The unlocked Verykool Quantum is the first device from the San Diego-based company to run on Android KitKat and support 4G LTE networks. That's a big step forward for Verykool, which has made only 3G Jelly Bean devices until now.
Unfortunately, that's pretty much the only nice thing I can say about this phone. Though the phone costs just $230 direct from Verykool, unlocked and without a contract, the company has cut too many corners, especially with the camera and display, to get to that price low.
Sporting a rounded, thin design with a metallic band around the edges, the Quantum looks very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S4, albeit bigger. It also bears a striking resemblance to the. Its official measurements are 5.6 inches tall by 2.9 inches wide and just 0.35-inch thick (143 by 73 by 8.9 mm). It weighs 4.9 ounces (140 grams), which makes it a tad heavier than the Spark.
It feels large in my hands, bordering on phablet size but still small enough to use one-handed. It's also easy to grip and feels comfortable to hold up to my ear for a phone call. Thankfully, the volume rocker along the left side is low enough that it's easy to press while on a call.
As for the other buttons and ports, you'll find the power/lock button on the right edge, while the headphone jack is situated at the top. The microUSB charging port is at the bottom-right. On the back, there's a small speaker grill for the external speaker.
The Quantum has a 5-inch, 480x854-pixel (198 ppi) display. While five-inch phones have become the norm these days, most have a 1080p display. Despite its lower resolution, the screen is still sharp and readable, though text occasionally appears fuzzy. Icons, menus, and other on-screen elements look large and prominent and fill the screen nicely. Colors look vibrant, though just a touch oversaturated. In direct sunlight, the screen is tough to see, so just keep in mind that you might have trouble with it outside on a sunny day.
Surrounding the phone's 5-inch screen is a thick, white bezel, where you'll find the capacitive menu, home and back buttons, as well as the front-facing camera and ambient light sensor. There's a smooth polycarbonate white battery cover on the back, which is easy to remove but harder to get back on completely. I needed to press all around the sides to get the cover to snap back into place, and even then, I noticed a few gaps between the cover and body of the phone.
Behind that back cover is the thin battery, as well as SIM card and microSD card slots. You don't need to removed the battery to install an SD card, which is convenient. The Quantum uses a full-size SIM, so you'll need an adapter if you have a mini SIM card.
The Quantum ships with Android 4.4 KitKat, and it's the first phone from Verykool to come with the newest flavor of Android. With KitKat, the phone has all the standard Google apps, such as Hangouts, Maps and Calendar. There's also the standard notification menu, where you can swipe down with one finger to see notifications and swipe with two fingers to bring up a quick settings menu.
Verykool kept many elements of KitKat intact, and didn't do much to modify the phone's software design, but there are a few special tweaks. First, there's a persistent Google search bar at the top of each home screen, which can't be easily removed. That search bar is your only gateway to Google Search, since you can't swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the app. You also cannot edit the number of homescreens you have; you're stuck with at least five, whether you use them or not.
Verykool also included a handful of extra apps, including Skype, office suite WPS Office, and Verykool Device Care, which monitors your phone's vital signs, such as battery life and RAM usage.
Camera and video
The Quantum is equipped with an 8-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, yet and neither perform well. In fact, the rear camera is one of the worst I've encountered among Verykool phones, for a variety of reasons.
While shooting, the camera had a tough time focusing, for both wide and close-up shots. There's an automatic focus, and you can also tap the screen to adjust the focus, and I often needed to tap twice or three times to get the right shot.
Even when I focused the lens, the image on the screen viewfinder still looked inexplicably fuzzy, as if I was watching a low-resolution video. I couldn't fix this, no matter how many settings I manipulated. However, after I captured a shot, the photo looked a bit more clear, both on the phone's screen and on my computer. There's definitely a discrepancy between what you see in the viewfinder and the finished photo.
To make matters worse, many photos I shot with the Quantum had lighting issues. Most photos looked darker than they should, and colors looked muted and flat. Check out the following photos to see the Quantum's camera in action, and click on each photo to enlarge.