will be available in several color options like gold, white, silver, blue, and black. No other details are known at the moment, although since the device has been certified, it could be launched soon enough.