ThL W200S full review and hands-on

March 13, 2014
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The Chinese smartphone maker ThL has been releasing some interesting phones recently including the ThL T100S which featured MediaTek’s true octa-core processor. The performance of the T100S was impressive, especially for non-GPU related tasks and when a review unit of the ThL W200S arrived on my desk I eagerly started testing the device to see what ThL had come up with this time.

The W200S is also an octa-core device and use the same MediaTek processor as the T100S however there are some significant differences in design and specification of the W200S which, in part, makes it a better phone than the T100S, especially when you consider its sub $200 price point!

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Spec sheet

  • Display:¬†5 Inch 720p IPS with Corning III Gorilla Glass
  • Processor: 1.7 GHz MT6592 True Octa-Core with Mali-450 GPU
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Android: 4.2
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Cellular: 2G – GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz and 3G – WCDMA 850/2100 MHz
  • Dual-SIM
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, GPS
  • Cameras:¬†5 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera + 8 Megapixel Rear Camera
  • Battery Size: 2000mAh
  • Storage: 32GB and a microSD slot with support for another 32GB
  • Dimensions:¬†151 x 70 x 10mm (L x W x D)
  • Weight: 151g

Design

In terms of size, the W200S is a little wider than a Nexus 4 or Nexus 5 and about 1.5 centimeters longer. The design of the phone is quite different from the T100S and the W200S makes better use of curves and has elegant round corners which make the phone easy to hold. The bezels aren’t ultra thin but neither are they thick. My crude measurements with a ruler showed that the bezels were under 4mm.

Above the screen is the earpiece along with the front facing camera and a couple of sensors. At the bottom is the three softkeys: 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 8 megapixel camera, the LED flash and a round speaker grill. The camera isn’t flush with the rest of the back panel which means that if you place the phone on a table and try and type the device rocks slightly. On the left is the volume rocker and on the right the power button. Overall the design is sleek and the plastic used by ThL isn’t a fingerprint magnet but neither is it too shiny.¬†It is easy to hold in the hand and feels well built. At 151 grams it is only slightly heavier than a Nexus 5 and I didn’t ever get the feeling that W200S was heavy.

Display

The 1280 x 720 pixel IPS display on the W200S is good considering the price point of this phone. Due to the IPS technology the viewing angles are excellent and overall the color reproduction is good. The display is vivid but not overly so and there is good color depth especially with atmospheric colors. Watching 720p HD films is a pleasure and although the screen doesn’t do well in direct sunlight the display adds¬†to the overall great experience of the W200S.

The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 using a glass-to-film-to-film full lamination process. The glass protects the two layers of film which provide the capacitive touch screen functions. The lamination process uses a liquid gel to affix the cover glass on to the display. This means that there is no air in between the cover glass and the display panel.

Performance

ThL W200S 8 cores

One of the key features of the¬†W200S is its octa-core processor. The MediaTek¬†MT6592 runs at¬†1.7 GHz, which is faster than say the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon inside the Nexus 4 but the¬†same speed as the quad-core processor in the HTC One. However unlike the Nexus 4 and the HTC One, the MT6592 uses ARM¬†Cortex-A7 cores. The Cortex-A7 core isn’t as fast as the¬†Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 cores and¬†processors¬†based on these two core designs easily beat a Cortex-A7 processor with the same number of cores. 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.

THL W200S AnTuTu

The W200S’ AnTuTu scores are high. Although it doesn’t take one of the top spots, the W200S manages a score of 26960. That makes it faster than the HTC One, faster than the Galaxy Note 2,¬†and roughly equal to the Exynos-octa version of the S4. However it is still bested by phones like the LG G2, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and the Galaxy Note 3.

For Epic Citadel, the demo app for the Unreal 3D engine, the W200S managed 57.4 frames per second (fps) on the High Performance setting and 58.2 fps on the High Quality setting.

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For CPU intensive tasks the W200S is 27% faster than than the LG G2.

Although the CPU part of the MT6592 is an octa-core processor, the GPU is the¬†Mali-450 which offers a lower performance than other GPUs like the Adreno 320, the Adreno 330 and the Mali-T628. So for benchmarks which include 3D graphics the W200S isn’t going to break any records. GPU tests are important and since many people play 3D games on their devices this component is necessary for any general benchmark.

However it is possible to test the raw CPU power using CF-Bench. For CF-Bench the device scored 45945. 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. This means that for CPU intensive tasks the W200S is 27% faster than than the LG G2.

In terms of GPS performance the W200S is excellent. I stepped outside and activated the GPS and within a few seconds the device had a lock. While reading some forums recently I noticed that some users were complaining of a general problem with ThL phones when using the GPS and Bluetooth together. This isn’t a test that I would normally perform but since there are reports of problems I tested the W200S to see what is the¬†situation. The good news is that Bluetooth works great as does the GPS, however not together. What seems to happen is¬†that as soon as an app uses the location services the Bluetooth output begins to stutter and lag. This is most noticeable in Google Maps. As soon as you exit Google Maps everything returns to normal.

Battery

With its full HD display and octa-core processor the T100S suffered from weak battery performance. However ThL seems to have solved this problem with the W200S. This is likely due in part to the less power hungry display. What is interesting is that the battery in the W200S is actually smaller (at 2000mAh) than the one in the T100S, however the battery life is far superior.

I did some tests to generate some battery usage numbers and the results are good. When running Epic Citadel in its Guided Tour mode the phone will last for over 3.5 hours before it will run out of juice.

For YouTube streaming (over Wi-Fi) the device does very well and you can watch around 7 hours of video on a full charge. Watching an MP4 movie from the internal storage yields a slightly disappointing 6 hours. Considering that the YouTube test showed a potential 7 hours I am guessing that the MP4 video playback time could be increased with different settings in the video player.

The numbers are reasonable and although you aren’t going to get two days of use out of this phone, you will certainly get a full day (morning to evening).

Connectivity

The phone has all the standard connectivity options like Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth, 2G GSM and 3G, but it doesn’t have NFC or LTE. There are two SIM card slots, both of which take normal sized SIM cards. The W200S 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 W200S 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

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Although the camera in this unit is “only” 8 megapixels it produces better pictures than some other low- or medium-end smartphones I have tested. The colors are clear with good depth when needed however they can lack vividness. The camera handles low light situations well however in very bright direct light the light seems to stream across the images much more than on other smartphones.

For those into selfies the front camera is a reasonable 5 megapixels but without autofocus. Both the front and back cameras can be set to automatically extrapolate up to 13MP. The rear camera can record video at 1280 x 720, while the front facing camera only records video at 640 x 480.

Overall the camera is good but not exceptional. The camera app is the fairly standard app with features like HDR, face recognition and burst mode etc. It does however have a couple of extra modes: Live Photo and Motion Track. The former takes a small video clip and mimics and camera shot during the clip with the photo sliding to the corner in a frame. The latter takes multiple shots and overlays them for an action shot with a moving target.

Software

The W200S comes with stock Android 4.2.2 with a few minor tweaks: the Settings app uses color icons and the background of the app drawer is semi-transparent. Besides these, there is an¬†addition is a setting in the Battery section of the Settings which enables “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 although the device did perform slightly worse in the benchmarks with the performance “limited”, it was only about a 1 percent difference in performance, which is actually within the norm of fluctuations for the standard benchmarks.

THL W200S UI changes

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 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.

Pricing and conclusion

The ThL brand isn’t well known internationally, however in China the name is better established and¬†the company has over 340 stores across the mainland.¬†The ThL W200S is a great phone and excels in many areas including its performance. But it also has its weak points like the lack of LTE and the problem with Bluetooth/GPS. However when you consider the price maybe these are forgivable. The W200S is available for just $199 plus shipping and any local import taxes. Our review unit was supplied by Chinavasion which ships worldwide.

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