Ben Sin

The Samsung Galaxy S8 (left) and the UmiDigi S2 (right).

As much as I prefer Android over iOS, Google to Apple, there’s no denying that the Cupertino tech giant is still the ultimate trendsetter in mobile to the general public (the latter distinction is important, because iPhones haven’t introduced anything new or daring in seven years from the techie point-of-view).

So even though the smartphone market is already starting to flood with edge-to-edge screen phones of the bezel-less or slim-bezel variety, it won’t officially be "the thing" (at least to mainstream news outlets) until the iPhone 8 is unveiled in a couple of weeks.

Starting early next year, using a phone with traditional bezels will seem dated, sort of like people who were still using CD players in 2009.

The problem for some consumers, however, is that the big two are getting more and more brazen with jacking up its prices. Samsung’s new phone, the Note 8, costs nearly $1,000 in the U.S, despite offering minor, minor upgrades over the Galaxy S8, which can be had in the U.S. for around $650. The new iPhone is expected to cost more. Samsung and Apple are doing this partly because its phones cost a bit more to make, but mostly because it knows people will pay whatever to get the latest iPhone or Galaxy.

For those who want the new-age slim bezel designs, but don’t want to or cannot pay the price, there are plenty of small Chinese handset makers looking for your business.

At IFA in Berlin last week, a small Shenzhen-based handset company named UmiDigi unveiled its S2/S2 Pro handset, and the design influences for the device’s front is clear: it’s a Samsung Galaxy S8 clone.

The S2 has the same 18:9 aspect that LG and Samsung pioneered earlier this year (though Samsung uses an 18.5:9), with similarly shaped bezels as the S8 (though slightly larger). In fact, the phone’s navigation buttons even look just like Samsung’s unique take on the buttons.

In a slightly ironic turn of events — I was unable to get my hands on the S2 when I was at IFA last week, but not even half a day after I landed back in Hong Kong, I have my hands on the device after north of the border.

Aside from the front, the S2’s back is made of all metal, and dare I say it, it looks better than the glass backs of the Samsung Galaxy S8 or LG G6/V30. This is personally preference, of course, but how many reviewers complain about the back of Galaxy devices being fingerprint magnets? That’s because the glass back only looks good in product shots, not in real world usage. A metal back doesn’t have to worry about attracting grease as much.

Ben Sin

I like the metal back better than the glass backs of Samsung phones.

Ben Sin

The bottom ports are aligned correctly, unlike Samsung’s phone.

Ben Sin

That 18:9 aspect ratio means you can use two apps side by side easily.

I also like the S2’s circular dual camera layout and the clean fingerprint reader. The antenna lines are curved along the top and bottom edges of the phone (western tech publications, aside from The Verge, always attribute this "hidden antenna" design to the iPhone 7 when actually, Meizu beat Apple to the punch by half a year).

Though the design feel very premium and the craftsmanship is superb for a budget Chinese handset maker, ultimately it still falls short to the Samsungs and LGs of the world. The S2, despite bezels that are slimmer than all other budget Chinese phones, is still a bit chunkier than the Galaxy S8, the gold standard in cramming a large screen into a compact body still. The S2 is quite a bit taller and wider than the Galaxy S8, and this is even factoring in that UmiDigi’s device has a larger screen (6-inch 1080p panel from Sharp). 

Ben Sin

I can’t believe this phone costs only $230.

Under the hood, the S2 is powered by a MediaTek Helio P25 and 4 or 6GB of RAM. The version I tried had only 4GB, but the phone was snappy. That’s partly due to the phone’s near stock Android software, which is a great thing considering how much Chinese phone companies try to cram unnecessary bloat into its phones.

I only got to play around with the device for an hour, and being in China without access to Google or a USB-C cable meant I couldn’t export photo samples yet. But I did try the 13-megapixel camera and the photos turned out about on par with budget Chinese phones, meaning they’ll look fine in day light but I wouldn’t expect great photos at night.

Ben Sin

The bottom bezel is a bit larger than the S8’s. Notice the navigation button looks the same as Samsung’s version.

The other highlight of the S2, aside from that 18:9 slim(ish) bezel screen has got to be the 5,100 mAh battery. That’s huge — Samsung’s Note 8 only has a measly 3,300mAh. UmiDigi says it will last you two days easily. I’ll have to test the phone myself to see.

Ultimately, as a tech journalist and somewhat of a creative person, it’s hard for me to gush too much about a device that is a clear blatant copy of an existing product. But if I look at this from the eyes of the consumer? The UmiDigi S2 will sell for just $229 (beginning September 18). To get a premium feeling metal phone with the similar all-screen look of a Galaxy S8 and lean Android software for not even $250? Wow.

 

“>

Ben Sin

The Samsung Galaxy S8 (left) and the UmiDigi S2 (right).

As much as I prefer Android over iOS, Google to Apple, there’s no denying that the Cupertino tech giant is still the ultimate trendsetter in mobile to the general public (the latter distinction is important, because iPhones haven’t introduced anything new or daring in seven years from the techie point-of-view).

So even though the smartphone market is already starting to flood with edge-to-edge screen phones of the bezel-less or slim-bezel variety, it won’t officially be “the thing” (at least to mainstream news outlets) until the iPhone 8 is unveiled in a couple of weeks.

Starting early next year, using a phone with traditional bezels will seem dated, sort of like people who were still using CD players in 2009.

The problem for some consumers, however, is that the big two are getting more and more brazen with jacking up its prices. Samsung’s new phone, the Note 8, costs nearly $1,000 in the U.S, despite offering minor, minor upgrades over the Galaxy S8, which can be had in the U.S. for around $650. The new iPhone is expected to cost more. Samsung and Apple are doing this partly because its phones cost a bit more to make, but mostly because it knows people will pay whatever to get the latest iPhone or Galaxy.

For those who want the new-age slim bezel designs, but don’t want to or cannot pay the price, there are plenty of small Chinese handset makers looking for your business.

At IFA in Berlin last week, a small Shenzhen-based handset company named UmiDigi unveiled its S2/S2 Pro handset, and the design influences for the device’s front is clear: it’s a Samsung Galaxy S8 clone.

The S2 has the same 18:9 aspect that LG and Samsung pioneered earlier this year (though Samsung uses an 18.5:9), with similarly shaped bezels as the S8 (though slightly larger). In fact, the phone’s navigation buttons even look just like Samsung’s unique take on the buttons.

In a slightly ironic turn of events — I was unable to get my hands on the S2 when I was at IFA last week, but not even half a day after I landed back in Hong Kong, I have my hands on the device after north of the border.

Aside from the front, the S2’s back is made of all metal, and dare I say it, it looks better than the glass backs of the Samsung Galaxy S8 or LG G6/V30. This is personally preference, of course, but how many reviewers complain about the back of Galaxy devices being fingerprint magnets? That’s because the glass back only looks good in product shots, not in real world usage. A metal back doesn’t have to worry about attracting grease as much.

Ben Sin

I like the metal back better than the glass backs of Samsung phones.

Ben Sin

The bottom ports are aligned correctly, unlike Samsung’s phone.

Ben Sin

That 18:9 aspect ratio means you can use two apps side by side easily.

I also like the S2’s circular dual camera layout and the clean fingerprint reader. The antenna lines are curved along the top and bottom edges of the phone (western tech publications, aside from The Verge, always attribute this “hidden antenna” design to the iPhone 7 when actually, Meizu beat Apple to the punch by half a year).

Though the design feel very premium and the craftsmanship is superb for a budget Chinese handset maker, ultimately it still falls short to the Samsungs and LGs of the world. The S2, despite bezels that are slimmer than all other budget Chinese phones, is still a bit chunkier than the Galaxy S8, the gold standard in cramming a large screen into a compact body still. The S2 is quite a bit taller and wider than the Galaxy S8, and this is even factoring in that UmiDigi’s device has a larger screen (6-inch 1080p panel from Sharp). 

Ben Sin

I can’t believe this phone costs only $230.

Under the hood, the S2 is powered by a MediaTek Helio P25 and 4 or 6GB of RAM. The version I tried had only 4GB, but the phone was snappy. That’s partly due to the phone’s near stock Android software, which is a great thing considering how much Chinese phone companies try to cram unnecessary bloat into its phones.

I only got to play around with the device for an hour, and being in China without access to Google or a USB-C cable meant I couldn’t export photo samples yet. But I did try the 13-megapixel camera and the photos turned out about on par with budget Chinese phones, meaning they’ll look fine in day light but I wouldn’t expect great photos at night.

Ben Sin

The bottom bezel is a bit larger than the S8’s. Notice the navigation button looks the same as Samsung’s version.

The other highlight of the S2, aside from that 18:9 slim(ish) bezel screen has got to be the 5,100 mAh battery. That’s huge — Samsung’s Note 8 only has a measly 3,300mAh. UmiDigi says it will last you two days easily. I’ll have to test the phone myself to see.

Ultimately, as a tech journalist and somewhat of a creative person, it’s hard for me to gush too much about a device that is a clear blatant copy of an existing product. But if I look at this from the eyes of the consumer? The UmiDigi S2 will sell for just $229 (beginning September 18). To get a premium feeling metal phone with the similar all-screen look of a Galaxy S8 and lean Android software for not even $250? Wow.

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