ThL T200 full review – hands-on with a 6 inch octa-core smartphone

May 7, 2014
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ThL T200 - promo

The ThL T200 is a large and powerful phone. At 6 inches it blurs the distinction between a smartphone and a tablet and some would call it a “Phablet”. Not only is this device big on the outside, it is also big on the inside. At its heart is a MediaTek octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage, plus some nice extras like NFC.

The MediaTek MT6592 octa-core processor is clocked at 1.7GHz and is basically the same SoC found in the ThL T100S and the ThL W200S. Technically the processor uses ARM’s big.LITTLE technology, but unlike other eight core processors, which have two different core types (Cortex A7 and A15), the MediaTek uses eight Cortex-A7 cores. The Cortex-A7 design uses less battery than the Cortex-A15, but isn’t as powerful.

I received the ThL T200 a few days ago and I have been testing it extensively. Before we jump into the pros and cons of this large screen phone, let’s look at the specs.

Spec sheet
  • Display: Full HD 1920 x 1080 6 Inch IPS Gorilla Glass
  • OS Version: Android 4.2
  • CPU: MT6592 True Octa-Core @ 1.7GHz
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n
  • 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • 3G: WCDMA 850/2100 MHz
  • Bluetooth, GPS, NFC
  • Rear camera: 13 Megapixel Rear Camera
  • Front-facing camera: 8 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera
  • Video Resolution: 1280×720 Front / 1280×720 Back
  • Battery Size: 2500mAh
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Micro SD Card up to 64GB
  • Dimensions: 160 x 82 x 9mm (L x W x D)
  • Weight: 210g
Design

There is no escaping it, the T200 is big. But not because of some horrendous design flaw or because of huge bezels, it is big by design. ThL has plenty of phones in its range and the ThL T200 is the biggest. The six inch IPS display is full HD (1920 x 1080) and is covered by Gorilla Glass.

There is no escaping it, the T200 is big.

The design team seems to have taken some pointers from Samsung as the sides of the device have a decorative metal look to them and the back cover uses a faux leather design including the faux stitching. The cover material is a matte plastic that is quite resistant to finger prints.

Around the edges are the various buttons and ports. On the very top edge is the micro USB port (used for charging and data transfer) along with the headphone jack. The volume controls are on the right and the power button is quite high up on the left-hand side. If you are holding the device in one hand then it is possible to wake the phone using your thumb, but honestly I gave up trying to use the device with one-hand. For me that isn’t a problem as I have never really used my smartphones with one-hand. I always seem most comfortable with two hands, even on smaller phones. This is probably a habit I picked up when using PDAs like the Palm Pilot, device in one hand, stylus in the other.

ThL T200 - back of in hand tilt

The display on the T200 is good, but not as bright as the HD display on the ThL T100S. Its full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution yields good color reproduction but isn’t overly vivid. The brightness is great for indoor use and works well outdoors in the shade. In direct, bright sunlight, as is often the case, you will have difficulty viewing the screen. Having said that, since this is an IPS display the viewing angles are very good.

Performance

One of the key features of the T200, other than the large screen, is the octa-core processor. In terms of performance it is very similar to the other octa-core phones made by ThL. The raw CPU performance of these processors is amazing, however the overall package is hindered slightly by the use of a Mali-450 GPU.

The T200 AnTuTu scores are impressive. Although it doesn’t take one of the top spots, the T200 manages a score of 26323. That makes it faster than the HTC One (M7) and faster than the Galaxy Note 2. However it is still bested by phones like the LG G2, the Xiaomi MI3 and the Galaxy Note 3.

ThL T200 - antutu

For Epic Citadel, the demo app for the Unreal 3D engine, the T200 managed 41.9 frames per second (fps) on the High Performance setting. That is a good score considering that the processor is generating all that graphics data for a 1920 x 1080 full HD display.

The GPU in SoCs like the Qualcomm 800 or 801 is better than the Mali-450 found in the MediaTek MT6592. Benchmark apps like AnTuTu take into account the GPU performance, and quite rightly so, but other benchmarks like CF-Bench focus on raw CPU power.

The T200 scores 46134 on CF-Bench. To put that into some context the quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro in the Nexus 4 manages 13866, the Galaxy Note 3 scores 24653, while the LG G2 notches up 35999. That makes the T200 significantly faster than the LG G2 and the Note 3!

That makes the T200 significantly faster than the LG G2 and the Note 3!

In terms of GPS performance the T200 is excellent. I stepped outside, activated the GPS and within a few seconds the device had a lock!

ThL T200 - gpstest

One of the little problems with the ThL W200S was that the GPS and Bluetooth didn’t get along with each other. Separately they worked fine, but as soon as an app uses the location services the Bluetooth output begins to stutter and lag. This is most noticeable in Google Maps. The good news is that this problem is less prominent with the T200. Although there is still some stutter and lag in the Bluetooth output (tested by playing background music to a Bluetooth speaker) when some apps start, the interruptions to the Bluetooth output are only temporary and last only a couple of seconds. After that the music keeps playing perfectly and when I used the navigation app the voice went to the Bluetooth speaker without any problems. I haven’t tested this extensively, however my initial impressions are that the situation is much improved.

Battery

Probably the weakest component in the ThL T200 is its battery. At 2500mAh, the battery is a reasonable size but it could do with being a bit bigger. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 which has a 5.7 inch full HD display packs a 3200mAH battery.

The battery was also a weakness of the ThL T100S, but not for the ThL W200S. The common factor between the T100S and the T200 is the full HD display. The W200S has the same CPU as the T100S and the T200, but it only uses a 720p HD display, and that seems to make all the difference.

The results from my battery tests are a bit of a mixed bag. When running Epic Citadel, in its Guided Tour mode, the device lasts just under 2.5 hours before it runs out of juice. For YouTube streaming (over Wi-Fi) the device does a bit better and can handle almost four hours on one charge. Watching an MP4 movie from the internal storage yields around four and a half hours of viewing pleasure. All the tests were carried out with the screen on half brightness, syncing enabled and Wi-Fi on.

On the plus side the standby battery usage is very good and the overnight decrease in battery level is small. As with all smartphones it all depends on how you use the device. My gut feeling with the T200 is that you might need to connect it to a charger towards the working end of the day.

Connectivity

The ThL T200 is a dual-SIM device. One of the SIM slots takes a normal sized SIM and the other is for a micro SIM. The T200 supports 3G on 850 and 2100MHz, but it doesn’t support 4G.  The latter of the two 3G frequencies is the most 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 T200 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 without any problems.

Camera

The photos from this camera tended to have more life and vibrancy than other low- to medium-end phones that I have tested.

Not only does the T200 include a 13MP rear-facing camera, it also has an 8MP front-facing camera. For those into selfies, the 8MP front camera is a nice touch and not only does it take high quality pictures but, like its rear-facing counterpart, it can record video at 1280 x 720.

Other than having less megapixels, the other differences between the two is that the rear facing camera has auto-focus and a flash, while the front facing camera has a fixed focus (like most front facing cameras) and no flash.

Overall the camera quality is quite good. The camera app is the standard app with features like HDR, face recognition and burst mode etc. The camera is quick to focus and the flash is quite powerful (for a smartphone). The photos from this camera tended to have more life and vibrancy than other low- to medium-end phones that I have tested. Here are a few shots from the camera:

ThL T200 - camera4

Software

The T200 comes with stock Android 4.2.2 with only a few minor tweaks. In the Battery section of the Settings there is a tick box to enable “CPU power saving mode.” According to the description this limits the maximum CPU performance to conserve battery life and lower the device’s temperature. I did some testing with the option enabled and disabled and I didn’t see any noticeable differences!

Considering that phones with similar levels of performance and full HD screens can cost much more, the ThL T200 is a bargain!

The Security section features an Apps permission setting. When enabled you can control which apps have permission to make calls, send SMS message, get your location and so on. Once enabled the default permission is for each app to ask before using a restricted service, and it seems to work very well. The only minor wrinkle is that some apps seem to be excluded from this system. For example, if you enable App permissions and then go to Google Maps, you won’t be asked if Maps can access your location. But if you start a third party mapping app then you will be asked before the app can access your current position.

Another interesting tweak is the ability to hide the navigation bar. The black bar with the recent apps, home and back buttons can be hidden by tapping on a small arrow-in-a-box icon on the left of the navigation bar. Once hidden all games and app run in true full HD. When you need to bar back you just swipe upwards the bottom upwards and it re-appears.

Since the T200 also has NFC connectivity, something you don’t see on many Chinese devices, I did a quick test using Android Beam between it and a Nexus 7. I was able to transfer photos and URLs without any problems.

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. Also the 32GB of internal storage gives you plenty of space for all your games, music and even video. It is worth mentioning that the 32GB is divided into 6GB of internal storage and 22GB of phone storage. There is an option in the Apps section of the Settings to move apps from the internal storage to the phone storage, very much like the “move to SD card” functionality on other Android phones.

ThL T200 -  app permissions

Pricing and conclusion

If you are looking for a large screen phone but you don’t have the budget for a device from some of the top brands then you should consider the ThL T200. At six inches this is about as big as it gets when it comes to phones. The device excels in many areas including its performance, but it also has its weak points like the battery life and lack of LTE. But maybe these lacks are acceptable when you consider the price tag. The device sells for under $300 and if you catch the right offer you can get it for as low as $269.99. Considering that phones with similar levels of performance and full HD screens can cost much more than that, the ThL T200 is a bargain! It can be bought from Chinavasion which ships worldwide.

Comments

  • MasterMuffin

    Let’s put 16 Cortex-A5’s together and see the performance and energy efficiency! :D

    • Jesse Afolabi

      lel…16? id rather have a dual core A17

  • apianist16

    That poor battery is a deal-breaker.

  • Fabian Taveras

    Lol the note creams this limp weight so hard in the bench mark results xD

  • Maranello Santiago

    They’re trying to influence me to get a Chinese brand phone. It might happen. Hopefully more phones will support at least hspa+ in the states and come with kitkat soon. Some of these phones can be rooted, and maybe xposed should help with customization, with the lack of custom ROM support for most of these phones.

  • V-Phuc

    Released a year later than the GSNote3 and still couldn’t flat-out beat the latter! What a shame! Meh, pass! Next, please!

  • IDontKnowMyName

    “Technology Happy Life”, really?

    • Peggy

      Really. I bought thl t100s and am so happy with my purchase. Thl t100s is an excellent phone.

      • IDontKnowMyName

        Good for you cause I was’nt taking about the phone itself. Just the company name.

      • droidt200

        Me too!!!!

  • Maritah H

    Great phone, I like it!!!

  • Replicant Jason Booth

    Solid for the price, too bad about the relatively small power pack… It makes no sense why it doesn’t have at least a 3100 mah pack.

  • Jon Smith

    Excellent review, Garry. I’ve just bought the phone. The only two things that don’t like are the weight (a lot heavier than I had expected) and the poor screen quality in full sunlight. The battery life is just about OK for my uses – would it have cost thl that much more to have given us a few more milliamps?

  • Rich

    Nice phone but still too many inherent bugs left over from the early days of THL.
    Consider this: If you can forgo the 6.0 inch screen and be satisfied with
    5.0 inches insead, THL is about to introduce the THL 5 with a 5000 MA battery, FHD,
    An F1.8 camera, NFC and NC audio.

  • droidt200

    I got mine yesterday and I had it up and running with data plan pure talk usa in less than an hour. Fantastic phone! Mine score even better in both antutu an cf bench… I couldn’t ask for more for $269.99 at thlmobile store. They sent me 2 protective csses, one flip cover and the other for the back only. Great customer support and I can download anything I want without no one telling me to buy it. For the apple lovers I have nothing to say, it’s sad trying to convince yourself every day that the huge buck spent actually worths :)
    I am super happy with the THL T 200. Great review by th way.

  • Lakkana

    Can we buy this from our country Sri Lanka?