When we talk of routers, modems, and other networking products, TP-Link may come to mind. And why not? The company has been leading the way in the Wi-Fi solutions market for 20 consecutive quarters, and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon.
But while TP-Link has been a household word for years, its mobile business under sub-brand Neffos is only gaining traction now. Still, the connection makes a lot of sense, particularly in the home or office, where smartphones typically connect to the internet using a wireless router.
But can a router company make a good smartphone — preferably one that ticks the right boxes at the right price?
As the industry continues to mature and boom in developing countries, as feature-phone owners upgrade to more capable, internet-connected handsets, TP-Link is hoping that its flagship X series smartphones under the Neffos brand yields a favorable answer.
Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the Neffos X1, which is the more affordable option in the lineup.
The phone comes in a white, square box that’s about two inches deep.
Interestingly enough, it doesn’t have the TP-Link branding. Instead, it has Neffos logos with gold detailing on the face and on the side, as well as multiple, subtle engraved lines that form an “X.” It is clean and understated, much like the accessories that are bundled with the unit.
Inside, you’ll find the usual stuff: a wall charger in white with a color-matching microUSB cable; a pair of black earbuds connected by a flat cable; two differently sized earbud tips; a metal SIM-eject tool; and some documentation.
Everything seems to be standard smartphone business, though it bears noting that the 5-volt, 1-amp charger is smaller than normal, which is a pleasant surprise.
The phone itself is visually appealing in gray, featuring a curved aluminum backplate for aesthetic points and easy handling. A sheet of 2.5D glass on the front is there to cover the 5-inch touch display and makes interacting with the screen more comfortable.
Another plus is how small it is compared to many other devices in the category. The Neffos X1 is only 7.95mm-thick and has a high screen-to-body ratio, so it fits snugly in our hands.
It also feels as if it is built solidly enough to withstand the rigors of daily use, as well as jostling around our jeans and bag pockets just fine. And there are no creaks, rattles, or flex from the body.
The fingerprint reader — as quick and accurate as we’ve seen on any Android smartphone — sits on the back of the Neffos X1, just below the back-facing camera. You can register up to five fingerprints and use any of them to unlock the device, or individual apps. Neffos even allows you to take photos using the sensor, convenient when you’re shooting a selfie.
Speaking of, the sometimes-difficult task of shooting selfies falls under the lens of a 5-megapixel camera, while a 13-megapixel rear-facer takes care of regular shots.
Camera quality is pretty good given the hardware. Images don’t come out fuzzy most of the time; colors are well-balanced and saturated nicely; and the 0.2-second phase-detection autofocus or PDAF works well. It is easily the high point of the main camera, as it allows us to quickly lock onto a subject and take a shot, as claimed.
And then there’s the performance aspect. The Neffos X1 is powered by a midrange MediaTek Helio P10 processor coupled with up to 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.
There’s a variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory, but our unit has 2GB of RAM and half the storage at 16GB. However, this shouldn’t be a concern if you own or are planning to get a sizable microSD card, as storage is upgradeable to an additional 128GB. Sticking an SD card into the phone will cancel out the second SIM slot, though.
Out of the box, the Neffos X1 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the company’s own custom skin on top.
Thankfully, the customization is relatively light, and there was never a moment when we thought the user interface was bogging things down. The icons are minimalist, and the notifications shade and settings app also get a material-inspired look.
We haven’t used the smartphone long enough to come to a conclusion on speed and multitasking prowess — or even get reliable readings on battery life from its 2,250mAh cell. But our experience has been nothing but positive so far. Let’s see if our favorable impressions stick when we’re done reviewing it.
However, if you already love what you’re seeing, you can grab the Neffos X1 in Cloudy Gray or Sunrise Gold from AED649 in UAE markets.