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Hands on: Letv Le Max Pro

Letv's Le Max Pro is a gleeful glimpse of the super phones coming this year

Letv will be a familiar name to anyone in China, but to most outside of the country — even those who know the smartphone industry — it’ll be an absolute unknown. That’s going to change in 2016, if Letv’s ambitious plans come to fruition, and one of the first things we’ll be paying attention to is the Le Max Pro — a whopper of a phablet that’s the first to be announced with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 inside.

Everything about the Le Max Pro — and Letv, actually — is absolutely gigantic. The Snapdragon 820 returns to quad-core territory for Qualcomm, but the benchmark results published so far blitz everything else out there. The Le Max Pro flies, even in our quick tests. There’s not a hint of slowdown, just all-dominating power that’s almost tangible, regardless of whether you’re snapping pictures or playing a game. Having 4GB of RAM doesn’t hurt either.

We can’t help but get excited about the phone, and listen intently to Letv’s huge global plans.

The Sharp-produced screen is 6.33-inches in size, with a 2,560 x 1,440 pixel resolution, housed in an aluminum body that’s clearly reminiscent of the iPhone. It’s a bit of a shame Letv didn’t go in a slightly different direction with the design, which is derivative, but thankfully not ugly. It’s finger-stretchingly massive, and impossible to juggle with one hand. Use two, and it’s comfortable and surprisingly lightweight.

Although the first use of the Snapdragon 820 is grabbing the headlines, the fingerprint sensor is equally unique at the moment. It’s Qualcomm’s 3D ultrasonic sensor, and promises to be more secure and reliable than capacitive sensors, like the one found on the iPhone. Letv called it sweat and lotion resistant. I slathered my Vegas-dried fingers in moisturiser and tried it out. Even moderately coated, the scanner recognised my finger. My print is visible on the sensor itself afterwards, showing there was a liberal dollop of lotion still coating my finger. It’s also ultra-fast, going from black screen to home screen with no perceptible delay. It’s really impressive.

Letv’s Le Max Pro isn’t done with firsts yet. It also uses the new 802.11ad Wi-Fi standard, which boosts bandwidth and lowers latency for more reliable 4K content streaming and online gaming. Other specs include a 21-megapixel camera, USB Type-C, and 64GB of internal memory. Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s installed with a few changes. There’s no app drawer, the notification pane only holds notifications, and the device controls and open apps are all found using the menu soft key under the screen.

Letv-Le-Max-Pro_9838
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

What’s the reason behind all this speed and size? Letv’s got a plan, which involves putting its primary business in front of you at all times. Letv runs a streaming video, gaming, and media network, and it’s placed front-and-centre on the phone. The Le Max Pro is just part of Letv’s ecosystem, which includes a range of very cool televisions. Proving its intentions, and technical ambition, Letv’s in the process of making autonomous cars that will drive us to work, while we sit back and watch a movie through the Letv media app.

Letv wants you to buy into its ecosystem and needs a very special phone to entice the world away from the company it continually references as its main rival: Apple. The Le Max Pro is undeniably special, and packed full of the latest tech, but we can’t buy it yet, and have no idea how much it’ll cost when it arrives. Letv says it’ll be out in the United States — along with other Letv media products, and sold through the lemall.com online store — later this year.

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We can’t help but get excited about the phone, and listen intently to Letv’s huge global plans; but until we can actually buy one, the Le Max Pro is just another tech tease from a company that desperately needs brand recognition if it’s to succeed outside China. Letv’s confidence says it’s not going to wait around and let this happen organically, and with more news promised in January, it obviously has no intention of hanging around.

Highs

  • Latest and greatest processor
  • Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner
  • Huge high-resolution screen
  • Type C USB

Lows

  • Unknown price
  • Not available in the U.S. yet