We review the Starmobile Up Prime!
A few months ago, Starmobile launched the Up Prime: A budget smartphone costing below Php 4,000/$78 that boasts of 700Mhz LTE connectivity, along with Android Nougat out of the box. This made us curious: How does this smartphone fare as a budget offering with LTE connectivity?
Starmobile Up Prime Specs
- 1.25GHz MediaTek MT6737 quad-core processor
- 1GB of RAM
- Mali-T720P GPU
- 5.0-inch HD TFT display; 1280×720 resolution, 2.5D curved glass
- 16GB of expandable storage (up to 32GB)
- 8-megapixel, f/2.8 rear camera with BSI and Flash
- 5-megapixel, f/2.8 front camera with BSI
- 3G, LTE (700MHz Ready)
- Dual SIM
- WiFi, Bluetooth
- GPS, A-GPS
- 3000mAh battery
- Android 7.0 Nougat
Design: Basic looks, like most budget smartphones
While the Up Prime looks pretty generic upon the first impression, I give props to how they give it a dash of elegance with its removable rear cover that has faux antenna bands to give it a classy appeal.At the rear, you have your 8-megapixel, f/2.8 camera and LED flash, with your speaker at the bottom part.
It is not that easy to remove the rear cover, but a removable battery is plus points for us in an age of smartphones with non-removable batteries.
You have your headphone jack on top.
There’s noting to see on the phone’s left side.
You have your volume control and power button on the right side. Since the rear cover is removable, you have to be careful with the buttons, as they are integrated with the cover.
At the bottom, you have your micro-USB port and your microphone.
As for the front, the Up Prime may look generic, but the use of curved glass gives it an impression that it is not a budget phone. Gracing the front are your capacitive buttons, a 5-inch TFT HD display, and your 5-megapixel, f/2.8 front camera.
Performance: Pretty good, but with limitations
Sporting a MediaTek MT6737 processor and 1GB of RAM, the Up Prime is equipped with entry level specs. Though it scored 29374 in AnTuTu—which is above average for a budget phone, you can feel the limitations of its 1GB RAM, as multitasking and opening apps are not smooth. Expect to deal with lag when playing games like Asphalt Nitro and Marvel Future Fight, as these games demand quite a lot with the Up Prime’s processor. Be wary though that the phone does heat up, and you might encounter a battery overheat error (which I’ll explain more in the battery section).An upside with the Up Prime is it runs on stock Android Nougat, which is beneficial for the phone given its RAM limitations. There’s barely any bloatware in the Up Prime, which should explain how it managed to get a pretty decent AnTuTu score.
As for its TFT display, while it is readable in broad daylight, the blacks in the Up Prime is not as deep as compared to IPS or OLED panels. Other than that, the color rendition is pretty good.
Being marketed as an affordable LTE phone, the Up Prime works as advertised. Using the Smart LTE SIM that came with the unit, I was able to get speeds of 14.30Mbps after testing the connection with SpeedTest.
Camera: So-so performance
Both its front and rear cameras have a f/2.8 aperture, which is pretty mediocre if you consider the camera units of most phones today. On real use, you can get good shots with the Up Prime, as long as you don’t use it for low light shots(flash is highly recommended), or use it in broad daylight—the Up Prime has difficulties dealing with highlights when shooting in broad daylight, leading to washed out photos at times.
While focusing is pretty fast, capture times are slow, so you have to keep your hands steady every time you capture a photo. As for the features, it’s pretty basic: you don’t have fancy options like color filters or bokeh mode with the Up Prime.
Battery: Not a good situation
The Up Prime ran into a few problems in running PCMark’s Battery Test. In the few instances where the battery test finished, the Up Prime recorded a battery life of 4 hours 47 minutes—which is below average. On real life use, however, the Up Prime can survive the day if you keep it at 50% brightness, and if you limit your use of the phone’s mobile data connection.
I had run into a battery overheat error twice on the Up Prime due to the unit heating up unusually. However, after a few reboots and a software update(which notified me upon setting up the phone), the phone was able to keep its temperatures steady. I’m suspecting of a possible software glitch, so I hope Starmobile would issue additional software updates to avoid the sudden overheating issue.
Verdict: Nothing outstanding, just the essentials every Pinoy smartphone user needs
Considering that it is a LTE-ready phone for under Php 4k, you can’t really expect much with the Up Prime. While it is faster than similarly-configured budget phones, concerns about overheating should not be a big deal, as software updates should be able to address this (the phone notifies of a software update when you are setting it up for the first time).
Overall, the Up Prime is a good phone if you are in need of a backup phone, or if you need a unit that you can use as an LTE hotspot device. After all, it is a phone that has the basic futures most Pinoys look for in a smartphone at an eye-catching price.