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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Kata Venus 3 Review

After reviewing the top of the line Samsung Galaxy Note 3, I thought it would be refreshing to review something more down-to-earth. Kata was nice enough to lend me review units of the Venus 3 and the i2. I decided to review the Venus 3 first so expect the i2 review very soon. While it may be nice to own the latest and greatest smartphone, sometimes you just have to be realistic. If your budget is about Php4,000 then you have to set your expectations accordingly. To be honest, I was not expecting much but as you will see, I was surprised at how much you can actually get at this price range. Let's list down the specs below.

4-inch touchscreen display
1.2GHz dual-core processor (MTK 6572)
4GB internal memory, expandable via MicroSD
5MP camera w/LED flash
1.2MP front-facing camera
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0 with A2Dp support
Dual-SIM, Dual Standby
1,600mAh battery
Android 4.2.2 Jellybean

Price: Php3,999 (Introductory Promo)

At first glance, I noticed a bit of an homage to Nokias and Xperias of the past. It's refreshing to see this than the usual generic phone designs. The phone dimensions are a bit thick but build quality is solid and feels like it could take a beating. Screen is a WVGA, side viewing angles are okay but not so clear when viewed from the top. I had to keep it at full brightness as I found the auto setting too dim. On the other hand, touch screen response is pretty good. Personally though, I prefer bigger screens.

I've been using this phone for about a week now and it's actually performing better then I expected. While its dual-core and 512MB RAM may not be enough for power users, for basic smartphone functions like email, Facebook and casual gaming, it performed adequately. Sonic, Angry Birds Go, and even Dead Trigger 2 played well with just minor occasional lag. I'm glad Kata decided to use an almost stock version of Android which helps keep its performance quite snappy. The 5MP camera is nothing to rave about but it's serviceable. For posting photo online it will be fine, just make sure you use it in good lighting conditions. I did notice some focusing issues. I'll post some sample photos below.

One of my pet peeves is how manufactures implement their dual SIM features. I'm really happy on how Kata does theirs. First, both SIM slots can use 3G (just not at the same time). Which is great, so you don't have to physically swap SIM cards. I still can't find any information confirming that it supports HSPA+ but I did get the H+ symbol on the notification bar when I turned on mobile data. Secondly, it supports Contact Binding which allows you to assign a specific contact to SIM 1 or 2. I wish it had the "Reply on same SIM" features like on Alcatel phones but it's still better than the way Samsung does their dual SIM management. Battery life is average and will last the day as long as you manage your WiFi and 3G usage.

Like I mentioned above, it's really hard to expect too much at this price point and to be honest I'm just nitpicking. Do I wish it had more RAM, better screen and camera? Sure, but you have to realize that you need to cut some features to get at this price. In the end, it's simply a good entry-level smartphone. If you're shopping at this price range, you owe it to yourself to check out this phone.

The Good:

- Solid and unique design
- Price
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Dual SIM management
- Almost stock Android 4.2

The Bad:

- Camera

- Screen Auto Brightness
- Difficult to remove back cover