Smartphones, with their slender frames and light bodies, can’t really replace proper point-and-shoots and full-blown DSLRs. Though some manufacturers have gotten mobile imaging right, their devices often carry heavy price tags that are unreasonable for all but the most rabid enthusiasts. Starmobile’s looking to democratize phoneography by releasing the Up Snap, the first locally-branded phone to feature the fancy UltraPixel camera tech. We find out if it will encourage you to either snap or nap.
Operating System: Android 4.4 KitKat
Physical Dimensions: 147 x 73 x 9.5mm (H x W x D)
Processor: 1.2GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7
GPU: Broadcomm VideoCore IV
Display: 5-inch IPS, 480 X 854 pixels, 196ppi
Cameras: 8MP rear camera with UltraPixel sensor; 5MP front camera
Internal Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB expandable storage
Battery: Non-removable 2900mAh Li-Po
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, dual-SIM
The Starmobile Up Snap had me reminiscing about the smartphones of the past: big, bulky, and almost impossible to pocket. While I wasn’t head over heels on its looks, the Up Snap did have one advantage caused by its size—it’s not easily lost in the bag.
The unit sent to us was clad in white, though aqua blue and dark blue options are also available. There’s chrome lining around the edges that serves as both fancy bling and border between the front and removable back. The usual periphery of buttons, ports, and cameras are right where you’d expect them to be as well.
I don’t really mind a big phone, but when the bezels are crazy thick all around, it distracts from the overall experience. The Up Snap’s side bezels I can accept, but the ones above and below the screen are a bit too much. If the device shaved a couple of millimeters off the top and bottom, it would have gotten higher marks here.
Some fairly standard, if a little outdated, hardware occupy the Up Snap’s innards. On board are the 1.2GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor mated with a VideoCore IV GPU and 1GB of RAM, along with 8GB of microSD expandable storage. Meanwhile, the 5-inch IPS screen is a 196ppi affair. Nope, that’s not a typo.
Don’t go snubbing this one right away as there’s a logical reason behind the choice of specs. It’s one of the few systems-on-chips that can run the UltraPixel technology. Additionally, a better screen will likely put more stress on the processors leading to sluggish performance. The upside is that the 2900mAh battery will last far, far longer compared to other phones that use better SoCs.\
User Experience 3.5/5
I always advocate the “low expectations, high happiness” philosophy, and boy, did that stand true with the Up Snap. The phone was notably responsive, and casual users will find that their everyday bouts of Facebook, Twitter, and the occasional Candy Crush or Clash of Clans will be smooth for the most part. The processor is easily pushed to its limits though, especially when you’ve multiple apps running in the background and a lot of things are happening on screen at the same time.
The Up Snap is billed as a mobile photographer’s best friend, with its 8MP UltraPixel camera promising better low light shots and overall brighter photos. We put that to the test during last month’s San Isidro Pahiyas Festival at Lucban, Quezon. Colorful decorations, a wild atmosphere, and tons of subjects to snap made the annual fiesta the perfect venue to make the Up Snap honest.
Though it was overcast that day, the phone did a great job taking in a lot of light, capturing great looking shots with punchy colors and some impressive depth of field. However, you’d have to transfer photos to a computer in order to fully appreciate what the UltraPixel sensor is capable of. Just don’t zoom in because you’ll quickly see tons of image noise.
Priced at PHP 5,990 the Up Snap treads the thin line between “worth it” and “pushing its luck.” The specs can and will leave you wanting more, but the UltraPixel camera is noticeably better than other phones around the same cost of admission. If you love taking pictures, then that maybe reason enough for you to get this device. Power users, you might consider looking elsewhere.
- UltraPixel camera delivers
- Battery life is amazing
- Underwhelming performance
- Screen is not something to be proud of
UltraPixel tech. That’s not something you see every day.