STK X2 hands-on review

The STK X2 is a no-nonsense phone with a 24/7 helpline for the non-tech savvy

A no-nonsense smartphone for the decidedly non-tech savvy, that doesn’t shy away from good design and decent specs.
A no-nonsense smartphone for the decidedly non-tech savvy, that doesn’t shy away from good design and decent specs.
A no-nonsense smartphone for the decidedly non-tech savvy, that doesn’t shy away from good design and decent specs.

Highs

  • Great design
  • 24/7 free helpline
  • Reasonable price
  • Three-year warranty
  • Stock Android

Lows

  • No U.S. release
  • MicroUSB charger

Let us introduce you to STK, a British mobile phone manufacturer you may not have heard of, primarily because until now it has made solid feature phones, as well as a range of low-cost Android smartphones for the tech-terrified. The STK X2 is the company’s first mid-range device, but it’s still meant to help less tech savvy people experience the joy of proper smartphone ownership, without the usual drawbacks associated with buying a cheap phone. With the X2, STK is shaping up to be OnePlus for the people who aren’t into tech at all.

What do we mean? OnePlus makes excellent phones that shun the fluff and extraneous features most of us don’t use, opting for a strong, simple software experience, and cutting-edge hardware — all for a sensible price. STK is doing the same for people who’ve never heard of OnePlus or any other phone manufacturer outside of Samsung or Apple, for people who have probably never owned a smartphone before, and for people who are intimidated by the thought of learning and understanding a highly complex and dense industry.

Beautiful and user friendly

Picking up the X2, seen here in a beautiful gold color that will come soon after the black model at launch, it feels every bit as solid and well-made as an Honor 7X. The unibody style and design reminded us of the Honor 9, with its highly reflective glass rear panel that catches light in a very attractive way. The 5.7-inch screen has a 2.5D piece of glass over the top, which neatly curves round to meet the shaped body. It’s comfortable, has weight behind it, and at 8.2mm it’s thick enough to hold on to, but not so chunky that it looks ugly.

It looks modern too, due to the 18:9 aspect ratio screen with minimal bezels. No, they’re not as slim as a Galaxy S8 or LG V30, but this isn’t a phone for people interested in buying one of those. It’s for someone that isn’t sure about smartphones yet, but isn’t blind to style or design. This is emphasised by the dual-lens camera on the back — which is just as much of a must-have in 2018 as the 18:9 screen — tuned to produce those cool bokeh blurred background shots.

STK is shaping up to be OnePlus for the people who aren’t into tech at all.

You’ll find Android 8.1 Oreo installed on the STK X2, and it’s free of any special user interface, leaving it as Google intended. That’s rare on most phones today. STK does add a couple of cool features though, the most notable being STK Care. Think of this as a 24/7 helpline for fixing problems with your phone, from how to change the ringtone to claiming on the three-year warranty. It’s all done in real-time through a messaging app. We saw it in action, and replies came through in less than a minute, guiding us through simple problems. This is a free service for as long as you own the phone. That’s right, no subscription charge, ever.

Another STK software feature keeps the phone running in optimal condition, tweaking things behind the scenes so the phone stays in tip-top operating condition. It’s all adjustable inside the STK Care app, so if it’s doing something you don’t like, you can easily change it. Simple Android, STK Care’s helpline, and the invisible optimization tools are all there to make the X2 feel friendly, open, and instantly usable to the newcomer.

Mid-range specs

This is a mid-range phone, and a good option for people who balk at the $500 price tag of the OnePlus 5T. The 5.7-inch screen has a 1,440 x 720 pixel resolution, which although looked crisp and bright when we tried the phone, isn’t particularly pixel-heavy. There is a MediaTek octa-core processor inside, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage space, and a MicroSD card slot. The rear camera has a 16-megapixel main lens and a 0.3-megapixel secondary lens. The 3,000mAh battery should keep a phone with these specs running for a sensible amount of time though.

STK X2 review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The price? The STK X2 is 250 British pounds without a contract, or about $350. This puts it in direct competition with the Honor 7X and the Honor 9 Lite, along with any number of imported phones from companies including Xiaomi and Meizu. The difference here is that the Honor and Xiaomi phones are complicated. They’re for the tech savvy who have done their research. The STK X2 is for people who don’t want to do the research. They want the benefits of smartphone ownership without worrying if they’re going to run into problems they can’t solve, or having to deal with dozens of features they don’t understand.

The STK X2 does this well, and still manages to bring a desirable design and decent specs. We haven’t spent long with the phone or tested the camera yet; but we like what we see. We also think many will read this and think, “I know someone who needs a phone like this,” because not everyone is about owning the latest, greatest, $1,000 device.

Price and availability

The STK X2 will go on sale in the U.K., Europe, South America, and several other regions in April through the company’s website, Amazon, and other online retailers. At the time of writing STK has no current plans to launch its phones in North America, but is keen to do so in the future.

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