[Review] TP-LINK Neffos C5.

Neffos C5 is probably a brand that you may never heard of because it is new in this competitive industry but if I mention the name TP-LINK, that would probably ring you a bell because TP-LINK is a famous brand in networking. In fact, when TP-LINK brand was quite new in Malaysia, I bought myself a modem with a bit of doubt like how anyone else would have but buying that was one of the wisest choice I’ve ever made during that time. It was reliable and I didn’t have any issues with it. Ever since then, I have a good impression on TP-LINK related products.

The Neffos C5 is available here for RM 539 and you can get it in either black or white (known as dark grey or pearl white respectively).  

Neffos C5 Specs :
  • MTK MT6735 4x Cortex-A53 1.3 Ghz processor.
  • Mali T720 MP2 450 Mhz GPU.
  • 5 inch IPS HD display (720p)
  • 16 GB internal storage and 2 GB RAM (Micro SD card up to 32 GB).
  • Dual SIM. LTE supported.
  • 8 Megapixel main camera & 5 Megapixel front camera.
  • Android 5.1 out of the box.
  • 2200 mAh battery.
  • Colour – pearl white & dark grey.

 

UNBOXING

Inside the box :

  • Phone.
  • Battery.
  • 1A charger.
  • USB cable.
  • Handsfree.
  • Quick start guide, safety notice and warranty information.

 

OUTLOOK

The design is nice. It a simple design with removable back panel to insert the battery, memory card and 2 SIM cards. The one I am having is the black version. The back panel is matte black. There is no notification LED on this device. The Neffos C5 is also very light weight and fits well into any standard sized pockets.

  

Top – 3.5 mm audio port and microphone.

Bottom – Micro USB port and microphone.

Left – nothing.

Right – Volume rockers, power button and a space to insert your fingernail so that you can pull out the back panel.

Front – 5 Megapixel camera, earpiece and ambient light sensor.

Back – 8 Megapixel camera with dual LED flash and loudspeaker (mono).

Under the back panel – SIM 1 slot, SIM 2 slot, micro SD card slot and battery compartment.

 

BASICS

The call quality is very good. The device uses micro SIM cards. Both slots are LTE capable. Internal storage of 16 GB is just nice for an affordable phone like this. If that is not enough, you can use a micro SD card up to 32 GB of capacity. There is no physical soft keys for this device as they are integrated into the display. The UI is very similar to Android’s Vanilla UI.

There are some UI related limitations in this device which I already expected because it is normal for a newly launched ‘brand’ to have some hiccups. Luckily, they are not bothering me too much but I thought it is still worth to mention them.

  1. I am unable to customize the shortcuts in the status bar. As such I can’t add shortcuts such as WiFi hotspot or torchlight.
  2. The annoying red dot on newly installed apps are not going away until I open the apps. Why are they even having it in the first place?
  3. No USB OTG support but it’s fine because I don’t see this feature in other smartphones with similar price range anyway. Only if the Neffos C5 has it, that would have been really nice.
  4. When I press the volume rocker at e.g. home screen or let’s say while browsing a web, I can only access the system volume which is the main volume of the device. I have no access to e.g. media volume unless I open a media related app. This can sometimes be annoying as I wouldn’t know the volume level when I receive a voice message e.g. via WhatsApp.
  5. No gesture related features e.g. double tap to unlock the display.

 

MULTIMEDIA, SPEAKER & DISPLAY

The speaker of Neffos C5 is very loud. You will not miss any calls or messages. It would have been nice if they had a notification LED as well. As for the loudspeaker, it is placed at the back of the device. Sometimes when you leave your phone on a soft surface e.g. mattress or sofa, the loudspeaker might be blocked.

If you are planning to listen to music or watch videos, I recommend you to use headphones instead. Watching movie is still fine as the volume is sharp and the dialogues will be clear enough but it may be annoying to those who are around you. For music, the loudspeaker is definitely not suitable. It is just too sharp for some musics.

Listening to music or watching videos using headphones were much better. The audio quality is not the best but it is quite good. You don’t have advanced audio settings in the phone but the basic settings are good enough. I wish the settings are integrated into the default music players because currently I need to go to the phone’s settings to fiddle with the audio settings while listening to music.

The 720p HD display is also good. The images / videos are clear. Viewing angle is also good. Overall I am happy with the display except for one thing, which is the auto brightness level. Looks like the ambient light sensor is buggy because the auto brightness doesn’t change accordingly. Sometimes I feel that the brightness level is still very low but don’t worry about this. I’ve seen this issue in many other phones and usually it is just a software issue. Hopefully TP-Link will release a fix for this in their next update.

 

CAMERA

At first, I didn’t have much expectation from the camera but while fiddling with the camera, I felt that the camera is not bad. It has great potential. Only if TP-LINK has added more options for the camera, it would have been really nice to take photos and videos on this device.

The selfie camera has beautification mode which works slightly different than in other phones. On this phone, I take a photo first and then adjust the beautification level (which is from level 0 to 5) to beautify the picture. If you are not happy with the beautified photo, you can always tap on the pencil icon to edit it further. Same goes to photos taken from the rear camera (under beauty mode). There are also various filters that you can use to change the mood of your photos.

The rear camera has more ‘modes’ such as intelligent, scenery, food, beauty, HDR and panorama. Overall, the photos are quite nice if they are taken under bright lighting condition. I was able to take some beautiful shots under bright light. Under low light (indoor or at night), please do not expect much from the camera.

The cameras are also capable of recording good videos. I was also surprised that it supports continuous auto focus while recording videos. This is something that I didn’t have even in phones worth RM 2000. So it was a sweet surprise to me. Well, the focus is slow but I really appreciate having that feature.

Now, the disappointing part about video recording is, the front (selfie) camera is only able to record video up to 480p. Fortunately the rear camera is able to record videos up to 1080p. Another thing that I noticed is, the videos are recorded in .3gp format. That was really surprising as it has been such a long time since I last recorded videos in that format. Why didn’t TP-LINK implement .mp4 format for video recording?

But I must mention that the videos were not bad. As long as the lighting condition is good, you can take decent videos. Most of us record videos to upload in Facebook and other social network sites. So I think .3gp of .mp4 doesn’t really matter.

 

PERFORMANCE

The overall performance of this device was good. I didn’t notice any annoying lags. The device was smooth overall and everything was fine for a normal usage pattern. The internal RAM of 2 GB was decent but when I run several apps, the memory level can go as low as 200 MB. Even if  I clear all the apps running in the background, it only gets to 900 MB or 1000 MB. So I wonder what is consuming the remaining 1 GB of RAM. But again, the device was smooth.

I tried playing several games and I didn’t expect the device to handle them so well. At first I tried Temple Run 2 and Subway Surfers. These games were good. Well, there were very slight stutters while playing Temple Run 2 but it did not affect the game’s performance.

I was surprised that I was even able to play Need for Speed No Limit without any issue. The game was smooth but as for the graphics, some effects (which I only saw in high end phones) were missing as I expected. Real Racing 3 was also good on this device. The graphics was a bit ‘rough’ but I still enjoyed playing the game on this device.

Overall I was very happy with the device’s performance.

 

BATTERY LIFE

Before I begin, let me tell you that the 2200 mAh battery should not be under-estimated. I thought that the device will not even last all day but I am happy that it got me through nearly one full day. I will not say that the battery life of this device is fantastic but it is definitely acceptable. I used my phone mainly for Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, web browsing and a bit of music playback (probably for about 5 minutes). I also took a bit of photos / videos here and there (another 5-6 minutes) and the device was connected to my car’s bluetooth charger for about 20 minutes. I played those games that I mentioned above for about 10 minutes in total.

With that usage pattern, the device lasted for about 22 hours which is acceptable for a device with just 2200 mAh battery. The screen on-time was 5 hours 1 minutes and 34 seconds.

One thing that I was not happy about is the charging time. The 1A charger took me about 3 hours and 10 minutes to charge the battery from flat to full. If the battery’s capacity is 3000 mAh, then the charging time is acceptable but for a 2200 mAh battery, I was expecting it to be fully charged within 2.5 hours.

 

CONCLUSION

Congrats TP-LINK, you started off so well with your Neffos C5. If you could fix the software related issues, then it will be one of the best device for that price range.

 

Good :

  • Good build quality.
  • Decent photos and videos from the camera.
  • Good display (except for the auto brightness issue).
  • Decent battery life.
  • Good performance.
  • Comes with handsfree out of the box.

Bad :

  • UI related issues / limitations. The UI need a lot of improvements.
  • No USB OTG.
  • No notification LED.
  • Average charging time.
  • Only up to 32 GB external storage supported.
  • No external case or screen protector for this device at the moment.
Our score for TP-LINK Neffos C5.

Summary

71.8%
  • Design / Outlook (80%)
  • Features (73%)
  • Camera (68%)
  • Hardware Performance (75%)
  • Software / UI (65%)
  • Battery Life / Charging Time (70%)
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