UMIDIGI C Note

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£106 inc VAT from fave.co/2s3phzS

UMIDIGI has turned out some great-look­ing phones of late, and de­spite its bud­get price tag the C Note is no dif­fer­ent. Avail­able from GearBest in grey or gold at the low price of £106, the UMIDIGI C Note is a metal uni­body phone with a 5.5in full-HD screen and some mid-range specs. It sup­ports all three UK 4G bands – and on both of its twin SIM slots.

Be­fore you jump in and buy the C Note, re­mem­ber to fac­tor in im­port duty to the pur­chase price. This is

cal­cu­lated at 20 per­cent of the value on the ship­ping pa­per­work, plus an ad­min fee of around £11. De­sign The C Note has the same pre­mium de­sign as the flag­ship UMIDIGI Z Pro, with an alu­minium al­loy body and a large, bright full-HD screen. It’s 0.1mm thicker than its brother, but oth­er­wise has iden­ti­cal di­men­sions, and is 3g lighter at 172g.

Slim screen bezels and gently rounded edges at the rear make the C Note feel great in the hand. The screen fea­tures the same 2.5D curved glass, too, which makes ev­ery­thing feel seam­less as you run your finger across its sur­face.

This hand­set is very well made for a bud­get phone, with no gaps, creak­ing or flex. The metal should prove rea­son­ably tough against ac­ci­den­tal drops, while Dragontrail glass pro­tects the screen.

This panel is the same as that found on the Z Pro, a full-HD Sharp IGZO dis­play that is sharp, bright and of­fers de­cent con­trast and viewing an­gles. You can ad­just the colour tem­per­a­ture and turn on Adap­tive bright­ness in the set­tings, too.

The rear cam­era pro­trudes only very slightly at the rear, but fit­ted with the sup­plied clear pro­tec­tive gel case you wouldn’t know any dif­fer­ent. Un­like on the Pro you get just the one 13Mp cam­era here, with a 5Mp selfie cam­era at the front.

You’ll see two grilles at the bot­tom of the hand­set, which sit ei­ther side of a Mi­cro-USB port – one of the few ob­vi­ous signs that this smart­phone has a cheaper price tag. There is ac­tu­ally just the one speaker in­side,

with a mic con­cealed be­low the other grille. The 3.5mm head­phone jack is found at the top.

A pin-op­er­ated SIM tray is found at the top of the phone’s left edge, and this is a hy­brid tray that can ac­cept ei­ther two Nano-SIMs or one Nano-SIM and a mi­croSD card up to 256GB in ca­pac­ity. The built-in 32GB of stor­age is al­ready very gen­er­ous at this price point.

We’re not overly keen on the Home but­ton, which you tap rather than press – it just doesn’t feel very nat­u­ral, though we’re sure you’d be­come fa­mil­iar with it rea­son­ably quickly. Ei­ther side of this are mul­ti­task­ing and back but­tons, though with no la­bels it takes a lit­tle get­ting used to.

Built into this home but­ton is a touch-style fin­ger­print scan­ner, which worked very well and very quickly in our tests. It’s a shame that the phone has no NFC sup­port, since this would have en­abled mo­bile pay­ments on the C Note.

Per­for­mance

So the bud­get price of this phone is not at all ev­i­dent from the out­side, but in­side there is some de­cid­edly low- to mid-range hard­ware. Real-world per­for­mance is still pretty de­cent, es­pe­cially pre­in­stalled with the lat­est An­droid 7.0 Nougat out of the box, but you’re not go­ing to get any­thing close to that achieved by the UMIDIGI Z Pro here.

In gam­ing fram­er­ates the dif­fer­ence in power is most no­tice­able, but bench­mark re­sults are lower across the board. To give you an idea of what we’re talk­ing about here, the UMIDIGI C Note is a much closer ri­val to the Ule­fone Gem­ini – it’s noth­ing to write home about, and UK bud­get phones such as the Moto G5 per­form bet­ter.

But speed isn’t ev­ery­thing to ev­ery­one, and the 1.5GHz Me­di­aTek MT6373T quad-core chip (based on

the Cor­tex-A53) and ARM Mali-T720 MP2 GPU are up to the job of daily tasks. UMIDIGI also spec­i­fies 3GB of RAM, which will help im­prove mul­ti­task­ing.

We ran our usual bench­marks and recorded a low sin­gle-point score of 672 in Geek­bench 4, and a still pretty low 1872 points multi-core. AnTuTu also clocked the C Note at 39,691 points.

Gam­ing per­for­mance was lower, with just 11fps recorded in GFXBench T-Rex (the best phones achieve 60fps here), 4fps in Man­hat­tan and 3fps in Man­hat­tan 3.1. This isn’t a phone you’d choose for play­ing games, though it is ca­pa­ble of ca­sual ti­tles if you keep down the de­tail set­tings. Its JetStream JavaScript score of 20.7 is about av­er­age for a bud­get phone but, again, on the low side.

Bat­tery life is very good from the 3,800mAh cell – you should get two days’ use with mod­er­ate use. (And you can al­ways use a power bank if you need more.)

Con­nec­tiv­ity

The only real thing miss­ing from this phone in terms of con­nec­tiv­ity sup­port is NFC, as we men­tioned ear­lier. This will be frus­trat­ing if you want to make mo­bile pay­ments, but it shouldn’t be too much of an an­noy­ance oth­er­wise.

There’s 802.11n Wi-Fi sup­port, as well as GPS, GLONASS and Blue­tooth 4.1. More in­ter­est­ingly, this is a dual-SIM phone that can sup­port 4G on ei­ther card (not all dual-SIM phones do). It op­er­ates in dual-standby mode.

Both are Nano-SIM slots and sup­port all three UK 4G bands (if you’re buy­ing else­where then check

out our ad­vice on how to tell whether a phone is sup­ported by your net­work), but an­noy­ingly you must choose be­tween ei­ther dual-SIM or mi­croSD – you can’t have both.

Cam­eras

The C Note is fit­ted with a 13Mp Sam­sung S5K3L8 rear cam­era with phase-de­tect aut­o­fo­cus and a dual-LED flash at the back, and a 5Mp selfie cam­era at the front. At first glance the cam­era app is rather ba­sic, with just Nor­mal, HDR and Panorama modes and no real-time fil­ters to speak of, but there’s also a Pro­fes­sional Cam­era mode which UMIDIGI claims

can help you to take DSLR-qual­ity im­ages. This gives you loads of con­trol over your im­ages, with slid­ers for ev­ery­thing from saturation and bright­ness to ISO and white bal­ance. To be hon­est, the qual­ity of the cam­era isn’t that good, but for the money it isn’t bad. Even in Auto mode we saw nat­u­ral colours and a rea­son­able amount of de­tail, though blurred edges are vis­i­ble. With HDR mode switched on things look much bet­ter, but there is a lot of im­age sharp­en­ing in ev­i­dence.

The main cam­era is ca­pa­ble of video record­ing at 1080p but by de­fault is set at 720p. You can turn on elec­tronic im­age sta­bi­liza­tion in the Video set­tings (or rather Ve­dio set­tings).

The selfie cam­era isn’t up to much, with a very soft im­age. You can make use of a beauty mode, turn on anti-shake and con­trol such things as white bal­ance and scene mode.

Soft­ware

It’s re­fresh­ing to see a bud­get phone sup­plied with the lat­est ver­sion of An­droid (7.0 Nougat) out of the box. This is a vanilla ver­sion of the OS, with no de­vi­a­tions from stan­dard An­droid – it should feel in­stantly fa­mil­iar. Nova Launcher is pre­in­stalled, but there’s noth­ing else in the way of pre­in­stalled bloat­ware.

You can dou­ble-click to wake the screen, change the colour of the no­ti­fi­ca­tion LED for in­com­ing calls, and rear­range the or­der of the touch but­tons be­low the screen.

Ver­dict

The UMIDIGI C Note is a very well-de­signed bud­get smart­phone with a pre­mium de­sign. Per­for­mance is lack­ing, but ca­pa­ble, and the cam­era can pro­duce de­cent re­sults in good light­ing. A good bud­get buy. Marie Brewis

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

5.5in full-HD (1920x1080) IGZO Sharp 2.5D dis­play, Dragontrail glass protection An­droid 7.0 Nougat 1.5GHz Me­di­aTek MT6373T quad-core Cor­tex-A53 64-bit pro­ces­sor ARM Mali-T720 MP2 GPU 3GB RAM 32GB stor­age (up to 256GB via mi­croSD) 4G LTE on dual Nano-SIMs (dual-standby), sup­ports all three UK bands 802.1a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Blue­tooth 4.1 GPS GLONASS OTG 3.5mm head­phone jack Mi­cro-USB 13Mp Sam­sung S5K3L8 PDAF rear cam­era with du­alLED flash, Pro­fes­sional Cam­era mode 5Mp selfie cam­era Front TouchID fin­ger­print scan­ner 3,800mAh bat­tery (two-day life) 154.7x76.6x8.3mm 172g

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