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Leagoo Elite 1: Connectivity and extras

We touched on the fingerprint scanner earlier in this review. Fingerprint scanners aren’t unusual in Chinese phones at this price point, but you won’t find one in a similar-value UK phone. It’s not as fast as the 0.2-0.3-second recognition you’ll find with flagship phone fingerprint scanners, but neither is it frustratingly slow. It should recognise your input in half a second.

Leagoo Elite 1

Neither will you find dual-SIM functionality in most UK-sold phones. This is useful for keeping your business and personal life separate without having to carry two phones, and also for frequent travellers. The Elite 1 supports all three UK 4G bands, but only on one of its two SIM slots (both are Micro-SIM). You’ll also need to decide whether you’d rather fit a microSD card or a second SIM, since it’s either or and not both. Also see: Best dual-SIM phones 2016 and buying advice.

In other respects connectivity is fairly basic, as you’d expect from a budget phone. You’ll get GPS but no GLONASS, HotKnot but no NFC (which means no Android Pay), and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 but no IR blaster.

Leagoo Elite 1 review: Cameras

Leagoo Elite 1

Many sites claim the Leagoo Elite 1 features a 16Mp camera at the back, and 13Mp at the front. Actually this is achieved through interpolation, and the Sony IMX214 fitted to this phone is actually a 13Mp camera. Likewise, the 13Mp front camera is actually an 8Mp camera.

That’s not to do it down, though. We were pleased to find great levels of detail - enough that you can make out individual bricks and road names - and great colour in our test shots of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel below (the first is with standard settings and the second HDR).

Leagoo Elite 1 camera test

Leagoo Elite 1 camera test

Unusually, this phone has three LED flashes, with two at the back and one at the front. This should allow it to capture better photos (even selfies) in low light.

The camera app itself is standard-fare with all the usual modes and the ability to apply colour filters and effects at the composition stage. The Leagoo Elite is also capable of full-HD (1080p) video recording at 30fps. Also see: Best phone camera 2016.

Leagoo Elite 1 review: Software

The Elite 1 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop (the latest version is Android Marshmallow, but Lollipop is still fairly recent), with Leagoo’s own UI over the top. The first tweak you’ll notice is the unfamiliar icons on the home screen, since the Leagoo supports themes (and they can be applied with a two-finger swipe); second will most likely be the new and default tab in the Settings menu, on to which Leagoo has pulled out the Settings it thinks you’ll want to use most frequently.

Leagoo Elite 1

There’s rather a lot here in the way of smart gestures, although some items may have been lost in translation. For example, I’ve never heard of a montin, but apparently it’s a word for those letters you draw onscreen in standby mode to wake the phone and automatically launch an app. These montins are customisable, so you can use them to launch an app of your choice.

Other smart features include: Smart Stay, which stops the screen timing out while you’re watching it; Smart Motion, which lets you answer the phone by putting it to your ear or mute a call by turning it over; Smart Gesture, which lets you answer a call, skip a track and so on by waving your hand; and Smart Window View, which is used with a case. You can also customise the colour of the LED notification for calls, texts and low battery.

We really like the dedicated Smart Button on the phone’s right edge, but we’d rather a quick tap launched the camera than began playing music. With all our tunes stored on Google’s cloud, there is very little in the phone’s own Music folder for it to play, and it’s all too easy to press the button and begin playback at an inappropriate time. That said, when you have the camera app open it will act as a shutter button (but must be careful not to jog the camera in doing so), and you can customise the long-press action of the button to launch the camera app.

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2016.

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.

Specs

Leagoo Elite 1: Specs

  • 5in full-HD (1920x1080, 441ppi) JDI LTPS IPS display, Gorilla Glass 3
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop
  • 1.3GHz MediaTek MTK6753 octa-core processor
  • Mali-T720 MP3 GPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • microSD up to 64GB (uses second SIM slot)
  • 13Mp (boosted to 16Mp) Sony IMX214 rear camera with dual-LED flash, f/2.0 aperture, custom Smart Button that can be used for camera, full-HD video recording @30fps
  • 8Mp (boosted to 13Mp) front camera with LED flash, f/2.4 aperture, 77-degree viewing angle
  • FDD-LTE bands 1/3/7/8/20, WCDMA/HSPA 900/2100MHz, GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • dual-SIM dual-standby (2x Micro-SIM)
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • GPS, A-GPS
  • USB OTG (adaptor supplied)
  • HotKnot
  • fingerprint scanner (0.5s) built into home button with sapphire glass surface
  • dual mics (one for noise cancellation)
  • 3.5mm headphone jack (earphones supplied)
  • Micro-USB
  • 2400mAh non-removable lithium-polymer battery
  • 143.8x69.5x7.5mm
  • 136g