Ulefone’s BeTouch is a Chinese phone that’s available to buy in the UK through Geekbuying for just £147 at the time of writing. Bear in mind that Geekbuying ships the BeTouch from China, so you may also incur import duty. If you do decide to take the plunge and purchase the BeTouch, you absolutely won’t regret your choice.
With a 5.5in HD (1280x720) screen, the Ulefone is a large phone and what we refer to as a phablet – somewhere between a phone and a tablet. However, the aviation-grade stainless steel frame and aluminium-magnesium mid-frame help keep down the weight to just 160g, while the curved screen edges and slim bezels make one-handed use possible.
Despite the metal frame, the Ulefone’s rear cover is plastic. It’s a removable cover that, usefully, affords access to an also-removable battery and the dual-SIM and microSD slots. It sits flush to the case, which prevents it feeling cheap or creaking in the hand.
The 13Mp camera protrudes a little from the rear – it’s not something we particularly like, but it is becoming increasingly common with today’s ever-slimmer flagships. While the BeTouch isn’t as skinny as some phones on the market, at 8.6mm it’s thin for a budget phone.
Our sample came in metal grey, although the BeTouch is also available in silk white. The fully laminated display is prone to picking up fingerprints, but the HD IPS display below looks good. At this size and resolution, the screen is a good fit for viewing media, and it displays realistic colours and useful brightness, with good viewing angles to boot. You can also invert the screen colours if you find the display easier to read in this manner.
The power button and volume rocker are found on the phone’s left edge, which can be a bit of a stretch for right-handed users. However, one of several useful gestures allows you to wake the screen with a doubletap, so we didn’t find the positioning a problem in real-world use. Options and back software buttons sit below the screen, either side of a home button that incorporates a fingerprint scanner.
The beauty of this fingerprint scanner, and something we haven’t been able to say about any of the fingerprint scanners found on rival cheap Chinese phones, is that it works. Using touch- rather than swipe input, we found the BeTouch recognised our fingerprint every single time, and that means we’re actually likely to use it. It’s fast, too, recognising your fingerprint in a fraction of a second, even when your hand is wet.
Six small holes on the BeTouch’s bottom edge allow sound to escape from the built-in speaker. It’s a preferable approach to a rearmounted speaker that can fire sound into your palm, although front-facing would be even better.
With a 1.7GHz octa-core processor from MediaTek, 3GB of RAM and Mali-T760 MP2 graphics inside, the Ulefone BeTouch is a capable smartphone. In real-world use, we found it very smooth, and this is no doubt thanks to not only the hardware but a lack of bloatware slowing it down.
We ran the Ulefone BeTouch through our usual benchmarks, and the results make for pleasant reading – particularly in Geekbench 3, which measures processor performance. In the multi-core component of this test, the BeTouch scored a staggering 3817 points. And that really is incredibly fast, beaten only by the fastest Android phones we’ve ever tested, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. (And the UMI eMax, although the Ulefone shows better performance in other tests.) In the single-core component the Ulefone scored 794 points, which places it in between the UMI eMax and UMI Hammer.
GFXBench is used to measure graphics performance, and the Ulefone recorded 25fps in T-Rex and 12fps in Manhattan. Both are very good scores for a phone at this price point, and in line with flagship phones such as the LG G4 and Nexus 6.
Two new tests we’ve recently begun using in the PCAdvisor lab and for which we currently have few scores to compare are AnTuTu and the battery life test built into