Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!

The Sage 2 is the second generation of the design and build centric Ekophone that doesn't compromise the performance. It now boast several important improvements from the first Sage in performance, features and price even on a slightly toned down in size and design package.
Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
Ekophone Sage 2 LTE review!

Brief overview, the Ekophone Sage 2 is one of the few phones in this price bracket especially coming from a home brewed brand with LTE connectivity. Aside from that it also boast pretty nice overall specs specially for the asking price. Let's start with the review.

Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Specs

Display: 5 Inch qHD 960 x 540 resolution at 220 ppi
CPU: 1 GHz 64 Bit MT6735 quad core processor
GPU: Mali T720
RAM: 1 GB
ROM: 8 GB expandable via micro SD card slot up to 64 GB
Back Camera: 8 MP OV8858 sensor w/ LED flash
Selfie Camera: 2 MP
Battery: 2,500 mAh 
OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, dual SIM, OTG

Unboxing / Accessories

Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
Inclusions inside the box

The Sage 2 LTE goes with a solid package. You'll get standard data / charging cables, 1 A USB charger / adapter and in ear monitors with mic for calls. Aside from that you'll also find some ekotek stickers and their own starter kit to familiarize you with the phone. The Sage 2 LTE is also pre-installed with a screen protector to prevent scratches from your screen.
Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
Some cool inspiration quotes printed at the battery pack!

So far everything feels great here and the quality of the accessories inside were decent in general.

Build Quality / Design

Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
A view of the Ekophone Sage 2 LTE at the back

This is where Ekotek excels most of the time as they love to create extra tough devices. Born from the same DNA of the older Sage, the Sage 2 LTE is not an exemption in that sense. It's made out of thick, heavy and durable looking plastic that truly have a tank like feel when you're holding it. This phone comes with chrome painted sides and buttons with good placements as well.
Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
A look on top showing the single mic on top, micro USB port, 3.5 mm jack
Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
On the side there goes the power button and volume rocker
Notice how solid the phone looks here

In general the device is truly well made, easy to hold and have a nice semi curved back design to give you a more comfortable and safe grip. I also noticed that the camera at the back has an outer metal layer which gives the lens added protection. Again, just like what I usually say with 90% of the phones out in the market right now is I don't like the speaker placement at the back.

While it may not look as great and as thin compared with the original Sage, from memory, this one feels several notches tougher.

Note: Surprisingly the back cover with some sort of coating isn't prone to scratches as well

Display Quality

Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
The display of the Sage 2 LTE
Visible here is the cool boot loader of Ekotek

Among all the Ekotek phones and tablets I tried, the Sage 2 LTE packs the best display of them all. Even by just rocking a qHD panel, this phone has great viewing angles, near OGS like quality and hardly noticeable pixels.

I also liked that it has nice saturation and strong brightness to make it pleasing to the eyes under direct sunlight. Aside from that it also has the adaptive screen tech which optimized the brightness according to the light available and goes with the Miravision tech to improve overall picture and video quality. It also has a 5 point multi touch support that makes you type easier and navigate faster with better efficiency compared with their older 2 point multi touch phones.

Audio Quality

In terms of loudness, I never had a problem with the speaker of this phone. Ekotek managed to make it sound clean, crisp and detailed. Should be great enough to hear your most important calls from afar. In terms of distortion, there's some at over 80% of the volume which i s quite normal with smartphones nowadays.

As expected from a MediaTek powered phones, they normally combine it with good sounding chips coming when you use your headphones. The sound signature is more on the neutral side / flat which is definitely non fatiguing even after hours of use and genre friendly. Lossless audio not higher than 16 bit is also playable here.

The earspeakers and microphone also blends well for clear calls and hearing thru the earspeakers.

Battery

For a phone with 2,500 mAh of battery capacity and just a qHD resolution on a 5 inch screen paired with the efficient MT6735 quad core processor, I expected a lot from this device. However, I find the battery management not as good as I thought.
Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
Geek bench battery test

I was only able to squeeze a little more than 4 hours of straight heavy usage with max brightness settings on together with Bluetooth, LTE and a lot of other apps. I was expecting to get a result of at least 5 hours, but I failed.

Fortunately, under real world usage, it's a little bit better than I thought after the battery test. It was able to help me get through the days starting at 8 am to 9 pm on a single charge with my normal daily phone task.

Camera

This handset is equipped with 8 MP OV8858 sensor w/ LED flash from Omnivision at the back. It's an older gen of camera chip that still performs quite nice. It gives you nice white balance and average sharpness as well. Then as expected it didn't perform well under low-light and challenging conditions.

What I like here is the video samples I took packs good stabilization and decent focus. However, you can only record up to 720p with the back camera.

The 2 MP selfie cam on the other hand isn't that good, but decent enough to make you feel that you have a front facing cameras. It just requires you to extend your hand a little bit more than you're used to, to put your entire face in the frame. It isn't wide angled too.


Camera Samples

Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
Showing nice colors here even if it's a bit under saturated
Good for macro shots too even with visible grains
Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
There are times that it can focus on very near subjects and show good amount of details
Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
It struggles in challenging conditions like night time, still view-able though
Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
The flash isn't that strong and won't focus that well, but it's not yellowish
At least you have flash especially when taking photos in the dark
Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
I look a bit blurred on this shameless selfie shot


Performance

The Sage 2 LTE packs a lot of improvement over the processing power used against the first gen Sage. It's using MediaTek's new 64 bit quad core chip that is a proven good daily driver, rocks the midrange Mali T720 GPU which is proven and tested to run most of the modern games and graphic intensive applications. Multitasking is also on the average side as this phone is equipped with 1 GB of RAM, good enough for opening a number of apps at the same time.

What I like with this phone is unlike other new phone makers, they're using the newer and more stable version of Android at 5.1. To make things sweeter, Ekotek placed very little bloats with this phone as pre-installed apps is almost non-existent with an easy to understand UI. The Ekophone Sage 2 also rocks several smart gestures to turn the screen on like the power button saving double tap to wake function.

However, the performance isn't good always. There are times I experienced several app crashes sometimes. It can be remedied though by restarting your phone, but that could cause some stress and hassle to some. The storage available for installing apps isn't also that big at just 2.06 / 8 GB. Fortunately, it's expandable up to 64 GB via micro SD card slot.

Recommendation: I hope they stick to stock Vanilla Android with stock icons and controls next time around.


Benchmarks

Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
Quite high score for a lower clocked quad core chip
Goes with 5 points of multi touch too
Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
Geek bench and quadrant scores
Ekophone Sage 2 LTE Review! A Solid Phone To Consider On A Tight Budget!
GPU bench result

Pro's - 64 bit quad core processor on a budget, good graphic performance, LTE connectivity, tank like build quality
Con's - Software still needs improvement, battery life isn't that optimized for a 2,500 mAh handset, signal reception is 1 bar weaker than some of my phones

Verdict

Ekotek listens very well to suggestions which is a great thing. The result, a rare LTE phone under on a budget coming from a local brand outside of Cherry and CloudFone with good overall performance. Yes, there's still a lot of things to learn and improve from Ekotek, but the point here is they were able to come up with something nice that makes them one of the brands to consider right now. The future is bright, let's hope that they keep up that pace.

GIZ Rating: 3.75/5 Stars
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