ThL W100, the cheapest branded quad-core smartphone on the market

May 20, 2013
26 79 58

thl-w100-promo-imageSome people mistakenly think that all Android phones that come out of China are white-label devices with no support and no hope of future upgrades. That is true of some phones, but not all. China has several popular international brands including ZTE, Huawei and Lenovo. ThL is another brand that is popular in China where it has over 340 stores across the country. Its phones are also for sale internationally from places like Chinavasion. The ThL W100 is its latest smartphone and it was launched only this week. Not only does this phone have a 4.5 inch IPS display, sport a quad-core Cortex A7 based processor, include an 8MP rear camera along with an amazing 5MP front-facing camera, it only costs $159.99! That makes it the first branded quad-core Android smartphone to be offered internationally for less than $200.

Hardware

At the heart of the W100 is the MTK6589, a quad-core A7 processor designed for low power but yet quad-core performance. A7 cores are becoming increasingly popular and are starting to replace the Cortex A9 cores that were popular in dual-core phones. By using the A7 core the MTK6589 is able to reduce its energy needs, but at the same time offer quad-core performance. Here are the full specs of the ThL W100:

  • 4.5 inch, 960 x 540, 5 point multi-touch IPS display
  • Android 4.2
  • 1.2GHz MTK6589 quad-core CPU
  • PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU
  • 8MP Rear Camera + 5MP Front-Facing Camera
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Dual-SIM
  • 3G: WCDMA: 850/2100MHz
  • 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
  • GPS
  • Bluetooth
  • Full support for Google Play
  • Micro SD Card Slot
  • Proximity Sensor
  • Accelerometer Sensor
  • Light Sensor
  • Magnetic Field Sensor

thl-w100-in-the-box

The device is 134 mm long, 70 mm wide and 9 mm thick which is reasonable considering the 4.5 inch display. However the phone is amazingly light. It weighs just 102 grams and when I first picked it up I thought I had forgotten to put the battery in! Much of this lightness is achieved by using lots of plastic, so no aluminum uni-body designs here, but still it is pleasure to hold.

The phone only comes with 4GB of¬†internal¬†storage¬†that is divided into 1GB phone storage and 3GB external storage. This can be a problem for larger apps or games as they simply won’t fit into the 1GB of phone storage. However the good news is that a microSD card can be added and in the settings the microSD card can be set as the default write location. This helps keep the price down but doesn’t leave the user¬†frustrated¬†with no hope of expanding the storage.

Although the resolution of the screen is “only”¬†960 x 540 the display is remarkably high quality. The IPS screen has excellent viewing angles, the colors are vibrant and when on full brightness the screen doesn’t look¬†washed-out. ¬†Below is a photo comparing the same image on a HTC One S, a Nexus 7 and the ThL W100.¬†Although¬†the HTC One S offers deeper coloring, I think the W100 is actually the best of the three displays (in terms of color at least).

thl-w100-display-test

Connectivity

The phone has all the standard¬†connectivity¬†options like Wi-Fi (¬†802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth, 2G GSM and 3G. It doesn’t have NFC nor does it support LTE but for only $160 that isn’t a problem!

There are two SIM card slots both of which can be used for normal GSM services and¬†messaging¬†but only one of which can be used for 3G. It doesn’t matter which slot is used for 3G as everything is¬†configurable¬†via the settings. Which SIM is used by default to make calls, which SIM is the default for SMS and which SIM should be used for 3G can all be set¬†accordingly. Both slots are unlocked and will work with any SIM card, contract free.

For 3G the phone only supports 850 and 2100MHz.¬†¬†The latter number is the ‚Äúnormal‚ÄĚ 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 this tends to be 850MHz, as supported by the W100, while in Europe it tends to be 900MHz.¬†I tested the 3G slot with a local carrier which uses 2100MHz and 900MHz networks. The 3G worked fine but the range and effectiveness wasn’t as good as a phone that also supports 900MHz. The 3G¬†connectivity¬†will be¬†optimal¬†in areas with only a 2100MHz network or with a 850MHz/2100MHz network.

I compared the Wi-Fi signals strengths of the W100 with a HTC One S and a Nexus 7 using¬†the free ‚ÄúWifi Analyzer‚ÄĚ app from the Google Play Store. The¬†W100 performed just as well as those two devices and I was able to access the Internet from all around the house and outside without any problems.

Software

The phone runs Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean and includes Google Play and Google Now. The phone is running a slightly tweaked version of stock Android. The most noticeable difference is the transparency of the app draw. When the app draw is opened the background (but not the desktop) can still be seen. It is visually pleasing and a nice touch from ThL. The other thing I noticed was that the settings app uses color icons. Other than that, everything looks to be stock Android.

The device supports Google Play and although not all the¬†official¬†Google apps like YouTube etc are pre-loaded, it is a simple matter to install them via the Play Store.¬†Using Google Play was simple and I didn’t encounter any ‚Äúincompatible‚ÄĚ apps. All the top free, paid and¬†essential¬†apps like Twitter, Yahoo! and Facebook all reported¬†compatibility¬†with the W100. For those who like customization it is worth noting that the phone isn’t rooted by default.

thl-w100-software-diffs

Performance

The MediaTek MT6589 is becoming increasingly popular at the lower end of the quad-core smartphone market and since it uses one of the the latest core architectures from ARM, it is a good choice for this phone (and other in the range).

I previously tested the 5.8 inch, 720p Mithril phone which uses the same processor and the results are very similar with the W100 getting slightly higher benchmark results mainly due to its smaller screen (and hence less effort needed by the CPU/GPU).

The phone scores 13,041 on AnTuTu (compared to the Mithril’s 12,737). Putting that into some context it means that AnTuTu rates the W100 as being faster than the Google Nexus 7, the Asus Transformer Prime (both of which are Tegra 3 quad-core devices) and faster than the Samsung Galaxy Note. Similarly the W100 scores 4006 on Quadrant putting it on par with the Asus Transformer Prime.¬†For further¬†comparison¬†the ThL W1, which is powered by a 1GHz dual-core¬†Cortex A9 based MT6577, scored¬†6436 on AnTuTu and 2737 on Quadrant. Older dual core phones like the HTC One S score just under 7000 on AnTuTu.¬†Overall the phone performed well and there was no lags or annoying pauses. It felt as fluid and usable as any of the Android devices I have at hand, maybe even better.

thl-w100-benchmarks-645

A quick test using Epic Citadel showed that the W100 can manage an average of 47.4 frames per second at 960 x 544 using the high resolution mode. The Tegra 3 based Asus Transformer TF300 manages 46.5 FPS and the Nexus 7 53.7 FPS.

Camera

The W100 includes an 8MP camera which takes vibrant pictures and is certainly well beyond what to expect in this price range. Also the inclusion of a 5MP front facing camera is remarkable. The built-in camera app includes features like face detection, HDR, continuous shooting and panorama. The camera works well for quasi-macros shots and I was able to get a good focus lock on objects even when quite close. The dandelion picture below demonstrates this the best.

thl-w100-camera1

thl-w100-camera2

thl-w100-camera3

Battery

In the box ThL provide two 1800 mAh batteries. The advantage of two batteries is that you can leave home with both fully charged and know that you will get double the battery life during long journeys or times away from a mains socket! The device includes a fairly standard USB mains charging adapter and the phone can also be charged from a laptop or PC since charging only requires 500mA. My battery tests revealed that the ThL W100 can play video for about six hours on one charge. In another test I found that a full battery will allow you to watch YouTube videos over Wi-Fi for about five hours or play heavy 3D games for about three hours.

Conclusion

For those with questions about buying¬†electronics¬†online¬†from China, see our guide (part one, part two) – it isn’t as difficult as you might¬†imagine.¬†For $159.99 this phone could be missing half the features it has an I would still recommend it! OK, this isn’t a Samsung Galaxy S4 or a HTC One, but it costs a lot less than they do. The W100 has a quad core¬†processor¬†based on ARM’s low power¬†consumption¬†Cortex A7, a vibrant IPS display, good connectivity options, reasonable battery life and a nice 8MP camera. The support for only 850MHz and 2100MHz on the 3G ¬†side could be limiting to some, but there are other¬†advantages like dual-SIM support plus¬†features¬†like GPS and a compass. All that from a branded Chinese company for just $160.

Comments

  • brendan webb

    Thats an intresting phone I admit.

  • George

    Wow…the only things to worry about this device are the SAR rating and if you’ll get updates or not from the manufacturer.
    Other than that i think this is awesome!

  • BrainOfSweden

    Look, Samsung and HTC had a baby :3

    • princess

      haha… nice one.

  • CiMO

    I could have ordered one if it had 4G. Too bad.

    • harrold

      its bcos China has no LTE connectivity

  • MasterMuffin

    “Older dual core phones like the HTC One score just under 7000 on AnTuTu.”

    WHAT, I thought HTC One had almost 20000 points more? :D

    • Adam Koueider

      I believe he meant HTC One S

    • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

      Yes missing ‘S’. Also the HTC One isn’t an older dual core phone!!!!

      • MasterMuffin

        :D I thought so!

  • Arthur Vincent Simon

    This is good..but if only they also ship to other markets other than China.

    • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

      Chinavasion ships worldwide.

    • MasterMuffin

      Article clearly says that it ships worldwide :)

  • tomn1ce

    What’s up with the 4GB of internal storage. I’m sure putting at least 16GB of internal storage wouldn’t had increase the price by much especially when you buy the memory module in bulk. Other than that it doesn’t seem to be like a bad device if you don’t mind not using LTE.

    • princess

      agreed… THL seems to be a branded clone that’s being ‘recycled’ on certain hardware and features to be more appealing.

      but setting the internal storage aside (tho it can be a critical concern for deciding buyership, esp for heavy gamers), it’s still something you can consider. at least, as a ‘basic’ phone to use? then just buy a tablet to partner with it for other uses. lols. but, yeah, that idea is welcome with me.

  • Omar Terol

    You said it supports WCDMA 850 and 2100 3G. That is not correct. If anyone lives in a country that works on WCDMA 850 like myself (Mexico), this phone will not work on 3G. I asked them directly on THL’s webpage and the confirmed that it only works on WCDMA 2100.

    Check the Q&A section at the bottom: http://www.thlmobilestore.com/thl-w100-android-4-2-mtk6589-quad-core-smart-phone-4-5-inch-ips-screen-5-0mp-front-camera-3g-gps-white.html

    • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

      Hmmm, I don’t know what to say… On the Chinavasion site it says the device supports 850MHz and on the back of the box it says that it supports 850MHz.

      • Omar Terol

        Damn… I just don’t want to be dissapointed and go through the trouble of re-selling it. Do you have ANY idea if it would work with Mexican carriers, such as Iusacell? And thank you for your answer!

        • Vivian Hitaly

          We sold a lot of this phone. But no customer from Mexico still. the factory told us it support 850/2100 though.

          • No

            It does support 3G on M√©xico(Telcel 3G plan) and nearly all spanish speaking latin america, I don’t know why they told Omar Terol
            that it doesn’t supports it, when it does, also it should support Movistar M√©xico 3G since they also use 850Mhz, maybe the guy that answer his questions doesn’t even know about the specs of the phone.

  • Mike

    Hi, I like the review of this phone but in the specification there is no sign of a fm radio but I can see in the pictures there is a radio. Could you please tell me if there is a fm radio on this phone please.Regards Mike

  • DevilMayCry

    I gonna buy this phone.. haha.. but you know what? this phone already got clone one.. but i recommend to buy a original ThL..

    • princess

      this does look like a clone of one of the other Samsung models… and so do the other models from this same THL brand; like, their W7s is closely similar to a mix of Samsung Mega in appearance, then a Samsung Duos in phone functionality and then Samsung Note II in overall android/ hardware features yet performs almost at par with Samsung S3 in some areas (except for the camera)… interesting, huh? lols…

  • georgesK.

    What do think about tinydeal.com?

    • Klaus

      It’s reliable. I’ve just bought there for 3 times and all was ok.

  • Arie

    What about the radiation levels?
    Are they higher than Samsung phones?

    • CJ Williams

      One U.S. Site that carries the THL W-100 is T ab l e t S p r i n t — which offers a few other brand new model phones and Android tablets…worth checking out…

    • CJ Williams

      One U.S. Site that carries the THL W-100 is T ab l e t S p r i n t — which offers a few other brand new model phones and Android tablets…worth checking out…

      • Sammy ju332

        benny…my sister cousin showed is a work at home job that you do on the internet. no

        experience needed. she showed us a paycheck for $1500. and that was just for ONE

        WEEK…WOW…the website is

    • pnm

      THL SAR radiation probably high. They do not provide complete details of SAR (head & body) on their site. I emailed them about the details and their FCC id and their standard response is -it is within limits. However they did not specify the exact values. Their other response was “we will update our site”. Haven’t heard from them since..

    • GreenVan

      the level of SAR is 0.75. according to thl and chinese academy of telecommunications. I have a relevant technical report which was sent to me after my request for any support documents from thl

  • Z

    Please remember that benchmarks scores in Aututu are affected by resolution. The lower the resolution, the higher the benchmark score.

    The THL W100 has a resolution of 960×540, compared to 1280×800 on the TF300 and Nexus 7. If the resolution on the THL W100 was increased to 1280×800, the Antutu/Quadrant scores would definitely be lower.
    However, this does show that the MTK6589/SGX544 is a lot more capable than the dual core Krait/Adreno 225 in the HTC One S, as they both have the same resolution.

  • Mikael

    Hi, how many days on battery can it last, when not playing, just chatting and dialling?

    • MenO

      i think those days… of the how many days can the battery last are long gone… not even the best smart phone in the market can last more than one day… and less if the is data usage..

      • seth

        I just got the phone here in Canada. skeptical at first, but after trying it out I love it. with normal talk and text usage, the phone will last 2 full days at least. with heavy usage – gaming,videos,apps, it will last about a day. I was quite impressed considering the processor in this phone is a beast and should kill batteries. it’s a pretty decent phone.

        • lcallow

          Hi Seth
          what network are you using it on?
          I tried it with a bell sim (that works in a samsung that reports my local frequency as wcmda 850)
          the w100 recognizes the bell sim but I do not get any service – cannot make a call.
          am I missing something that I need to do to get it the w100 to work with my bell sim?
          thanks
          Leonard

      • Splif Master Khan

        you sir had shitty phones, because my oppo n1 works for over 2 days, when all i do is text and talk. And i text a lot!

  • Jeypriey

    This phone almost have the same specs and look of the MyPhone a919i android phone here in the Philippines although it has a better camera sensor than the latter. I wonder if this will also be available in the PH like these cheap quad-core phones: http://www.jeypreview.com/2013/05/affordable-quad-core-android-phones-philippines.html

    • princess

      it will be… starting sep 6… that’s why i’m searching for reviews on it, like this one. lols.

      thanks for pointing the a919i, out. i was also considering that phone, except that the price tag is just too high for me at Php 9k… tho they say, aftersales is ok with MyPhone… and that’s also something i have to check with the other distributor.

  • hwgeek

    can you upload the full size camera samples please? you can post a download link :-)

  • fmkhan213

    my heart is sooo falling for this device :D

  • car diagnostic
  • MenO

    As it turns out chinese phones that are 3g do not work in 3g here in the United States… as it turns out the frequencies we use here in United States are not the ones the rest of the world uses.

    GO figure, however the phones are also equipped to work in 2G speed.. or Edge, as now i know it to work.

    Basically in principle, the 3g capabilities of the phone have to be disabled, depending on the Android phone it might change as to where this has to be done. but if its a vanilla clean Android with straight out google android no crud on top of it. Right under mobile networks, second choice

    3g Service…

    make sure that is disabled.

    this will insure the phone to connect with 2G frequencies, that we need.

    then the APN settings I input into the phone that is allowing me to write this email are.

    Name

    NET10

    APN

    tfdata

    APN type

    default,supl,mms

    Proxy

    not set

    Port

    not set

    Username

    Not set

    Password

    Not set

    Server

    cingulargprs.com

    MMSC

    http://mms-tf.net

    MMS Proxy

    mms3.tracfone.com

    MMS Port

    80

    MCC

    310

    MNC

    410

    Authentication Type

    Not set

    APN protocol

    IPV4

    APN roaming protocol

    IPv4

    APN enable disable

    APN enabled

    Bearer

    Unspecified

    I sincerely hope this helps.

    • tyleraston

      You may be confused – one of the two SIM slots only offers 2G service – the other SIM slot can get 4G on the AT&T Network – since AT&T uses the 850, 900 and 1900 Frequencies for 4G

  • johnsmithes
  • hiba

    Where can I put the memory card ??

  • Tomislav Forgo

    GPS speed fix has been found! All Mediatek 4.2.1 Android smartphones have this bug. No more problems with GPS speed in apps like Endomondo, My Tracks, CardioTrainer etc. Add following line to build.prop file dalvik.vm.execution-mode=int:fast

  • Kjetil

    As long as you don’t need extra memory it is absolutely worth the money. A great phone at a good price. But… I bought 3. one for me and 2 for friends. We all added sd memory cards. And the memory cards were ruined in about one month.

    Checked them using a card reader connected to my pc. the pc could not even find the sd-cards..

  • Richard Young

    I’m absolutely inlove with THL W100 the moment I saw it in merimobiles.com..I’m using it now and the display is superb,lifelike and it’s very convenient to watch videos and movies. I must say also, that having this in most cheapest price sealed the deal for most users like me. It’s really all about personal preference.

  • rchatto

    Can somebody please verify whether this phone works with USA t-mobile pre-paid. I am really confused with all the GSM codes and network. Thanks

  • Help!

    I’ve read all the pros and cons and was really excited about this phone and actually bought it. When I received it, I found that the charger was the round pronged EU plug. I thought I had done enough research but realized that I “assumed” a “travel charger” was a car charger. When I plugged the American home charger into the wall, there was no way to plug the USB into it AND no charger, the adapter did not fit at all. So…I have not been able to use it at all. Does this mean they don’t offer them for American use? I have been unable to find anything that looks like it works. Now I’m not even sure it can be used as 3G? I want to be sure I can even use it before I spend anymore on accessories that “possibly” work. I wish I could at least ask these questions intelligently… but ????

  • James Mikelis

    But will it work on AT&T? The phone specs say
    2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
    3G: WCDMA 2100MHz

    Will AT&T work on 2g? Someone said
    the other SIM slot can get 4G on the AT&T Network This is very confusing.

    There’s no mention of 4G in the specs.

  • Shovon

    is thsi scan we found on bangladesh?

  • Shovon

    Is this can be found on bangladesh?

  • Lori

    What carriers in the US will this phone work?

  • Karlos

    My choice is DOOGEE VOYAGER2 DG310 http://www.smartphone1.eu/products/smartphones/quad-core-smartphones/smartphone-doogee-voyager2-dg310-quad-core-android-4-4/1035.html Quad-Core MTK6582 1.3GHz, OS Android 4.4 KitKat, 5.0″ IPS screen, 8GB ROM, 1GB RAM, OTG, GPS, OTA.