Dubai, United Arab Emirates: ME NewsWire: Global networking leader TP-Link has crossed over to smartphones, with its new Neffos brand among the latest to join the fray. You know how solid TP-Link’s Wi-Fi networking products are, but can the company also make solid handsets? We reviewed the Neffos X1 Max to see if there’s a reason to be hopeful for the newcomer that’s vying for your attention.
The Neffos X1 Max has a slim metal body, hovering at just around 7mm at its thickest point. The panel round the back features a smooth, matte finish, and the main camera assembly is slightly elevated for aesthetic reasons. The same elevated portion houses the fingerprint reader just below the dual-LED flash.
Circular and similar in size to the back-facing camera lens, the fingerprint sensor can recognize up to five fingerprints, all of which can be identified quickly with the tap of a finger. Neffos says it can unlock the phone in 0.2 seconds with the screen on, and it sure feels that way. The scanner can also act as a shutter key when the camera app is open, ideally while you’re taking a selfie.
Another key hardware feature is the mute slider on the left-hand side, though we would have preferred if it worked alongside Google’s fantastic “Do not disturb” mode, as opposed to simply turning off the volume. It also would have been nice if Neffos had positioned it lower, somewhere more useful — either along the middle section or under the hybrid SIM-and-memory-card slot.
The chamfered edges on the front and back of the Neffos X1 Max are complemented by 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass atop the LCD panel. The glass stretches from edge to edge and covers the entire front of the device, offering everyday protection from dings and scratches and making touch navigation a pleasant experience overall. It’s built to resist fingerprints and smudges, too, as well as provide an anti-glare surface that minimizes reflection, allowing you to focus on the screen with fewer distractions.
Up top, there’s a 5-megapixel selfie camera peeking from the top bezel, while further below, there’s the standard row of capacitive navigation buttons. The ones on the left and right — the back and recent-apps keys — are marked by dashes, for good reason: They are interchangeable via the Settings app. Below those buttons, at the base, is a charging port of the microUSB variety coupled with a loudspeaker on the right side, though there are two cutouts beside the port.
Handling isn’t an issue, as the phone is neither too wide nor too tall, and the bezels on the sides are narrow. For a 5.5-incher, the Neffos X1 Max falls in line with most others in its class, size-wise.
Bright and spacious enough to get some real work done, the 5.5-inch IPS display on the X1 Max is among its best traits. It’s vibrant and sufficiently sharp at 1080p and 403ppi, with excellent contrast and viewing angles. Everything on the screen is a pleasure to view, and the quality here, quite frankly, is superior compared with a lot of similarly priced competition.
By default, color balance is pretty neutral, but you can tune the color temperature to your preference (again, via the Settings app). Optimizing the Neffos X1 Max’s color temperature to match your lighting environment can provide great relief for tired eyes.
The screen supports touch gestures as well, and by that, we mean double-tapping the screen can wake the device from sleep if the setting is toggled. Not that you have to for convenience, because simply placing your finger on the fingerprint scanner, even when the screen is off, will light up the device. Glove mode, on the other hand, allows you to operate the X1 Max while wearing gloves.
Imaging performance is an important aspect of the modern smartphone package. Rocking a 13-megapixel sensor and sitting behind an f/2.0 lens, the main camera of the X1 Max — while not the best one available on a mobile — is a quality performer, able to quickly snap plenty of good photos you can upload to social media. This phone has a fine rear camera, which works for us, and we didn’t hesitate to rely on it in a pinch.
Images come out looking bright and color-rich, even in middling lighting, with a decent amount of background blur when working close to your subject. Dynamic range is pretty solid. Shutter lag is almost non-existent, too. Phase-detection auto-focus, meanwhile, makes shots appear crisp and rife with detail given the right conditions.
The front-facing camera is listed as a 5-megapixel unit. Our selfies turned out okay for the most part — nothing special. Selfies aren’t a serious business on the Neffos X1 Max, but the phone does come with a Beauty mode, which softens and brightens your skin if you’re feeling particularly self-conscious. There’s also a selection of filters and effects, including slow motion and time-lapse.
This Neffos phone rocks an octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor running at up to 2GHz and working alongside 4GB of RAM under the hood to ensure a zippy experience. Built-in memory goes all the way to 64GB, which should be plenty enough for the average user. And if more room is needed, storage can be expanded using an SD card of up to 128GB capacity. Nice.
The X1 Max runs fine even without a cutting-edge chipset. Really. Launching apps and switching from one task to another happens almost instantly. You can get the ideal multitasking experience when you juggle two or more apps in the background, thanks to the generous serving of RAM.
This phone will also happily run popular 3D games — NBA 2K17 and Mobile Legends, to name but two — without a hitch, sometimes without slowdowns even. Our network experience is excellent; our unit was able to connect to local 4G LTE networks where available all the time.
The battery inside the Neffos X1 Max is rated at 3,000mAh, more than what the standard X1 carries (2,250mAh). It is not removable, though fast charging comes standard.
And yet, battery life is actually solid, with our unit giving us a solid day’s work from a single charge. Those with less demanding needs should squeeze out longer usage times. Some days, we still had 20 percent left in reserve by the time we went to bed. Other days, when we spent most of our time hooked up to a Wi-Fi connection, we saw around 30 percent left in the tank.
Though Neffos is a fresh face in the industry, it doesn’t seem to be lacking in expertise. Its parent company, TP-Link, is a giant in the home-networking landscape, but that’s not to say the X1 Max’s intrinsic strength lies in connectivity, although it does support multiple LTE bands for fast mobile data where available.
The Neffos X1 Max ticks the important boxes on the hardware front: It’s got a sleek metal body that isn’t too large to hold and operate single-handedly; the screen, spread over 5.5 inches, is gorgeous to look at; the rear camera, fast and can be relied upon for casual photography; and day-to-day affairs are no hassle, overseen by a capable processing package. Which, in simpler words, means it is a splendid all-rounder.
Neffos is indeed off to a great start with the X1 Max. And if this is only a preamble to a serious run at the mobile industry, it wouldn’t surprise us to see the company get more attention — and recognition — from consumers and critics alike.