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Review: The Le Pro3 phone -- low price, great hardware, pushy UI

Dan Rosenbaum | Nov. 10, 2016
LeEco's high-spec Android smartphone sounds like a great deal. But it may not be a deal you’ll want to make.

The power and volume switches are along the right edge, the SIM drawer is on the left, and there's a fingerprint sensor on the back, which was frequently a little slow to respond. Stereo speakers and the USB-C port are on the bottom. There is no headphone jack, but the phone comes with both a set of USB-C earbuds and a USB-C-to-3.5mm headphone jack dongle.

There's an NFC chip, but no wireless charging.

The Le Pro3 is equipped with a 12MP main camera on the back that can shoot up to 2160p at 30 fps, and an 8MP selfie cam. The main camera creates a small bump at the back of the phone near the top edge.

The camera's controls and capabilities are a step or two up from basic. It's got still, slow-mo, panorama and video modes. In still mode, there's simple but effective control over exposures, white balance and ISO; you can pick the focus point by tapping on the display or set a different exposure point by holding down that tap and dragging. It's simple, unobtrusive and effective. I've seen much worse.

In your interface

Many of the cloud functions of the Le Pro3 duplicate Google's in a way that's sometimes intrusive -- especially if you're accustomed to the way Android usually works. The base of the Le Pro3's user interface is Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow), but it's been customized extensively to guide you to LeEco's content.

In classic Android, there are usually five icons along the bottom of the screen; the center icon, the App Tray, leads to a list of installed apps. In place of the App Tray icon, LeEco's interface has a button labelled "Live," which opens a landscape-oriented app of video clips and live broadcasts. Audio autostarts by default, and several thumbnails are in motion, several of those labelled premium content. In other words, in place of the list of installed applications, LeEco has placed material produced by itself or by content partners such as the Travel Channel and Food Network. There does not seem to be any way to set preferences for this content.

le pro3 live screen.jpg2

Instead of the App Tray, pressing the phone's middle button brings up a landscape-oriented app containing video clips and life broadcasts.

On the phone's chin, there are three capacitive buttons. In most Android phones (the ones that still have capacitive buttons), they are (from left to right) Back, Home and Recent. The Le Pro3 reverses that, and the Home button is repurposed with an LE logo, though it performs the same function as Home. Functionality of the Recent button, though, is very different from what you may expect.

 

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