These days, there’s little to no difference between smartphones in the budget segment. All of them have octa core processors with 3GB or 4GB of RAM and have decent camera sensors for good imaging. The purchase decision only boils down to the OS on offer — whether it’s a custom OS like that of MIUI on Xiaomi phones or like the stock Android on Motorola. It all depends on what kind of UI experience does one want.
10.or (pronounced as 'Tenor') is a new Chinese firm looking to eat into the share of the budget smartphone market in the country. Their first smartphone — the 10.or E, has been priced sub-Rs 10,000 and is available in two RAM and storage variants. Unlike majority budget smartphones, 10.or has preferred a stock Android OS on their very first offering, which is increasingly being adored by most smartphone users, even though they are attracted and even biased towards colourful and feature-rich custom operating systems. Does the 10.or E have what it takes to challenge the big boys in this segment — the Xiaomi Redmi 4 (Read its review here), Samsung J2 and the Moto E4? Let’s find out.
Budget smartphones have unarguably evolved as good looking devices in the recent times and the 10.or E is no exception. It certainly looks good with its clean and curvy design — there are no sharp edges on this smartphone. The rear panel is built using polycarbonate that mimics metal and imparts a satisfying feel of holding a metal-bodied phone in your hand. The fingerprint sensor has a quick response with absolutely no lags. Sadly, the volume and power buttons do not sport good tactility and are a tad unsatisfactory.
A plastic body also means no more 'vulgar' antenna lines on the rear and a clean look. We have to say that 10.or E’s fit and finish comes close to the high-end Nokia Lumia smartphones from the old days and smartphone enthusiasts could agree with us that it’s high praise.
The smartphone is dominated by a 5.5-inch full HD LCD display, protected by a 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3 — one of the few phones in this price range to offer a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution display. The display produces good contrasts and the colour reproduction is commendable as well. There’s no visible loss of colours or brightness when viewed from wider angles.
The 10.or E is built around a 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset, which does not slouch in the performance department. The high-end variant of the E (3GB/32GB) is aimed for multitasking users. The phone runs on the latest Android 7.1.2 Nougat build and the company confirms an Oreo update soon.
With stock Android, the smartphone shows no signs of lag or stutter on a day-to-day basis. Whether you are aimlessly flicking through apps and menus or simply using Nougat’s multi-window mode with two intensive tasks, the 10.or E accepts all abuses you could possibly throw at it.
Casual games such as NOVA Legacy and Temple Run 2 are also a non-issue for the smartphone; although, high-end titles tend to put the smartphone under some stress. Overall, the E along with a stock Android and negligible bloatware can easily rub shoulders with its rivals in the UI experience arena.
10.or has ensured that this commendable performance is backed by a good battery life. A 4000mAh battery fuels the 10.or E, leading you to forget about the charger for at least two days despite casual web browsing, gaming, video streaming and texting. It would have been nice if 10.or had packed in a fast charging option to top-up the battery quickly, but then we could be demanding a bit too much from a smartphone with a little price tag.
Another feature that deserves special mention on this smartphone is the camera. The 13MP rear camera is a joy to use for casual photography. Whether you are shooting macros or capturing landscapes, you will always get photos with good colour, contrasts, adequate brightness and decent sharpness. As with all budget smartphones, low-light conditions takes its toll on this camera too, resulting in noticeable grains and colour loss.
Despite the usual issues with low light, we would say that the camera on the 10.or E shines out, even faring better than some popular smartphones in this segment.
The 10.or E is a really good smartphone for the company to kick-off its innings in the crowded Indian smartphone market. The smartphone ticks all the right boxes for a budget smartphone — good day-to-day performance, good camera, great software and a good build. It is really hard not to recommend it over the more popular Redmi 4 or Moto E4 or Samsung Galaxy J2 unless you care about the brand and after-sales service. If you want a good budget smartphone with stock Android, then the 10.or E should be high up on your consideration list.
Specifications at a glance:
CPU: 1.4GHZ octa core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430, ( 4 x 1.2 GHz Cortex A53 + 4 x 1.5 GHz Cortex A53) 64-bit processor
GPU: Adreno 505
Display: 5.5-inch full HD LCD
Camera: 13MP rear with LED flash, 5MP front
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE Cat4 150/50 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot; Bluetooth 4.2, A2DP, LE; microUSB 2.0
Operating system: Android Nougat 7.1.2
Dimensions: 78 x154x8.5mm
Price: 2GB/16GB @ Rs 7,999; 3GB/32GB @ Rs 8,999...