After the unanticipated success of the original Samsung Galaxy Note, phone manufacturers have been rushing out their own variations of a 5-inch plus-sized phone. But almost all of these phones have been slapped with a premium price tag, putting them out of reach of the average user.
Well, that’s not a problem anymore, as Ninetology, a new local brand, has launched the 5.2-inch sized Ninetology Stealth II with a relatively affordable price-tag of RM899.
The Ninetology Stealth, with its 5.2-inch display, is a large device. The device is pretty slender though but does feel a bit heavy when held. The front has a clean and flat design, with three capacitive buttons at the bottom. There’s a metal rim along the sides of the phone. The right hand side houses the power button and on the left there are the volume rockers.
The phone tapers out towards the sides and this makes it comfortable to hold. On the back, there is a slight bulge at the location the camera lens is housed. Finally, on top, there’s the headphone jack and micro USB port. The design on the whole is attractively simple and minimalistic.
The Stealth supports two SIM cards making it a perfect match for those wanting dual-SIM functionality. It is also easy to switch between the two SIMs. The speaker is powerful but sounds a bit tinny. One problem with the Stealth II that is present in many mid-range phones is the plastic back which gets slippery quickly. However, once you slap a casing on, this shouldn’t be a problem anymore.
This phone runs on vanilla Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. What this means is that there are no additional software overlays by the manufacturers themselves and that’s good news. Sometimes, these overlays (read: bloatware) slow down the responsiveness of the device, and it is vital that the Stealth II comes without all these as it has a limited amount of RAM.
What you have got software-wise is pretty much the standard Android experience. You can view notifications and swipe them away by pulling down the notification bar at the top of the screen. Once you’re on this screen you get to access all the vital settings such as turning WiFi on/off, or dimming the brightness without having to go into the settings app.
In terms of pre-installed apps, there is not much. Of course, there’s the whole suite of Google apps such as Gmail, Google Play, Google+ and YouTube. Other than that, the only apps of note that come pre-installed are TouchPal (the default keyboard), SIM Toolkit and ES File Explorer, all of which are useful.
PERFORMANCE AND BATTERY
Under the hood, a dual-core CPU powers the Stealth II. For those who pay close attention to specs, the two cores are clocked at 1GHz each and are coupled with 512MB of RAM. In this day and age of quad-cores and phones with 2GB of RAM, you might think that the Stealth II has abysmal performance, but that’s not to be the case.
General system tasks such as swiping through the homescreen, scrolling through lists and opening apps are all responsive, though the occasional lag associated with all Android devices is there. Also, switching between one running app to another is a painless process. I was expecting somewhat lower performance in this regard, especially since the amount of RAM is only 512MB, but my expectations were ultimately proven wrong.
Web browsing was again pretty smooth. Nothing to complain about really – pages loaded quick enough, scrolling was smooth, but pinch-to-zoom was a bit jerky. Still, not a dealbreaker. The default Touchpal keyboard bundled with the phone did induce a slight amount of lag in the input, but once you switch back to the stock Android keyboard in the settings, things are smooth flowing.
I even tried playing some of the latest games on the phone. One of them was Shadowgun: DeadZone, a new graphically-intensive free online multiplayer shooter for mobile devices. And I was surprised the phone ran DeadZone smoothly. Of course, this shouldn’t be your primary gaming machine, but for the odd times you feel bored, the Stealth II will handle whatever games you throw at it respectably.
For normal usage, the phone’s battery should be able to last you two full days before the need to plug it in to a charger arises, and you should be able to eke out more battery life if you only sparingly use the phone.
CAMERA AND DISPLAY
Featuring an 8-megapixel camera, the Stealth II should suffice most of your basic photo-taking needs. Mind you, although 8-megapixel, the images are not as sharp and have more noise compared to similar resolution rear shooters that can be found in devices like the HTC One X and Apple iPhone 5.
Recording videos using the camera is OK as well. Take note though that the videos are taken in a 4:3 ratio and not 16:9. But still, like I said, the camera on the Stealth II suffices for basic photo and video taking needs, and an outright comparison to the other phone’s cameras is not fair due to the large price difference.
The display on the phone is sensitive, and it can detect all your taps and swipes accurately. However, one small concession you have to make is that you get a lower resolution screen with lesser pixels per inch than most of today’s phones. For example, while watching videos on YouTube, you can only watch them in HQ, not HD. But if you ask me, the difference is not all that noticeable, and to the average person, the screen would look as good as anything out there.
If you want a large screen phone – be it for a more luxurious web browsing experience, easier time typing on the virtual keyboard or simply because you’ve got a hard time seeing tiny letters – and have a limited budget to part with, the Ninetology Stealth II is a great proposition. It has got decent performance, battery life, a stock Android experience and dual-SIM capability. The modest price-tag of RM899 makes the deal a whole lot sweeter.