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Kata M4s Review - Gorgeous Inside Out?

Kata has made some good and some questionable decisions in recent years with their product line up and their latest, the Kata M4s aims to improve on that!
Kata M4s Review - Gorgeous Inside Out?
Kata M4s review


They've released winners like their tablets and released questionable ones like the Kata V5 which reviewed recently. Hopefully, with the new M4s, Kata may be able to recapture their magic.


Display Quality

Bright display!
Bright display!

One of the highlights is the 5.5 Inch HD Super AMOLED 1280 x 720 resolution w/ 2.5D curved glass at 267 ppi which isn't the sharpest around, but it is saturated and tends to be on the warmer side. So for people who prefer accurate color reproduction, this may be a concern for you. It has decent sunlight legibility and viewing angles too.

The display is on the warmer side!

The touchscreen on the other hand is accurate and responsive. We've never had a mistaken tap on the screen with our time with it. The glass panel is also one of the smoothest surface we've ever had on a phone. Swiping never felt as good as this for this price point.

Audio Quality

Single speaker
Single speaker

The M4s has one speaker The maximum volume is high with equally great clarity but the range is very shallow where at max volume and when the notes hit the peak bass, it distorts. 
The speaker grill is also easily covered that muffles the volume significantly. We expected a little more polish given the price. 

For headphones audio output is good. We used the stock earphones and our trusty RHA. The sound is clear with define details and a small sound stage.

When compared to the latest flagship like the OnePlus 5, the Kata M4s has noticeably less power, clarity, soundstage and impact. 

This is just us being nit picky. Compared to the rest of the phones in this price point, this is in line with them. We didn't have distortion at max levels and we are satisfied with its performance.

The M4s surprisingly has only one microphone which on paper means problems when calling or recording to cancel out the ambient noise. This is true in our test, the ambient noise is there and is noticeable but it isn't as distracting as you would think. It is there but you get used to it and you will forget it. Our callers only noticed when we mentioned it to them so it isn't a big compromise.

Battery Life

Nearly 11 hours!
Nearly 11 hours!

The phone is equipped with 4,350 mAh battery that comes with a AA charger which is powerful enough to fully charge the phone in around 120 minutes without a problem. Having a big battery like this, it is expected to have significant stamina.

In our benchmarks it carried its way to the end with nearly 11 hours which is staggering!

In our day to day use we found that we had around 30 to 35% battery left after our usual 8 AM to 8 pm work day of emails, texts, calls, social media, YouTube streaming and spotify sound triping.

Camera

18 MP rear camera
18 MP rear camera

On paper it is said to be 18 MP but if you do some research you will find out that there is no 18 MP sensor for mobile. There's a great chance that its main camera sensor is interpolated.
You can shoot and save to RAW files!
You can shoot and save to RAW files!

In the camera settings you can set geotagging, exposure compensation, white balance adjustment and an anti-flicker feature for when shooting fluorescent lights or high refresh rate displays. The geotagging works really well. What we didn't like with the camera app is that we had to go to settings just to adjust exposure unlike the competition where we can tap on the subject to focus and adjust the exposure accordingly. The anti-flicker works for the standard 60 Hz screens but falter when used against 120 Hz and above screens.

What surprised us is that the camera can shoot in RAW / DNG. Both cameras can shoot with an ISO of 100 to 1600 but you can not set the shutter speed which is a bummer if we wanted to do long exposures. There is image stabilization but it doesn't say whether it was OIS or EIS. But it's obviously EIS.

The autofocus is inconsistent even in daylight conditions where at one time the autofocus is quick and accurate while there were times where it would hesitate when we tap to focus and it would misfocus. We missed several shots because of this. This is inconsistent with the wonderful shots we got from the pre-production model we got that we wrote in our initial impressions. Kata may have to improve quality control.

The 18 MP f/2.0 w/ AF w/ single tone LED flash has decent resolution and color reproduction in day light. The colors, the resolution and the punchiness degrades in darker conditions. 

In lowlight the live view from the viewfinder and the resulting images have a foggy washed out look to it. This may result from subpar lens choices. We turned off the HDR most of the time because of the noticeable gap between taking the two images and combining it. It resulted in us missing shots and shots where moving subjects had a ghosting / cloned effect.

Rear Camera Samples

2 feet away and still can barely focus close up!
2 feet away and still can barely focus close up!
Daylight!
Daylight!
With flash!
With flash!
Indoors!
Indoors!

Surprisingly, the 8 MP f/2.0 w/ FF selfie camera performs better than the main camera for us.

The autofocus because of the face detect is also fast, accurate and responsive. We kept moving our heads around the frame and it would detect it and it would follow our faces. The downside to this is you can not control the ISO, and the exposure compensation. There is also no image stabilization.

It is also better in terms of color reproduction, resolution in both daylight and lowlight situations. The HDR also works faster and is noticeably faster. It can even handle "against the light" conditions which can compete with some phones in the price range today.

Selfie Camera Samples 

Selfie time!
Selfie time!
Daylight selfie!
Daylight selfie!
Indoor selfie!
Indoor selfie!

For videos the front camera can shoot up to 1080p but with no control on the frame rates. and MMS (videos for mms) while the selfie camera can shoot up to 640 by 320 which is disappointing. The video is sharp for 640p but we find the crop to be too big for when we want do a wide selfie video. The resolution and color take a noticeably drop from the stills. 

The audio is only okay which is a result of the single microphone.

Performance

Acceptable benchmark scores!
Acceptable benchmark scores!

The phone has a 1.5 GHz 64 Bit MT6750 octa core processor with 3 GB of RAM and a Mali T860 GPU which sounds underwhelming for the price. But, the single core score of 601 in geekbench and a 39 thousand Antutu score is in line with the completion.

In everyday tasks like email, texting, web browsing, Spotify an YouTube streaming, we didn't notice any lag. We did notice it when playing games or high resolution videos. Otherwise, the performance is good for your standard affairs.
Dated UI
Dated UI

Equipped with the latest Nougat Android 7.0 based Kata interface makes the menus and the notifications pretty what drags it down is Kata's choice to reuse their dated icons and dated home screens. It's near stock with some added gesture features from Kata that we found useful like the telephony motion where you can answer an incoming call just by swinging the phone to your ear. One weird thing is they branded their hotspot tethering feature as "HotKnot" without adding any benefit to the hotspot of stock android.
Added gesture control and app lock!
Added gesture control and app lock!

The only app bloatware installed in box like WPS office. This OS copy is pretty light. It does come with a built in app lock feature that locks specified apps under a password wall before you can gain access to the app.

Fingerprint scanner is fast, accurate and seamless. We have no problems with other than the fact that it is misleadingly small.

Telephone connectivity is good with strong signal and steady 4G data connectivity. There's the usual WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS as well that never failed us.

Pros - Front and back glass panels are gorgeous, LONG BATTERY. headphone performance is good, decent selfie camera
Cons - Warm screen calibration, shallow tone range speakers, video recording has a huge crop, very inconsistent camera performance, inaccurate light sensor

Verdict 

The Kata M4S is a beautiful phone but the performance from all aspects are usually average at best and we find it slightly lacking in quality control, BUT if you are looking for a phone that looks good with average specs then this phone may be for you!

Build / Design - 4.5
Display - 3.5
Audio - 3.5
Battery - 4.25
Camera - 3.25
Performance - 3.75
Average - 3.79 / 5
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