LeEco Le 1s Eco first impressions: same phone, new content

“The Le 1s Eco is basically the Le 1s bundled with the brand’s content ecosystem membership”

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Chinese brand LeEco has been around in India for less than a year, but has been steadily climbing the popularity charts thanks to value-for-money devices like the Le 1s (review) and Le Max (first impressions). The brand recently launched the  Le 2Le 2 Pro (first impressions) and Le Max 2 (first impressions) in China, and these smartphones are expected to land in India later this month. But LeEco (formerly Letv), has never really been about the hardware. The company is best known in China for its content ecosystem, spanning movies, TV shows, music and sports. Expanding to new markets meant LeEco had to build new content partnerships, and the brand announced tie-ups with Eros Now and YuppTV for Indian consumers at its debut event here. A few months down the line, and LeEco is finally ready to launch its content ecosystem in India. At an event in Mumbai yesterday, the brand not only gave us a look at what content users can expect, but also announced the first smartphone to come integrated with support for the ecosystem – the LeEco Le 1s Eco. The second ‘Eco’ in the name stands for ecosystem, but otherwise the device is mostly unchanged from the Le 1s. We got our hands on the smartphone at the event to bring you a first look at the device, as well as the content ecosystem.

Tongue-twisting name aside, the LeEco Le 1s Eco is identical to the Le 1s from the outset. It features a full metal body, with a large 5.5-inch full HD display dominating the front. Above the screen you’ll find the usual placement of the earpiece, sensors, notification LED and front 5MP camera. Underneath the display lies a row of three Android navigation keys, which are backlit.

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The right spine is home to the volume rocker and power button, while the left houses an ejectable tray that contains two SIM card slots, with the second doubling up as a microSD card slot for storage expansion. The bottom of the handset features a USB Type-C port, as well as the loudspeaker grill and primary microphone. Up top you’ll find the 3.5mm audio jack alongside an IR blaster.

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The back of the smartphone features the fingerprint sensor in the middle, with the 13MP primary camera and LED flash on top. Letv branding and certification information complete the setup at the rear. 

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The LeEco Le 1s Eco is powered by the same MediaTek Helio X10 processor as the Le 1s, but is underclocked from 2.2GHz to 1.8GHz. There’s 32GB of storage, out of which around 24GB was available on our demo unit. The smartphone runs Android 5.0.2 Lollipop as a base, smothered by LeEco’s eUI interface. The battery is a 3,000mAh sealed unit which supports fast charging.

As you can see, the Le 1s Eco is pretty much the same device as the Le 1s. The main difference between the two smartphones is that the Le 1s Eco comes with LeEco’s content ecosystem pre-loaded. So what exactly does a subscription to this ecosystem bring?

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For starters, the Eros Now partnership offers users a choice of over 2000 movies, spanning languages like English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada and Malayalam. These movies are accessible via the Le Vidi app, which lets you search for movies, create watchlists and mark favourites.

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The YuppTV integration offers over 100 live TV channels to users, spanning a range of regional languages plus English, and includes channels like NDTV, Sony Entertainment, Colors, MTV, B4U Music and more. The app’s interface shows you up to nine live previews at a time, and lets you swipe between languages to browse. The YuppTV integration is accessible via the Live app. Apart from movies and TV, LeEco has also partnered with Hungama to give users access to a repository of over 3.5 million songs covering over 25 regional languages. Users will be able to save music for offline listening and create playlists as well. The Hungama integration will come in the form of the Le Music app, which will be available in the third quarter of this year. This app will also let users watch over 50 live concerts from around the world, and LeEco is offering its platform to Indian artists to live stream their performances. While all future LeEco devices will come pre-loaded with the ecosystem, it will be rolling out as an OTA update to the Le 1s and Le Max later this month.  

As for the pricing, LeEco is charging users Rs 490 per month or Rs 4,900 per year for a membership to its content ecosystem, which comes with some additional perks like after-sales support, discounts and offers, plus access to 5TB of free cloud storage on LeEco Drive. The Le 1s Eco is priced at Rs 10,899, just short of the Le 1s’ Rs 10,999 sticker price, but the former includes a one-year content membership. The smartphone will go on sale starting May 12th on Flipkart, and during the first flash sale, consumers will be able to pick up the ‘Supertainment’ package for Rs 9,999. 

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LeEco is definitely betting big on its content ecosystem, but it remains to be seen how successful it is in India. While we have no doubt that the company’s affordably-priced devices will sell like hotcakes, getting Indian consumers to shell out for digital subscriptions will be a challenge, especially considering the asking price of Rs 500 per month. There’s also the question of data consumption – streaming movies and live TV (not to mention the live channel previews) consumes a lot of megabytes, and mobile data doesn’t come cheap. Suffice to say, we have our doubts about the content ecosystem, but if you’re looking for a budget phablet, it makes sense to opt for the Le 1s Eco over the Le 1s. If it’s horsepower you’re after though, we suggest you wait for the Le 2 and Le Max 2 lineup, which will be making their way to India very soon.
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