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Ecoo Aurora E04 review
64-bit processors are becoming increasingly mainstream on Android devices, and the Aurora E04 an example of how these new SoCs will be utilized by Asian OEMs. The Ecoo Aurora E04 is a 5.5 inch device with an octa-core 64-bit Cortex-A53 based processor. It costs just $190, which is quite surprising when you consider the screen size and the mid-range specs.
In short, the Ecoo Aurora E04 is 64-bit 4G LTE smartphone with a full HD display, 2GB of RAM and a built-in fingerprint reader. Here are the full specs:
|Display||5.5 inch, IPS, 1920 x 1080 pixels|
MediaTek MT6752 1.7GHz octa-core Cortex-53, 64-bit
16GB, microSD card slot, up to 32GB
16 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
GPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth
GSM; 3G: 900/2100 MHz; 4G LTE: 800/1800/2100/2600 MHz
Android 4.4 with Google Play. Android 5.0 coming soon.
156.7 x 77.5 x 9.3 mm, 160g
Dual-SIM (micro SIM and normal SIM）
Moving on to the design and build, the phone is quite light at just 160g and surprising easy to hold considering its 5.5 inch display. I have always felt most comfortable using a phone with a 5.0 inch display, and the E04 Aurora is certainly larger than the average 5 inch device. At 156.7 mm tall, it is around 1.0 to 1.5 cm longer than a 5 inch device, however at 77.5 mm wide, it is only a few millimeters wider your average 5 incher. This means that, for me at least, it fits comfortably in my hand, and I don’t feel that I am performing any more finger gymnastics than I would with a smaller phone.
My test unit is a white model, and so the coloring is chrome and white. There is also a black model available. Around the phone is a chrome colored band, which is made of plastic. The back cover uses a textured plastic which aids the grip (slightly). According to the specs, the bezels are just 2.5 mm which means that the phone has a screen to body ratio of 78%.
To supplement the narrow bezels, the Ecoo Aurora uses 2.5D glass. Sometimes these terms can be used without much justification, however it is true that the glass on front does curve at the edges and is rounded in the corners. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that this is achieved more with a kind of factory fitted glass screen protector than by the use of expensive glass tech. The reason I say it is because there is a little gap around the ear-piece that is reminiscent of the way a screen protector is overlaid on a display. Of course, I could be wrong.
As for the rest of the front, there is the full HD 5.5 inch display, the front facing camera, a set of sensors, and the capacitive keys. The home button is a physical button and contains a built-in fingerprint reader.
Down the right-hand side are the power button and the volume rocker. Both are easily accessible when the phone is held in your left hand, and I prefer the position used by Ecoo with the power button above the volume rocker, than vice versa.
On the top you will find the 3.5mm headphone jack and the micro USB port. On the bottom edge are the speaker grills and the microphone. Flipping the phone over, you will see the prominent ECOO logo, the dual LED flash and the camera lens.
The 5.5 inch display on the Aurora E04 is very good, especially considering the price point of this device. It is an IPS display with a full HD resolution, i.e. 1920 x 1080. That works out to 400 dpi.
Overall the color reproduction is good and the definition is great, as are the viewing angles. I also found the display to be quite bright, in a good sense. Leaving the brightness on Auto worked well, but whenever I did force the display to maximum brightness it was too bright for indoor use. This is of course a good thing as it meant that the display is easier to read when outdoors.
At the heart of the Aurora E04 is the MediaTek MT6752. It has a octa-core Cortex-A53 based processor which is coupled with a Mali-T760 GPU. This is the first time I have tested a phone with this combination of CPU and GPU, and overall I have been very impressed. A quad-core or octa-core Cortex-A53 processor coupled with a Mali-T760 GPU will likely become a popular offering from Asian OEMs during 2015.
The Cortex-A53 is ARM’s super power efficient variant from its first generation of 64-bit processors. The MT6752 uses eight Cortex-A53 cores all clocked at 1.7GHz. According to Ecoo the MT6752 is twice as fast as as MediaTek’s quad-core Cortex-A7 based processors, but with 30 percent less battery consumption.
My experience of using the Aurora E04 is that the processor package is fast. The UI is smooth and rapid, and in fact the E04 has one of the fastest UI that I have recently seen on a Chinese OEM phone. The Aurora E04 handled everything I asked of it including gaming and video.
In terms of benchmarks, the Aurora E04 managed to chalk up 39.1 frames per second on Epic Citadel in Ultra High Quality mode and 54.9 in High Quality mode. According to GameBench, the Aurora E04 can run Riptide GP at over 50 fps, while Shadow Fight 2 runs at 51 fps. These are all excellent scores and reflect my experience with the device.
The phone comes with a 3000 mAh battery, which is about what I would expected for a phone of this size and price. My testing revealed some interesting numbers. Before I started testing the phone I left it to one side while I worked on some other videos. When the battery went flat I would charge it again and so on. When I finally got around to testing this unit I just started using it as it was. The final battery numbers for that first period of real usage was 3 days and 18 hours, with 3 hours of screen time. Once my testing was fully underway I was getting around 1 day and 5 hours, with 2.5 hours of screen time.
I also ran my customary set of tests. On one charge you will be able to play intensive 3D games for about 3 hours. GameBench shows that Tower Madness will run for almost 5 hours. For those into multimedia, you can get about 4.5 hours of YouTube streaming from this device on one charge.
The phone has two speaker grills on its bottom edge, however there is only one speaker. Covering the right grill muffles the sound as you would expect, however the left grill appears only to be for ascetics.
The Aurora E04 is a dual SIM phone that offers quad-band GSM, which means 2G will work just about anywhere in the world; dual-band 3G, on 900 and 2100MHz; and quad-band 4G LTE on 800/1800/2100 and 2600MHz. The 3G and 4G will work in lots of countries around the world, especially in Europe and Asia. In the USA you will get 2G coverage, but that is about it.
Unfortunately the GPS performance isn’t very reliable. The device is able to get a lock outdoors, however indoors a lock can’t be achieved. But the main problem seems to be that the lock either isn’t stable or it isn’t very accurate. According to GPS Test the precision is over 20 feet (or 6 meters). This leaves a big enough margin for error that navigation software like Google Maps or Nokia Here don’t always know which road you are on.
The Aurora E04 comes with 2GB of RAM, which is good for a phone in this price range. In terms of internal storage, the device comes with 16GB of flash and has a micro-SD card slot which can accept cards up to 32GB. Unfortunately the internal storage is divided into two partitions called Internal Storage and Phone Storage. The first is for apps and the second for your personal data. The good news is that the first partition is almost 6GB which should be sufficient to install quite a few apps. The other bit of good news is that apps can be moved from the Internal Storage to the Phone Storage from with Settings->Apps.
This phone has a 16MP rear facing camera and a 8MP front facing camera. The pictures are crisp and the color reproduction is good. The included camera app, which looks to be the standard AOSP app, offers a few interesting features including HDR and Panorama. In the settings you can change things like the exposure level, the scene type, the white balance, face detection and so on. Overall, the app is fairly comprehensive but it doesn’t have any advanced modes or filters. You can also install and use third-party apps including Google’s camera app.
Here are some sample shots, judge for yourself:
The Aurora E04 runs stock Android 4.4.4. You get access to Google Play and all of Google’s services like YouTube, Gmail and Maps. Interestingly, the device is rooted by default and comes with Chainfire’s SuperSU pre-installed.
The fingerprint scanner is incorporated into the home button and the software allows you to set the screen to unlock only with your fingerprint. Overall the scanner and the unlock mechanism worked well. The number of misreads was quite low and I kept the feature activated for a while. I only deactivated it, not because the scanner wasn’t capable enough, but because having to swipe my finger over the scanner to unlock the screen was becoming a bit monotonous.
As for upgrades, Ecoo has promised to release an over-the-air update to upgrade the phone to Android 5.0 lollipop. There is no actual official release date, however it is expected soon.
To sum up, the Aurora E04 is a 4G LTE enabled smartphone, with a full HD display and a octa-core 64-bit CPU. The performance is good for this price point, and the promise of Android 5.0 Lollipop is quite enticing. You can pick up an Ecoo Aurora E04 for around $190, which when you consider the overall specification of the device, is a great price.