Ulefone Be Touch 2 review

Sep 4, 2015

I pre-ordered the Be Touch 2 in June ago and it eventually arrived 2 months later!
Now I can't wait to smash nuts with the screen and pour soda on it like they do in their promotional videos!

I wanted to replace the Elephone P3000S-64 quickly and didn't listen to my own advice:
Never buy on pre-sale! 
It does not guarantee the lower price, you don't get it faster, and you're first in line to discover whether the device meets the announced specification.

By the time the Ulefone Be Touch 2 arrived from Geekbuying, it was available roughly at the same or lower price (~250$/220€) everywhere.

MTK6752 Octa Core 64Bit 1.7 GHz  with ARM Mali-T760 GPU
Android 5.1 (According to Ulefone, read further)
3GB Ram / 16GB Rom
5.5" 1920 * 1080 Pixel FHD IPS Screen with Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
13.0MP Back Camera (Sony IMX214 sensor) w/flash
5.0MP Front Camera (OV5648) w/flash
Touch Fingerprint scanner
Dual SIM and Micro SD card slot
Battery: Sony 3050mAh Lithium-ion Polymer 
Dimensions: 77.4 mm x 158.1 mm x 8.4 mm
Weight: 170 gr

Like the THL 2015 and Elephone P3000S-64 seen previously, the Be Touch 2 is based on MT6752.
The build quality is similar to the THL 2015 with a sober and clean design.

The specification of the Be Touch 2 has been subject to discussion on the forum lately so lets take a look at each of them:

Android 5.1...???
...they all have to lie about something it seems...

The "About Phone" screen proudly shows 5.1 as the Android version, but any good system information app (CPU X, Hardware Info, ...) will also return the build ID, which is here LRX21M
... which means 5.0.0_r2!
That alone can explain the Wi-Fi, battery and other issues experienced by some users.

Bad point, unless they eventually provide an update to the real Android 5.1. Ulefone claim they keep working on further updates.

3050mAh battery ?
While Ulefone didn't try to object on the fake Android version, they actually reacted quickly to the rumours about the fake capacity with a battery test video.

I personally get the phone going for a full day (Battery Monitor Widget report an average of just 12h) with mixed use, not intensive, but Wi-Fi always on, phone calls, in-car music via BT  and occasional GPS use. This varies widely of course with each other usage and energy saving strategy.

Various options in Android allow to keep the energy use under control. Disabling the useless background push services via the Auto-start management can help. Also, a power hog feature like "off-screen gestures" should only be activated if really used. Ulefone recommended to calibrate the battery which I didn't.

The most interesting discussion on this topic is found here.

Quick charge: full charge in just over 1 hour. I'm fine with that. Really that's a nice difference with my previous phones.

I only tested the phone with the latest ROM received via OTA (Ulefone_be_touch 2_20150811).
The Antutu score is close to 45000 (Geekbench: 800/4022) which is respectable for a MT6752 with Mali T760. Lower scores have been seen by other users and maybe it was with a older release.
Also, no overheating while gaming, the phone may become warmer, not hot, which is common. The animations don't feel always smooth despite high FPS.

Fingerprint Scanner:
No longer a gadget, it works fast and well: just touch the button, no more swipe!
I usually prefer the face unlock which is missing from this release, but the fingerprint is an even faster way to unlock the phone, just press the centre button to wake up the phone, and leave the finger on it: it unlocks instantly. Neat!

Another area of argument where Android 5.0 has its share of responsibility. However, I didn't have any problem connecting to my usual access points and the range was also slightly better than with the non-Lollipop Elephone P3000S-64 and THL 2015. Again I started with the OTA from 0811 which improves things in that area.

Screen quality:
 Backlight from P3000S and THL 2015
The 5.5  inch FHD screen is just as beautiful as the smaller THL 2015, with nice saturated colours and no backlight-bleeding issue like the P3000S.

Auto-brightness has been replaced with Adaptive Brightness in Lollipop.
The difference is that the display brightness will only slightly vary above or below the manually pre-set brightness level.

Tempered glass protection: I received 3 of them! (1 as part of the promotional sale, 1 as apology for delay from the shop, 1 more as apology for delay from Ulefone) So I felt I might as well try one. Ulefone advertise this as a way to push the date we'd go completely blind because of the blue light emitted by all those LED screens we use everyday. While I didn't find its oleophobic property really convincing, the filter offers an excellent readability and better feeling on touch than the tradtional plastic filters.

Sound quality:
For sure, the tiny speaker is not a Hi-Fi boombox, the sound is just about loud enough once the BesLoudness from Sound enhancement is enabled. It does the job though on the phone call department, and there's no complaint from either side of the call.

Music listening only makes sense through (Lossless) BT mode or with proper headphones anyway, and in that context, the Be Touch 2 does a good job.

Back: Sony IMX 214, F1.8, 13MP.
The software part does not do justice to the excellent sensor. It is clearly not optimized and the results are frustrating, in particular once you've seen what that IMX214 sensor (and the previous IMX135) could do under KitKat. Instead, here we get very noisy low light pictures, and a lazy auto-focus that struggles on close-up's. The IMX214 can do 4K video recording but the option is just not there, the slow-motion videos can be recorded but fails to playback.

Achieving good pictures require several shots as, most of the time, the camera tends to go off focus just when taking a shot that looked great on screen he second before. So much for the WYSIWYG!

click on any picture for full resolution

Front: OV5648, 5MP, no autofocus.
The Omnivision sensor is in charge of the selfies with also a flash but no autofocus. It's nowhere near the IMX sensor in any way but does what it's there for.

NFC: No NFC but Mediatek's HotKnot instead. I have no other equipped device to try this tap-and-share technology. According to Mediatek, "it can do everything NFC does", ...obviously only between two LCD screens, so it won't match the wider field of application given by the NFC tags, for instance, and I don't see wireless payments, access control or Bluetooth pairing possible either.

GPS/Glonass and Compass: 
First, find a quiet and empty room, where you can do your compass-calibration dance in peace: this is definitely needed but once done, the compass is accurate.
The GPS gets the lock in a matter of seconds, even indoor. This is normal for the MediaTek 6752, but I still remember how pathetic it with their Quad-core range.

Hall sensor is present but not supported yet by the ROM provided
Conclusion: Unachieved potential...
I still need to get used to the size of that phablet, but for most of it, it turns out to be a nice looking, and pleasant to use.

Maybe receiving it so late was my luck?
It is possible that the the early batch had issues that have been fixed since.

The Be Touch 2 is a well designed phone, maybe a bit too basic: no backlight for the soft buttons and not notification LED (I would have traded the front flash for that one instead).

Along with the phone specification, the communication efforts from Ulefone was part of my decision to buy from them. However, just like their competitor, Elephone, they tricked their customers about the real specification (version of Android in this case). Let's hope they really intend to release a true 5.1. Ulefone so far indicated in every update notice that there was more to come. I suspect Mediatek to be partially responsible for the unachieved potential of this phone.

Without a proper software implementation, and a working proximity sensor in particular, it is difficult to recommend this phone. However if they fix the software issues very soon, it might become a good deal. From my experience, it is always risky to bet on promises for future development.
Sooner than later, all their efforts will be diverted to the next flagship which is always around the corner. I really wish Ulefone will prove me wrong just this time!

- fast and effective fingerprint scanner!
- stable phone despite its unfinished version of Android
(avoid the update 20151012 at all cost!)
- great FHD screen quality, bright and colourful
- comfortable 3GB RAM and good performance overall

Not so good:
- Fake Android version. It's really 5.0 not 5.1!
- No backlight for the soft buttons
- No notification LED
- Unfinished software implementation (Lazy camera autofocus, slow-motion video playback not working, Hall sensor not operational, battery can act weird for some, ...)
Added on 7/10/2015:
- Proximity Sensor stops working, see workaround.

Product page, xda forum, Ulefone on FB and G+

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