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Starmobile Up Lite Review

Updated on January 29, 2015

Smooth moves

For local phone brands, spec-to-price ratio seems to be the defining factor when putting a new device on the market. Most buyers know what to look for in the spec sheet and naturally, those with the best specs on paper for the lowest price gets the most buzz. Starmobile thought otherwise with their Up Lite. It's not the fastest, nor does it have the biggest or highest resolution display, or anything or that sort.

Starmobile decided to differentiate with the Up Lite by having smaller dimensions, a svelte profile and a more handsome styling more in line with existing premium devices on the market. More notable is that they actually put a good front-facing camera with a front-facing LED flash. This is a bit different from the usual spec wars that's a trademark of Android and it's interesting to see if it actually makes sense to differentiate in a cut-throat price bracket such as this.

Design and Build Quality

If the iPhone 5 or 5s and Galaxy S4 ever had a lovechild, the Starmobile Up Lite might be it as it has the key design elements of these former flagship phones. The iPhone 5's speakerphone grill at the bottom and its diminutive stature is one of the first things you'll notice about the Up Lite. The Galaxy S4's pebble shape and curvature, and more particularly its chrome bumper and buttons are prominent features on the Up Lite. The chrome though is tastefully tamed on the Up Lite, displaying a cool, sharp sheen instead of a dazzling shine which is typical of chrome. The Up Lite also shares the flat, unibody-like profile of both the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4 which gives them that thin look without being angular.

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I unfortunately don't own an iPhone 5S to compare with, but the Up Lite in dark blue (which is what I have for this review) looks very much like a 'Space Gray' iPhone 5S in overall look and stance. The Up Lite in color white on the other hand looks much like the 'Gold' iPhone 5S, where the bumper is gold instead. It's a very handsome looking phone with posh aesthetics which should appeal to style conscious users.

Its handsome looks is complemented by its smooth feel. It feels like a pebble. The screen is flush and the bumper, which has a smooth brushed aluminium finish, completely wraps around the phone's sides. When you hold the phone in hand, it's feels like there's nothing sticking out. The back is also smooth due to a matte lacquer finish, but I feel design-wise that a hyperglazed finish on the back cover similar to the Galaxy S3 would have completed the overall look better and made it stand out even more.

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It's also a very ergonomic phone with excellent one-handed usability. It even has something that's similar to iOS's 'Assistive Touch' out of the box. Both the volume rocker and power button are located on the upper right side/bumper where your thumb should be comfortably placed if you are holding the phone with your right hand. Both USB and 3.5 mm port are located on top while the loudspeaker is on the bottom. My only complaint is that there is a tendency to block the loudspeaker when you hold the phone in landscape mode with your right hand. i.e. playing games that require two hands. There is also a blue notification LED light on the earpiece itself that blinks when you have a notification or is steady when its charging.

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Another thing that supports the Up Lite's relatively premium aesthetics and ergonomics is its dimensions and weight. Its has dimensions of 134 x 65 x 8.2 mm which makes it relatively petite. It also only weighs 118.5 grams. Not the lightest but certainly one of the lighter phones in this class. It's constructed entirely of plastic with varying finishes which makes it light, but it still retains heft. It doesn't feel hollow and everything feels solid including the buttons.

Lastly, there are two SIM card slots but the second slot can only occupy a micro SIM. The micro SD card slot is not hot swappable due to the battery blocking the insertion point.

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Starmobile is generous with the Up Lite's package. Out of the box, it also includes two screen protectors, a polycarbonate case, and a smart cover that actually works. Here is a checklist of what comes inside the box:

  • 1x Starmobile Up Lite
  • 1x 1650 mAh battery
  • 1x 1000 mA charger
  • 1x USB cable
  • 1x Headset
  • 2x Screen protector
  • 1x Smart cover
  • 1x Polycarbonate case
  • 1x User's guide
  • 1x Warranty card

Display

The Up Lite is equipped with a 4.5" FWVGA (854x480) IPS display which has a refresh rate of 58.04 Hz and supports 5 point multitouch. IPS panels provide great viewing angles with even color uniformity as you look at it from different angles.

Left side viewing angle
Left side viewing angle
Right side viewing angle
Right side viewing angle
Top side viewing angle
Top side viewing angle
Bottom side viewing angle
Bottom side viewing angle

The Up Lite's IPS display is one of the better looking ones in this price range. Its screen is a OGS, where the LCD and glass itself is a single component which makes the gap between them minimized. This ensures maximum light transmission for that extra bump in overall clarity and brightness. In addition, the screen also has a coating that acts as a polarizing filter which normalizes luminosity and increases contrast which increases vividness. The polarizer does lower perceived luminosity a bit, but the IPS panel itself is very bright. The Up Lite's display maxes out at 460 nits which is slightly brighter than a lot of similarly priced phones. However, at 50% brightness the actual brightness is just 149 nits. Actual brightness at 0% is 49 nits which may still be too bright for bedside viewing for some. There is also a brightness sensor that automatically adjusts the display's brightness in as short as 2 seconds when lighting conditions change. I feel though that the auto brightness is a bit conservative indoors.

Brightness, White (cd/m²)

Brightness bar
0%
25%
50%
75%
100%
Starmobile Up Lite
49
90
149
235
460
LG G2 Mini
5
21
93
221
422
Apple iPhone 5
0
61
157
288
549
Cloudfone Excite 501o
51
107
214
319
409
MyPhone Agua Rio
40
87
170
247
327
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
8
63
144
247
402

It's a nicely calibrated display, and thanks to the polarizer, it has good hue and gamma values. It also has good black contrast for an LCD, although white contrast is just average. Color saturation is also good, with naturally vivid colors that still manage to "pop" without being heavy on the eyes like on most Samsung phones out of the box. Color temperature is slightly cold, but only noticeable with predominantly white images in lower brightness. I don't any specific qualms with the display given those aspects. In fact, it looks similar to an iPhone's display in terms of calibration and overall feel.

Sunlight legibility is very good on the Up Lite even directly under the sun. First, the OGS screen ensures no hazing from diffusion occurs. Second, the polarizer minimizes glare. Third, the display is pretty bright at 100%.

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My real qualm with the display is its resolution. It's a mere 854x480 at 4.5 inches which results into 218 PPI. It should be more than adequate for most users, but given the display's strengths in overall image quality the low resolution drags it down. The Up Lite would have been much better had it been 960x540 instead. Desktop-sized webpages in landscape mode are still readable with text scaling at 115% or higher, but just lack that crispness you'd want from a good display because small text has noticeable aliasing which makes it look soft.

It's a good display in all lighting conditions including intense sunlight, but its low sharpness puts it down for tasks that emphasize a lot of reading. i.e. web browsing, reading ebooks and documents. For viewing media, it's great with its accurate but naturally punchy colors that are pleasing to the eye from any angle.

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Performance

The Up Lite is powered by the MediaTek MTK6582M chipset which has four Cortex A7 cores of the r0p3 revision running at 1.3 Ghz. Unlike the regular MTK6582, the MTK6582M's dual core Mali-400 graphics processor is running at a lower clock speed of 416 Mhz. I will not go into much detail as the MTK6582 is the most common quad-core chipset found on phones from local brands, and has been so for over a year now. I've already tackled the MTK6582 in my previous reviews featuring this chipset as well.

Performance-wise, the MTK6582M is still more than adequate by today's standards and only very intensive apps will make it sweat. The software also appears to be optimized as the Up Lite offers a snappy and fluid UI experience. Transitions, scrolling and swiping around the UI rapidly is smooth, quick and without hiccups in most cases.

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AnTuTu Benchmark 5.5AnTuTu Benchmark 5.5VellamoVellamoVellamoQuadrant3DMarkEpic CitadelBasemark XBasemark ES Taiji 2.0
AnTuTu Benchmark 5.5
AnTuTu Benchmark 5.5
AnTuTu Benchmark 5.5
AnTuTu Benchmark 5.5
Vellamo
Vellamo
Vellamo
Vellamo
Vellamo
Vellamo
Quadrant
Quadrant
3DMark
3DMark
Epic Citadel
Epic Citadel
Basemark X
Basemark X
Basemark ES Taiji 2.0
Basemark ES Taiji 2.0

For gaming, it's good that the Up Lite came with the MTK6582M instead of the regular MTK6582. Given its low 854x480 resolution, it's ideal to have the graphics processor at a lower clock speed since this will lower power consumption with minimal impact on performance. The Up Lite manages to play graphics-intensive games like Asphalt 8 and Dungeon Hunter 4 on medium settings while providing smooth frame rates during complicated sequences (i.e. big explosions). Many games are actually playable on high settings, but gamers who demand response are best suited leaving the graphics setting on medium. More casual games with not too demanding graphics are smoothly playable on high settings.

There is 1 GB of RAM which is also more than enough for any app. There is around 600 MB available after a fresh boot. It allows for light multitasking of light apps such messaging, calendar, calculator, web browser, etc. without the app in the background closing. Switching between apps in the background is also fairly smooth without much wait time. There isn't really much else to say as the MTK6582 chipset in general is still speedy and highly compliant for a vast majority of users.

Similar to the MTK6582 devices I've tested before, the Up Lite is capable of playing up to 1080p60 H.264 video with moderately high bitrate and encoding with its hardware decoder. The hardware audio decoder cannot process beyond two channel audio so multi-channel audio streams like 5.1 will be handled via the software decoder.

 
1920x800 @ 24 FPS, AVC High Profile L4.1, with CABAC, 3 reference frames
1920x800 @ 24 FPS, AVC High Profile L4.0, with CABAC, 5 reference frames
1920x1080 @ 60 FPS, AVC Baseline Profile L3.0, with CABAC, 1 reference frame
Video bitrate:
3000 Kbps
3703 Kbps
18000 Kbps
Audio:
317 Kbps, 6 channel AAC
306 Kbps, 6 channel AAC
132 Kbps, 2 channel AAC
Plays via hardware decoder?
Yes
Yes
Yes
Plays via software decoder?
Yes
Yes
Yes, but with a few dropped frames during fast paced scenes

Camera

The Starmobile Up Lite is equipped with an 8 megapixel auto focus camera with a single LED flash. Notably, there is also a single LED flash on the front to accompany the front-facing 2 megapixel fixed focus camera. The rear camera sensor is an Omnivision OV8830 which is an 8 megapixel, 1/3.2" BSI sensor with a pixel size of 1.4 µm.

Although the Up Lite runs Kitkat, the camera interface is still stock Android Jellybean. The still shot and video recording facilities share the same interface, which may make framing video a bit tricky. When video recording while still shot is set to 4:3 ratio, it will appear to "zoom in" because recording is in 16:9 ratio and will only use the 16:9 crop of the 4:3 sensor.

The Up Lite has quite the assortment of shooting modes and manual controls. Aside from auto mode, there are also the following shooting modes:

  • Live photo mode - Simultaneously activates both front and rear cameras. The thumbnail of the front camera's shot will be placed on top of the image taken by the rear camera, sort of like a postcard from abroad.
  • Motion track mode - The user will be asked to tap on a moving object on a viewfinder. i.e. a pet or a car. The user will then hold the shutter button and the camera will do its best to track and focus on the moving object to come up with well-focused, sharp shots. Great for taking action still shots.
  • Face beauty mode: Adds post-processing to any faces detected on the captured image and air brushes it for a smooth, glowing look.
  • Panorama mode: Your typical panorama mode. It can do sweeps in any direction. From left to right, right to left, top to bottom, bottom to top.
  • Multi-angle mode: Slightly similar to panorama mode, but the user can either sweep or go around an object. It creates an interactive photo where the user can take a 360 degree shot of an object or his/her surroundings.

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As for manual settings, you can manually adjust common parameters such as sharpness, hue, saturation, brightness and contrast. You can also adjust exposure (+/- 3 steps), apply a color effect/filter, adjust white balance, manually choose from preset scene modes, and adjust ISO (100 to 1600). You cannot adjust the exposure metering. There are also several shooting assists such as face detection, ZSD mode (zero shutter delay), voice capture (talk to take shot), tap to capture, smile shot (takes shot when it detects a smiling face), and auto scene detection which automatically chooses a scene mode for you. You can also turn the shutter sound on or off.

The Up Lite's still shot image quality is impressive relative to what you'd find in its price range. Its dynamic range is good without having to bump the noise significantly to retrieve shadow detail. ISO from 100 to 400 is usable in decent to good lighting without much noise, but I found leaving it on auto is best as it's nicely calibrated and more accurate. Noise grain size is a bit large and the noise suppression isn't aggressive, but it manages to retain decent amounts of fine detail which is something not many phones around the Up Lite's price can do. Colors are rendered nicely without boosted saturation and contrast. As a result colors may look slightly dull in overcast or very cloudy conditions, but on a sunny day prominent subjects like the blue sky are captured beautifully. Overall sharpness is decent in good lighting and sharpness isn't boosted during post-processing. It's actually very light on the post-processing overall, which means you still have plenty room to do your own post-processing.

My main complaint would be the cheap optics. For one, the lens' sharpness isn't very uniform and the deterioration in sharpness as you approach the edge of the image is more noticeable compared to other phones with a sensor of similar performance. Another portion where the cheap optics rears its ugly head is the hazing which introduces diffusion and hurts raw sharpness. This isn't an issue compared to phones of the same price as most of them suffer this as well, but next to great 8 megapixel snappers like the LG G2 Mini, it's a downright drubbing.

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The haze on the Up Lite hurts overall clarity and fine detail. Another thing that hurts fine detail is the lousy compression provided by the MTK6582M chipset. This is nothing new, as every other MTK6582-equipped phone I've reviewed or tried is like this. 8 megapixel images top off at around 1.5 MB in size. An 8 megapixel image from a Snapdragon 200 or 400 equipped device would be almost double in size, but would be replete with noticeably more fine detail thanks to fewer compression artifacts. Still, the optics isn't all that bad as it's coated to protect shots from tinting and extreme lens flare when shooting against the light or in harsh lighting environments.

Speed is another good quality. Among the MTK6582 devices I've tried, the Up Lite's camera is the fastest I've used so far. Shutter speed, auto focus and exposure adjustment all engage pretty quickly on the Up Lite in most lighting conditions. Focus and exposure locking engage simultaneously the moment you tap on the viewfinder and the exposure adjustment is fairly accurate with subtle mid tones, highlights and shadows accounted for. It's not prone to being over or underexposed. All of these makes the Up Lite a more reliable snapper.

Low light performance is also decent, if not impressive against similarly priced competitors. Most phones I've tried that cost under 5,000 Php miserably fail my 'dim yellow lamp on a dark street' test as shots usually come out nearly pitch black. Surprisingly, the Up Lite's shot isn't pitch black and even manages to somewhat trail the G2 Mini in terms of image luminosity. This is admittedly a difficult test and the Up Lite fares better in more typical low light scenarios such as inside a jamming inside a nightclub or al fresco dining with friends in the evening where light is more abundant. Images captured in these conditions have good color detail and just enough fine detail to be usable, as noise suppression is a bit aggressive in low light which smears fine detail. The shutter is also quick in low light so long as there is something to focus on. My only qualm in low light is that I would like larger focus area so sharper and more exposure correct shots are easier to obtain as I find myself taking at least 3 or 4 shots in low light to ensure at least one shot is razor sharp. In extremely low light situations, the single LED flash can be used to adequately illuminate small to medium sized subjects up to between up to 1 meter away.

In all, the Up Lite has a very well-rounded camera which performs reliably in most lighting conditions, including low light. It's also one of the best snappers under 5,000 Php that I've tried so far. The fact that I'm comparing it to the L2 G2 Mini which costs more than twice as much already says much. I just wish that they tweaked it to apply more post-processing to the images so that they stand out more as the Up Lite's shots can look dull and lifeless in dull lighting conditions.

Up Lite Sample Shots (Good lighting)

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Up Lite Sample Shots (Indoor lighting)

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Up Lite Sample Shots (Low light)

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Up Lite Sample Shots (LED flash)

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Up Lite Sample Shots (Macro)

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Up Lite Sample Shots (HDR)

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The Up Lite is able to record up to 1080p resolution at 30 FPS which is encoded in H.264 L4.1 High Profile with a variable bitrate of 17 Mbps. Audio is recorded in stereo and is encoded in AAC with a bitrate of 128 Kbps. A minute of footage consumes around 120 MB of space.

The quality of the 1080p video recording is unexpectedly bad. It doesn't appear to be native 1080p at all, more like a 720p sensor read-out which is upscaled and encoded at 1920x1088. Th aliasing and poor sharpness in the video makes it evident. Color detail is acceptable, but the overall softness and absence of fine detail is off-putting. In low light conditions, the night mode automatically engages and drops frames to 16 FPS which makes it choppy in low light. Black crushing is also very prominent in low light. This makes the Up Lite's video recording usable only in good lighting conditions.

Here's the lowdown on the Starmobile Up Lite's camera:

- Very good performance overall, with good dynamic range, good color accuracy, average resolved detail, good shutter speeds, and good focus and exposure correction. A fairly reliable camera with enough picture quality for small prints. Images do not have much post-processing applied to them, giving them that 'RAW file' look.

- Above average macro shooting.with generous shooting distance (up to 5 inches close). Can also create a decent looking bokeh for creative emphasis.

- Poor 1080p recording, with low actual spatial resolution and heavy compression. Overall image is soft and devoid of fine detail. In low light, frame rates are halved and there is heavy black crushing.

- Above average low light still shot performance, with good color preservation, decent luminosity, sharpness and resolved detail. Shutter speed could be faster in low light, but is faster and offers better image quality in low light than other MTK6582 devices.

- LED flash is adequate and allows the user to illuminate people as well as small and medium sized objects from a 1 meter distance.

Speaking of the front-facing camera, it's a 2 megapixel BSI module with an aperture of f/2.8. It's not very sharp due to the aggressive noise reduction, but it does a good job of capturing detail even in less than ideal lighting. In low light though, there's a single LED flash which is something unique to the Up Lite as not many phones have one. The front-facing camera isn't wide angle, but should be able to take a selfie with three people in it at arm's length. It can also capture video in 480p resolution at 20 FPS and although it's still standard definition, its quality is a lot better than most front-facing cameras on similarly priced phones.

Below are sample shots and a sample video taken with the Up Lite's front-facing camera:

Up Lite Sample Shots (Front camera)

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Battery

The Up Lite is equipped with a 1650 mAh battery. This is a relatively low capacity for a phone equipped with the MTK6582 chipset. Still, the Up Lite managed to provide battery results in line with other MTK6582-equipped phones with slightly larger batteries (1800 to 2000 mAh).

The following are the test conditions for the three tests. Note that the display is calibrated to 150 nits which is 50% of the Up Lite's brightness bar for all tests and that the battery has been calibrated prior to testing:

  • Looping video - a 1 1/2 hour 720p H.264 video is played on loop until the battery level reaches 20%. Hardware decoding is used for the video and software decoding is used for audio. Earphones are plugged and volume is set to maximum.
  • Wifi browsing - a script continuously reloads the page every 30 seconds among a pool of five (5) popular websites until the battery level reaches 20%. The websites used for the test are heavy on Javascript and HTML5 elements.
  • 3D gaming - a graphics-intensive 3D game is run on loop until the battery level reaches 20%. Built-in loudspeaker is used and volume is set to 50%.

Battery Test - Results

Test
Hours Lasted
Looping video
6 hours 16 minutes
Wifi browsing
5 hours 3 minutes
3D gaming
1 hours 59 minutes

I surmise that the additional power savings used to achieve parity despite the smaller battery capacity is due to the Up Lite's smaller, lower resolution display and a well calibrated power saving mechanism. Standby times are particularly very good, with nary a budge on the battery even on a week of standby. The Up Lite can potentially last a 3 or 4 days with very light use (calls and texts only).

However, there is no escaping the battery's actual capacity. While the Up Lite can conk out around 5 or 6 hours of video playback or web browsing through wifi due to an efficient display and optimized power consumption at idle or low load, it manages barely 2 hours in the 3D gaming test where the processor is on full load and completely outstrips the display in terms of consumption. For heavy use, which means 3G web browsing and gaming, the Up Lite should last half a work day. Thankfully, the Up Lite charges relatively fast taking 2 hours to charge from red to full with the stock 1A charger. A power bank with a 2.1A output is advisable for quick top ups after a lengthy gaming session.

Audio Quality

All MTK6582-equipped phones I've tried all have below average audio quality. Unfortunately, the Up Lite does worse and is actually one of the worst sounding smartphones I've tried. The dynamic range is poor with sibilant highs and no sub-bass. The bass is extremely thin and the power delivery cannot sustain low frequencies, so no matter how much bass boost is applied or how much volume is increased on lower frequencies, the bass remains thin. The "bass enhancer" in Options > Audio profiles doesn't do anything either.

Pairing the Up Lite with better quality, but lower impedance (16 ohms or less) audio gear with a V-shaped profile doesn't help either. As equalizer tweaks, it can only go so far as the power quality through the 3.5 mm jack is poor. In short, there isn't much to work with. The only saving grace is that with the right gear and equalizer settings, the Up Lite can produce sweet, warm mids. Otherwise it's just terrible.

The Up Lite is not CTIA compliant, which means headsets (earphones/headphones with a microphone) that work on newer phones (2012 or later) from international brands such as Samsung and Sony will not work on the Up Lite. As for the loudspeakers, they're side-firing and pretty loud when on a flat surface. It also doesn't distort too much at maximum volume which makes songs with vocals suitable as ringtones.

Other Stuff

The ROM is 8 GB in size with a rather generous 6 GB available for storage. The other 2 GB is reserved for the operating system. This is expandable to 32 GB via the micro SD card slot and the phone supports the installation of apps onto the SD card. Just set the default storage to 'SD card' under Storage in Options. Once set, any app installations including their data and OBB files are saved to the SD card. Pictures and video taken by the camera and screenshots will also saved to the SD card. When side-loading applications (installing an APK), the Up Lite automatically asks if you want the application saved on the phone or the SD card.

Like on the Cloudfone Excite 501o I previously reviewed, they have consolidated the storage as both the app data itself and extraneous data (Android/data or Android/obb) are saved on the micro SD card whereas before, only the extraneous data could be saved onto the SD card. This meant that if you remove the SD card, you could still see the apps on your phone but some of them with extraneous data (usually games) would not run.

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The Up Lite is mostly stock Android with a slightly modified stock launcher and a few apps some may find useful such as their Starmobile Sync which helps you migrate from your previous phone easier, an app manager, a flashlight and a mirror app, etc. They also included an alternative "simple launcher" which effectively makes the Up Lite function more like a feature phone in terms of UI. But the goodies worth noting are gesture related ones. They actually have something called 'multi-gesture' which is basically just a shortcut for apps or actions when you swipe with two or three fingers in a certain direction on the homescreen.

The real goodie is the 'smart awake' feature which are gestures you can perform while the screen is turned off as the Up Lite's display can still receive input while it's off. You can perform gestures, or rather gestures in the shape of letters, to execute an action or directly go to an app while the display is turned off. It also allows you to double tap to wake up the phone, just like on LG's Android phones, which is convenient. The video below demonstrates this feature.

Call quality is good on the Up Lite especially on the receiver's end thanks to the Up Lite's secondary noise cancellation mic. The noise cancellation mic is able to filter out both ambient sound and other chatter so the person speaking on the Up Lite can be heard clearly.

The wifi on the Up Lite is above average by MediaTek standards, having both good range and strength. Wifi signal strength doesn't suffer too much even with some physical obstructions such as walls. Still not as good as devices with a Qualcomm chipset, but definitely better than most MTK6582 devices I've tried.

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3 meters away, no obstructions6 meters away, 1 wall about 1 foot thick9 meters away, 2 walls about 1 foot thick each
3 meters away, no obstructions
3 meters away, no obstructions
6 meters away, 1 wall about 1 foot thick
6 meters away, 1 wall about 1 foot thick
9 meters away, 2 walls about 1 foot thick each
9 meters away, 2 walls about 1 foot thick each

GPS performance is also above average by MediaTek standards, particularly in terms of lock-in speed. It look 3 minutes 31 seconds to get its very first lock without any A-GPS data preloaded. After clearing the A-GPS cache, the Up Lite was able to get a lock in 1 minute 11 seconds. Re-acquiring a lock-on when the GPS signal is lost can take a short as 2 seconds. i.e. entering and leaving a tunnel. The Up Lite's GPS isn't powerful enough to pick up a signal indoors and requires line of sight with the sky.

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In terms of accuracy, the Up Lite's GPS is stable but not very accurate. As can be seen in the GPS log below, the Up Lite has a tendency to veer off the road by a few meters. The GPS alone should be fine for driving and cycling navigation, but not too reliable for on foot navigation specially in crowded city blocks. In this case it would be best to turn on mobile data as well while on foot for better accuracy.

Starmobile Up Lite
Starmobile Up Lite
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N9005
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N9005

Conclusion

The hurdle for Starmobile is that the Up Lite is clearly operating in budget smartphone territory and the posh crowd the Up Lite is targeted at is just what they are: posh and often, style and brand conscious. Being a local phone brand, that's something that may be difficult to reconcile.

The Up Lite hits the spot in the style and ergonomics department with a tasteful and chic but not necessarily flashy design, and one-handed usability just as good as the expensive, popular phone from a certain fruit. It feels great in hand and looks like an expensive device when sitting on a table at Starbucks. The display is also good. Not particularly sharp, but good. Same goes for general processing performance. No need to tweak anything. Just smooth sailing with apps and games. Both front and rear cameras are also good and reliable snappers. In particular, the front camera succeeds at separating itself from the rest of the pack as far as price is concerned as it takes great selfies in any lighting condition -- even in complete darkness thanks to its front-facing LED flash.

But the Up Lite is not without fault. Its video recording is nowhere near as good as its still shots and its audio quality through the 3.5 mm port is just plain bad. This is the problem with catering to an audience like the Up Lite's. The price is only part of the equation. While its design and novelty selfie capabilities appeal to them, they certainly don't want a product that's bad at anything. It's a perception of quality. The concept of trade-offs doesn't make sense to them as their expectations of a product like this is similar to expectations of an iPhone. It does everything without a hitch, and it'd be awesome if it does something better than expected -- but it certainly does nothing bad. Apple is certainly a brand which associates itself with quality and ease of use. Having those quality issues with the Up Lite doesn't help Starmobile better its appeal.

Quite simply, the Up Lite is for people who value convenience. They couldn't be bothered with "the best specs" for the price. While Starmobile succeeded in planning, they failed in their execution and it shows as the Up Lite makes a terrible music player and video recorder. These are two very commonly used features and Starmobile has apparently failed to perform acceptance testing with real users before mass producing this. If they actually caught these faults beforehand and rectified them, the Up Lite would've been the "it" phone in the under 5,000 Php price range as it combines the style and sensibility of an iPhone, the flexiblity of an Android phone, and a low price tag. A profitable combination that doesn't involve Android's messy and never-ending spec wars.

Alas, the Up Lite now banks on its unique front-facing camera for the selfie-obsessed without the hefty price tag as phones with a similarly performing front-facing camera usually retail quite a bit more than the Up Lite's modest Php 4,590 asking price. If a cheap but stylish phone that captures your best angles is all you need, the Up Lite is certainly worth a look.

Pros:
+ Handsome and classy design gives it premium appeal
+ Excellent one-handed ergonomics
+ Display has very good viewing angles and sunlight legibility
+ 8 megapixel still shot camera has very good performance overall; one of the best for its price in image quality
+ Front-facing camera takes great selfies in any lighting condition
+ Generous package out of the box, which includes a smart cover, a polycarbonate cover and two screen protectors

Cons:
- Poor audio quality
- Video recording quality not as good as still shots
- FWVGA display resolution is a bit low; qHD resolution would've been perfect

Official Starmobile Up Lite Specs

4.5" FWVGA IPS Display, 854x480 resolution
1.3GHz MediaTek MTK6582M quad-core processor
1GB of RAM
8GB of ROM, with micro SD slot expandable up to 32GB
8 megapixel BSI rear camera with autofocus and LED flash
2 megapixel BSI front camera with LED flash
Wi-Fi, Wireless Display (Miracast), Bluetooth 3.0, GPS
Dual SIM, Dual Standby
3G/HSPA+
GSM 850/900/1800/1900
WCDMA 850/2100
1,650 mAh Battery
Android 4.4.2 Kitkat

SRP: 4,590 Php

Select Comparisons

This section may be updated in the future. Here, I'll include phones that compete best with the Starmobile Up Lite.

Starmobile Quest

Current price: 3,999 Php

The outgoing Quest is similar, but has unquestionably superior specs compared to the Up Lite. It has the same 4.5" display size, but with a higher qHD resolution. But the Quest is noticeably thicker and less sleek than the Up Lite. However, the point of the Quest isn't its body. It's the goods. It packs a 12 megapixel and 5 megapixel rear and front camera which are both auto focus. Yes, you read that right. The front facing camera is auto focus, and it takes incredibly good pictures. The Up Lite's front camera is great, but the Quest shames it. If you turn off the face beauty mode on the Quest, it will expose every good -- and bad detail on your face. It also has a Snapdragon 200 chipset which offers better performance in all aspects (processing, wifi, imaging, efficiency) and it also offers a relatively large 2000 mAh battery. It also has much better audio quality than the Up Lite. Lastly, the video recording maxes out only at 720p due to the Snapdragon 200's IPS limitations, but its 720p recordings actually look better than the Up Lite's 1080p ones.

So why is Starmobile phasing out the Quest in favor of the Up Lite? Why not just sell more Quests? I have no idea. Perhaps they wanted a more stylish phone, but the Quest is simply a much better phone overall and whoever decided to pull out the Quest in favor of the Up Lite should be sacked. Get the Quest while it's still available and discounted.

Cherry Mobile Razor 2.0

Current price: 4,999 Php.
Currently on sale for 3,999 Php at selected outlets.

Like the Up Lite, the Razor 2.0 bets on its sleek looks and design. It actually upstages it in this aspect as the Razor 2.0 is only 7 mm thick... at its thickest point. And it's just 100 grams. One of the lightest available, if not the lightest local smartphone. It's really featherweight and it's hardly noticeable in the pocket. It also upstages the Up Lite by having a much sharper 4.7" 720 IPS display and a Snapdragon 200 processor for better audio quality and performance except in games, as the 720p resolution already gives the Snapdragon 200 a difficult time. The Razor 2.0's rear snapper is more than a match for the Up Lite in image quality, but doesn't shoot as fast and doesn't perform as well in low light. Its video recording only tops out at 720p, but actually looks better than the Up Lite's 1080p videos. It also has a small 1780 mAh battery, but is approximately the same or slightly lower than the Up Lite in terms of real world endurance.

The only area where the Razor 2.0 falters is its front facing camera. It's nowhere near as good as the Up Lite's front snapper, nor does it have a front-facing flash. It's not good for selfies, but it's very thin and unbelievably light and has better specs all-around compared to the Up Lite.

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    • profile image

      stanley 2 years ago

      Why is my SM up lite back camera and flash not working? Anybody pls help me

    • profile image

      ryu 2 years ago

      Informative review , tanong k lng sir marereview nyo po ba ang zenfone 2. More power po sa inyo

    • profile image

      ruvicks 2 years ago

      Hi sir it seems your no longer interested with cherry mobile devices, why? Hoping to read chery mobile one (android one) revied by yours.

    • profile image

      Ron 2 years ago

      Have you yried comparing Asus Zenfone 5's camera quality w/ Starmobile Quest, Up Lite and Cloudfone 501o?

    • profile image

      elloise 2 years ago

      Starmobile UP HD naman po Sir :)

    • profile image

      Jared 2 years ago

      This is a very nice review bro. I honestly didn't think there was a review of this quality for these sort of phones. Thank you. Just one question, what would be the best buy smartphone within 5k?

    • profile image

      alvi 2 years ago

      good day sir. ask ko lng po kung interested kayong i-review yung skk v1? mukang okay sya for its price range.

    • symphonyx7 profile image
      Author

      Kyle Lopez-Vito 2 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      @ zordick

      The Up Lite would be the better device overall. The Diamond D3's display is larger but it's NOT IPS, so the Up Lite trumps it in display quality. I think that's a big factor as most phones in the 5K Php price range have an IPS display. For selfies, the D3 has a better front camera, but no front-facing flash. I would recommend the Starmobile Quest instead of the D3 if you don't mind not having a front-facing flash. The Quest's front auto focus camera is sharper than the D3's, and it has a nicer display compared to the Up Lite.

    • profile image

      zordick 2 years ago

      Hi sir kyle ! Just wanna ask which is better between SM UP LITE and SM DIAMOND D3. Btw a verry informative review thanks.

    • symphonyx7 profile image
      Author

      Kyle Lopez-Vito 2 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      @ davebrei09

      Most likely not. First off, the Up Snap appears to use the Broadcom BCM23550 chipset which is has terrible performance. It's an outdated part. It's even slower than the MTK6589, especially for games. Not even a good camera can offset having terrible performance at that price (6K Php). This price point is swimming with sharks like the Redmi 1S and Zenfone 5. Secondly, Starmobile has been snubbing me since I published this review because they didn't like how I was comparing their Up Lite to other phones and because I highlighted its weak points too much. In my defense, it's supposed to be a review. If it sounds like crap and takes shitty videos, I can't just ignore that. Reviews are supposed to help buyers to make an informed decision, not just blindly promote a product. Still, I commend Starmobile for actually lending me the Up Lite knowing full and well the way I conduct my reviews. But I don't think they'll be giving me anything to review in the future.

      @ yu yu hakusho

      Unfortunately, no. I really wanted to review the Starmobile Quest and when I approached Starmobile, they insisted that I review the Up Lite instead because they're already phasing out the Quest. This is why the Quest is now only 3,999 Php. Even if they lent me one to review, I don't think reviewing it would be productive because it won't be available on the market for long.

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      yu yu hakusho 2 years ago

      ask ko lang po if will you be reviewing the starmobile quest sir? ask ko rin po kung alam nyo kung pano mag-root ng snapdragon 200 phones such as quest? thanks po

    • profile image

      davebrei09 2 years ago

      Will you review the Starmobile Up Snap? im just curious of how well its ultrapixel camera will work. Thanks

    • symphonyx7 profile image
      Author

      Kyle Lopez-Vito 2 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      @ Jaicjaic

      Starmobile Quest definitely. Better front AND rear camera, Snapdragon 200 chipset, qHD display resolution. Unfortunately, the Quest is already being phased out so I suggest you get one while it's still 3,999 Php only.

    • profile image

      Jaicjaic 2 years ago

      What to choose po, SM Up lite or SM Quest?

      Please answer..

    • symphonyx7 profile image
      Author

      Kyle Lopez-Vito 2 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      @ John Mars Gemar

      Not too keen on reviewing Cherry Mobile phones these days. Besides, the Cloudfone Excite 501o which I recently reviewed is a better device for only 1,000 Php more. Check

      @ TTGReviews

      Yes, you can use both SIM slots simultaneously. But you cannot turn on mobile data from both SIM cards simultaneously. You can receive calls and messages at the same time though. For calls, the person on the other line would be put on hold or waiting. Pretty much the same as on a single SIM.

      You don't appear to be from a developing country. But over here, having a line on more than one carrier/telecom company is very common. Doesn't matter if it's prepaid or postpaid. Most people in countries like the Philippines, India, China, etc. are used to this type of arrangement. This is why dual SIM phones are popular in developing countries because it allows you to manage two lines on a single device.

    • TTGReviews profile image

      TTGReviews 2 years ago

      Can you use both of the SIM slots simultaneously? If so, why would you want to do that?

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      John Mars Gemar 2 years ago

      Hi sir, kindly review CM Me Vibe as well. The cheapest octacore in the Philippines yet. Thanks in advance.

    • symphonyx7 profile image
      Author

      Kyle Lopez-Vito 2 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      @ ron

      Maybe. When Windows (Mobile) 10 is finally shipping on low-end devices.

      @ confused

      Starmobile Up Lite. Slightly battery life, better still shots. But I'd go with the Flare S2 for video recording.

    • profile image

      confused 2 years ago

      Which is better, flare s2 or this phone?

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      ron 2 years ago

      Another good review. Correction on the "what's inside the box" section. (shouldn't be cloudfone)

      Do you plan to review low-end Windows Phone in the future?

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      dennis 2 years ago

      which is better in camera performance myphone a919i or starmobile up lite? especially in low light condition. i bought a919i due to your review but now i'm planning to replaced it with another phone. thanks for the reply.