verykool Maverick LTE SL5550 Hardware Review

verykool Maverick LTE SL5550 Hardware Review

Jan 13, 2016

Android is synonymous with mobile device choice. When it’s all said and done, the platform stands out for several reasons, one major one being the ability to find the perfect hardware for most folks.

The same principle can be applied to cost; when it comes to finding the right price, Android is where’s it’s at. Each platform has price-conscious models, but Android fosters competition that allows device makers to compete on price.

This beautiful breeding ground pops out some veritable options, one being the verykool Maverick LTE SL5550; we’ve had a fun time with the piece that the manufacturer provided us. The review package contained the device in its retail trappings, with removable battery, charging components, earphones and documentation. We also received an official clear bumper case.

We talked about the specs in our intro article, but now that we have a lot of the time with the device physically, it’s definitely worth mentioning them again: a 5.5″ gorilla glass screen, 13mp auto/focus main camera on the back; 8 MP up front for selfies. One also gets a 2,500 mAh battery and MediaTek MT6735P/quadcore engine.

Physically, it borders on the stately; it is far from gaudy, with restrained bezels and front-facing camera at the top. The power and volume buttons are on the right side, while the micro-USB charging port and auxiliary audio jack are on the top. Of course the primary camera is on the back. As noted, it has a removable battery, with slots for microSD card and two sim cards.


It doesn’t carry some frills. NFC isn’t available; and neither is a built-in method to screen mirror. The screen doesn’t dazzle, but is far from shabby, and it has great battery life (we managed brightness manually).

So, physically, one might find a fashionably designed phone that traipses comfortably into phablet-hood. It isn’t uncomfortable, and feels relatively good in hand.

It comes to market with Android 5.1; the UI is thin indeed, and has the Google suite pre-installed. As-is, it should be very comfortable to anyone who has dabbled into Android before, and pretty intuitive to folks new to the OS. There are several ways to customize the device using built-in options, and the Party Store further supplements that.

It worked admirably with the prepaid T-Mobile SIM it was paired with; there was a slight stutter when it was first paired to a bluetooth earpiece, but this issue couldn’t be replicated. As it’s name hints at, this is an LTE-equipped World Phone, and it is works over multiple bands and has two slots for GSM SIMs.

Altogether, it comes across as a very capable device. It might not be as feature-laden as some of the better known flagships from better known companies, but the Maverick is able to project a sense of quality within a veneer of modesty. What it might lack in flash is made up for in the old-school extras, like the aforementioned expandable storage and user-serviceable battery, amongst other things.

And yes, then there is the really, really cool thing. Price? $189.

Whether it’s used as daily driver, or a starter device for one’s favorite nephew, the Maverick can fill a role and can fill it well.

The GALAXY S5: A Story of Samsung and Android

The GALAXY S5: A Story of Samsung and Android

Nov 24, 2014

Samsung has come along way with regards to Android OS. The reception of its first forays were somewhat mixed, even up until the the galaxy line appeared on the scene. Back then, there was a different king of Android, and Android, believe it or not, was the underdog.

But then, seemingly overnight, Samsung struck gold. How in the world did the the company rebound from early missteps to create a platform fiefdom? Well, look at what is did.

It landed a modest hit with the Galaxy S2. The S3 lifted the device maker to stratospheric levels; Samsung was smart enough to ensure model variants were available on all networks, unlike the competition, which had devices on limited networks. The S4 continued the tradition, and the latest flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S5 arrived looking to maintain the status as the Big Man on Android’s Campus. The S5 probably best shows how the Korean device maker manages to stay atop a crowded mountain.

We had a chance to look formally look at a Samsung provided unit on Sprint’s network. By now, most of the specs are known, but this doesn’t prevent one from enjoying the personal reveal. It rocks a 5.1 Super AMOLED screen on a 5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 polycarbonate body that weighs 5.11 oz. The edges are slightly (dare I say?) rounded, with the white finish braced occasionally with metallic-looking accents around the ports. It sorts a 2MP camera on the front and a 16 MP one on the back. On the bottom front bezel, the ubiquitous home button resides, flanked by a new capacitive recent apps button on the left and the back button to the right. The micro-USB port is centered on the bottom, and is notably covered, which hints at the limited waterproof functionality. There’s LED, speaker grills, and audio jack at the top, and the volume rocker is on the left while the on button is on the right.


Internally, we get a variable Quad-core chip, and beside the usual sensors (accelerometer, proximity, etc), we get a heart rate monitor. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, infrared: check.

The screen is addictive; turning it on is a pleasure. It comes with skinned Android 4.4.2, and had all the basics with regards to Google Apps. Touchwiz is a bit more palatable in this iteration, but there is a fair amount of bloat included; still, the S Health feature is a pleasant feature I enjoyed exploring.

Performance-wise, the S5 lived up to expectations, with smooth performance and no lag.

And there you have it. Samsung just does it. It created a product line that is nimble and familiar at the same time; standard base core with the Apple-esque yearly refresh. It pretty much has its own store, and somehow, even TouchWhiz feels less annoying over time. Couple all this with Samsung’s propensity to provide devices and accessories in practically every conceivable product category, it’s easy to invest in its system.

Bottom line? Samsung makes itself relevant to everyday consumers.

Huawei Ascend Mate2 Hardware Review

Huawei Ascend Mate2 Hardware Review

Aug 5, 2014

If one has never bothered learning how to pronounce “Huawei” before, be warned: its Ascend Mate2 smartphone might have you looking it up.

The review unit we received is stark white (black is an option); with regards to in-hand size, it is on the phablet side of the spectrum at 6.3 x 3.3 x 0.37 inches. Huawei makes use of the bezel, too; thankfully it doesn’t overpower the device. The white is broken by silver-colored trim and insignia, most of which frames the device. The tough plastic material that makes up the frame is reasonably resistant to everyday dings, and the Gorilla Glass screen did not succumb to simple scratch attempts. Also in the box is paperwork, USB cable and AC charger.

2014-08-01 19.46.29

The front camera is nestled to the right and the rear camera sits in familiar territory centralized towards the top, with the flash/camera directly below, and speaker grills lower down towards the bottom. The left side is bereft of controls, while the right houses the volume rocker and the power button. The standard audio jack sits at the top to the right, while the micro-USB charging port is on the bottom. The 3900 mAh battery isn’t user replaceable, and the SD card receptacle — which allows for extra space up to 32GB — resides underneath the back cover. Under the hood, it incorporates the quad-core Qualcomm MSM8928 Quadcore 1.6GHz chip.


It feels heavier than some devices of the same size, but not uncomfortably so, weighing in at a tad over 7 ounces. It feels fairly comfortable in hand, and simple touches like the aforementioned positioning of the power button increase usability in one-handed situations.

The actual screen size sans bezel is 6.1, so the screen begs to be used for content and such. While the 1280x720p screen is pretty vivid, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that it could be so much more. Hi-res games look good enough, but when compared to high end competitors, The Ascend Mate 2’s humble roots show.


The rear camera? Well, it was a pleasant surprise. It works great in lighted situations, and even with dim lights, it works admirably. The bundled image software is easy enough to manipulate as well. The built-in speaker is surprisingly nice on its own, and when connected to speakers via wires or bluetooth, this 13MP unit does quite well. It does video at 30 fps/1080p; the front camera a 5MP piece.

Per software, after the stock Android 4.3 and access to the main Google suite, there isn’t a whole lot of extras… thankfully. Notably, the device has a few different ways to set up the home screen visually, which is a nice touch. Other sundries, like music player and gallery, are clean and easy to handle. I did like the profiles and themes, as they give a user a way further customize usage and appearance. All in all, the bloatware is kept under control, and Huawei’s Emotion UI doesn’t fall into the common trap of Android UIs trying to do too much.


With regards to call quality; links are relatively seamless, and inbound and outbound audio is clean. It’s equipped to handle 4G data, but we did not test that portion. One area this device did show its stuff is the battery life. I thought it does well, both in action and while at rest. As an added bonus, the battery supports reverse charging, which is definitely useful in a pinch.

Purists might gripe about the lack of specifics like wireless charging and NFC, but frankly, at this price point, it’s tough to complain. All in all, it is an admirable package, and at the very least, lets folks know that the semblance of luxury can be had in a tidy, well-designed package.

LG G Flex Hardware Review

LG G Flex Hardware Review

Apr 17, 2014

As we mentioned earlier, LG Electronics largely elbowed its way to Android prominence with it latest batch of devices. We had an opportunity to formally look at LG’s G Flex, and the experience was just as eye-opening.

Gotta admit, the internals are juicy. It sports a 2.26 GHz quad-core Snapdragon chip, and packs in all the radios and stuff one would expect in a high-end Android phone: Bluetooth 4.0 LE, wi-fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS. The cameras are definitely not slouchy, with a 13 MP autofocus snapper in the rear and a 2.1 MP unit in the back. Top of the line requisites like LTE and a 3,500 mAh battery are present to partner with the 32 GB memory.

Cool innards aside, the physical presentation is where it will most likely stand out initially for most. It cuts an imposing figure, and wears the label “phablet” (yeah, I said it) quite well, embodied in the 6.32″ x 3.21″ x 0.31″ flex2 and stated 6.24-ounces frame. But it’s The Curve that visually defines this phone. The phone features a tangible parabola that tapers uncompromising into the 1280 x 720, 6″ HD flexible OLED Gorilla Glassed display.

The device is sleek, with its signature curved chassis and slim profile being easy on the eyes. The USB port is centered at the bottom, and the sides are delightfully bereft of buttons, as the ON button is placed on the back. The grey finishing defines it quite well, and the device feels natural in the right hand despite its non-diminutive size.

And y’all just have to forgive me for getting a bit caught up in the screen. It’s supposed to be indicative of the future of curved displays, a feature that is supposed to be enhance the enjoyment quotient. Coupled with the excellent screen, the whole structure does seem to work, though I feel those looking for something that changes the fabric of life as we know it might be a little let down. In other words, the flexible screen (along with the self-healing capabilities of the back) works well, but might not yet be a set-apart feature just yet.

The software suite also sets it apart. There is the needed Google suite, but above and beyond, that LG makes the crafty (and daresay, necessary) move to ensure customers have an opportunity to get immersed in LG’s massive consumer electronics ecosystem. Like the G Pad, the Flex works with other select LG devices and electronics. Miracast compatibility is another plus, and the device comes upgradeable to Android KitKat. In real-life use, the device is quite fluid, and doesn’t stutter under heavy lifting, and everything runs smooth.

Pauses? Folks coming from the G2 or other bigger flagships, might not be as enamored; I would have loved a bigger battery, and I will whine about available accessories. Still, it’s the first phablet I have ever wanted to be around for an extended period of time.

Trust me… that says a lot.