Up to this point, Leagoo mainly made smartphones for budget-conscious consumers. The RM599 Leagoo Lead 7, for example, has a generous 4,000mAh battery that also doubles as a power bank. With the Elite 2, it seems like the Chinese company is stepping up its game in hopes of capturing the mid-range smartphone market as well.
While it is always good to offer more choices to consumers, in such a hotly contested segment that is dominated with the likes of the Honor 4X and Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G, can the Elite 2 truly make an impact?
Let’s be honest: not many people have heard of Leagoo smartphones. How good can a mid-range smartphone be from a manufacturer which mainly makes budget smartphones up until now? Can the Elite 2 even be considered a mid-range device?
The short answer is, yes, it definitely feels like a solid mid-range smartphone. The long answer? I’ll get to that later in the software section.
Unlike most mid-range devices in the Elite 2’s price range, it actually features a metal “frame” – which is really only two strips of metal on the left and right sides of the phone. That being said, these metal strips do give the device a reassuring build quality.
In terms or ergonomics, the power button and the volume rocker are placed at different sides of the phone. The back cover has a slight matte finish to it, but of course, it is made out of plastic. While the Elite 2 isn’t the most grippy smartphone out there, it’s not very slippery either, so no complaints there.
All in all, the Leagoo Elite 2 is a fine smartphone to hold. It feels solid, and it’s one of the better-looking Android smartphone as well. However, good looks can only get you so far.
In terms of specification, the Leagoo Elite 2 has the hardware of a typical mid-range device. The octa-core processor provides enough power for light gaming and day-to-day usage. The generous 3,200mAh battery is quite a standout as well; more on that in the battery section.
That being said, at a retail price of RM749, I was expecting the Elite 2 to have LTE connectivity. As this feature is becoming much more common in lower priced smartphones, such as the Xiaomi Redmi 2 and Honor 4X, it’s very disappointing.
The battery life of the Elite 2 really caught me by surprise. When I got the phone, I actually decided to do things a little differently and tried to go on two days without charging it. With light to moderate usage – which mainly involves some web browsing and light instant messaging – I managed to get to the end of the second day with about 9% of battery life left. It was impressive.
The Leagoo Elite 2’s software is its Achilles Heel. When I boot up the phone for the first time, the default animation when changing from one home screen to another is very choppy. I actually looked up its specifications to confirm that it is indeed a mid-range device.
However, once I changed the animation, switching between home pages is much, much better. Most of the choppiness is gone, and the overall experience of browsing through the user interface improved by miles.
Unfortunately, that’s only a minor issue. Throughout my time with the Elite 2, it actually shut down on me more than twice without warning. This usually happens when I try to wake it up from sleep, just to find out that it’s actually switched off. Until now, I’m still figuring out what caused this issue.
I also ran into a problem with the Mi Fit app on the Elite 2. When I tried to pair my Xiaomi Mi Band with this phone, I can’t log into my account to use the app as I was unable to summon the keyboard to key in my account information. While I’ve only encountered this issue with the Mi Fit app, it’s still a nuisance.
Complaints aside, the home screen of the Elite 2 is just like any other Chinese ROM with the absence of an app drawer. Interestingly, users are given the choice to switch between the Leagoo launcher and the Google launcher. While I am much more comfortable using the latter launcher, Leagoo’s own launcher isn’t that bad. Apps can be sorted into folders, and it does provide several interesting animations as you cycle through it. I just wish the annoying music and gallery pages could be removed.
As expected, the Elite 2’s 13MP rear camera’s low-light performance isn’t that great. That being said, as long as you’re shooting with decent lighting, the camera performs just fine; neither excellent nor bad.
What definitely impressed me, however, is the Elite 2’s ability to shoot videos in 720p at 60fps. I haven’t seen many smartphones that have such a feature at this price point, so it’s definitely a plus.
Performance-wise, the Leagoo Elite 2 is an okay smartphone. For starters, the back-firing speaker gets pretty loud, but it’s not exactly great. The display, on the other hand, performs as it should. Colours are bright and vivid, and texts are adequately sharp.
In day-to-day usage, the Elite 2 doesn’t show any sign of struggle as I used it for a lot of web browsing, occasional light gaming, and instant messaging. However, the fact that I can’t pair my Mi Band with it is an issue worth mentioning. The only way I could log into the app is to type my email and password in a separate app before pasting them onto the Mi Fit app. Not a very pleasant experience.
On top of that, I had a difficult time getting a GPS lock with the Elite 2. Luckily I sort of knew my way around the area when I noticed this issue. It could be a hardware or a software issue, but hopefully it’s the latter.
The Leagoo Elite 2 isn’t a bad smartphone, but don’t get me wrong; the software needs a lot of refinement. At this day and age where other manufacturers are offering very good software experience even in mid-range devices, Leagoo has to step it up and focus on fixing its buggy OS. Any manufacturer can cram good hardware into a phone, but that’s only one aspect of what makes a smartphone truly great.
Retailing at RM749 (inclusive of GST, of course), the Elite 2 is a hard sell. There are a lot of other options at this price point, such as the excellent Honor 4X. The Elite 2 simply do not have the right criteria to be a true stand-out in this ever-crowded segment. Unless Leagoo does something to improve its OS, it will just be yet another mid-range Android smartphone in the market.