It’s quite astounding as to how Chinese brand LeEco has become a household name in a short span of time. In fact, it’s the only brand that debuted in the list of top 10 most popular brands in H1 2016 as per 91mobiles’ phone landscape report. Its budget offering, the Le 1s (review) played a key role in the same since it had all the ingredients of a great choice for prospective consumers – impressive design, powerful hardware and a killer price tag. Its sibling, the Le Max (review) was also quite popular in the super-premium segment priced above Rs 30k. With the latter’s sequel however, LeEco has taken an aggressive stance, as the Le Max2 (first impressions) undercuts all the flagship rivals with its mid-range pricing, while packing in top-notch specs.
In fact, it seems to pose a huge competition to the OnePlus 3 (review), which is often termed as the flagship killer. So does the LeEco Le Max2 deliver, and more importantly, can it beat the OnePlus 3? Answers to all that and more, in this comprehensive review.
Specs at a glance
|Resolution||1440 x 2560 pixels|
|CPU||Dual core, 2.15 GHz + Dual core, 1.59 GHz, Snapdragon 820|
|Internal memory||64 GB|
|Capacity||3100 mAH, Li-Polymer, Non removable|
|Primary camera||21 MP|
|Secondary camera||8 MP|
|Network support||Dual SIM 4G|
|Other options||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS|
|Operating system||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow|
Design: wrapped in a classy, but bulky metal jacket
Dimensions: 156.8 x 77.6 x 7.9 mm
Weight: 185 grams
With an all-metal body, the LeEco Le Max2 is as premium as it gets. It’s crafted out from a single aluminium body, which looks even classier in gold.
Spot the difference: can you tell which of these is the LeEco Le Max2 and Le 2?
When it comes to the design language though, the Le Max2 is very similar to its budget sibling, the Le 2 (review). In fact, other then difference in their sizes, you can’t tell these two apart. It’s quite bewildering since the Le 2 is targeted at the affordable segment, while the Max2 is a high-end offering.
Up front, the LeEco Le Max2 bears minimalistic design, with the display covering the major portion. The bezels around the display are virtually non-existent bezels, which is commendable and adds to the looks. Above the panel, you’ll find an earpiece symmetrically placed between the proximity sensor and the secondary shooter. While the space below the display seems to be empty, the capacitive keys come to life when the display is powered on. The navigation buttons follow the traditional layout – the home button is placed in the middle with the overview key on the left and the button to return to the previous screen on the left.
Both the volume buttons and the power toggle is placed on the right spine, whereas the left hides the ejectable tray for inserting a pair of SIM cards. The top edge features an IR blaster, while the USB-Type C port is available at the bottom, squeezed between precision-grilled speaker holes. You’d notice that there isn’t any 3.5mm audio port, and that’s because LeEco is pushing the idea of better sound quality with its proprietary CDLA technology, which we have covered in a separate section.
The rear panel is home to the primary camera module juts out significantly, making the LeEco Le Max2 wobbly when placed on a flat surface. Adjoining the shooter is an LED flash, while there’s a mirror-finished fingerprint sensor below it. Further below, you’ll find company’s new logo. The only thing that’s an eyesore are the visible antenna lines which mar the looks.
It’s worth noting that the Le Max2 has a manageable screen size of 5.7-inches, instead of gargantuan display panel measuring 6.33-inches in its predecessor, the Le Max (review). Even then, the Le Max2 requires two hands for most operations, especially for things like typing. While it has an ergonomic build with tapered edges and rounded corners, it’s quite heavy. Tipping the scales at 185g, its weight is way more than its arch nemesis the OnePlus 3. At 7.9mm, its frame is also thicker in comparison.
Display: a visual treat
Size: 5.7 Inch
Resolution: 1440 x 2560 pixels
Display Type: LCD
Pixel Density: 515 ppi
While there are several reasons to stick with 1080p resolution, including the fact that it doesn’t take the toll on the battery life in comparison to a 2k display. Not only are 2k screens much sharper, they also offer a much more realistic experience when paired with Virtual Reality headsets, which many proclaim are the next big thing in the world of technology. LeEco’s Le Max2 is ready for the same, with its screen resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels. With its 5.7-inch IPS display, the pixel density of 515ppi offers crisp visuals. The colour reproduction is also impressive. Sadly, the brightness levels are a bit low for our liking, especially outdoors. The phablet also gives you the ability to choose between different colour modes – default, vivid, natural or soft.
Protecting the Le Max2’s screen is a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
Software: empowered by the Supertainment ecosystem
Operating System: Android
OS Version: 6.0.1, Marshmallow
The LeEco Le Max2 ships with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which is topped with its own custom skin dubbed eUI. The interface shares a lot with other Chinese UIs such as the fact that there’s no app launcher, but it’s also quite different since it’s not filled to the brim with confusing options or bloatware.
By default, there are hardly any preloaded titles except for LeVidi, which is part of LeEco’s content push. We also liked the option of accessing the quick toggles with the press of the overview button, as it makes it easy to toggle settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or GPS single-handedly. Of course, the overview mode also presents the recently-opened apps along with offering actions like torch, calculator, etc. and music playback controls. This also means that swiping from the top only brings up the notification shade.
But the mainstay of the LeEco devices is its Supertainment ecosystem, allowing you to access TV shows, movies and more with the click of a button. Even though the brand has partnered with streaming players like YuppTV for TV shows and Eros Now for movies, the good thing is the deep integration. For instance, there’s a dedicated button on the home screen that lets you see nine live channels at any point of time. Similar to HTC’s BlinkFeed or Samsung’s My Magazine, there’s a dedicated screen in the homescreen dubbed LeView that showcases videos from all over the internet. You can also see videos in a particular category.
Being among the largest streaming websites in its home country, LeEco is playing the same card in the Indian market. And, this is just a start as the company has promised to bring more to the table, thanks to its partnership with Hungama for music, and exclusive live concerts. It’s certainly an interesting idea as it instantly differentiates its offerings from the competition, while ensuring sticky usage from the consumers.
As much as we liked the content efforts from LeEco, we did see a few software crashes. There were instances when the camera app would force close or apps like Facebook and Instagram won’t work, even after a restart. We believe that these issues could be fixed via a software update.
The fingerprint reader on the LeEco Le Max2 not only lets you unlock the phone itself, but the apps as well. The scanner can also be utilised as a shutter button while using the camera app. In our usage, the fingerprint module on the phablet is extremely accurate, and is quite fast too. However, we didn’t find it the fastest sensor out there, even though the device employs Qualcomm’s Sense ID which uses ultrasonic technology.
Camera: passes with flying colours
Primary camera: 21 MP
Flash: Dual-color LED Flash
Secondary camera: 8 MP
In terms of numbers, the LeEco Le Max2 surely lives up to its flagship stature in the camera department. It sports a 21-megapixel sensor at the back, which is supplemented by a dual-tone LED flash. For selfies, the phone features an 8MP shooter. There are usual embellishments for the camera as well – phase detection autofocus, optical image stabilisation, 4K video recording, and slow-mo video (720p at 120fps) among others.
The camera app on the Le Max2 is feature-packed, yet remains minimal in terms of looks. In the landscape orientation, it presents the option to switch between capturing stills, video, slo-mo or panorama on the right, with the shutter button, preview and live filters alongside. You get the usual options in terms of filters… mono, Lomo, nature and more. Towards the left, you get the option to toggle the front camera or flash, along with accessing the settings. The settings menu provides the ability to tweak the picture settings, by adjusting exposure, white balance, ISO, saturation, etc.
If you are unable to find the HDR mode, then fret not, the LeEco Le Max2 has that too, which is available when you swipe the small bar on the right. Along with HDR, you also get other modes such as Night and Beauty, while Scene offers apt picture settings for respective environments. We really enjoyed using the Night mode, since the app itself offered a relevant setting with the slower shutter speed to deliver better images in low light, though you have to make sure that your hand doesn’t shake as the image isn’t clicked immediately.
Coming to the picture quality, the handset impresses in most situations… be it landscape shots or close-up images. The colours are reproduced well, and they pop out with the HDR mode. The images are full of detail, although at the full resolution, sharpness isn’t as it should be and you can see some blurriness. The low-light shots are pretty good though, as even with noise, you can easily make out the object and its colours. Of course, you can use flash in such settings and the dual-tone module on the Le Max2 works quite effectively without overexposing the subject.
The 8MP selfie snapper is made for selfie lovers, as it captures a good amount of detail and colours are natural too. The front camera allows you to use the beauty mode, live filters or panorama. In terms of video, it can record them in full HD resolution or slow-mo.
Overall, the shooters on the LeEco Le Max2 are all-rounders, and here are the camera samples to prove our point (right click on them to view them in their original sizes).
Performance: powerful is an understatement
CPU: Dual core, 2.15 GHz + Dual co…
GPU: Adreno 530
RAM: 6 GB
Memory: 64 GB
SIM Slots: Dual SIM , GSM+GSM
Battery: 3100 mAH
LeEco has always paid special attention to the performance aspect on its devices, so much so that the Le Max Pro (first impressions) was the first device in the world to be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820. While that never made its way to India, the Le Max2 is also fuelled by Taiwanese giant’s high-end chipset. The SoC is formed by the combination of two quad-core processors running at 2.15GHz and 1.6GHz respectively. Not just the processor, the phablet makes sure that you can’t slow it down, thanks to its beefy 6GB of RAM. This makes it one amongst the very few options to feature such capacity of RAM, and while there might be arguments that such power is not needed, it goes without saying that the phone has a plenty of RAM to spare (north of 2GB in most cases) even if you’ve multiple apps opened.
This reflected in our usage as well. There was nary an instance where we felt the device slowing down, be it normal tasks like browsing or reading an eBook or playing high-end titles like Marvel Avengers Alliance 2. We could play for hours, although the thermal efficiency isn’t kept in check. The Le Max2 starts heating up within 15 minutes of heavy usage.
In terms of storage, the smartphone comes with 64GB of memory on board. After accounting for space taken by Android and some other resources, users get around 52.7GB for their use. While the capacity should be sufficient for most, it must be noted that the Le Max2 doesn’t support memory expansion.
The LeEco Le Max2 is also available in an affordable avatar, featuring a 4GB RAM and 32GB internal storage, and all the other specs being same.
Fuelling the Le Max2 is a 3,100mAh battery, which is 100mAh more than what the rival OnePlus 3 offers. Even with the battery-guzzling 2K resolution, the smartphone is able to deliver a similar battery life, which is noteworthy. With moderate usage, the phone would last you an entire working day, but if you push its use with 4G or GPS, then it might require a charge in between. In our battery drain test, the smartphone was able to playback an HD video continuously for nine hours before running out of juice.
The battery optimisations on the LeEco Le Max2 are extremely effective as they proactively close the apps in the background. You can also enable modes such as ultra-long standby during sleep or Battery assistant to extend the juice. With the bundled charger, the phone can be fuelled in a jiffy thanks to the support for Quick Charge 2.0 technology. Though, it must be noted that the Snapdragon 820 chipset supports faster Quick Charge 3.0 technology, but the Le Max2 doesn’t feature it.
Some other tricks up its sleeve
The LeEco Le Max2 is an ideal smartphone for multimedia addicts. It has everything one looks for consuming multimedia – a large display with impressive visuals and an immersive audio experience. We’ve already discussed the former, and now it’s time to talk about the latter which is possible due to LeEco’s proprietary technology CDLA.
Standing for Continuous Digital Lossless Audio, CDLA ensures that the music is delivered digitally to the pair of compatible USB-Type C earphones. As highlighted in our review of its budget sibling, the Le 2, LeEco’s approach certainly delivers better audio quality. In fact, as soon as you plug in your earphones, you get a prompt, which lets you enable the CDLA HD mode. On the flipside though, you need to have the CDLA earphones with you always, and there’s a dearth of choice as well. Only LeEco makes such CDLA earphones (JBL has also launched Type-C earphones, but they aren’t compatible with CDLA), and they aren’t very comfortable to wear for long durations. Thankfully, you can use your legacy earphones with the use of the bundled Type-C to 3.5mm interface connector.
While the sound via earphones is great, the speaker output isn’t up to the mark as it’s not loud enough. Moreover, the speakers get covered by your hand when you hold the device horizontally, resulting in a muted sound.
In terms of connectivity, the LeEco Le Max2 gets full marks. The dual-SIM smartphone supports 4G and we enjoyed high-speed data with Reliance Jio’s network. It also features usual connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. Unfortunately, it misses out on NFC support.
The Le Max2 also has an IR blaster, and you can use the Remote Control app to control your TV and other home appliances.
If you’ve been following our review of the LeEco Le Max2 till now, then you’d know that it’s a very capable smartphone – available at an attractive price. The 4GB RAM variant will set you back by Rs 22,999, while the higher-end version costs Rs 29,999.
The LeEco Le Max2 can also bear the title of the flagship killer, and is yet another option in the midst that turns the conventional specs-vs-price balance on its head. In fact, flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note7 (first impressions), which are twice its price, have a similar configuration, but a lower amount of RAM. In a way, Le Max2’s true competitor remains the OnePlus 3, and we have to admit that it’s an extremely close call between the two, since they feature similar innards. While the OnePlus 3 wins in terms of its sleek and ergonomic design, the LeEco Le Max2 gets an edge for its sharper 2k display and the content ecosystem.
In a nutshell, the LeEco Le Max2 is a compelling flagship, which ticks all the right boxes for being a capable daily driver.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Premium design ethos
- Visually-appealing display
- The Supertainment ecosystem
- Impressive snappers
- Top-of-the-line innards
- Average battery life
- CDLA might be the future, but makes your legacy earphones obsolete
- Buggy interface
Photos by Raj Rout