Ambitious LeEco unveils 2 phones with super cheap price tags (hands-on)

Aside from an electric car and an 85-inch TV, LeEco took the wraps off two inexpensive phones.

Lynn La

Lynn La

Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones

Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.

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Chinese company LeEco launched a slew of upcoming products and services today here in San Francisco, including an 85-inch TV (2.2m), a VR headset, a self-driving car and media streaming platform. It also unveiled two phones, the LePro 3 and the Le S3.

The least expensive of the two is the Le S3. It runs Android and has a 5.5-inch display. It's equipped with a Snapdragon 652 chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory. For your casual camera needs, it has a 16-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel shooter on the front.

Other features include a 1,080-pixel resolution, a fingerprint reader and a USB Type-C port. (In 2015, LeEco was one of the first companies to integrate Type-C in its phones, starting with the Le 1 Pro Superphone.)

LeEco's Le Pro3 and Le S3 take on Google Pixel, OnePlus 3

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The more powerful device, the 5.5-inch LePro 3, has similar camera specs, but a few of its hardware features have been bumped up. It has the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. It boasts a massive 4,070 mAh battery -- and with Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 technology, it's supposed to charge up to 33 percent in 20 minutes. You can read our review of the LePro 3 here.

Other than a few cosmetic details, both handsets look and feel similar. The LePro 3 is heavier and has a brushed metal design, while the S3 has a matte, beaded aluminum aesthetic. During my brief time with it, they worked smoothly and felt responsive and snappy.

The phones are also integrated with LeEco's streaming video service known as LeLive. You can access it by tapping the bottom center button on the homescreen, and watch shows, movies and other content. Using a Wi-Fi network for connection, the phones loaded up the videos fairly quickly and images looked clear and bright.

Enlarge Image

Both the Le S3 (back) and the LePro 3 (front) have a fingerprint reader and a 16-megapixel camera.

James Martin/CNET

The devices' most compelling draw is their price. The Le S3 will go for $229 (UK and Australian details have yet to be announced, but that converts to around £185 or AU$300) and the LePro 3 costs $399 (about £325 and AU$520).

Keep in mind that they're not the only high-end handsets at that price range. The OnePlus 3, from another scrappy startup based in China, costs $399 and £329 (or approximately AU$530) too and its upcoming 3T starts at $439 and £399 (AU$580 converted). Though it has a lower battery capacity than the LePro 3 at 3,000mAh and a Snapdragon 820 processor, the OnePlus 3 features similar camera specs, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory too.

Still, with prices that are sub-$400, all these phones cost significant less than flagships like the Apple iPhone 7, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the newest Google Pixel, which start at $700 or more.

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