Starmobile UP Xtreme Review: A Total Toughie?

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Does it stay true to its name?

Starmobile added a new member to its budget UP series with the UP Xtreme. What makes this model different is with its display: with the UP Xtreme, you get a shatter-resistant Xtreme glass to protect the phone’s display from mishaps like accidental drops.

The UP Xtreme arrived at HQ last week, and after a week of using it, it’s time to give our full verdict on Starmobile’s latest budget phone.

Starmobile UP Xtreme specs
  • 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6580 quad-core processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 5-inch HD LCD display, Xtreme shatter-resistant screen, 720 x 1280 resolution
  • 16GB of expandable storage
  • 8-megapixel rear camera with AF and LED flash
  • 8-megapixel fixed focus front camera with LED flash
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
  • 2300mAh battery
  • Android Nougat 7.0

Heavier than usual for a good reason

While it looks like your generic entry-level smartphone, the UP Xtreme is heavier than usual, and there’s a reason why: A good portion of it is caused by the Xtreme glass used for the front, which is really sturdy and firm compared to the competition.

It is so hard, you can barely flex the front glass even when you do hard touch on its surface. As for its durability claims, the UP Xtreme lives up to its name. We tried banging the front glass onto wood and metal, and it emerged unscratched. The same can be said when it comes to drop tests: We tried dropping it on hard flooring from a height of 1.5 meters, and the UP Xtreme emerged unscathed.

The display is pretty decent

While you get a tough front glass protecting the display, the panel used for the UP Xtreme has its shortcomings. With its 5-inch HD LCD panel, the display appears to be washed out especially if you adjust the brightness level beyond 50%. That issue aside, the UP Xtreme’s display manages to render colors accurately. While we wished for a Full HD panel, you can’t really ask for more given its price point.

Internals are really underwhelming

Given that it is priced at a hair below Php 4K/$77, it is kind of disappointing that Starmobile chose to use a MediaTek MT6580 processor with the UP Xtreme. We said that because at that price range, they could have gone for a better (not to mention, LTE-equipped) processor like the MT6737 used on the UP Selfie.

Now going to the performance, the AnTuTu score we got with the UP Xtreme is inaccurate as it did not include a score for the GPU part. The reason for this is that the MT6580 does not support the latest version of AnTuTu 3DBench.

Now because of that issue, along with its low-end internals, we limit our game choices for review with Asphalt 8, as running games like PUBG would make us go beast mode with the phone’s difficulty in running the game.

Based on data we got from GameBench, the UP Xtreme has its struggles in running Asphalt 8, garnering only a median FPS with an FPS stability of 70%. On our actual use, we noticed the frame drops throughout the game, not to mention the phone warming up a bit.

That brings us to our other concern regarding the UP Xtreme’s internals: Playing YouTube videos for a few minutes makes the UP Xtreme’s temperatures spike up to around 37 degrees. We’re not sure if it is a hardware or software issue, but we hope Starmobile can address this via an update.

Since it comes with just 1GB of RAM, the UP Xtreme has its limitations in doing multitasking, especially with shifting through different social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Given its low-end specs, we wished that Starmobile fitted the UP Xtreme (and possibly its future budget phone models) with Android Go instead.

Generic Android UI has barely any bloatware installed

While it comes with Android Nougat, the nice thing about the UP Xtreme’s UI is that it keeps things simple: There’s little to no bloatware to be found, and this really helps in making the most out of its measly 16GB internal storage and 1GB RAM.

By default, the only add-on apps you have are Adobe Acrobat, Freenet, Star Phone, and Starmobile Care. Out of the box, you have around 8GB of free space to store media and install apps. If 16GB is not enough, you can easily expand storage via the UP Xtreme’s MicroSD card slot.

Cameras are nothing out of the ordinary

Sporting an 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus, the UP Xtreme’s camera captures below average photos. While you can get decent shots in broad daylight, the UP Xtreme has difficulties in balancing exposure in tricky lighting situations.

Aside from that, we noticed that color rendition is slightly bland especially in mixed lighting. In good lighting, however, the UP Xtreme manages to capture decent photos.

The same goes for the front camera: Also using an 8-megapixel sensor, the selfie camera captures normal selfies, though they tend to overexpose at times.

Battery can last a day, but there are some caveats

While the battery of the UP Xtreme may be small by today’s standards, it can coast through the day. This is possible as it uses a smaller 5-inch HD display, which is not power-hungry. We could not get the complete battery life stats using PCMark as the app kept crashing on our review unit. However, based on our usage, we manage to squeeze in around six and a half hours of usage at 50% brightness. That’s pretty much below average, which means that you’ll need a power bank handy when you use the UP Xtreme as your daily driver.

When it comes to caveats, the UP Xtreme has a tendency of going too warm, to the point that we got a battery overheating error twice during our review.Like what we mentioned in the performance section of this review, we hope Starmobile issues an update addressing the UP Xtreme’s thermal management.

Verdict: Tough exterior but falls short with its internals

While we have to give the UP Xtreme points for effort for putting a tough-as-nails front glass, things get underwhelming when it comes to its internals. It is disappointing for Starmobile to settle an aging, non-LTE enabled quad-core processor where they could have easily used a newer, LTE-enabled processor.

Granted that it comes with entry-level specs given its budget price, one of the best remedies Starmobile could do with the UP Xtreme is to use Android Go instead of the usual Android software for better optimization. In addition, thermal management issues are a concern for the UP Xtreme, as the phone tends to heat up easily with some tasks.

That being said, there are many things to be improved upon with the UP Xtreme, and we hope Starmobile implements them in their future phone releases.

(unbox.ph, http://bit.ly/2IoBhR7)

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