Leagoo’s enters the M9 into the most competitive mobile space… the 3G super-budget arena…
You have to be brave to bring out a 3G phone in 2018, as while this lowers the cost it’s also one of the most competitive smartphone spaces.
There’s competition from the Blackview A7, Blackview A10, Cubot R11, Oukitel C8 3G and my personal favourite budget smartphone, the UHANS MX.
So, what makes the Leagoo M9 stand out from the crowd? For starters, its made the switch to the 18:9 aspect ratio by putting those top and bottom bezel on a diet.
It’s also one of the only super-budget smartphones to feature a quad-cam setup, which I’ll review in detail later on. Other highlights include Gorilla Glass protection, a selfie flash and a fingerprint reader.
…It feels like only yesterday that fingerprint readers were reserved only for premium high-end smartphones…
So let’s take a look at the Leagoo M9 in this full hands-on review looking at Design, Build Quality, Performance, Connectivity & Battery Life.
- Great Budget Camera
- Light at 158 grams
- Selfie Flash
- Needs Firmware Update
- Charging Port above display
- Missing notification LED
Design, Display & Build Quality
You’ve got three colour options to choose from with the Leagoo M9. The all blue model that I’ve spent the last few weeks with, the all black version or the gold version.
As soon you pick up the Leagoo M9 you’ll notice how light it is for a 5.5 inch smartphone. While it looks like a metal build, this is because of a powder paint coat. It actually has a plastic removable battery cover.
This removable design does give the M9 a slightly hollow feeling though. When other manufacturers are pulling out metal and glass designs in the same price bracket, the M9 feels very much on the budget side of life.
While the build materials are budget, the build quality isn’t. Trying to bend, twist and find any weak points in the Leagoo M9 was fruitless. The phone also passed the test when looking for rough edges, gaps and defects.
Now onto the all important screen quality.
When you first turn the M9 on, the display colours looks a little muted and washed out. Luckily, it comes with the display tweaking app, MiraVision, built-in to the OS. Switching the display settings to ‘Vivid’ makes the display much more enjoyable to look at.
Backlight uniformity is good, black levels are okay and viewing angles are also good.
A nice touch is the metal ring around the camera and fingerprint reader which adds a premium element to a mainly budget device.
Now onto the weird design choice…
Leagoo has put the Micro-USB charging port on the top of the smartphone… It’s just wrong… plain wrong…
Screen Tech Specs: 5.5 inch 18:9 IPS Display, 1280×640 resolution, Gorilla Glass 3, 260 PPI, 5-Point multi-touch
Colours Available: Blue, Gold & Black
The M9 comes with Android 7 Nougat with Leagoo OS3.0 on top. The Leagoo OS is lightweight feeling similar to regular old Android but with a few extra baked in apps.
The good news is that Leagoo launcher isn’t locked down , meaning you can install Nova launcher for a much more streamlined and premium OS feel.
Leagoo has added its own App Store, but you’re better off just using also included Android Play Store.
In terms of performance, the quad-core CPU is just about acceptable for everyday light use. If you open a few too many apps, you do notice it slows down and switching between apps isn’t the fastest.
CPU: MediaTek 6580A (4-Cores | 1.3GHz)
GPU: ARM Mali-400
Storage: Samsung 16GB (99MB/s Read Speed | 53MB/s Write Speed)
Expandable: Yes (2nd SIM slot up to 32GB)
Pokemon Go AR Test: Failed, no Gyroscope for AR.
Unfortunately, the latest version of the AnTuTu Benchmarking app isn’t compatible with the Leagoo M9. Geekbench score below.
- Single Core Performance: 409
- Multi-Core Performance: 1167
The Quad-Camera setup on the Leagoo M9 was one of the biggest surprises of this review. For a 3G budget smartphone, it’s able to take some great photos with clarity, detail and accurate colour.
I’m not comparing this to a flagship, but when you consider the cost, the M9 really excels. You can judge for yourself whether the Leagoo M9 meets your photography needs by checking out our sample album on Flickr. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/review-hub/sets/72157692384019101)
- 8MP + 2MP
- Dual LED Flash
Front Camera (Selfie time):
- 5MP + 2MP
- f/2.4 aperture
- Soft Selfie Flash
Call & Speaker Quality
To test the Leagoo M9 call quality we make a series of test calls paying attention to internal speaker volume and clarity. The M9 was microphone recorded voices clearly but sounded a little flat on the receiving end. The internal speaker was loud enough to hear even in a busy room.
The loudspeaker max volume isn’t very high and it also leans too much on the treble making it sound tinny. It’s a phone you’ll want to use with your headphones.
Help, Help, My Leagoo M9 won’t turn on… it’s broke… : (
No it’s not my friend, the back cover is actually removable and you’ll first have to remove the battery and take off that little tab. Now put it all back together and hold the power button.
Now that you’ve got it working, how’s that battery life?
I managed to get a full days usage from the M9 using social media and the occasional video on WiFi. If you’re using the 3G or play games then you will have to top it up in the evening.
The M9 uses a 2850mAh LG made battery but doesn’t come with any form of quick charging.
What’s in the box?
The Leagoo M9 comes in a standard square box with a generic power adapter, cable, quick guide and a clear transparent silicone case.
Tech Specs & Connectivity
|Screen Size||5.5 inch|
|Screen To Body Ratio||80%|
|Screen technology||Gorilla Glass 3|
|Material||Polycarbonate / Powder Coating|
|Colors Available||Blue, Gold & Black|
|Processor (CPU)||MediaTek MT6580A (4 Cores 1.3GHz)|
|Android Version||7 Nougat + Leagoo OS 3.0|
|IP Rating (Water, dust)||NO|
|Micro-SD Card Tray||Yes – Uses 2nd SIM Slot|
|Finger Print Sensor||YES (Rear below camera)|
|3G Bands||WCDMA: 900, 2100MHz|
|2G Bands||GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz|
|SIM Support||Dual SIM – Nano x 1 + Micro x 1|
|Sensors||Light, Accelerometer, orientation,
|Battery Size||2850 mAh LG|
The Early Verdict
The M9 certainly looks the part, scoring highly on the design thanks to those reduced bezels. If was writing this review a year ago, I wouldn’t have commented on the budget build materials… but… it’s 2018.
And in 2018, the competition is ripe!
The M9 offers a good package that’ll suit light android users who are on a budget. The curved design is nice, the performance is as expected… budget. The nice surprise here is the camera performance!
If you can’t decide which budget smartphone you want, go and check out the M9 camera samples again… it just might sway you. If taking snaps isn’t your thing, then the UHANS MXstill has my vote.