Expert Review of Zen Ultrafone 701HD
Zen Mobiles stepped into the smartphone arena in the year 2009 and, in a time span of nearly 3 years, the company has been able to create its special space in the market. The Ultrafone series from the company’s lineup has been doing brisk business and basking in the limelight for the fulsome appreciation received for its handsets. Responding to the buzz, the company has introduced another smartphone in the series named Ultrafone 701HD. It is the flagship device of the company and yet another powerful entrant in the competitive world of smartphones. With a 5-inch IPS capacitive touch screen, Zen Ultrafone 701HD gives an outstanding experience in every sense, be it the screen resolution, user interface, image and video quality, processing speed or the battery strength, the phone spells excellence in every department. The best part of Zen Ultrafone 701HD is its price and the fact that with several features, it runs on the famed Android v.4.2 Jelly Bean operating system. Although, like many other smartphones in similar price range, the handset lacks in some areas and gives average results, but the overall performance remains good. If you expect it to perform like Samsung Galaxy S4, then for sure, it would be disappointing, for Zen has to go a long way in order to give stiff competition to the major players like Samsung, HTC, Apple, Nokia and Sony, but when compared to the flagship devices offered by the local manufacturers, Ultrafone 701HD does have an upper hand.
Zen Ultrafone 701HD is slightly bulky and might be of some discomfort to the users, that is, when handled for a longer duration. The chassis is quite strong and provides a premium finish to the handset wherein, the matte finish and rubbery surface gives a solid grip to the hands. The device might seem a little thick, but provides better appearance in terms of sharper and brighter viewing angles than, say, Micromax Canvas HD A116. Also, one can find a lot of resemblance to the Karbonn A21, in terms of its outlook. Available in Black and White colors, the Ultrafone 701HD comes with a flap cover over the screen that is embedded in the back cover. It is a dual-SIM handset, but the SIM slots are not swappable, which means that you have to remove the battery to insert the SIM cards. The SIM 1 slot is compatible with GSM as well as CDMA networks whereas, SIM 2 slot supports only the GSM network. While the microSD card slot is not swappable, it enables the user to eject or insert the memory card without switching off the phone. As for its performance, the Zen Ultrafone 701HD draws power from a quad-core MediaTek 6589 processor that clocks at the speed of 1.2GHz. Being a quad-core phone, the speed and strength of the handset does not quite match the expectations. It lags with multiple commands given at a time and sometimes do hang, whenever heavy applications run in the background. However, notwithstanding these issues, Ultrafone 701HD remains the best bargain for money, for, such problems can be seen even in the high-end smartphones like Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, etc.
Zen Ultrafone 701HD goes a notch higher than its rivals, however, in a few areas, it might have some issues with the user. First is the placement of the volume rocker that is provided on the left side of the phone and due to the attached flap cover, adjusting the volume becomes a little bothersome. Another area where the smartphone lags is the position of the rear camera, for it is very near to the top edge of the phone and while capturing an image, your finger might end up covering the camera lens, thus spoiling the perfect moment. The strongest part of Zen Ultrafone 701HD is its 8MP autofocus rear camera that comes with the support of LED flash and helps in capturing images with clarity in low or dim light ambience. However, the same cannot be said about the secondary camera, which has a 3.2MP sensor, but does not provide the quality that you would expect from an average pixel shooter. The images and videos shot from the secondary camera have VGA quality that even a 1.3 or 2MP snapper can provide.
User Interface and UI functionality
As per the contemporary fashion prevalent in the smartphone industry, Zen Ultrafone 701HD too, comes with a 5-inch display with IPS technology and capacitive touch screen. The HD display has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels with amazing pixel density. The screen shows better viewing angles than the current popular smartphones like Samsung Galaxy S Duos and Micromax A116 HD Canvas, which is a benefit for Zen Ultrafone 701HD. Another advantage of the screen is the multiple touch facility with touch sensitivity that responds even to the slightest of touch. The color scheme of the handset is also brilliant with the unmatched combination of 16.7 million colors that give the screen a complete new and extremely sharp view.
Zen Ultrafone 701HD runs on the premium OS, Android v.4.2 Jelly Bean. And to top it, there is a very user friendly and customizable user interface that will make your experience with the smartphone unforgettable. Powered by a quad-core MediaTek 6589 processor that works at a speed of 1.2GHz, the handset houses 1GB of RAM, which is kind of a drawback for it, as it might hinder the smooth functioning of the device. Though the combination is commendable, 2GB RAM should have been considered an ideal choice for the droid. A set of four sensors, which includes Accelerometer, Gyro, Proximity and Ambient light, increases the standard and usability of the handset and, adds more to the fun and entertainment quotient. Let us have a closer look at the user interface that can be termed as a blessing for the device and expected to play a vital role in increasing the demand for Zen mobiles in the market.
Number of Homescreen Panes: There are five homescreen panes in Zen Ultrafone 701HD wherein, widgets and shortcuts of various pre-installed and installed applications could be added to secure direct access to the apps and features. Swiping between the homescreen panes is very smooth and responsive, which even allows you to control the device with gloved hands, however, it would work a little bit slower in that case.
Lock Screen: The lock screen is the area where Zen Ultrafone 701HD resembles the HTC smartphones a lot, however, the only difference is, in HTC you can opt for three or four applications that can be directly accessed from the lock screen pane, but no such option is available in Zen Ultrafone 701HD.
TalkBack: This is a new feature in Ultrafone 701HD that has been specially designed for the visually impaired and users with low-vision. This voice assistant speaks aloud what you touch, select and activate, and provides you with brief description about, how to use that application or feature. This assistant will guide you about every feature or application loaded in the smartphone to make your interaction easy, smooth, hassle free and an unforgettable experience.
Scheduled Power On & Off: This is for sure one of the best and most useful features in this user interface, as it will turn off the phone at the set time and will restart itself at the scheduled time without any external intervention. After setting the phone's power on and off timer for once, it will automatically shut down and restart as per the decided time.
Magnification Gestures: This application is again useful for those who have vision problems as it magnifies the screen size to three times to provide a larger view of the widgets and shortcuts.
Apart from these majestic features, there are bundles of others as well that will offer a completely new level of smartphone experience, ultimately changing the mindset and deep-seated perceptions of the tech savvies towards the local branded phones.
Designed specifically for the youth, multimedia features are one area where a minor lack of features may lead to the rejection of the smartphone and this being the case, Zen Ultrafone 701HD comes loaded with the best music, video and picture quality, the basic requirements of a high-end smartphone. The sound quality of the handset is mind-blowing and the earphone with 3.5mm jack adds more fun to it, by providing the noise cancellation feature that makes your music listening experience outstanding. Not only the earpiece but also the sound quality is loud and clear with the presence of external speakers.
The music player supports multiple audio formats and to increase the access to music, an FM radio has been made available; this important add-on is found lacking even in some of the high-end smartphones. The supported features in FM radio are the RDS and FM recording, where RDS automatically displays the name of the radio station along with the program running on it and with FM recording, you can record and save either a song or a complete program in your Zen Ultrafone 701HD.
Not only the audio quality, the smartphone even lives up to the expectations in video quality. With various supported features, recording a video becomes much entertaining and an activity full of fun than ever before. The video playback quality is also good and to provide options to the user, the handset comes equipped with two video players so that you never have to compromise in terms of entertainment. The only drawback with video recording is that it is recorded in the old and archaic 3GP format, which is a slight disappointment to the users, though, for playback, it provides various video formats.
Pictures and Video quality
Zen Ultrafone 701HD is one of the best camera phones available in the low-end category, in fact, you can say that the other contemporary smartphones falling in the same price range do not have such wonderful picture and video qualities. It is nobody’s argument that the camera application is flawless, but the quality of output it provides, more than makes up for all the glitches that one might face while working with this application. The 8MP rear camera with BSI sensor has the support of LED flash for clicking and recording clear, sharp and bright pictures and videos in low light ambience.
Other features that add charm to the camera's functionality are the HDR mode, autofocus, Geo-tagging, exposure from -3 to +3 scale, color effect with 6 various modes, 14 different scene modes, 8 types of white balance, image properties that adjust the sharpness, hue, saturation, brightness and contrast of the image. Furthermore, it has the EV bracket shot mode, best-shot mode, touch to focus, smile detection, auto scene detection, multi angle view mode, panorama mode, face beauty mode, zero shutter mode and the normal mode.
Apart from the above-mentioned features, you can avail the benefit of a self-timer for easy capture of group or family photos. During continuous shot taking activity, you can click 40 shots at a time without any lag, and the picture size feature helps you to select the various available sensor sizes. The photos captured in daylight are very bright with sharp viewing angles but undergoes a decrease in quality when clicked in dim light. One thing that might hinder the photography experience with Zen Ultrafone 701HD is the absence of image stabilization feature, though available for video, its overall quality leaves much to be desired. The videos shot with the 8MP camera are not outstanding and since recorded in the obsolete 3GP format, gives average results. Otherwise, the video player gives satisfactory results. There is another camera at the front with 3.2MP sensor, but to the disappointment of the user, does not provide the expected quality output. The result that comes out of this 3.2MP secondary shooter is below average quality, but equivalent to VGA standards. As the secondary camera is generally used for video chats, this purpose will be served successfully without any drag.
Zen Ultrafone 701HD is fully loaded with all the essential connectivity options that help you stay in touch with your friends, family members and other acquaintances anytime and, from any place around the world. The phone supports 2G and 3G networks for connectivity, where SIM 1 backs 2G as well as WCDMA networks while the second SIM slot holds access to GSM network only. You can avail the benefit of Internet via EDGE, GPRS, 3G with HSPA+ speed and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n. For sharing data with other compatible devices, the smartphone provides various options like Bluetooth v.4.0 with A2DP profile and USB port. Zen Ultrafone 701HD is your perfect companion, as it provides complete navigation for the long road trips with the help of GPS satellite connection.
Internal and External Memory
For making your experience with Zen Ultrafone 701HD easy and hassle free, the smartphone comes pre-loaded with an internal memory of 4GB coupled with 1GB RAM. With such a good space for RAM, the handset gives unmatched speed without any lag, which further decreases the operation time of the device. With 4GB of internal storage capacity, you can save a good amount of data on your smartphone and if needed more, the external memory can be expanded up to 32GB using a microSD card in the hot-swappable memory card slot.
Applications and Gaming
In terms of applications and gaming zones, Zen Ultrafone 701HD is undoubtedly, one of the best choices available in the market, for the handset comes pre-loaded with various applications such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, GTalk, Zen Mini Store, Skype, MX Player, Contact Plus, Flash Light, Emoze, TOI, Saavn, Google+, Maps, Play Books, News & Weather, Voice Search and lots more. Though there are no pre-installed games on the handset, one can download ample number of games from the Google Play Store where most happening and popular games like Candy Crush Saga, Temple Run 2, Iron Man 3, CSR Racing, Hill Climb Racing, Angry Birds, etc., are available for download.
Zen Ultrafone 701HD draws its power from a lithium-ion 2,000mAh battery that delivers a talk time of up to 8 hours on 2G network and a standby time of up to 240 hours. The music and video playback time is good and with the normal usage, the handset can remain active for more than a day. Browsing the Internet on this device is very easy and considerably fast with two browsers available at your end, and the additional advantage of a good battery backup. However, with the passage of time, the battery will not be able to withstand much of the load.
Connectivity is one area where a small lag might lead to the disapproval of the phone in the market, hence, based on the findings of good market research, the company has provided updated and the latest versions of connectivity features, for e.g., Bluetooth comes in v.4.0 with A2DP profile that makes connectivity secure, fast and easy. The USB port also enables you to transfer data from one device to another at an amazingly high speed. You can even charge your handset via the USB port.
Zen Ultrafone 701HD is one of the best creations of Zen Mobiles until now, and this smartphone might prove to be the game-changer for the company's current market position. The handset has the capacity to give tough competition to a good number of smartphones available in the market, which do not only mean the local manufacturers but also the international brands. In the days to come, Zen Mobiles will have a face-off with some of the reputed smartphone producing companies such as Samsung, Nokia, Sony, Micromax and Karbonn. In terms of screen sharpness, color effect and pixel density, Zen Ultrafone 701HD has an upper hand over other smartphones namely, Samsung Galaxy S Duos, Galaxy Grand, Micromax Canvas A116 HD, Karbonn A21, Sony Xperia Sola, Xperia E Dual, Lava XOLO Q800 and many more.
In terms of operating system, Ultrafone 701HD is a notch higher than many of the contemporary smartphones that also include Micromax Canvas A116 HD. With Android version 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system being a part of it, Zen Ultrafone is a better option than other smartphones like Galaxy S Duos, Nokia Lumia 720 and more. Camera is the one department where no other mid-ranged smartphone has the capacity to beat Zen Ultrafone 701HD, for it comes with an in-built 8MP rear camera blessed with BSI sensor, LED flash, autofocus and panorama feature. Whereas, the secondary camera also comes with 3.2MP resolution that currently, no other smartphone provides that falls in this price bracket. Overall, Zen Ultrafone is a better choice to go with, seeing the lesser quality features in the so-called top brands.