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Hisense adds great low-price smartphone option

The Hisense H11 offers an easy-to-use experience at a very reasonable price, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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At first glance, the Hisense H11’s design is reminiscent of the more recent Samsung Galaxy S smartphones, while the home screen layout is strikingly similar to iOS. This design combination makes the Hisense H11 something special for those moving from Samsung or iPhone for budget reasons.

At a retail price of around R4500, that makes it a startlingly appealing phone.

The smoothed, reflective black plastic back with a matte black trim makes it feel like a high-end device. The 6” screen is a narrow-bezelled HD+ IPS display with excellent viewing angles. 

Like the Hisense F24, the large 18:9 screen and low bezels allow for this phone’s display to compete with the higher end Samsung and Huawei phones. Dropping the physical navigation bar in favour of a virtual navigation bar is a huge improvement, and pushes the handset into a premium space and making it appropriate for upgrades to its operating system.

A huge plus is the pre-set screen protector as the phone comes out of the box. Moreover, the phone comes with another glass protector, which reaches the corners of the phone over the existing screen protector, and a flexi-plastic bumper case. This is an extremely impressive combination of protective items, of the kind one usually finds only with the higher-end Huawei smartphones.

The rear of the phone hosts a reasonably fast fingerprint sensor, although a bit slow for a smartphone in 2018. On the top left, a large-sensored camera lens is paired with a flash below it. This placement is perfect, as the fingerprint sensor and the camera lens are so far apart that mistaking the fingerprint sensor for the camera lens would be unlikely. The inclusion of a type-C port is great, considering the benefits of faster cable speeds for data transfer. Type-C fast-charging capabilities charged the smartphone from 20% to 75% in just under 20 minutes. 

The speaker’s placement on the bottom of the smartphone to the right of the type-C port is optimal and is rarely obstructed. The caveat is the average sound quality, which is a bit tinny at higher volumes. A 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the phone provides many options for wired earphones and external sound systems. Audio delivered over the headphone jack is high-quality and not distorted. 

The 3400mAh non-removable battery is strong, providing a good 12 hours of medium usage (checking messages every half hour and playing Super Mario Run every 2 hours) until it reached 10%. While the battery capacity is large for a mid-range smartphone, the battery saving software that comes preinstalled prevents misbehaving apps from draining the battery in the background, freeing up the 3GB of RAM where it can.

Unfortunately, some bloatware is installed on this device. From time to time a badly translated pop-up message asks for permission to connect to the “network” for “cleaning” the smartphone. While Hisense is good with updates, this phone is not yet running Android Oreo, which is already close to being replaced.  Nevertheless, it will most probably receive updates, as it features the powerful Snapdragon 630 CPU and the Adreno 508 GPU.

The H11 has 32GB of onboard storage, but it can be expanded by up to 128GB with a MicroSD card in the second SIM slot. The LTE connectivity options are perfect for most high-speed broadband situations, with around 40Mbps download and around 10Mbps upload with good coverage. As with the F24, the 3-choose-2 SIM tray configuration allows for dual-SIM connectivity if you’re willing to sacrifice the SD card slot; or single SIM connectivity with an SD card if you don’t want an extra SIM connection.

The 12MP Sony sensor rear camera is good for quick shots and has decent colour replication. The camera app is improved over the previous versions, making it far more user-friendly than ever before. The 16MP front camera snaps satisfactory selfies, with beauty face features to smooth one’s skin, and a face-chaser focus system.

Videos were recorded in 1080p and the quality was good in brighter situations. It’s a little disappointing to see how the camera underperformed in lower light situations, but the bright flash is a redeeming factor.

Overall, the H11 is a phone for the everyday user who needs to send messages, watch online content and play a game occasionally.  The camera is very capable, but the camera app could be easier to use and night shots could be better. The form factor is aesthetically stunning, with no ergonomic trade-offs.

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