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).

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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.

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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.

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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

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3 comments :

  1. Hi my OCTA freezed and the screen turned black as I took a screenshot on it. All other keys don't function. What shall I do? Please help. Thank you.

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  2. Hi. Just upgraded my Starmobile OCTA from Jellybean to Kitkat. My problem is that I cannot use my bluetooth. After bluetooth is being slided open, it cannot detect any opened bluetooth. However, my friends' phones can detect mine, and after pairing, their phone says "To pair with Starmobile OCTA, make sure it is showing this passkey ****** (781516, for instance)". But my phone doesn't give any notification and it just keep on saying "No nearby Bluetooth devices were found". I have tried to restart my phone, but it doesn't solve my problem. My bluetooth earset cannot detect my phone as well. However I can use the ShareIt app just fine - I don't know if it has something to do with bluetooth. Will I be able to use bluetooth again thru my OCTA? Could you please give me some advices?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Sean! You probably suffered from a faulty update. Usually it's ideal to update from a clean OS, i.e. reformat your smartphone. In your case, you should bring this to a Starmobile service center for reflashing.

    ReplyDelete

 
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