Just recently, we reviewed the Neffos N1, TP-Link’s flagship, mid-tier-priced smartphone. And when there’s a flagship, there’s a budget option too. Cue the Neffos C7. It’s the budget of the budget; a handset which is aimed squarely at the very bottom of the market – the sub-$200 segment. At a time when the very best flagships retail for almost $2000, very few companies can true , the competition narrowing to the (older) Huawei Honor 6A and the Xiaomi Redmi 5A. All three are quite similar, actually, and we’ll do a quick comparison in the conclusion, but first, let’s take a quick look at the highlights (and low points) of the C7:
- Great battery
- Plastic build
- Mediocre screen
Although it’s designed to look like metal, the C7 is unmistakeably plastic, a fact especially obvious once it’s in your hands. It’s still pretty sturdy and well made (which, considering the price, is already an achievement), but there’s no mistaking it for premium. Tapping on the back gives that “hollow plastic” sound (remember the Samsung Galaxy S4?). Honestly, though, it doesn’t really matter if you get a case for it.
Also, just like the N1, the C7 has those ugly black bezels. Honestly, however, we can’t realistically expect edge to edge displays on phones at this price point (at least not yet).
The C7 keeps the the instantaneous fingerprint sensor and the micro SD card slot of the N1, but left out the mute switch and swapped the USB C for a micro USB connector. I really loved those features on the N1, but to keep costs down, corners had to be cut – remember, this phone costs half as much as the N1, and the N1 itself already offers outstanding value for money.
The 720p IPS screen is not too bad, although it is nowhere nearly as good as the display on the N1. Firstly, the blacks aren’t as deep, meaning the backlight bleed is slightly visible on a black background (eg. in the gallery). Upon closer inspection you can see the pixelation from the lower-resolution display. It also has a blueish tinge to it, which is less pleasant on the eyes (especially with extended viewing). However, it will more than suffice for basic use.
UI & Performance
The C7 runs the same NFUI 7.0 as its more expensive cousin, the N1. That means you get the same bright, light and pretty UI as a phone twice its price. But alas, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The lower-end MediaTek MT6750 of the C7 means you don’t get the same smoothness as the N1. It’s still an octa-core processor (if that counts) but the C7 does sometimes stutter momentarily, usually with heavy multitasking (although the general software experience is fluid). Fortunately, it doesn’t freeze up often enough to become annoying.
Either way, there isn’t much else you can expect at this price point, with the Redmi 5A and Honor 6A offering similar hardware, using a snapdragon CPU instead (but with similar performance). However, because these two competitors were released earlier, you might be able to snatch up the upgraded 3GB RAM/32GB ROM versions of these for a similar price to the 2GB RAM/16GB ROM C7. There isn’t a 3GB RAM/32GB ROM version of the C7, though it allows for a micro SD card up to 128GB.
Like its competition, the C7 houses a 13MP sensor with phase-detect autofocus for its main camera. But where Neffos is eager to impress is the selfie camera, which is a slight bump up from the 5MP of its competitors. In practice though, it’s not much of a deal. You get the same selfie-camera quality, with a slight increase in resolution.
The back camera, though, performed admirably for its class, with the quality coming close to the N1’s in bright light, though it did trail behind in the dark. It definitely doesn’t stand up against the flagships out there, but for less than a fifth of the price, it is much better than we expected. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to test it against the the Xiaomi Redmi 5A or Huawei Honor 6A, but they should roughly be on par too.
Just like the N1, the camera user interface is intuitive. However, the C7 drops a few of the modes available on the N1, such as the portrait mode (because it lacks dual cameras) as well as long exposure and monochrome modes.
Packed with a 3060mAh battery, the C7 lasts for a really long time. It doesn’t have the quick charge of the N1, so you can’t do a quick 15-minute top-up as a last resort, but the battery lasts so long on the lower-powered hardware that it’s almost guaranteed to bring you through the whole day (probably 2, actually, with lighter use). That’s an amazing feat for a phone at this price.
Price and Availability
There’s a reason why “price” in the Pros was written in caps. The entire phone has been defined around the price, which is at a staggeringly low S$189. To put things into perspective, you can buy 10 of these for the price of a single 256GB iPhone X. Or 2 of these for the price of the average smartwatch. Picking one up is easy too, as it’s available at all Challenger and Best Denki outlets, as well as Mustafa.
Vlue for money is an understatement. The guys at TP-Link have managed to make the phone so cheap you could get one every week. And it’s a perfectly usable phone. At the same time, there really isn’t anything else that stands out, especially since its closest competitor, the Xiaomi Redmi 5A offers almost the exact same specs at almost the exact same price. The Huawei Honor 6A, though slightly more expensive, was released a year back, and its prices have dropped to that of the C7 too. Both these competitors are rather evenly matched with the Neffos C7, except that the Honor 6A has a metal build. All three are excellent options, and in the end, it boils down to which phone you can find the best price for. Alternatively, it may be a good idea to take a look at Neffos’ flagship N1. For roughly $200 more than the C7, you get most of the features of the $1000+ flagships out there. If you can spare the extra $200, I’d say go for the N1 instead.