There was a time when entry-level smartphones meant old and weak internals packed in flimsy plastic bodies, offering an unsatisfactory user experience. These days though, such smartphones have climbed up the ladder when it comes to the overall user experience. For a while, we had our hands on Xiaomi’s cheapest budget offering for India — the Redmi 5A, and were satisfied with the features as well as the experience that it offered for its price. Since then, the tension amongst OEMs in the affordable smartphone segment has been sizzling; with various brands offering premium features for almost the 5A’s price bracket. Amazon’s 10.or (pronounced as Tenor) has also registered its presence in this battle for trying to grab a piece of the pie in this segment with their latest offering — the 10.or D (Tenor D).
10.or already has a budget offering — the 10.or E (review), which soon became one of our favourites in this segment. However, the new kid on the block appears to take the fight a step further with an extremely affordable package — you can get the base 2GB+16GB variant for Rs 4,999. The one on our table is the 3GB+32GB variant priced for Rs 5,999 — a bold move against the Redmi 5A. At first glance it looks like a tempting deal, but can it sustain the fight with the big boys in the game? We find out.
As mentioned earlier, entry-level smartphones are getting better by the hour and the 10.or D is a classic example of this statement. It features 10.or’s familiar sturdy build present on its entire lineup, which in turn also echoes the aesthetics of Lumia smartphones from Nokia. It sports a plastic unibody, with curvy edges that make it easier to hold the phone for extended sessions of casual usage. The rear panel sports a fingerprint sensor, which is a huge bonus for a budget segment phone. This adds convenience to the user experience, apart from including additional security. Overall, the build quality is good enough to prevent you from buying a case for this one.
However, you will be requiring a screen guard as the display misses out on any sort of scratch resistance protection. The display measures 5.2-inches and renders images at a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. Though it may look incapable on paper, it won't disappoint you in real-world scenarios. It produces images with average colours and contrasts, along with a decent amount of brightness levels. However, as with all budget smartphones, you will notice a tad bluish tint and a few viewing angles where colours seem washed out.
The 10.or D is just good enough to personally enjoy movies or photos, and not within a small group. A missing ambient light sensor is the biggest drawback here. It makes it inconvenient for the user to adjust the brightness levels, especially when on the move. However, if you are to consider the price tag, probably these shortcomings are usually justified.
Though a few feature areas may not sound as impressive, you would be happy to know that this phone stands apart from its rivals due to its fluid performance. Under the hood, this rookie houses a 1.4GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 chipset, which is known for its decent performance despite being high on energy efficiency. It is aided by up to 3GB of RAM and up to 32GB of onboard storage. There’s a dedicated micro SD card slot that also allows you to expand the storage area by 128GB, despite simultaneously using two SIM cards in it. Hybrid SIM is now a thing of the past — yes, you can now use both your SIM cards and a micro SD card at the same time, similar to Xiaomi's Redmi 5A. All of this is controlled by a stock Android 7.1.1 Nougat, which the company promises updates to Android 8.0 Oreo soon.
With a stock Android on board, the 10.or D has fewer loads on its shoulders as compared to some of its rivals that come with a completely overhauled or bloatware-filled custom UI. This means that despite having a chipset focused heavily on sipping power more efficiently, the 10.or D manages to put on a decent show under casual usage. We found little-to-no lag in opening apps as well as browsing through the interface. Casual games such as Candy Crush, Temple Run 2 and Shadow Fight 3 also worked without hiccups. However, push a tad more with resource-intensive apps as well as games and you will force the smartphone to run out of breath. Do note: The stock Android UI means that the 10.or D won’t allow UI customisations that one can experience on regular Android smartphones in this segment. There are a few pre-loaded apps from Amazon that many may not use. However, they can be removed if needed, to regain more storage space.
When it comes to photography, the 10.or D like every other entry-level smartphone throws the towel and calls it a day. A 13MP rear camera with PDAF and LED flash makes up the photography area but captures photos that can be at best termed as average. The photos lose out heavily on details, get overexposed in daylight and the dynamic range isn’t impressive. Low light photos deteriorate further and are best recommended for use only when you need a visual proof of something.
The 5MP selfie camera takes average selfies and comes with a set of beautification adjustments, which also failed to impress us. Overall, we felt that the camera on this smartphone is not one of its strong points even when you consider the price tag. Maybe a future software update could fetch better results with the 10.or D's shooter.
However, the 10.or D clenches back its honour in the battery department. There’s a 3500mAh battery that is claimed to provide up to two days of standby time. Casual usage scenarios such as making/receiving calls, texting, web surfing, video streaming and some light photography can let the 10.or D manage to last for a full day with ease.
To wrap it up, if you are hunting around for a highly affordable smartphone, then the 10.or D with its compelling specifications, clubbed with stock Android at Rs 5,999 could be your best bet. At this price, it still pronounces a better value over Xiaomi’s Redmi 5A, which is priced at Rs 1,000 higher. We applaud 10.or for doing a good job with the D’s build quality as well, setting the bar high for established rivals to follow. However, the camera and display are a few areas where 10.or needs to work on, where there's more room to grow. Nonetheless, if everyday performance and a good build quality are your concern for a daily smartphone, then the 10.or D makes a wise choice. If you want more than a conventional budget smartphone, then we recommend you to look at slightly higher-priced 10.or E or alike from the competition.