LeEco, previously known as LeTV, is still quite new to the Android game, but some may know it as the company that released the first Snapdragon 820-powered smartphone earlier this year. In markets where they have a bigger presence like China and India, LeEco is known for their high quality smartphones and peripherals that are very aggressively priced. Now the company is hoping to replicate that success by bringing the same formula to the highly-competitive US.
At a launch event in California, LeEco introduced a flagship smartphone and a mid-range device, and we got to spend time with them. Here is the first look, as we go hands on with the LeEco Le Pro 3 and the Le S3!
We start with the flagship LeEco Le Pro3, that features a 5.5-inch Full HD display, and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor backed by 4GB of RAM. The device comes with 64GB of on-board storage, a 16MP rear camera, an 8MP front-facing unit, and a large 4,070mAh battery with fast charging capabilities that will allow for the phone to be charged up to 33% in just minutes.
Those familiar with LeEco’s other smartphones will not be surprised at the fact that the Le Pro3 doesn’t come with a 3.5mm headphone jack – a trend that we are likely to see spread across the smartphone ecosystem. Instead you get to take advantage of Continuous Digital Lossless Audio (CDLA) through the USB Type-C port.
The Le Pro3 retains a lot of the design language of its predecessor, but if you haven’t come across the latter before, the LeEco flagship will remind you of the OnePlus 3. The device features a full metal unibody construction with a shiny, almost glossy, finish. It’s a nice and sleek looking device, and does feel sturdy in the hand, and with a bit of heft to it.
The 16MP and 8MP cameras are found at the back and front, respectively, and the setup does look to be quite promising at first glance. A look at the camera app indicates that the picture-taking experience may be a touch simplistic, but we can only better judge the camera performance after spending a lot more time with this phone.
As is now expected from a Chinese smartphone, the software experience is vastly different from what is expected from Android. While the usual Android bells and whistles are available, LeEco’s launcher includes a few unique features that not only make this software package stand out from stock Android, but from what is available from other Chinese OEMs as available.
What appears to be a button to open the app drawer is instead a “Live” button that takes you into the LeTV ecosystem. This is essentially the TV streaming service that LeEco was known for back when the company was still LeTV, and includes a slew of video streaming options, as well as access to their original dramas, that have garnered billions of views so far.
Tapping the Live button takes you to the live streaming service that includes a number of different channels that you can stream directly from and see all their content. An extra function that is available here is the ability to shrink the window, to let you see the live streaming content in the floating window while you continue to browse the rest of the service, or do anything else on the phone.
LeEco also brought out their latest mid-range offering, the Le S3, which also comes with a 5.5-inch Full HD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage. The camera setup remains the same as its more premium sibling though, while it packs a smaller 3,000mAh battery.
LeEco Le Pro3
Despite featuring the same display size as the Le Pro3, the Le S3 actually feels a lot lighter than the former, and comes with a full metal unibody construction without the glossy finish. The shine is quite less comparatively, and the Le S3 also won’t be as much of a fingerprint magnet. The software experience is the same between the two LeEco smartphones as well.
LeEco Le S3
The best part about these phones by far is their price point, which is bound to disrupt the high-end and mid-range segments in the US. The LeEco Le Pro3 and the Le S3 are priced at just $399 and $249, respectively. To sweeten the deal even more, if you buy these phones on November 2, you can avail a $100 discount by signing up for the LeMall Rewards program. While those in India and China will not be surprised an LeEco’s aggressive pricing, the price announcement did elicit some gasps from the audience at the launch event.
The LeEco Le Pro3 is definitely a device to look out for, despite the fact that it comes with a flavor of Android that many may not be used to. If the camera manages to be as good as it appears to be on paper, and the performance is as smooth as is expected from the Snapdragon 821, then the $299 price point on November 2, and even the $399 price tag after that day, makes this smartphone a great one to consider.