TP-Link, the company you’re probably already familiar with for the networking gear they make, earlier this year announced their new venture into the Android smartphone market under a new brand, Neffos. They have three launch products, the Neffos C5L, C5 and C5 Max, and the former two will be available for sale in Singapore at the end of this month.
I have the Neffos C5 for this review. It’s a 5-inch display device, slightly better spec’ed than the entry-level C5L which has a smaller 4.5-inch display. Both phones are priced to be very budget friendly.
TP-Link doesn’t intend for their Neffos smartphones to compete with flagship devices of other brands. Instead, TP-Link’s Vice President, Justin Tu, speaks of the Neffos smartphone as a second handset to help Singaporeans draw a clearer line between work and home life.
The Neffos C5 can probably be considered to be positioned in the mid-tier range. It is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6735 processor, has 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of internal storage that can be expanded to 32 GB via a microSD card. The main camera on the back has 8 MP resolution and dual-LED flash, while the front-shooter has 5 MP resolution. The 5-inch display is IPS type and has 1280 x 720 resolution. The Neffos C5 is a dual SIM phone, which will be good for frequent travellers.
Physically, the Neffos measures 144 x 72 x 8.8 mm, and weighs 141 g. That makes it pretty compact, thin enough, and quite light too.
The all plastic build of the Neffos C5 reflects the price that you’re paying for this phone. It’s not bad at all. The body is strong and rigid. There are no buttons on the front. TP-Link opted to go with the Android soft keys. The TP-Link branding is emblazoned below the screen.
The display is bright and vibrant. It looks really nice, and works alright even in sunlight.
The right side of the phone has the usual power button and volume rocker. The Neffos C5 is small enough, so the buttons are all easily reachable, even if your hands aren’t big. That’s all the physical buttons you’ll get on this device.
There’s a MicroUSB port at the bottom. I think many people are still happy to not move on to USB Type-C at this time, since it creates a problem of having to get a whole new set of cables or adapters. Sticking with MicroUSB is perfectly fine on a mid-tier phone.
You can make out the microphone hole on the right of the MicroUSB port.
At the top of the phone, you’ll find the 3.5 mm audio jack, as well as a second microphone hole.
The back is where there’s a lot more going on. First, the back cover is removable, and you do get a removable battery. That’s good for those of us who like to carry a spare battery. The Neffos C5’s 2200 mAh capacity battery is not exactly plentiful. You’ll probably make it through a full day of light to moderate use.
There are two SIM slots, with dual standby, and a separate microSD slot. Yup, you don’t need to sacrifice one of the SIM slots to use a microSD card like some other phones.
You can see the camera and the dual LED flash on the back there. There’s also a speaker on the back side that’s pretty loud.
For connectivity, the Neffos C5 gives you 4G LTE FDD Cat 5, with up to 150 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload. It has 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz only) and Bluetooth 4.0 support. There’s also a FM radio receiver inside.
The Neffos C5 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, with some light changes. The most notable change is that their launcher has no app drawer like, for example, how it is with MIUI. Now, there’re some rumours that Android N might drop that, so perhaps they’re just getting ahead with where they think Android is going.
TP-Link preloads a small number of their own apps. System Management is one of them. A really useful feature is the “Data saver” feature that lets you decide which app gets to use Wi-FI and Cellular Data, with individual controls for each of them. So, for example, you could say that YouTube cannot use cellular data, while WhatsApp cannot use Wi-Fi.
If you love taking lots of photos, the Neffos C5’s 8 MP rear camera may be a little underwhelming. TP-Link has perhaps tried to make up for it with a fancy camera app loaded with a couple more modes and filters. The “beauty” mode, for example, will probably make you look better than, ahem, in real life.
In the box, TP-Link includes a USB charger, MicroUSB cable, and earphones.
Overall, the Neffos C5 will serve all your basic Android smartphone needs. It will work great as a a second phone, and if this is what TP-Link meant it to be, they’ve achieved it. Even as a first phone, in its price category, the Neffos C5 delivers just about everything you’d expect.
The Neffos C5 is priced at S$199. It will start selling exclusively on Lazada from 29th April for two weeks, before becoming generally available island-wide. The first 100 buyers on Lazada will receive a free TP-Link 10400 mAh power bank and screen protector.
The smaller Neffos C5L will be available at the same time, and sells for S$129. Apart from having a smaller 4.5-inch screen, the Neffos C5L’s display is of a lower 854×480 resolution. It is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor, 1GB of RAM, 8 GB of internal storage, a lower 2 MP resolution front camera, and no flash on the rear camera.
The Neffos C5 is the mid-tier phone in TP-Link’s new venture into the smartphone market. It’s a compact, handy, device that will serve all your basic Android smartphone needs.
- Compact and light
- Bright vibrant display
- Dual SIM, with separate microSD slot
- Low rear camera resolution