By: Staff Reporter
The most recent release from Mobicel, South Africa’s biggest maker of smartphones, is the Mobicel Hype X, the first smartphone release from the company since 2015, and it is certainly an attention-getter. If the Mobicel Hype X was an animal it would probably be a peacock – it’s something that when you pull out of your pocket people are going to notice. But how is it beneath all the flash? It there substance, a foundation beneath the shine? Read on to find out.
Sometimes, you just want people to know that you’re there because you’re an extrovert. We believe there’s medication for that now. Mobicel’s Hype X is the extrovert of smartphones; a bright, eye-catching design that make you want to check out your reflection in the rainbow gradient on the rear of the phone. Beyond the bold colour choices, though, and you’ll note a pretty conventional design language. Like a peacock, the colour’s the thing. All the functional bits are still where they should be.
That means that there’s a volume rocker and power button taking up residence on one side, a mid-point fingerprint sensor on the rear and a raised back camera bump — iPhone 8 style. The Hype X still uses microUSB for charging, but they’ve also kept the headphone jack so we’re okay with living in a past a little longer. The speakers live in the same line on the device. They could be bigger, but at the device’s R4,000 price point, not a whole lot bigger.
Build could’ve tried to make us happier. The frame and chassis are sturdy enough but that whole rear panel is shiny, colourful plastic. It’s less prone to utter destruction on a drop (the 6in display might still come to grief) but it’s also less… premium. It feels like plastic when you hold it, a far cry from the heft of a metal, metal-like, or glass handset. We suspect that the body budget went to the (very pleasant) display instead.
But What Does It Do?!
Like mothers everywhere will say, it’s not how you look on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, so do we. In parts this feels like an Apple design with crappy.
We peeped inside the Hype X’s casing using the magic of analysis software and wandered about the internal specifications.
This phone’s packing Qualcom’s mid-range Snapdragon 450, running behind an above-average 6in 1,080 x 2,246 screen. The display takes its cues from Samsung’s Infinity Display design – you’ll see a few resemblances in the reduced bezels and rounded edges.
We noticed a little oddity with the display. It’s set to quite dim by default, meaning that users will have to opt for adaptive brightness (or something far more eye-searing) manually. Funny that.
There’s 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage inside (22GB available) and the Android 8.2 handset is powered by a 3,400mAh battery. All told, a decent crop of specs for an entry level phone. We ran some benchmark thingys, just to check, and came out with a few scores: 769 for Single Core on Geekbench 4, and 3890 for Multi-Core. That’s not too shabby, putting performance around the same place occupied by the old Galaxy S6.
Most companies have gotten used to the idea that preinstalled software isn’t the way to go (unless you’re Apple) and limit the amount of bloatware, Mobicel didn’t. As a result the Hype X has the worst bloatware you’ll ever encounter. That means having subscription-based services (or rather, several of them) operated by Mobicel that you can’t get rid of.
Acceptable if you’ll be able to remove the software. Except it’s not really software, they’re… links, with a mind of their own. Each icon (which can be deleted from the home screen) can have its operation stopped, but it cannot be removed from the phone itself. They’re sticking around. And, worse, they will periodically pop up a message in your notifications drawer asking you to spend R3/day on stuff you really don’t need or have any reason to use.
Guys, it’s 2019. If your smartphone has a non-essential app or function that cannot be deleted you’re doing it wrong. Given the price, this isn’t a dealbreaker for this phone but it does feel like an anachronism… and more than a little rude.
You can’t buy a phone in 2019 without giving some thought to the camera. Mobicel’s got some camera hardware that might distract you from the bloatware above, at least. There’s a 16MP front-facer that takes good-enough selfie shots. If you are constantly snapping your own mug (try explaining that sentence 10 years ago), there are worse ways to snatch away a piece of your soul.
The rear camera arrangement, of a 12MP+2MP sensor, is also a good one — though you’re going to have to work for your shots. In ideal conditions, you’re looking at clear, detailed, colourful images. In less-than-ideal conditions, it’s still possible to get them, but there’s effort involved. It’s not just a case of hitting the shutter and calling it a day.
Take a gander at the sample images above offer a few examples. If lighting is good you’ll snap some great shots (down to the dust on the shelves). We could have done with a faster shutter, though. Trying to grab images of a well-fed and almost stationary feline was a chore, through the twilight conditions didn’t help the camera keep up. In the cat photo, you’ll notice that everything stationary is well detailed — if a bit washed out. And the shrubbery? It look a few tries to get an image that didn’t look as though the central flower was emitting its own light.
The takeaway? You can take better pictures with a different phone but putting in the time to get to know the Hype X will see you rivalling other, far more expensive cameras.
Mobicel Hype X Verdict
A lot of time has passed since the Mobicel Air, a fairly nondescript device that managed to impress, performance-wise. And a lot of competition has emerged in the entry-level market since. Mobicel’s Hype X does well on a visual level (if being noticed is your thing) but more is needed to stay toe-to-toe with everyone else jostling for attention.
As it stands, the Hype X does well enough on the performance front to warrant your cash. If you’re especially mad about your cellphone photography, you’re less likely to be pleased, and you’d be better off forking out a little more for something else.