Review of the ThL 5000, the octa-core smartphone with a 5000mAh battery
A quick skim through the comments left on Android Authority will show any interested reader that longer battery life is one of the key features that smartphone users want. Although smartphones have been progressing rapidly, it is true to say that battery capacity has not kept pace. The only reasonable option for a smartphone maker who wants to offer high performance with long battery life is to include a big battery. And that is exactly what ThL has done with the ThL 5000. This 5 inch, full HD phone includes a 2.0Ghz MediaTek octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM and a 13MP camera. But most importantly it has a 5000 mAh battery.
I got hold of a ThL 5000 and spent a few days playing with it. Read on to find out what I discovered…
Besides the full HD display, the octa-core processor, and the 5000 mAh battery, there are a couple of other key features of this device. It runs Android 4.4 (and not Android 4.2 as is so often the case with Chinese OEM smartphones) and it supports NFC. Here is the full specification sheet:
|Display||5 inch, full HD (1920x1080), Corning Gorilla Glass IPS, OGS|
|Processor||2.0GHz, MediaTek MTK6592T octa-core|
|Storage||16GB, microSD card slot, up to 32GB|
|Camera||5 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera + 13 Megapixel Rear Camera|
|Connectivity||GPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC|
|Networks||2G: GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz. 3G: WCDMA 850, 2100MHz|
|Software||Android 4.4 with Google Play|
|Dimensions||145 x 73 x 8.9 mm, 170g.|
|Colors||Black or White|
The ThL 5000 is 7.3 cms wide, which makes it just a little wider than a Nexus 5, but to accommodate the large battery it is about 0.8 centimeters longer, which isn’t very much really. You might think that with such a large battery the device would be quite thick, but it is actually thinner than a Nexus 5 and only 0.6mm thicker than a Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
The design of the device is “classic”, in that there is nothing new or innovative. But that isn’t a bad thing. Everything is how you would expect. Above the screen is the earpiece along with the front facing camera and a couple of sensors. At the bottom are the three capacitive keys: Menu, Home and Back. The USB port (used for charging and data transfer) is at the top of the phone, as is the 3.5mm audio jack. On the back there is the 13 megapixel camera, the LED flash and a small speaker grill. On the right is the volume rocker and on the left the power button. Overall the design is sleek and the dimpled plastic used by ThL isn’t a fingerprint magnet. It is easy to hold in the hand and feels well built. At 170 grams it is a bit heavier than a Nexus 5, mainly due to the big battery.
The IPS display on the 5000 is about as good as you can get without moving to other display technologies like AMOLED. With its full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, the definition is great and the color reproduction is true to life, but not overly vivid.
The ThL 5000’s screen offers a clear, sharp display with crisp text and high detail. Playing games, reading, watching movies or viewing photos are a pleasure on this device. Although there are certainly better displays out there, this one certainly adds to the overall great experience of the device. As an added bonus, the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
Like many of ThL’s recent phones, the 5000 features a MediaTek octa-core processor. In this case the MediaTek MT6592T runs at 2.0 GHz, which is faster than other ThL devices like the W200S or the T200S. The MT6592T uses eight ARM Cortex-A7 cores. The Cortex-A7 core isn’t as fast as the Cortex-A9 or the Cortex-A15 cores which means that core for core, processors based on the A9 or A15 will beat a Cortex-A7 processor. However the Cortex-A7 is more energy efficient than the Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 cores. By using 8 of these cores MediaTek is offering a solution which provides high-end speed but hopefully with lower battery drainage.
The 5000’s AnTuTu scores are high. Although it doesn’t take one of the top spots, the 5000 manages a score of 28774. That makes it faster than the HTC One (M7), faster than the Galaxy Note 2, and faster than the of Samsung Galaxy S4. However it is still bested by phones like the LG G2 and the Samsung Galaxy S5.
For Epic Citadel, the demo app for the Unreal 3D engine, the 5000 managed 50.3 frames per second (fps) on the High Performance setting and 50.1 fps on the High Quality setting.
In terms of GPS performance, the 5000 is
excellent poorfair. I stepped outside and activated the GPS and within under five seconds the device had a lock.
Update: Further testing has shown that it gets harder to obtain a lock in built-up areas and once you get into a car getting a lock is almost impossible!
Update 2: Following an OTA update, the GPS seems to be performing better, however it isn’t rock solid.
Previous ThL phones have had an issue with the GPS working simultaneously with Bluetooth. The situation improved with the T200S and it looks like the 5000 behaves basically the same as the T200S. In other words, there is still some stutter and lag in the Bluetooth output (tested by playing background music to a Bluetooth speaker) when some GPS related apps start. But the interruptions to the Bluetooth output are only temporary and last, at most, only a couple of seconds. Another weakness of some ThL devices was that the compass didn’t work very well, some basic testing on the ThL 5000 shows that this has also improved.
The battery in the ThL 5000 is a massive 5000 mAH unit. That is a big battery for a phone. Previous ThL smartphones suffered from below-average battery performance when coupled with a full HD display. The T100 and the T200S both had full HD displays and the battery life in both devices was a little disappointing. The W200S sported a 720p HD display and as a result its battery performance was much better. Interestingly the T200S has a 2500 mAh battery, which gives us a good reference point for the ThL 5000.
The battery is a silicon anode Li-polymer battery which according to ThL’s website means it offers a greater density. This is why the phone is relatively so thin. However one sacrifice for this thinness is that the battery is non user-removable.
I did some tests to generate some battery usage numbers and the results are, as you would expect, excellent. When running Epic Citadel in its Guided Tour mode the phone will last for over 5 hours before it will run out of juice.
For YouTube streaming (over Wi-Fi) the device does very well and you can watch around 10 hours of video on a full charge. Watching a MP4 movie from the internal storage yielded the same 10 hours possible playback. Both the YouTube and MP4 tests were conducted full screen.
The ThL 5000’s official talk times are 47 Hours for 2G and 30 Hours For 3G. I performed a crude 3G calling test and after forty minutes the battery dropped just 1%, which means that the quoted talk times look very genuine.
Compared to the T200S (with its 6 inch full HD screen and 2500mAh battery) the 5000 performed better and yielded more than double the T200S’ numbers. With careful usage you could get two full days of usage out of the 5000. Of course, everyone uses their phone differently, but based on my personal usage pattern I would only need to charge the 5000 every other night.
The phone has all the standard connectivity options like Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth, 2G GSM and 3G, but it also supports NFC. There are two SIM card slots, both of which take normal sized SIM cards. The 5000 supports 3G on 850 and 2100MHz. The latter number is the common 3G frequency and should work in most places around the world, however a lot of carriers also use a secondary 3G spectrum range. In Asia and South America this is often 850MHz, but in Europe it tends to be 900MHz. Unfortunately the 3G won’t work in the USA, however standard GSM calls should work. You need to check with your carrier to ensure compatibility or if you trust Wikipedia then the List of UMTS networks page could have the information you need.
I compared the Wi-Fi signals strengths of the 5000 with other devices I have and it performed equally as well. I was able to access the Internet from all around the house and outside. There were a couple of times when I had to toggle the Wi-Fi on and off to restore Internet connectivity. This could have been an local problem at my end, I am not sure. But in the interest of full disclosure I just wanted to mention it.
The camera in the ThL 5000 has a 13MP sensor from Sony with a F2.0 aperture. In other words this should be quite a good camera for its price. And after doing some testing, the device doesn’t disappoint. Since the ThL 5000 runs Android 4.4 KitKat it is also able to use Google’s camera app if you don’t like the built-in one.
For those into selfies the front camera is a reasonable 5 megapixels but without autofocus. The built-in camera app also has a selfie gesture mode. Holding up two fingers, in a V for victory shape, starts a two second count-down and then a photo is taken. A great way to take selfies without fiddling with other settings.
Overall I was impressed with the camera and I got good results from the Google app and from the built-in app. Have a look at the photos and judge for yourself:
The 5000 comes with stock Android 4.4.2 with a few minor tweaks: there is an additional control in the Battery section of the Settings which enables “CPU power saving mode.” Limits the maximum CPU performance to conserve battery life and lower the device’s temperature. There is also a section in the settings to enable the “Float App”, a little “always on-top” floating square which gives you quick access to a calculator and a music player.
The built-in launcher is the “Launcher 3” from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and not the Google Experience Launcher from devices like the Nexus 5. What that basically means is that you can’t swipe left to launch Google Now. This build of “Launcher 3” also has some ThL custom icons. One minor point is that all the icon backgrounds are a green square with curved edges. This means that if you install an app with a transparent background then it gets placed on a green square. Look at the Google camera icon in the screenshot below.
Update: ThL are providing OTA updates for this device. Since this review there have been at least two OTA updates to squash bugs and improve stability.
The device comes with full Google Play support and all of the normal Google apps are available. For those Google apps not pre-installed, a quick trip to the Play Store gets you everything you need. There were a few bloatware apps that came pre-installed including the Baidu Browser and a flash light app that really did take some liberties in the amount of advertising it showed. However these were easy enough to uninstall.
The 16GB of internal storage is a reasonable amount of space. But it is worth mentioning that the 16GB is divided into 4GB of internal storage (used mainly for apps and 9GB of phone storage (for you media). You can also set the SD card to be the default write location for the device, and there is also an option set the preferred app installation location to be the SD card rather than the internal storage.
Pricing and conclusion
Before closing, it is worth mentioning what you get in the box besides the device itself. There is a fairly standard USB charger and cable, which isn’t very interesting, but what is interesting is that as part of the launch offer you get a 16GB micro SD card, a gel-type case, plus a USB OTG adapter.
The ThL 5000 is a great phone and excels in many areas including the battery life. For a 3G phone it is hard to find fault with the 5000, especially when you consider the price, just $269.99. There are other good phones on the market for that price, but not with such a large battery.