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November 9, 2015

InFocus M810T review: Last year’s flagship features for a low price

by John_A

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It wasn’t that long ago when many of us would have turned our noses up at an Android smartphone that wasn’t produced by Samsung, LG, or HTC. It just wasn’t done, because who knew what sort of viruses and malware were present on those other phones and how long they would actually last? Thanks to phones such as the Honor 6, Redmi Note and the Nexus 6P, Chinese hardware manufacturers have gained credibility in recent times. With that in mind, we are reviewing the InFocus M810T. This phone features some impressive hardware in a stylish metal and glass design.

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On paper, the InFocus M810T would appear to be quite the bargain at $159. I’ve used it as my daily driver for the last month or so on the EE network in the UK and have generally been impressed with the device. There is one issue that wasn’t quite so pleasing, but I’ll have more details about that later.

Design

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Design-wise, the M810T has glass panels front and rear featuring Gorilla Glass 3 protection and the frame is made out of a light aluminum alloy that has a matte finish. With dimensions of 153.7 x 76.2 x 6.99mm, the M810T comes in a little longer and wider than LG’s G4 thanks to those capacitive buttons, but it is a lot thinner. Weighing in at 158g, the M810T is barely heavier than the LG G4.

The 3.5mm audio jack and micro-USB charging port are both on the bottom of the device, with plenty of space between them for cables to reach without getting in each others way. The notification LED is just below the capacitive Menu button.

Like any phone that carries a glass rear panel, more care has to be exerted when placing it on a surface. The level of grip offered is decent. At no point have I worried that it would slip out of my hands (unlike the old LG G2), but the rear panel is a fingerprint magnet. You’ll spend a fair amount of time wiping it clean and will probably resort to a cover at some point down the line.

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There is one facet of the M810T’s design that I found a little odd; both the power and volume buttons are on the left-hand side of the phone. It takes some getting used to, to say the least. Perhaps if I was left-handed I might appreciate it more. Much like LG’s fixation with placing the controls on the rear of the phone, having the controls on the left-hand side of the device is something you get used to after a couple of days. One positive is that it’s more difficult to accidentally press the power button. On the downside, I found the volume controls were a little rough to the touch and felt they could have benefited from some extra machining or refinement. Finally, the SIM card and MicroSD card trays are, you guessed it, on the right-hand side of the phone and require a SIM tool to access them.

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Hardware

The M810T features a 5.5-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS display with and Gorilla Glass protection, Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, Adreno 330, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot for up to 64GB, a 13MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, a 2600mAh battery (non-removable), WiFi a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz & 5GHz), NFC, and Bluetooth 4.0.

Bands

4G: FDD-LTE B1/3 TD-LTE B41
3G: WCDMA 850/1900/2100MHz CDMA EVDO 800
2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 CDMA 800

Performance

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The 5.5-inch display uses IPS technology that provides great viewing angles as well as vibrant colors, something I noticed straight away after using the Galaxy Note 4 with its Super AMOLED display and its over-saturated colors.  While the M810T’s panel is only Full HD resolution (1920×1080), it’s better than what you would expect to find on a device in this price range. Perhaps just as importantly, battery life also benefits from this choice of resolution. The display also features something called a Bluelight Filter that aims to reduce the level of blue light emitted from the display in order to minimize eye strain. While I can’t say that I noticed a difference, others might. InFocus didn’t compromise when it came to the choice of display, nor the processor for that matter.

It wasn’t much of a surprise to find that the InFocus M810T was pretty slick to use, that venerable but still powerful Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, combined with 2GB of RAM is a winning combination. While benchmarks don’t tell the whole story, the M810T achieved an impressive 43878 on the Antutu app.  Even with the InLife UI laid on top of the Android OS, the experience was snappy. And dare I say it, the M810T lagged less than my personal device, the Galaxy Note 4.

Games ran as smoothly as you would expect on a device powered by the Snapdragon 801 chip. Something worth mentioning though is that while playing games such as Plants vs Zombies 2 and the graphics intensive Asphalt 8: Airborne, the rear of the phone became a tad warm. While it was never unbearably hot, it wasn’t exactly comfortable either after a session of around 20 mins of gaming. Something to bear in mind before putting the phone back in your trouser pocket after a gaming session.

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Battery

The M810T made it through a normal day with about 20% to spare, I’m talking from 8 in the morning til around midnight, with most of the usage falling between 8 am and 7 pm. While everyone has different habits when it comes to using their phones, I mostly used the phone for instant messaging, browsing, emails, snapping around 5-10 pictures, watching the occasional YouTube video, and perhaps 10-15 minutes of gaming here and there. The M810T also features a Power Saver function, which helps eek out the battery life a little more by reducing processor performance, display brightness, and connectivity options.

Software

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The M810T runs Android 5.0.2 with the InLife overlay covering it. As you can see, the overlay takes more than a little inspiration from iOS, from the appearance of the icons to how the icons are actually laid out. There isn’t an app drawer present. Instead, much like an iPhone, the app icons are spread out all through the home screens in no particular order. It’s something you’ll either love or hate. I found it extremely frustrating, but thankfully it is easily rectified by installing a custom launcher if that’s your preference.

Instead of on-screen buttons, navigation is taken care of by the three capacitive buttons, consisting of Menu, Home, and Back. For some, the capacitive buttons will annoy them to no end. And for others that are perhaps used to Samsung devices, it really isn’t a big deal. It depends on personal preference and what you can live with.

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There are a couple of nice touches in the pre-installed apps, with the gallery app, in particular, gaining my affection. By keeping the folders at the bottom of the screen and allowing you to scroll through the images above, it was a doddle to change folders.

The list of pre-installed apps also includes App Traffic Control, Audio Effects, Backup Tool, Beauty Cam, Browser, Cloud Agent, Device Finder, Power Detective, InFocus Support, Weather ForeCast, MeituPic, Mobile Assistant, Gallery, Video Player, WeChat, WPS Office, and Music. Thankfully, most of these can be disabled in Settings.

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An unexpected quirk is that even though the M810T is running Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, there isn’t a button allocated to accessing recent apps. Long-pressing the Home button takes you to Google Search, as you would expect while holding the Menu button gives you the option of selecting Add, Task Manager, Preferences, Edit, and Settings. Accessing running apps is instead done the old way by selecting the Task Manager and tapping the appropriate terminate button.

The fly in the ointment

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This is where a generally positive review goes off the rails a little. I’ve mentioned the bloatware that was present on the device, and here I have to take issues with the review device I was sent. The device received was brand new and yet it was already rooted. The KingRoot app was pre-installed, and according to the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware app, there were three instances of malware present. Despite the anti-malware app deleting the perpetrators, the phone was still subject to ads appearing at any time, while browsing and even when the just looking at the home screen. After some search, I found fresh firmware (which incidentally upgraded the M810T from KitKat to Lollipop) and installed it, which was a very simple process of downloading the firmware, copying it over to the phone, booting to stock recovery and selecting the Install Update.zip option. Since then, the phone has behaved as it should and passed every malware and anti-virus app I’ve thrown at it.

Camera

The 13MP camera here is not going to compete head-to-head with the LG G4 or Galaxy Note 5, but it is a worthy performer when you consider the price bracket that the M810T is in and that it uses a Sony Exmor R sensor. With features such as HDR, Blink Detection, Watermark, Object Erase, Motion Photo, Cinemagraph, Panorama and Dynamic Lighting, the camera app isn’t short on options. The camera app also allows you to adjust your appearance in photos. So if you have a picture taken with the M810T, you can make your facial features appear smaller, smoother, darker, or lighter via the app. Unlike 2015 flagships that feature near-instant HDR pictures, when making use of the HDR function on the M810T, you will experience a few seconds worth of processing time. Be mindful of this if you are wanting to take multiple pictures in a short amount of time.

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Closing

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Malware issues aside, I found the InFocus M810T to be quite capable and more than worth its $159 price tag. I know I keep mentioning the price, but the M810T is a worthy contender when considering buying a new phone on a budget with flagship like features (even if it’s 2014 flagship features). As with any budget device, it’s up to the consumer to determine which features they are willing to compromise on. But at $159, the M810T won’t disappoint, especially if you install a third-party launcher (and so long as the malware issue has been taken care of).

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