Starmobile OCTA Review

The Starmobile OCTA sports an octa-core processor, NFC, and wireless charging. Here's our review.

MyPhone Agua Infinity Review

MyPhone's first octa-core processor, the Agua Infinity, features an octa-core processor and a metal frame. Here's our review.

JBL Synchros S300i Review

For a pair of space-looking headphones, the JBL Synchros S300i sounds nice. Check out our review.

Jabra Revo Review

The Jabra Revo is an affordable pair of cans with a lot of performance to back it up. Review after the jump.

AKG K495 NC Review

For a pair of cans just under P20,000, does the K495 NC's performance justify the price even in 2014? Read our AKG K495 NC review.

Philippine Star App by Pagesuite Review

I was recently checking out digital versions of big newspaper publications at our local App Store - of course, to keep updated with the rest of the country - when I stumbled upon the Philippine Star app for iOS.

For a news app, I'm fairly impressed by the fluidity of the transitions from page to page, the overall look of the UI, the user-friendliness of the UI, and the quick shareability mechanisms integrated within the app itself. Let's break it down one by one:

User interface

Following on the flat looks of the iOS, the Philippine Star app pulls off a very clean white look while maintaining structure in a very orderly fashion. The front page features the headlines, quickly followed by other news, seemingly modeled after RSS feeds. Swiping up and down will show you a column of news by order of date and time published.

The app features the trademark Philippine Star yellow, blue, and white colors, which would always remind you of the app's paper version. It's awesome in a way, because I'd never lose my love for things written in paper.


Another feature I appreciate is the large descriptive photos attached to every article. These add to the context of each story, e.g. You won't know how a building developed by Juan Dela Cruz looks if a photo of it isn't attached to the story. There's also this live weather widget in the app that would bring you your locality's updated weather for the day (although I think it's more of a novelty than of function because your phone itself tells you the weather for the day, provided it's connected to the internet).

User friendliness

Among the highlights I found in the Philippine Star app is its ease of use and fairly minimal learning curve. It took me just a few minutes to understand the swiping functions of the app, such as swiping to the left brings out a menu full of news categories, ranging from front page news, to entertainment, to sports. The only category I found missing in here is the tech area (as it's also pretty useful for tech people like me).


Navigation was very easy to understand. As mentioned, swiping to the left brings about a slew of categories. If you're not the type to navigate orderly though, you can just swipe right and explore the news as it loads in your screen. Each category has around 7 articles each (more or less, and it updates every day).

Optimization

I appreciated the high optimization of the Philippine Star app, even for a small 4-inch display: it's fluid in every aspect, from swipes up to left and right; loading times of images and text were wonderful; the news text are adjustable (unlike the ABS CBN news app I formerly used which was a pain in the eyes to deal with, lacking so much customization options); the colors and the color scheme aren't heavy to the eyes. For its part, I think the app successfully captures in digitizing its newspaper counterpart. And that's great for consumers.


Shareability

In this day and age, sharing the hottest and the latest is key. With just a press of a button, you can share the news contained within the app to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. If you're the type to share it through email though, there's also the mail option in there.


Verdict

All in all, the Philippine Star app for iOS is a godsend in terms of news apps. It does its job wonderfully - that is, to bring news. But in bringing news, it delivers it with great, traditional newspaper flair - something that's unseen in most news apps, with their fancy alternating square designs and 3D flipping pages (which tend to choke on lower-end phones). These said, I'll keep using this app for the meantime. You can say I'd personally expect more updates from Philippine Star.

Official Facebook account: http://www.facebook.com/ThePhilippineSTAR

Official Twitter account: http://www.twitter.com/PhilippineSTAR

Pagesuite App download links:

iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/ph/app/the-philippine-star/id490078018?mt=8
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pagesuite.phillipinestar

MyPhone Infinity Lite Introduced, 4.7-inch Octa-core KitKat for P7,999

Hot off the heels of the MyPhone Ocean Pro Elite and the MyPhone Agua Infinity, local mobile company MyPhone recently introduced the MyPhone Infinity Lite, a 4.7-inch smartphone that boasts an HD display, a 1.4GHz octa-core processor, a 1GB RAM, and runs on Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box. The upside of the Infinity Lite is its micro SD slot, which was sorely missing from its big brother, the MyPhone Agua Infinity. The downside of this device, sadly, is its 2000mAh battery rating (if history is to be any basis though, the Infinity Lite's battery has the potential to perform as good as the Agua Infinity's 2350mAh battery). The lower CPU clock rate should be negligible, and so is the 8-megapixel camera - that is, if the sensor used is competitive.

MyPhone Infinity Lite Specs Price, MyPhone Infinity Lite Octa Core

Related: MyPhone Agua Infinity review

Specs aside, the MyPhone Infinity Lite should sport the same appeal as the Agua Infinity, that being a slim, slate form factor which pretty much looks like an iPhone 5S, a Starmobile Knight, or if you like it, the Xiaomi Mi 4. An attractive-looking smartphone plus an attractive price-point paired with attractive specifications should make a good seller for MyPhone.

Priced at P7,999 (SRP), the MyPhone Infinity Lite is among the Philippines' most affordable octa-core smartphones, in line with the SKK Kraken (P7,999), the Qube Colonnia (P8,999), and the Cherry Mobile Magnum S (P9,999). Also at this price point is the recently released ASUS Zenfone 5 (P6,495), which is a beast in its own right.

MyPhone Infinity Lite Specifications

OS: Android 4.4.2 KitKat
Processor: 1.4GHz MT6592 octa-core processor, Mali-450MP4 GPU
Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB internal stoage, microSD expandable up to 32GB
Display: 4.7-inch HD IPS display, 312ppi
Camera: 8-megapixel rear camera with AF & flash, 5-megapixel front-facing camera
Connectivity: HSPA+, 3G, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth, GPS w/ A-GPS
SIM: Dual SIM, dual standby
Battery: 2000mAh non-removable Li-ion battery
Colors: Black, white

Gameloft's Modern Combat 5: Blackout Now Available at Google Play Store for P316.16

Gameloft's top first person shooter series, Modern Combat, comes back hot off the press with its latest offering, Modern Combat 5: Blackout. The FPS is now as expansive as ever, offering 4 customizable classes, character level and skill progression, offline and online experience, squad matches, and in-game limited time events.

Gameloft Modern Combat 5 Blackout Philippines

As for the storyline, players will find themselves in the role of Caydan Phoenix, a special operations soldier, fighting against foes such as the World Liberation Army and the Gilman Security Special Forces, from Venice to Tokyo.

Modern Combat 5: Blackout will not be cross-platform, meaning players in iOS, Android, and Windows Phone operating systems cannot play against each other in multiplayer. The good news is that the game is strictly pay-to-play as against the heavily disliked freemium model. The game also supports HID controllers.

Modern Combat 5: Blackout is now available at the Google Play Store for P316.16 ($6.99), and is about 910MB big.

Cherry Mobile Tegra Note 7 Launched, 7" Tegra 4-Powered Tablet for P9,999

Cherry Mobile, in partnership with Nvidia, recently announced the company's newest tablet member, the Cherry Mobile Tegra Note 7. The device sports a 7-inch HD display, boasts Nvidia's Tegra 4 processor, and has a whopping 4100mAh in battery life, making the Tegra Note 7 a prime candidate for mobile gaming. The gaming tablet also features a stylus.

Cherry Mobile Tegra Note 7 Specs Price Philippines, Tegra 4 Quad Core Processor

Cherry Mobile Tegra Note 7 Specs Antutu Benchmark Philippines

Cherry Mobile Tegra Note 7 Specifications

OS: Android 4.4 KitKat
Processor: 1.8GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4+1 processor, 72-core Nvidia GeForce GPU
Memory: 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, microSD expandable up to 32GB
Display: 7-inch HD (720p) WXGA IPS display, 1280 x 800 resolution, 216ppi
Camera: 5-megapixel rear camera, 0.3-megapixel front-facing VGA camera
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, micro HDMI, micro USB 2.0, GPS w/ GLONASS
Battery: 4100mAh Li-ion battery
Dimensions: 199 x 119 x 9.6mm, 320g

The Cherry Mobile Tegra Note 7 is now available for P9,999 (SRP) at Cherry Mobile concept stores, kiosks, and partner establishments.

Nokia Lumia 930 Now Available, Features Snapdragon 800, LTE at P29,990

Microsoft Mobile Devices Philippines recently announced the availability of the Nokia Lumia 930 in the Philippines. If a few months ago they announced the Lumia 630 and emphasized its dual SIM feature, they're pitching the Lumia 930 as a device that delivers "the ultimate video and imaging experience on a smartphone."


The Nokia Lumia 930 sports a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, a 2GB RAM, a 32GB internal storage a 5-inch 1080p OLED display, and a 20-megapixel PureView camera. It also features wireless charging, a list of Lumia-exclusive apps such as the HERE maps, and the latest Windows Phone 8.1 OS.

The Nokia Lumia 930 is now available on major Microsoft Mobile Devices partner establishments for P29,990 (SRP) - quite a hefty price tag for a rather silently announced smartphone.

Nokia Lumia 930 Specifications

OS: Windows Phone 8.1
Processor: 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, Adreno 330 GPU
Memory: 2GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, no micro SD slot
Display: 5-inch Full HD (1080p) AMOLED display, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 441ppi, Gorilla Glass 3, ClearBlack display,
Camera: 20-megapixel rear camera wth Carl Zeiss optics, OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), and dual-LED flash, 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera
Connectivity: HSPA+, LTE Cat. 4, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0 w/ A2DP, NFC, microUSB 2.0
SIM: Nano SIM
Battery: 2420 Li-ion battery
Dimensions: 137 x 71 x 9.8 mm, 94.7cm, 167g

Xiaomi Mi 4 Unveiled, Boasts 1080p Display, 3GB RAM, IR Blaster, LTE for $320

Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi, at an event earlier this week, have finally unveiled the much awaited Xiaomi Mi 4. This comes after leaks and teasers from the Asian company in its social media sites and other fellows privy with the device.

Xiaomi Mi 4 Philippines

The Xiaomi Mi 4, which a few days ago was teased as "The Journey of a Piece of Steel", sports a 1080p display, a Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked in at 2.5GHz, a sizeable 3GB RAM, LTE connectivity (finally!), and a 3080mAh battery. It also boasts a 13-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel "selfie" camera, and a 16GB internal storage. And as a bonus, you also get an IR blaster - which up to this point we're not sure on which TVs it will work on - and swappable covers, just like how Motorola did it with the Moto X. Design-wise, consumers as well as tech pundits have been commenting on how the Mi 4 heavily resembles the Apple iPhone 5/5S, to which I answer, "have you see the MyPhone Agua Infinity? I guess not."

Xiaomi Mi 4 Interchangeable back covers where to buy

The device will be available for pre-order in China as early as July 29. Considering that there's already an official Xiaomi presence here in the Philippines, the Mi 4's local release shouldn't be far off the map.

The Xiaomi Mi 4 will sell for around $320 for the 16GB version, and about $400 for the 64GB version (and yes, the Mi 4 doesn't come with a micro SD card slot, so expandable storage is out of the question). We're estimating that this beast will sell for around P12,000, just because the Mi 3 got offered for P10,599 a pop.

ASUS Zenfone 4, 5, 6 Officially Launched, Introduced with Aggressive Pricing

After months of waiting, ASUS Philippines have finally launched the ASUS Zenfones 4, 5, and 6 in the Philippines. The Zenfone trifecta are best known for its multi-threading Intel processors and budget pricing. What's most surprising in the launch held at Hyve, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig though, is the very aggressive pricing of the ASUS Zenfones locally. ASUS representative Lenny Lin has mentioned that the succeeding pricing scheme were due to the very competitive market here in the Philippines. Pricing below:

(Click image to enlarge)


ASUS Zenfone 4 (A400CXG 8GB) - P3,999
ASUS Zenfone 5 (A501CG 8GB) - P6,495
ASUS Zenfone 6 (A601CG 16GB) - P11,995

Among the highlights of all the ASUS Zenfones are its Gorilla Glass 3 displays, the newly-developed Zen UI (stylized as ZenUI), and its PixelMaster cameras. ASUS's own Zen UI boasts flat icons, vivid animations, and a good layout to boot, increasing usability of devices. With regards to camera, the Zenfones, on top of its "Selfie" mode and Depth-of-Field mode, are able to easily capture images on low-light environments, thanks to the PixelMaster camera technology.

ASUS Zenfone 4 Specifications

OS: Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, upgradable to 4.4.2 KitKat, Zen UI
Processor: 1.2GHz Intel Atom Z2520 dual-core processor, PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU
Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage, microSD expandable up to 64GB
Display: 4-inch TFT display, 480 x 800 resolution, 233ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Camera: 5-megapixel rear camera with PixelMaster camera technology & autofocus, 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera
Connectivity: HSDPA, 42.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0 w/ A2DP & EDR, microUSB 2.0, GPS w/ A-GPS & GLONASS
SIM: Micro SIM, dual standby
Battery: 1200mAh Li-Po battery
Dimensions: 124.4 x 61.4 x 6.3-11.2mm, 115g
Colors: Charcoal Black, Pearl White, Cherry Red, Sky Blue, Solar Yellow

ASUS Zenfone 5 Specifications

OS: Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, upgradable to 4.4.2 KitKat, Zen UI
Processor: 2GHz Intel Atom Z2580 dual-core processor, PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU
Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage, microSD expandable up to 64GB
Display: 5-inch HD (720p) IPS display, 1280 x 720 resolution, 294ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Camera: 8-megapixel rear camera with PixelMaster camera technology, autofocus, & LED flash, 2-megapixel front-facing camera
Connectivity: HSDPA, 42.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0 w/ A2DP & EDR, microUSB 2.0, GPS w/ A-GPS & GLONASS
SIM: Micro SIM, dual standby
Battery: 2110mAh Li-Po battery, non-removable
Dimensions: 148.2 x 72.8 x 5.5-10.3mm, 145 g
Colors: Charcoal Black, Pearl White, Cherry Red, Champagne Gold, Twilight Purple

ASUS Zenfone 6 Specifications

OS: 4.3 Jelly Bean, upgradable to 4.4.2 KitKat, Zen UI
Processor: 2GHz Intel Atom Z2580 dual-core processor, PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU
Memory: 1/2 GB RAM, 8/16/32 GB internal storage, microSD expandable up to 64GB
Display: 6-inch HD (720p) IPS+ display, 1280 x 720 resolution, 245ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Camera: 13-megapixel rear camera with PixelMaster camera technology, autofocus, & LED flash, 2-megapixel front-facing camera
Connectivity: HSDPA, 42.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0 w/ A2DP & EDR, microUSB 2.0, GPS w/ A-GPS & GLONASS
SIM: Micro SIM, dual standby
Battery: 3300mAh Li-Po battery, non-removable
Dimensions: 166.9 x 84.3 x 5.5-9.9mm, 196g
Colors: Charcoal Black, Pearl White, Cherry Red, Champagne Gold

Lenny Lin, ASUS Philippines representative
The ASUS Zenfones 4, 5, and 6 are available at all ASUS kiosks and major partner establishments. ASUS is also the company who manufactured the PadFone Infinities 1 and 2, the FonePad, the Nexus 7, and the Nexus 7-2.

Starmobile OCTA Review

With all the local octa-core launches as of late, smartphone brands find it increasingly difficult to differentiate their products from competitors, especially that the MT6592 chipset plus standard fare specs are what most octa-core devices feature anyway. Among these, I like to believe that one smartphone stands out among the rest, in terms of features offered - the Starmobile OCTA.

The Starmobile OCTA is Starmobile's second octa-core smartphone, right after the huge Diamond X1. On top of flagship-tier hardware, the OCTA also features other - perhaps novelty - technology in nascent adoption, that smartphone users and enthusiasts will definitely appreciate. This smartphone has also created controversy for being the first locally-branded device to break past the P15,000 mark, which is in itself a statement. Here's our review for the Starmobile OCTA.

Design

The Starmobile OCTA is surely one of the best lookers in the local mobile fray. It comes with that trademark Starmobile flair; one look and you'll know it's from this company. It's clean and simple, design wise, but is a little thick for flagship smartphones in this period (after all, a few months in smartphone time is like 2 years in human time, That's how quick they change). Regardless, the OCTA is a beautiful smartphone.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android

Onto the device itself, the Starmobile OCTA's front boasts a 5-inch 1080p display, 3 soft touch buttons (the markers of which are designed in a dot pattern), an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with flash, an earpiece, a proximity sensor, and a notification LED. The OCTA is among the select local devices which front-facing camera is paired with a flash mechanism, ensuring "selfies" and other camera shots are well-illuminated, even in the dark. The notification LED meanwhile, blinks three colors: Green, blue, and red. The flow of features in the front blend well.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android

The rear side meanwhile carries an 18-megapixel rear camera with a dual LED flash positioned at the top center area, and the loudspeaker located at the bottom center area. This area is particularly clean, as with all Starmobile smartphones, with only the brand logo in the middle (I love the brand's consistency with all their smart devices). Beneath the non-removable shell you can find both the NFC and wireless charging mechanisms.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android

The left side features two micro-SIM slots, operating similarly to the MyPhone Agua Infinity (there's a tray you need to remove by inserting a SIM tray pin to a hole). The right side meanwhile features the color-matched sleep/wake button and volume rocker. The top side is where you can find the 3.5mm audio jack; the bottom side carries the microUSB/charging slot and what possibly is a mic/reset button (since you can't remove the OCTA's battery on the very rare occassion it freezes).

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android

The Starmobile OCTA boasts a unibody design, with an aluminum frame at the front and a smooth matte finish at the plastic rear. It has enough weight and heft that it doesn't feel cheap nor too bulky. Handling-wise, its curved back contour helps with grip and comfort at the palms.

Display

The Starmobile OCTA sports a 5-inch Full HD IPS display with One Glass Solution, and is equipped with the scratch-resistant Asahi Glass. The screen runs on a 1920 x 1080 resolution, and has a pixel density of 440 pixels per inch. As big as its display is though, the Starmobile OCTA only has 5 multitouch points, contrary to what we're used to with other flagships at 10.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android

At 1080p, the Starmobile OCTA's display are crisp and clear. It projects details to the screen in high definition, similar to what you can find in most octa-cores today,  though nowhere near the levels of say, the LG G3's QHD display. That said, even I can't differentiate the former and latter's resolutions, save for warmth and saturation. Speaking of saturation, the Starmobile OCTA's display has an acceptable saturation rate, with objects being reproduced on the screen looking natural and warm. However, the device's display can definitely do much better on some respects. With regards to color accuracy, the OCTA tends to reproduce whites with a slight tinge of blue (safe to say this has been an issue with most IPS displays). Conversely, its display can produce good blacks, though not as good as a high-end Lumia's deep black. Contrast-wise, objects are still visible against dark environments generated on-screen.


The Starmobile OCTA operates on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, which is reportedly upgradeable to 4.4 KitKat. It has a slightly modified stock Android UI, with only minor changes on icons detectable. Other than that, Jelly Bean UI from messaging to the system settings remain stock.

Taps on the display were detected accurately.

Performance

The Starmobile OCTA boasts a 1.7GHz MT6592 octa-core processor, a Mali-450MP4 GPU, and a sizeable 2GB RAM. The chipset is currently the best that MediaTek offers, and is about on par with a Snapdragon 600. As with most devices that carry the MT6592, the OCTA is a speed demon in most respects - it didn't have any issue with anything we threw at it, and it just rightly should.

If you're the type to fancy benchmark scores like yours truly, here's what we got from top benchmarking applications.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android, Antutu Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android, Quadrant Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android, Vellamo Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android, 3D Mark Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android, Base Mark Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android, NenaMark

Judging from the results above, the Starmobile OCTA is essentially as powerful as a Samsung Galaxy S4, which is a year-old technology to say the least. However, this can be justified by the relatively low selling price of the former, also provided the additional features in place. On a side note, we ran a few benchmarks on a live Xiaomi Mi3, and the results were around the same with the OCTA.

Usage-wise, the Starmobile OCTA provided a great experience. Navigating through the system and opening and running apps then switching to another app in the background were all smooth. What took home the prize for the most irritating in-phone event is the frequent crashing of the Facebook app. I personally wonder why of all bugs a smartphone can produce, it's the Facebook app the OCTA crashes on. Starmobile has acknowledged this error and is reportedly working on a fix to be delivered via an over-the-air update.

The Starmobile OCTA unit I tested also seemingly had issues on connectivity. SIM 1 network signals randomly dropped to zero then gets restored after a few seconds. There's also the issue of data connection dropping randomly, even though the smartphone was being used in data-covered areas. Lastly, the OCTA experienced extreme difficulty in connecting to GPS, even in wide open spaces, sometimes taking as long as three minutes to get a lock, only to lose GPS lock after a couple of minutes later. All these said, these issues may be isolated to the unit I reviewed; a lemon unit is never out of the question.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android

The Starmobile OCTA's two micro SIM slots have an interchangeable 3G feature, and supports up to 3.5G HSPA+. Most local dual SIM smartphones only have 3G/2G in SIM 1 and 2G only in SIM 2.

As promising as the Starmobile OCTA is, its performance is limited by its fixed 32GB internal storage (no microSD card slot). It's by no means small, but seeing how the local market loves to fill their smartphones with movies, music, and whatnot, it will surely fill up rather quick. Plus, good Android games clock in by the gigabytes, another memory hog to watch out for. Fortunately, the device has USB OTG support, so you can just plug in a USB and swap files on the fly.

Audio and Video

With a 1080p display and a formidable hardware, the Starmobile OCTA reproduces videos smoothly, even on its stock video player. All the elements discussed in the display section of this review also hold true when playing videos, provided the file being played is high definition. No ghosting is visible wherever in the system; speedy transitions inside videos are of no problem with the device; no skipping are observable with videos being played.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android

The external loudspeaker located at the back of the OCTA plays sounds nicely. It's about the same level as other octa-core devices I've tested, and that makes it acceptable, at least for me. Other people might not take it nicely since the OCTA has such a premium price that it's not unacceptable to expect more. These said, the loudspeaker plays with a strong volume, but lacks power and depth. Highs and mids are there, though as usual, the bass is barely detectable. In this respect, HTC's One line (and perhaps its shoot-offs) stand untoppled in the loudspeaker department.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android

Audio quality on headphones sound like the industry average - that is, absolutely normal, unless something sounds out of place. The Starmobile OCTA is CTIA-compliant, meaning you can play just about most mid-range to high-end headphones with it. However, there's this issue when you enable the Audio Enhancer option at the audio settings: It felt like enabling the option powers up the sound while decreasing overall bass, making the sound produced tinny. It seems that the Audio Enhancer honestly tries to enhance the audio being played, but it just plainly doesn't succeed. Without the option enabled though, everything sounds great. As a side note, the stock headphones included with the device sounds just that - stock.

Making and receiving calls with the Starmobile OCTA are also great. Sound delivered from the earpiece is clean, clear, and full. 

Gaming

Another aspect the Starmobile OCTA excels in is in playing games. With an eight core processor and 2GB of RAM, the OCTA can and will run everything at full speed without choking. To be fair, other octa-core devices with the same configuration probably would produce the same experience.

One of my new favorite stress test games is the Edge ot Tomorrow FPS. It has multiple elements running on the background, and puts a huge load on a smartphone's resources. It crashes on phones that can't handle it even before the initial loading screen of the game (it crashed on a few local quad-core smartphones I've tested it with). On phones that are able to run it though, most of them experience choking, but definitely not the Starmobile OCTA. The OCTA ran Edge of Tomorrow smoothly and consistently, without skipping frames or lagging.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android

Another favorite of mine is the Asphalt 8 racing game, particularly because it has a very colorful environment, and similarly puts a huge load on available resources. Suffice to say, the Starmobile OCTA ran the game smoothly and without any problems.

For what it's worth, this smartphone warms up relatively quickly when you're playing resource-intense games. The heat produced is tolerable, but it gets annoying after some time.

Camera

The Starmobile OCTA sports an 18-megapixel rear camera with BSI (Back Sensor Illumination), auto-focus, and a dual LED flash. Although it's a given that the camera is interpolated, it nevertheless captures wonderful looking images. Photos taken are sharp, crisp, and has an acceptable level of detail. However, there's room for additional warmth and saturation to make images appear more natural. Noise and blur levels meanwhile more are observable on photos taken in dark and night-time environments than in well-lit and indoor environments.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android

Raw sample photos below.


The 8-megapixel front-facing camera - equipped with BSI and LED flash - behaves the same, but the advantage it offers is that you can capture images in dark environments without flipping the camera to the rear side just to get your image illuminated.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android, Camera

The stock camera UI features stock Android filters and other imaging modes such as Panorama and HDR.

Battery

Powering the Starmobile OCTA's hardware is a non-removable Li-ion battery rated at 2300mAh. The battery department admittedly is a weakness of the device, as above average usage (gaming, browsing via data connection) kicks the battery down to 10% in about 6 1/2 hours, even with the CPU Power Saving Mode feature enabled. This provided, the device can last up to 11 hours with regular but conservative usage. Charging time takes approximately 2 - 2 1/2 hours, and longer in wireless charging mode.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android, Battery Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android, Battery

Seeing that the Starmobile OCTA is a unibody smartphone, you can't swap batteries on the fly if ever you run out of juice. It's suggested that you always bring a power bank with you, for those important crunch times and the like.

Other Features

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android, NFC

One of the additional features of the Starmobile OCTA is its NFC (Near Field Communications) equipment. This enables the OCTA to read and write at objects and devices with NFC. It's not a new technology, but adoption rates have been low at best. What this feature offers though is ease of exchange of data and use. Say, you meet someone who owns an NFC-enabled smartphone, you can exchange contact details and other information by simply tapping your smartphones with each other. Also, the Starmobile OCTA can automatically execute commands on its own by reading an NFC chip with the correct instructions. Sidenote: Starmobile offers NFC chips for P150 a piece.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android, Wireless Charging

The Starmobile OCTA also offers Wireless Charging using the Qi technology. It sounds more of a novelty coming from a local brand, but as our tests point out, it's pretty useful, save for the longer charging time versus when charging plugged in a wall. Worth mentioning is the proper positioning you need to place the OCTA on the wireless charger. If you place the device sideways or any other way, the wireless charging would not execute. The wireless charger also doubles as a bluetooth speaker. It sounds just okay. 


Starmobile also installed value-added applications such as their own Starmobile-branded App Store (similar to Cherry Mobile's Cherry Market) and Starmobile Sync, an app which will retrieve your contacts from another smartphone via Bluetooth.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android, Wireless Update

Lastly, the Starmobile OCTA supports over-the-air updates, just like how a flagship should.

Verdict

The Starmobile OCTA is perhaps the first local Android smartphone to offer an octa-core processor, NFC, and wireless charging all rolled into one, and it deserves to be recognized with this feat. It's definitely a respectable flagship that can compete with international devices not only in raw power, but in additional features as well. It's good that Starmobile took extra steps to ensure such a beast roams the Philippines, as personally I wouldn't have it any other way.

Starmobile OCTA Review, Octa-Core Android

The above said, the Starmobile OCTA isn't without weaknesses. Its battery life is a challenge to handle, its GPS and network signals is difficult to deal with (provided this isn't an isolated issue with my review unit), and its quirks with Facebook, though minor, is annoying at times, especially when you have to manually log in at the mobile Facebook site because you need to respond to Facebook chats.

If you're looking for something gorgeous to use around that's powerful and rich in features, the Starmobile OCTA is a good bet. It's on par with other powerful devices for around half the price. It's available at Starmobile kiosks and partner stores for a price of P15,990 SRP (old price: P16,990).

Starmobile OCTA Specifications

OS: Android 4.2.2 KitKat
Processor: 1.7GHz MediaTek MT6592 octa-core processor, Mali-450MP4 GPU
Memory: 2GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, no microSD card slot
Display: 5-inch Full HD (1080p) OGS IPS display, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 440ppi, scratch resistant Asahi Glass
Camera: 18-megapixel rear camera with AF, BSI, and dual LED flash, 8-megapixel front-facing camera with BSI and LED flash
Connectivity: 3G, HSPA+, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, GPS, USB OTG, NFC, MHL, Wireless Charging
SIM: Dual micro SIM, dual standby
Battery: 2300mAh Li-ion battery, non-removable
Colors: Red, black