Starmobile Knight Spectra Review, Still The Local Flagship To Beat This Early 2016!

Most of the time smartphones nowadays focus purely on specs and price. However, some of them seems to forgot the value of refined user experience and providing innovative features. As a matter of fact, there's always something missing and not that right. That's what Starmobile is aiming to change when they released the Knight Spectra early November of 2015, a highly capable flagship grade handset with several not that common tricks in its sleeves that's designed to wow you right on the spot. And we got a Starmobile Knight Spectra for review that we can show you guys.
Starmobile Knight Spectra review
Starmobile Knight Spectra review

How? The Knight Spectra the first and only local branded handset to boast a dual camera setup touted to be good enough to be you main camera. This handset also combined all of the nifty yet useful features such as the FHD AMOLED screen, DTV function and top notch build quality and design.

Is it plain gimmickry or something important and useful? Did Starmobile justify the over 10K pricing of this phone properly? Let's all find out.

Disclaimer: The unit is provided by the company for review for a month

Starmobile Knight Spectra Specs

Display: 5.5 Inch FHD On Cell AMOLED 1920 x 1080 resolution at 401 ppi
CPU: 1.5 GHz 64 Bit Snapdragon 615 octa core processor
GPU: Adreno 405
RAM: 3 GB
ROM: 32 GB expandable via micro SD card slot up to 64 GB
Back Camera: 13 MP + 2 MP dual camera w/ LED flash 
Selfie Camera: 8 MP w/ LED flash
Battery: 3,500 mAh
OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, HSPA+, dual LTE, Bluetooth, FM Radio, OTG, GPS, A GPS, GLONASS, dual nano SIM (hybrid)
Sensors: Gravity, accelerometer, light, proximity
Others: ISDB-T and DVB Digital TV
Dimensions: 154 x 76.6 x 7.25 mm
Weight: 161 g
Price: 14,990 Pesos

Unboxing / Accessories

The box

The packaging of the Knight Spectra looks simple in the outside, but GRAND inside. Everything you'll need for your smartphone on first use is there, you'll get the usual wall charger / adapter at 1.5 A, data / charging cables, SIM ejector PIN, transparent case, DTV antenna with 3.5 mm female port, front and back screen protectors, microfiber cloth and a stick-able strap that acts as a stand.
The inclusions
The inclusions
More inclusions
More inclusions

Not only that, the quality of freebies they included is a notch higher than the norm specially in the screen protector part, free case and good sounding earphones. (We'll talk more about it later)

Build Quality / Design

Glass at the back

The level of craftsmanship made in this phone is on a whole different level compared to what we normally see with our local brands. It's actually on par with most of the recent international flagships we saw previously. The chamfered durable polycarbonate is a actually just a coating to metal frame inside that reinforce the toughness of this phone. It's also sandwiched in scratch resistant glass back and front panels.
On top there's the mic and the female audio port
On top there's the mic and the female audio port
Speaker grills and micro USB data / charging port below
Speaker grills and micro USB data / charging port below
SIM / micro SD card tray on the left
SIM / micro SD card tray on the left
Power button and volume rocker located at the right
Power button and volume rocker located at the right

However, the glass at the back may break when dropped, but fortunately Starmobile provided screen protectors and case that could prevent that incident. There's a little heft rated at 161 grams, but that indicates on how well made this device is.

Design-wise, it resembles an iPhone, Xperia and Huawei's Honor 6 Plus. Combine all of their traits and you get a sleek looking phone. A phone that's smooth, fantastic to hold and a looker in every angle. Simply something that's undeniably impressive. At 5.5 inch, they also made it a point to make the most of the body and make this phone look like a traditional 5 inch phone. We also noticed that its nice slimness at just 7.25 mm.

In terms of ports and button placements, it's another job well done for this phone. They managed to place most of the parts on the right places and made the buttons ergonomically easy to reach.

To nitpick, I would just like this phone better if it has a dedicated camera button as they're heavily marketing this as a camera phone.


Display Quality

Screen of Knight Spectra
Screen of Knight Spectra

One of the nicest traits of this handset is its Full HD AMOLED screen at 5.5 inch. Given the fact that it has that sharp 401 ppi, the pixels are hardly noticeable with the naked eye. Thanks to the AMOLED On Cell screen, there's no visible air gap and the colors were punch, has less glares and easy on the eyes. As usual, this type of panel is more saturated than the more balanced LCD screens, but some prefer it and some don't. The good thing is it isn't overly saturated compared to AMOLED screens of the past.
Multi-touch test (10 points)
Multi-touch test (10 points)

The blacks as expected are also blacker than the usual LCD panels and it also appears that Starmobile worked on the viewing angles of this device very well especially in room lighting. When used outdoors you'll see its little weakness, I don't find it that readable even at max brightness especially when hit directly by the sun. However, make no mistake, it's still better than most under that condition.

We also observed that the adaptiveness of the screen to lighting is pretty accurate as well. The viewing experience is great that makes this phone one of the nicest to use for watching movies, viewing photos and etc.

Sound Quality

The speaker quality of the Knight Elite is decent. It's more detailed that the common speakers we tried and a tad fuller. However, it falls short in loudness as it's still on the average side. Fortunately, distortion is hardly noticeable on max volume.

While, I fell in love with the level of clarity analytical traits of the Knight Elite, the Knight Spectra wasn't able to do the necessary step up in sound quality. Instead, it sounds thinner, lacks details, muddy in some tracks and isn't as loud as I wanted. The result is, I needed at least 80 - 100% volume to drive my Havi B3 Pro 1 in acceptable loudness.

Fortunately, while it's far from HiFi grade quality, it's still on the more balanced spectrum that should be enough for most. Lastly, it has the right amount of not overly bassy level that fits my preference better.

Note: They included an Earpod like IEM with pretty thin cables. However, don't let the appearance fool you, this one sound decent with WIDE open sound, good audio layering and has sparkling highs.

In terms of microphone quality, this is good enough to record meetings and do clear calls. There are just times when it doesn't cancel noise and has cracking sound in your recordings.

Battery Life

Battery test result under heavy settings
Battery test result under heavy settings

Touting a large 3,500 mAh of battery capacity, Starmobile appears to care about the battery life of this device.

On actual usage, we were able to use this phone from for around 10 hours from 1 pm to 11 pm. It can also last for a little more than 7 hours even if you open WiFi, Data, Bluetooth and GPS all at the same time. When watching videos or playing games with sound it lasted for 4 to 5 hours of straight usage. Charging time when turned on is at 3 hours and when turned off it's at 2.5 hours.

At best, that type of battery experience is a little more than decent. It could have been better, but still good considering that it has an FHD screen.

Camera

Dual camera setup at the back just like Honor 6 Plus
Dual camera setup at the back just like Honor 6 Plus

Again, the Knight Spectra is another camera centric device from Starmobile. This time, they're pushing the boundaries further as this phone touts a dual camera sensor at the back, a first in the local smartphone scene. It incorporates a 13 MP main sensor and a 2 MP secondary sensor for additional depth of field. In front you'll get a good type of 8 MP sensor with strong LED flash.

Going to the quality of the photos, it was impressive for a local phone and on par with the international midrangers. It's a little bit more on the saturated part of the color spectrum that adds more liveliness to your images. They're vibrant, sharp and very detailed in good lighting as well.

However, I noticed that it struggles on macro with at least 1 inch closeness to the subject. There are also few times where I experienced inconsistencies that overexposed the photo a bit.

It's also decent in lowlight and other challenging conditions, but grains / niise are noticeably more prominent on those shots.

As we talked about previously, this one still has their own Star Camera App with 3 main functions that includes Super Refocus, Chroma Flash and Opti Zoom. The camera interface is easy to understand as well that makes you familiar with it instantly even on first few tries. It also has other special features where you can crop your photo and change the background and play around with the filters of your shots.
Refocus feature of Knight Spectra
Refocus feature of Knight Spectra

Against its main rival, they're nearly similar to what they do, you can adjust the refocus from f/1.0 to f/16 against which is very near to the f/0.95 to to f/16 of Honor 6 Plus.

In terms of the more "natural" like refocus, the Starmobile Knight Spectra takes the lead there. They also see things differently as this one sees more angles than Honor 6 Plus. That's something great even if it's not that impressive in terms of shutter and refocus speed.

The Knight Spectra can also take 1080p FHD videos at the back, but it lacks OIS so it will be a little shaky. In front, it's capable of recording up to 720p HD videos.


Rear camera samples

Good lighting shot
Good lighting shot 
Gloomy day shot
Gloomy day shot
I tried 2x zooming here
I tried 2x zooming here 
Notice how natural the bokeh looks in this show
Notice how natural the bokeh looks in this shot
Subject: Huawei Band B0
Honor 6 Plus (left) Starmobile Knight Spectra (right)
Honor 6 Plus (left) Starmobile Knight Spectra (right)
refocused with f/4.0 aperture setting

Subject: VSonic VSD5
Challenging night mode shot
Challenging night mode shot, there are grains, but made the image very visible
low light
I took a photo of Bam Amor (adobotech) in low light
Sample flash
Sample flash

Selfie camera samples

Selfie at Megamall's great lighting
Selfie at Megamall's great lighting 
Selfie in dim semi fine dining light
Selfie in dim semi fine dining light
Ourdoor selfie without and with flash
Ourdoor selfie without and with flash

Performance

Antutu test result
Antutu test result

In terms of performance, the Knight Spectra comes with a familiar configuration from midrange devices. It's powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 615 octa core chip clocked at 1.5 GHz paired with Adreno 405 GPU, has ample 3 GB of RAM and pretty large 32 GB of expandable ROM. Given this price point, the rest of that config is just okay, but we wanted to see a more powerful chip to run this phone.
Geekbench result
Geekbench result

Anyway, that setup is still capable in running most of the casual and even some heavy task you throw at it. There's also little heating here against other Snapdragon 615 powered phones. In terms of gaming, it's decent. Don't expect Helio level of smoothness, but heavy games are playable at least.


On the software side, this phone comes in the usual Android Lollipop settings that we see with some tweaks to make it more personalized for Starmobile. It's easy to use and quite smooth as a whole. There are just few bloats that some wouldn't like, but it just okay for m as it won't really harm you.

It's also good that there's tap home button to lock, but I could find the other smart gestures like draw something to open something. The File Manager as usual is a little limited as usual.

Connectivity wise, the SIM and 4G signal reception of this one is fairly good as it manage to give me 1 bar signal in my usually bad signal place room. WiFi and Bluetooth connection works perfectly fine as well.
We used this phone to watch the first presidential debates clearly
We used this phone to watch the first presidential debates clearly

On special trait of this device is its DTV function. As long as you have DTV signal, you'll get very clear reception from local TV channels. Aside from that it can take snapshots and even record what you are watching. All you need to do is attach the antenna or your favorite earphones to watch.

As a matter of fact, we really enjoyed using it on the go, especially if we're experiencing heavy traffic. Aside from that, picture clarity is definitely impressive.

Pros - Top notch aesthetics, great screen, decent battery life, good DTV reception, local cameras to beat
Cons - Steep price, tinny headphone out / speakers, no fingerprint sensor, Snapdragon 615 is just okay

Verdict

To answer our question in the title, even with some flaws, the Starmobile Knight Spectra is still the very best on what our ever evolving local smartphone scene has to offer today. This device is currently unmatched in craftsmanship, useful features and has a camera tech / performance that's easy to love. Amidst the criticisms in pricing, I personally think that Starmobile was able to properly defend themselves for the first 3 months since its release.

However, as we move closer to the second quarter of the year, I personally think that this device deserves a price cut in order to properly compete especially with the newer competition. They should pull off a good sale just like what they did with their March Madness Sale.

Update: Starmobile Knight Spectra Gets A Price Cut! Down To 9990 Pesos Only! Click Here!

GIZ Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
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