I’m that creepy guy who’d probably be busted if Google goes ahead and unveils the Electronic Screen Protector.
I don’t do this detective work to read people’s messages, but I kind of have this thing of checking people’s phone types and models, just like you’d do with cars. As I said, I know, it’s creepy, but not with cars. On the other side, I rarely board a bus from point A to B without checking my phone. And yes, this gives you the chance to feast your eyes on what I’ve got, too. For the past two weeks, I was almost tempted to always carry this phone in my hand all the time I was out there because of all the glorious beauty it brings, but with past experiences I’ve had during my times on the streets of major towns in Kenya, this isn’t something I’d try anywhere else, including down in the village.
The phone I’m talking about is the Vkworld Mix Plus. I know, it’s not a brand you’ve probably encountered before, but there isn’t a shred of doubt that the Mix Plus is quite an interesting smartphone. There are lots of budget phones on the market, but you’ll sweat to find anything with a near bezel-less design and a decent share of performance specs, yet priced at just $100, which translates to about Sh 10,500.
The selling point of the Vkworld Mix Plus is definitely the design
The Vkworld Mix Plus is an affordable phone that accentuates aesthetics over any other thing, making it the best handset for all those in the market for a nice-looking phone that not necessarily tops the tables when it comes to hardware specs.
Samsung has been credited for the revolutionary Galaxy S8 handset that removed nearly all bezels on the front panel, but it’s Xiaomi that first showed the world what a bezel-less design can bring to smartphones. The 2016 Xiaomi Mi MIX was rightfully called a concept phone and from it we’ve had a revolutionary 2017. If you’ve seen the Mi MIX, well, you’ll be forgiven to think that the Vkworld Mix Plus is a discounted MIX.
As mentioned in the first impressions, the two phones have a lot in common when it comes to design. Boasting a trendy look, the Mix Plus has plenty of display space thanks to a 5.5-inch HD IPS display and like any other LCD screen; it has very good brightness levels. Since you can also adjust the brightness, it shouldn’t be a problem checking out anything even when out on a sunny day. The display colors are also realistic and the quality of viewing angles is impressive as well.
I wouldn’t call myself a careless person when it comes to handling my gadgets. I’ve never broken a smartphone screen and the instances of dropping my phones are rare. If you are the kind who drops phones several times a day, the first thing you need on the Vkworld Mix Plus is a case or cover, which the company has included in the package. The phone is slippery thanks to the glass material all over it. A metallic frame joins the two glass panels, but both have Corning’s Gorilla Glass that may be of help when it comes to avoiding scratches and cracks, though it doesn’t make the phone damage-proof.
The chopping off of bezels from the top and sides of the Vkworld Mix Plus meant that the company was able to squeeze a bigger display screen into a body size of a smaller, 5-inch phone. This is one of the best things I enjoyed about the Mix Plus because I was able to manage it with one hand, a thing that is not quite possible for many with regular 5.5-inch phones. There is nothing much that comes with a bezel-less design rather than making the device look cool. This, in fact, is what makes the Mix Plus look like a high-end device yet it’s not.
Just like the Xiaomi Mi MIX, the Mix Plus has the 8MP interpolated selfie camera located at the bottom end. While some people might enjoy taking selfies with the phone upright, you’ll be forced to turn it upside down in order to capture better shots. The phone even recommends so. Considering that there’s nothing much the chin houses other than the front camera, it’s unnecessarily big. All the navigation buttons are on-screen and there’s no LED notification sensor, which has been quite frustrating on my end because I would occasionally miss notifications, especially the ones that show up silently. Given the massive size of the chin, it’s also surprising that Vkworld chose to put the microUSB port and 3.5mm audio jack at the top of the phone.
The back of the Mix Plus looks excellent, which further adds weight to the fact that the USP of this phone is the design. The mirror-shine finish makes the phone look as premium as you’d ever imagine. For ladies, this will make a pretty good companion, but be ready to deal with the fingerprints. Of course, this is a problem with all glass-made phones – they tend to attract too much smudge. If anything, this is my only real problem with the design of the Mix Plus.
The back of the Vkworld Mix Plus also houses a 13MP interpolated camera, a poor-performing LED flash and a fingerprint scanner. The camera will give you great photos when used in good lighting conditions, but leave it at home when going for a night out – or don’t use it all. The performance in low-light is mediocre, but so is the case with other budget phones.There are several camera modes to choose from and video recording is also available at 720p, which isn’t bad for a budget phone.
Initially, I had problems with the fingerprint scanner, where I would easily miss it and instead touch the camera lens, but I’ve gotten used to it. It’s not the fastest, but it’s not the worst on any budget phone. There are also some gestures you can use, for instance, you can swipe left and right to switch between screens or tap the scanner to capture a photo, which is pretty convenient. The sensor also allows you to register more than one fingerprint for ease of access.
Hardware, software and battery life
There isn’t anything new the Vkworld Mix Plus brings to the budget market when it comes to hardware and software. The phone has a MediaTek MT6737 processor on board, the same chipset that you find inside the Nokia 3, which is priced at Sh 14,000. However, unlike the Nokia 3, the Mix Plus has two memory options of 2GB RAM and 16GB storage and 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. The high-end variant of the Mix Plus is priced at about Sh 11,500, which is still very affordable for such a device.
If you are into heavy gaming, this is not your phone. Of course, it can handle some games, but not everything you throw at it, a characteristic associated with all budget phones. When it comes to day-to-day performance, the Mix Plus does everything you want perfectly. Both variants have room to expand the storage, but they use SIM 2 slot. So, if you want to use two SIM cards on the phone, you can’t have a microSD card on board.
In terms of software, there’s Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box and on top of a basic custom skin (My Launcher) that doesn’t take away the basics of stock Android. Don’t get your hopes too high when it comes to software updates, though. I noticed that the on-screen navigation buttons can be hidden or displayed permanently. When hidden, you get more display space and when displayed, they tend to hide some content rather than automatically adjust such that the content ends exactly where the buttons’ bar begins. This is perhaps one of the failed implementations of the feature. The keys can also be adjusted to suit your needs, where you can switch the positions of the recents and back buttons.
On top of having poor camera performance at night, the Mix Plus also disappoints when it comes to audio. For starters, there are no headphones included in the box. Secondly, the audio quality (speaker) is really poor, something that can also be felt when making phone calls.
The Vkworld Mix Plus has a pretty decent battery – a 2850mAh non-removable unit that is charged via a microUSB port. As you’d expect, there’s no fast charging, which means it can take pretty long to charge the phone. I did some tests where I let the phone’s battery run out of power and started charging it when turned off using the official charger. It took more than five hours for the battery to charge from 0-100%, which was quite disturbing for me. Since then, I’ve tried charging using a different (standard) charger and surprisingly, it now takes about 2.5 hours to fill the battery.
As for the battery life, you can be sure to last a full day or even more with moderate usage, but what you get depends on your patterns of usage. For those who browse a lot, play games, listen to music and stream videos online, don’t expect to last more than a day.
Where to buy Vkworld Mix Plus
You are probably wondering should you buy the Vkworld Mix Plus? If yes, where should you buy it? Well, the review unit I’m using was sent to Android Kenya courtesy of GearBest, a retailer that is well-known in China, Asia and Europe but is just making its baby steps into Africa. As you may already know, a huge chunk of the phones we use come from China and with GearBest Africa, these phones are coming right at your doorstep at crazy prices thanks to Wells Fargo (I’m not sure if there’s another delivery company involved).
Right now, the entry-level Mix Plus (2GB/16GB) is priced at $99.99, which translates to about Sh 10,500, including shipping charges to Kenya. The high-end 3GB/32GB variant can be yours for an extra Ksh 1,000. It goes for $109.99, which translates to Sh 11,500, including shipping charges. Shipping may take a week or two before the device reaches your preferred point of collection. And yes, you’ll be called once the device enters the country so that you provide the exact location where you want it delivered. For this reason, make sure you provide your real phone number when purchasing the product.
Having any questions or feedback? Feel free to jump in the conversation via the comments section below.
Note: This article contains affiliate links. For more info on how affiliate links work, click here.