REVIEW: Kingzone Z1
If you're willing to buy a Chinese phone, the Z1 is the fastest you'll find under £200
It's not often we're blown away by a mild-range smartphone. Supplied to us by Coolicool.com, the Z1 has an awful lot going for it. At less than £200, it's faster than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and iphone ^ plus. It's also well built, supports dual-SIM and 4G connectivity, has decent cameras, features some useful gestures, and it even has stero speakers and a fingerprint scanner.
The Kingzone Z1 is supplied in the UK via Coolicool.com – a Chinese site. You have two options: you can buy it from the European warehouse for £199.91 and you won’t be liable for import duty; or you can buy it from the Chinese warehouse for £132.59, but you will be liable for import duty if it’s picked up by Customs (of course, you are liable whether or not you’re caught out).
For a mid-range phone, the Z1 is very goodlooking. It’s built around a metal frame that ensures a sturdy, premium feel, and although the rear cover is plastic the up side is the fact it’s removable and reveals an also-removable battery. It’s got a grippy, textured finish that feels good in the hands.
There’s a huge 5.5in screen on the front of the Z1, which makes this a phablet. Incredibly slim bezels and a 7.5mm frame mean it’s still comfortable to hold in a single hand. It’s also reasonably light for a phablet at 169g – by comparison the 7.1mm iPhone 6
Plus and 8.5mm Samsung Galaxy Note 4 weigh 172g and 176g respectively.
A key difference here, of course, is the resolution. The Kingzone has an HD resolution of 1280x720 pixels, which means it has a density of 276ppi. That’s not at all unusual at this price, but it does mean it isn’t as sharp as the 401- and 515ppi screens found on the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 4.
Nevertheless, the JDI IPS panel is reasonably bright, with realistic colours and strong viewing angles. It’s also of a good size for enjoying games and media, or whatever you want to do on your phone, including browsing web pages and e-books.
And that’s where one of our favourite features comes in: the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. This is a swipe- rather than touch-based scanner, and shares the same problems as those found on Samsung phones prior to the S6’s release. As a fingerprint scanner it’s a pain to use, and we gave
up trying to get it to register our digits. But used as a scrolling control or a dedicated capture button for the selfie camera it’s a very welcome addition to this phablet, and makes one-handed use so much easier.
Stereo speakers are found on the bottom edge of the handset. On the right edge is a power button, while separate volume controls are on the left. This positioning can make them difficult to access when using the supplied (to us, at least) flip cover, which features a window for the time and date, automatically wakes or sends to sleep the screen, and allows you to answer calls without flipping open the case. Also in the box is a silicone rear cover.
At the top is a Micro-USB charging port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. A pair of earphones are supplied in the box, along with a Micro-USB cable and, very usefully, an OTG adaptor. The latter allows you to connect the Z1 to other USB devices, such as storage devices.
The phone uses a 64-bit MediaTek MTK6752 octa-core chip clocked at 1.7GHz. This is paired with Mali-T760 graphics, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage (a microSD slot lets you add another 64GB).
Performance is amazing for a £200 phone. In Geekbench 3.0 we recorded a staggering 3689 points in the multi-core component, making the Kingzone Z1 faster than both the iPhone 6 Plus (2917) and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (3272). It fared better than the Note 4 in SunSpider, too, with 963ms against its 1367ms, while the iPhone 6 Plus performed spectacularly with 369ms.
The Kingzone Z1 recorded five hours 45 minutes with a battery score of 3074 points. By comparison the S6 saw six hours 53 minutes and 4136 points, while the latest Moto G managed seven hours 35 minutes but scored just 2024 points.
In real-life usage we found that the Kingzone Z1 lasted for several days in standby mode, and even with heavy use the 3500mAh removable battery should easily get you through the day.
Everything you need is covered on the connectivity front. There’s GPS and GLONASS, NFC, 4G LTE (although it’s supported by only one of the dual-SIM slots, the other maxes out at 3G), dualband 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, USB OTG support and Bluetooth 4.0.
The 13Mp Sony camera is a pretty good camera, with an f2.0 aperture, 28mm lens and LED flash. We were pleased with our test shots, which show reasonably good detail and largely realistic colours. You can apply filters at the composition stage, and you’ll find various modes such as multi-angle shot, panorama, motion track and live photo.
The 8Mp selfie camera at the front takes a good picture, but beyond real-time application of filters and the ability to smooth wrinkles and whiten your face there is little in the way of manual control.
The Kingzone Z1 runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat with Kingzone’s KOS 1.2 UI. The app icons are squares with rounded edges, but in other respects it will be incredibly familiar to KitKat users. The Z1 will get a wireless upgrade to Android Lollipop, too.
For a £200 phone, the Z1 is a very decent proposition. It has a nice build, some pleasing connectivity features, and faster performance than phones that cost three times the price.