RE­VIEW: King­zone Z1

If you're will­ing to buy a Chi­nese phone, the Z1 is the fastest you'll find un­der £200

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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.

Ver­dict

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.

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