Umi Max Full Review – September 23, 2016 (video review below)
The UMI Max is a Midrange Smartphone which is priced more or less the $150 marked. It succeeded the UMI Super, which frankly looking at the specs, both phones are practically identical. UMI has regarded the UMI Max, with the named “MAX” pertaining to expandable storage capable of up to 256 GB MicroSD. I did not get to test this because I don’t have that kind of TF Card available in my area.
My first impression
I have reviewed quite a bit of Midrange Smartphones, like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, Xiaomi Mi Max, Bluboo Xtouch, DooGee F3 Pro to name a few. And so far, I am quite satisfied with the UMI Max. Even though it certainly has its shortcomings, which I will be focusing more in this review.
Premium All Aluminum Finish
The UMI Max is certainly well built, it has a strong frame and the back shell is all aluminum. It doesn’t look cheap and the overall construction is admirable even for a budget Phone. It is similar to the Umi Super in terms of design and build quality.
However, I did notice that it is thick or chunky probably housing the 4000mAh battery. Also the handset is a bit hefty or heavy. Even compared to the gigantic 6.4 inch Xiaomi Mi Max, the UMI Max is heavy.
Inputs and Outputs or IO
At the bottom, you do have a Foxconn USB Type C Port (reversible) which also supports Fast or Quick Charging. At the top is a 3.5mm Audio Port at the right, are your Volume rocker keys and power button. On the opposite side, you have a Hybrid Dual Sim Slot. It supports Micro SIM and a Nano SIM or TF Card or MicroSD card at Sim 2. below that is what you call a “Special or Smart Key” which is programmable to whatever function you want it to perform. For example open camera, shutter, open apps etc…
Hardware and Performance
The UMI Max is a Mid-tier Smartphone, and I would classify most in these category between the 130 to 150 mark. The phone is powered by the new Mediatek MT6755M Helio P10 chipset with 3 GB RAM and 16 GB eMMC Storage. It also supports Expandable storage by way of MicroSD or TF Cards up to a whopping 256 GB. I did not get to test this because I don’t have it available.
I ran a few Benchmark tests to give you an idea of the performance of the Chipset. For those who don’t know about the Helio P10, it is actually a variant of the Mediatek Helio X10, it boasts efficiency upgrades, but not much in terms of performance, and I will explain why this is here.
As you can see, the benchmark scores are consistent with a midranger. And I was expecting it, it scores are actually close to the Helio X10.
Real World Performance: Smooth riding
As far as Multitasking goes, I did not have any issues opening multiple apps and using the Phone heavily. Such practices include, Youtube, Web browsing, Facebook and others. The 3 GB RAM can easily handle most current apps today, and I did not see any slowdowns or performance issues.
Gaming Performance: A mixed Bag
The gaming capabilities of the Mali-T860 isn’t really great, especially paired with a high resolution 1080p Screen, 3D intensive titles struggle. On my testing, Modern Combat X ran fine and very playable, Modern Combat 5 has a few jitters and slowdowns. But Asphalt 8 struggled badly, meaning, the game was unplayable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t game on this phone, you should stick to less 3D heavy games and you’ll be fine.
OS: Not really customized and some annoying things
At first glance, the UMI Max and true also to other UMI Handsets has its own User Interface. But don’t compare it to MIUI or Meizu. As the OS is just a native Android 6.0 Marshmallow with a few superficial changes. The notification menus, icons etc are all from the default Android platform. But what I do admire is the lack of Bloatwares in the system, It is clean as a whistle, no preinstalled apps in the system.
There are also features that needs to be mentioned, you can turn on virtual navigation keys or switch back to Physical Keys, you also have Harlequin LED Notifications.
In addition, the phone does have security and privacy options enabled by default. This means you are prompted each time you open even just a browser, that the browser will access your contacts etc… It can be annoying because it does this every time you want to open something.
Display: Surprising good Display
The UMI Max is equipped with a 5.5 inch IPS 1080p or FHD Display. The colors are indeed accurate, vibrant and the viewing angles are good too. There is no tinting and the Touch Sensitivity is also accurate. I did not experience delayed touch or missed touch. The screen also offers wide screen real estate with narrow bezels.
Furthermore, below on the navigation keys. You have home key (which blinks in breathing pattern), it is circular and very visible even on direct sunlight. However, the back and option keys are non-illuminated. You will only notice the haptic feedback when you touch it. But it is really just a minor inconvenience.
Fast and accurate enough Fingerprint Scanner
For the duration of my review (a couple of days), I always added Fingerprint unlocking. And indeed, it is fast and accurate. First of all, getting your Fingerprints recognize is also quick and relatively easy, it just takes a couple of seconds. Out of 10, I probably get around 8, I did experience sometimes if your fingers are wet that it takes repeated tries. But other than that, the Fingerprint Scanner works great.
Camera: Not good, really not good
I was surprised that the camera was really horrible. I mean, even for a budget phone, it should offer a bit more. The UMI Max comes with a 13 megapixel camera with a Panasonic Sensor. This was a bit questionable for me. Having experienced SonyIMX Sensors from Xiaomi phones, which really were good sensors to begin with. The Panasonic Sensor on the Umi Max doesn’t really offer much in terms of image quality.
But let’s start first with the UI, it is a native Android 6.0 Marshmallow UI, a default look and nothing really new to offer. You have a couple of features available such as PIP mode, Motion Tracking, Gesture Capture, Voice Capture etc… But not really much in shooting modes. You don’t have manual mode for the camera and Video is capable of up to 1080p.
Overall Camera Performance (Still Photos)
As far as I’ve tested it, you can only take good pictures on absolute good lighting. The shutter speed isn’t fast either, and the slightest movement will send photos blurring. Also, the preview mode is lagging which is really disappointing. On low light, image quality is horrible and noise is very much visible.
Overall Camera Performance (Video)
The video performance doesn’t also offer much, it lags, and the video quality is way below average. I think, you shouldn’t take into consideration the camera when choosing this phone.
Battery life is quite good. In fact, PCMark battery test reveal about 8 hours of continuous on screen time. You will get through the day without any issues, plus you have Quick Charging support, you can charge the 4000mAh quickly.
Full Packed Connectivity
I personally did not encounter problems when it comes to Connectivity. The WiFi range, strength and consistency is great. Even if you distance yourself, the WiFi Antenna can still get good signal. The call quality is average with volume that could have been louder. 4G LTE also worked fine and I was getting good signal strength and performance on my region.
Generalization or Conclusion:
Clearly there are a few shortcomings on the UMI Max, it is overall a solid phone when you are considering the performance. But you should not take this phone if you want good high quality camera. As the camera is perhaps the biggest letdown of this phone. On the other hand, It’s biggest strength is performance and battery life, you should also include the screen quality and build.
Note: You can also compare this phone to other similar devices here: Smartphone Guide
Great build Quality and Design (all aluminum)
Comes with Foxconn USB Type C Port and supports Fast or Quick Charging
Supports Expandable storage up to 256 GB (not tested on my review)
Smooth overall performance and handles Multitasking well
Hybrid Dual SIM
Good 1080p Display
No Bloatwares preinstalled
8 hours battery life (4000mAh with quick Charging Support)
Good Connectivity (Strong WiFi performance)
It is thick and heavy
average call quality
Not much in terms of gaming, especially 3D intensive titles (struggles in Asphalt 8)
OS is native and doesn’t really offer much customization options
Sub Par Camera (really the biggest disappointment here)
Only the Home key is illuminated
Asks too much permission (if you deny 1 it doesn’t allow you to use an app)