Kata M2L Review

Smartphones featuring LTEs aren't new - they have been out locally for at least a few years now. There's also the fact that our local speeds aren't even improving (but that's another story). But how would you like to have an updated LTE device that goes by the name Kata M2L? We had a test-drive with the device for a couple of weeks. Here's our review.

Design

The Kata M2L on the getgo features a design language similar to today's contemporary phones. It's a cross between the face of an iPhone, the rear of a Samsung, and the feel of a mid-range Huawei (it's actually been mistaken by other people as the iPhone 6 Plus). Nothing special or groundbreaking to see here, just another smartphone which looks very pretty. It's nice to hold in the hands, not slippery, not a fingerprint magnet, and not too heavy. It's an otherwise ideal smartphone handling-wise.


The face of the device features a 5.5-inch HD IPS display (which the company bills as "Super HD"), three soft-touch buttons, a discreet earpiece, and an 8-megapixel front camera. The back meanwhile carries a 13-megapixel rear with a LED flash, and two Kata logos. The external speaker is located at the bottom half side of the device, while the 3.5mm headphone jack directly lies parellel above it - beside of which is the microUSB 2.0 terminal. Additonally, you won't find any SIM card slots at the sides as it's located near the camera sensor and the battery compartment.


Overall device build is pretty solid: The device has legitimate heft, and the make is detailed. The only part of the Kata M2L I have a gripe with is its flimsy back cover. It's something to the point that may break into two if you pull the cover with too much power. It's also advantageous to consumers that the battery is removable (enabling you to replace the battery on your own, in case it conks on you), and that the SIM cards are circa-2013 in style (mini and micro SIM setup).

Display

The Kata M2L features a 5.5-inch Super HD IPS OGS display (1280x720 display resolution, 320 dpi) - great real estate for tiny-screen movie viewers and power users. And although it looks like it, the display's glass isn't of the enhanced variety so to speak (not Gorilla Glass or Dragontrail) - at least not that we know of. Besides, it wasn't even mentioned in their marketing materials. On a minor note, I've been using my Kata M2L without a screen guard, and it's so far so good. No microscratches or whatever.


The device's display - paltry compared to today's superfine FHD flagship smartphones, at least in paper - is sharp, crisp, and super bright (you can use the device's display as a flashlight when walking in the dark. That's how bright it is. And it will blind you if you use it on its brightest on nighttime environments). Your eyes won't have problems adjusting between a flagship's 1080p and with the M2L's 720p because of the previously mentioned.

Its whites has a tendency to sport a bluish hue - and that's normal in the realm of mid-range, Chinese-produced devices - but the device is color accurate for the most part. We also appreciate the saturation of the device, making blues, greens, and reds look glowing and lively - something that helps emphasize image realism on photos captured.

Color accuracy aside, the Kata M2L's display provides for up to 3-point multitouch, which coincidentally is the finger combination for the swipe down screenshot. We'd normally prefer up to 5-points as a minimum, but at this point in time nobody pretty much cares how many touchpoints a device boasts so long as it accommodates the user's needs.


The Kata M2L runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop, and features a slightly modified version of the operating system. Two other things are missing here: on-screen buttons (it's replaced by soft-touch buttons in the M2L) and an effective tap-to-wake/sleep feature.

Performance

Device performance is nothing if not of acceptable caliber with the Kata M2L. It features MediaTek's MT6735 quad-core processor clocked in at 1.3GHz, has a Mali-T720 for a GPU, and has 1GB of RAM and 16GB onboard storage. Again, the specifications fall short with today's expectations (most are always looking forward to devices with the most cores and as cheap as possible), but at the end of the day the bottom line always is user experience.

UX-wise, the Kata M2L has some difficulties on the getgo. The 1GB RAM allocation encounters difficulties running multiple apps in the background - especially those that require constant background activity, such as the bundled apps that come with the device (Amazon Video and WPS Office are primary culprits). The device stopped choking regularly once we identified the apps that clog the system.

After doing the above, we had an as-expected experience with the M2L - that is, it was fast and capable of handling most items that were thrown in its way. Here's what we got in the benchmarks.


It's fair to say that the M2L still excels relative within the local, mid-range category.

Audio and Video

In relation to the display segment of this review, we'll just further confirm that high definition video playback with the Kata M2L results in a good experience - provided that the item you'll play back is of equivalent quality or higher. As an example, observe the details of the smoke being produced by the rocketship below. A minor concern here is when you skip parts of an HD video: it takes at least half a second or more to load to the skipped segment.


Another feature we appreciate in the Kata M2L is its Cast screen function. While most Lollipop devices already carry the said feature, we enjoyed it mostly on the M2L as it quickly identifies and connects to a Miracast-ready device and immediately mirrors the display on a TV.

Audio-wise, the Kata M2L has its external speaker pointed at the bottom of the device (near the microUSB port) with an iPhone-styled speaker hole. For the sake of aesthetics and uniformity, it would've been better if the other side of the device also carried speaker holes even if it's just for display. That aside, the external speaker plays relatively loud and clear - something that's very welcome at this product segment. Y ou won't have a hard time listening to it, though admittedly the lows are missing.

The earpiece reproduces conversations clearly.

Gaming

You might ask, would a Mediatek quad-core smartphone with 1GB RAM be able to run today's hottest games? The answer is - and to my surprise - yes and no. One big highlight of the Kata M2L in terms of gaming is it being able to play The Room 3. This game is one of the badder games listed on Google Play - because of its 3D gameplay and whatnot, that even devices with higher specs on paper may have a hard time running it. This is for the "yes" part.

Here's the device playing Tomb Raider Go and Hitman: Sniper.


For the "no" part - and to my dismay - the Kata M2L wasn't able to run NBA 2K16 after multiple retries. Specifically, the game will go up to the loading screen, but will force close once it tries to draw the basketball court and the characters. Then again, this game choke outs even devices with higher specs on paper.

The above aside, the Kata M2L should be able to play N.O.V.A. 3, Modern Combat 5, and Hearthstone without much difficulty.

The device heats up after a few minutes of gameplay, especially around the camera area.

Camera


The Kata M2L features a 13-megapixel rear camera with AF & LED flash, and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. As mentioned previously, the M2L's camera build seems inspired by Samsung devices, though one can spot the company's fish logo miles away. Build aside, the images reproduced by the device looks good, warm, and is correctly-saturated. It can also capture images in nighttime environments, though to a lesser degree of detail and accuracy. Alternately, environments with extreme light sources also tend to wash out details, though again, to a minor degree. Sample images below:


The camera dashboard being utilized by the Kata M2L is stock Android, and as such carries stock photo editing features, such as color filters, basic crops, and the like.


The camera shutter is quick enough to capture moments, while the loadtimes from the drawer to the camera app takes at least a second or more, especially so when you have many background apps running, in which the situation most likely is the 1GB RAM getting choked.

Battery

The Kata M2L is marketed as having a 3000mAh Li-ion battery (removable via the back panel). However, a benchmark we used rated the battery at 2000mAh. This part of the review will operate on the assumption that the battery rating is indeed at 3000mAh.


We encountered calibration issues with the battery. It needed a few drain cycles, as not running such makes the device suddenly shut down even if the battery meter displays 40%. It's a minor concern that can be easily addressed.

The above considered and done, the juice will last you up to 8 hours on a full charge (100 to 0) on moderate usage - that is, both SIMs are on, data connectivity is active, brightness is at 50%, volume is on a maximum, and you're playing bouts of gaming and browsing social media every now and then.


You can improve the device's battery life by turning off unneeded SIMs and disabling data services when not needed.

Verdict


If you're looking for a good-looking, up-to-date (software-wise), and budget LTE smartphone, we recommend considering the Kata M2L. It can service anyone from casuals to heavy users from viewing videos, gaming, and browsing the web at 4G internet speeds. That plus the images it captures are detailed and can go head-on with other local mid-rangers makes it a definite contender.

Kata M2L Specifications

OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Processor: MediaTek MT6735 1.3GHz 64-bit quad-core processor, Mali-T720 GPU
Memory: 1GB RAM, 16GB onboard storage, microSD expandable up to 32GB
Connectivity: 3G HSPA+, 4G LTE; WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi hotspot; Bluetooth 4.0; GPS; microUSB 2.0, USB OTG
Display: 5.5-inch Super HD IPS OGS display, 1280x720 display resolution, 320 dpi
Camera: 13-megapixel rear camera w/ AF, LED flash; 8-megapixel front-facing camera
SIM: Dual SIM (1 standard SIM, 1 microSIM)
Battery: 3000mAh Li-ion battery, removable
Dimensions: 78.6x156x8.9 mm, 166 g
Colors: White and gold trim
Price: PHP 6,999

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1 comment :

  1. Very informative review sir. I got mine a week ago. I also experienced some battery issues similar in your review. Now the problem I'm facing is when the phone battery enters 15% mark. It will drain in a minute, have you encountered that? Thanks

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