Mediocre Andy AC5 doesn't have the chops to compete

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/ Updated: April 25, 2014 6:26 PM PDT

In the US smartphone industry, the name Yezz usually doesn't ring any bells. But the Miami-based company is known throughout countries in Latin America for its affordable single- and dual-SIM Android devices, where it competes with, among others, the likewise Floridian company Blu.

Priced at $219, the unlocked Andy AC5 Android phone provides a decent value, especially when considering its 13-megapixel camera and quad-core processor; specs that would often drive the sticker price up.

But while it's competitive in terms of both specs and cost, the handset's performance isn't comparable to similarly priced phones. It serves up a slow user experience and produces unimpressive photos. If you're absolutely in need of a dual-SIM unlocked handset, this phone may be worth considering, though I suspect that the Nokia Lumia 630 Windows Phone would be a better bet. However, if dual-SIM isn't a factor, try to look for the unlocked Motorola Moto G instead.

Design

With its appealingly slim 0.39-inch (9.91mm) profile, the Andy AC5 features subtly curved edges and a matte battery door that give it a more austere and modern look. However, the device is deceptively heavy and dense, given its size at 5.20 inches tall and 2.58 inches wide (or 132.08 x 65.53mm). I also had a hard time comfortably fitting in my front jeans pockets, and navigating with one hand was difficult.

The handset's left edge houses a thin volume rocker, while up top features a 3.5mm headphone jack and a Micro-USB port. You'll find a sleep/power button on the right side.

On the rear is a camera and its flash to the left. The lens bulges out of the surface of the phone a bit, so the AC5 won't ever lay completely flat on its back. Below the camera is a small grill for the audio speaker. To access the battery, dual SIM card slots, and the microSD port, you'll need to remove the backplate off, via a small indentation on the bottom left corner. This plate is extremely hard to detach -- I nearly bent a nail trying to pry it off and had to resort to a coin or a small knife a couple of times to succeed.

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The device is pleasingly thin, with a 0.39-inch profile. Josh Miller/CNET

The 5-inch qHD screen is sensitive and responsive to the touch, but visually, it isn't very crisp -- especially when compared to the Nexus 5's 1080p screen. Apps and images look grainy, there's aliasing around text and simple menu icons, and even default wallpapers look crunchy.

Above the display is a front-facing camera, and below are three hotkeys that light up when in use for back, home, and what looks to be recent apps. However, the button on the right actually launches the settings function (which is usually denoted on Android devices with an icon that has two to three lines, instead). For really recent apps, you'll need to longpress the center home button.

Software features

The phone runs on Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean, and has a user interface that comes close to what you'd see in the stock Android OS. It has plenty of Google apps like Currents, Earth, Gmail, Search, Plus, Keep, Local, Maps with Navigation, and Photos, as well as portals to the various Play Stores, Translate, and YouTube.

Other goodies that come preloaded is the mobile office suite known as Documents To Go, an FM radio, the Gameloft Live app portal as well as two of its games (Little Big City and Wonder Zoo), and the popular IM client, WhatsApp. Facebook, Instagram, Skype, and Twitter are also included.

Of course, there basic tasks managing tools are tossed in as well, like native browser and email clients, a calculator, a calendar, a clock with alarm functions, a file manager, a news-and-weather app, and a sound recorder.

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This handset runs on Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean and includes plenty of useful Google apps. Josh Miller/CNET

Camera and video

The 13-megapixel camera has a number of features like geotagging, color effects, different scene modes, a timer, continuous shooting, and the option to let users adjust the exposure, white balance, sharpness, hue, and ISO levels of a picture. Flash, digital zoom, and both touch and autofocus are available as well.

There are also different shooting modes that are listed on the camera's viewfinder. Some of these icons are obvious, like beauty and panoramic mode. Others have short explanations that pop up when you activate the tool. For example, tap the smiley face icon and the sentence, "Auto capture when smile is detected" appears.

And yet, other icons are vague and have no explanation. There's one that looks like a small box with a plus and minus sign. It looks like it would control a photo's brightness or exposure levels, but that doesn't appear to be so. And when I tap on it, nothing happens, and nothing is ever explained. Same goes for the random star icon. True, one can do some light sleuthing to figure out what these icons mean, but for general users, these should be intuitive. If they're not, then consistent tool tips should be provided.

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In this outdoor photo, the light source on the left side is overexposed. Lynn La/CNET

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You can see the sky being blown out in the corner, and colors look muted. Lynn La/CNET

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As you can see in this indoor photo, some of the white hues appear as an unpleasant blue. Lynn La/CNET

As for the camera quality, preliminary tests show a middling performance. In ample lighting outdoor lighting, whites were often overexposed, while dark hues were difficult to discern. Some parts of pictures also came out blurry, with fuzzy edges and muted colors. With indoor environments, the camera struggled with white balance. One picture I took, for example, showed light as an unpleasant blue hue. For more information on the camera quality, check out the test shots above, and be sure to click on them to view them at their full resolution.

Hardware and key components

The handset is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, a Power VR S5 GPU, and a removable 2,000mAh, battery, with the latter providing a reported talk time of about 14 to 16 hours. As for memory, users will get 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of internal memory with the option to expand that storage to up to 64GB.

The AC5 operates on a quad-band GSM network (850/900/1800/1900) and has 3G HSPA capabilities (UMTS 850/900/1900). While I was unable to get data on the device, I could make calls using an Aio Wireless SIM card, which uses AT&T's network. Call quality was good on my end. My calls never dropped, and voices were clear and easy to understand. I also didn't hear any extraneous buzzing or noises.

Yezz Andy AC5 (unlocked, on AT&T) call sample

And while the audio speaker quality was also clear, the volume range was too low. Even when cranked to max levels, I had to put my ear to the rear-speaker to hear my calling partner. In addition, I was told that my voice sounded really muffled and distant.

As for its general performance, the handset is rather slow and buggy. Sometimes when I opened the app drawer, the initial home screen didn't disappear immediately afterward. It also took a few moments longer than what I'm used to to call up the keyboard, quit an application, or re-orient the screen from portrait to landscape mode. In addition, when I was testing out the camera, the entire screen turned green once and the app froze. After I tapped the home key a few times, the camera finally quit and I returned to the home screen. The best Quadrant tests results was 4,105, and multithread Linpack yielded 98.062MFLOPs in 1.72 seconds.

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The best Quadrant result (out of three) for this phone was 4,105. Lynn La/CNET

Outlook

At $219, the Yezz Andy AC5 is a decent device for its price range. Many top-tier unlocked devices, for example, run upward to $600. And if you need a dual-SIM handset, it is worth considering. (Though, if you're interested, the Nokia Lumia 630 also sports dual-SIM ports at an affordable price.)

But if you're fine with just one SIM, the AC5 isn't the only inexpensive unlocked phone. For example, the Motorola Moto G is available for $179 (8GB) and $199 (16GB). It also has 3G capabilities, but even with twice and four times the amount of internal storage, it's still cheaper than the AC5. Plus, as a Google-branded device, you can receive software updates as they roll in.

If you're willing to spend more, the Google Nexus 5 is another solid unlocked handset. At $349, it costs nearly 37 percent more, but I find its superior 8-megapixel camera, crisp 1080p screen, and smooth performance to be worth the extra cost. It also has 4G LTE capabilities, which is just more icing on the cake if the network is available in your area.

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Where to Buy

Yezz Andy AC5 (unlocked)

Part Number: CNETYezzAndy AC5unlocked
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Quick Specifications See All

  • Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
  • Service Provider not specified
  • Weight 3.67 oz
  • Diagonal Size 5 in
  • Sensor Resolution 13.1 pixels