[highlight color=#336699 ]Introduction[/highlight]
IMO S is a new budget handset from Verve Connect, the owners of Virgin Media. Coming at the bargain end of the market, will it have enough grunt to tempt users?
Chances are you haven’t heard of IMO before. Virgin Media has teamed up with a subsidiary of its own parent company Verve Connect to launch IMO, which stands for ‘in my opinion’. Will the phone be the bargain of the century ‘in our opinion’, or just another budget device? Lets find out…
OS Android Marshmallow 6.0
Processor MediaTek MT6735P
Screen 5.0 inches
Resolution 1280 x 720 (294 PPI)
Memory 1.5 GB RAM
Micro SD compatible Yes, up to 32GB
Rear camera 8MP
Front camera 5MP
Connectivity Bluetooth, 3G, 4G LTE
Dimensions 144 x 72 x 9mm
Battery 1,950 mAh
[highlight color=#336699 ]Design[/highlight]
Expecting impeccable design for a phone costing just under a hundred quid would be a little unfair. The IMO S doesn’t have much to prove here, yet it still manages to be a sturdy little device with a relatively small footprint. At 9mm thick, it’s about the same as other handsets in this price range and the 5-inch screen takes up just enough space to disguise the bezels.
At 125 x 64mm, it’s smaller than the comparatively priced WileyFox Spark by a decent amount and has quite a compact appearance. On the front things are kept to a minimum, with a camera, earpiece and some old-school Android buttons underneath the panel. We’re actually fans of the classic buttons IMO has decided to implement, as it fills us with a bit of nostalgia from times gone by. In a rare case, the back and multitasking buttons have been switched around much like on Samsung handsets. If you’re used to using other Android handsets this could seem a bit confusing at first but you’ll soon get used to it.
Move to the sides and you’ll find the usual array of power and volume buttons, plus a little recessed edge in the corner for removing the rear case. Removing this reveals the battery and two SIM trays, one of which doubles as a microSD bay.
[highlight color=#336699 ]Camera[/highlight]
The IMO S uses uses an 8 megapixel rear sensor with no special features such as phase detection autofocus (PDAF) and optical image stabilisation (OIS). While it won’t amaze you with stunning results, it’s still nonetheless an adequate shooter.
We were impressed by the colour reproduction on the IMO S, though most images took on a rather dull appearance. It seemed to have a hard time adjusting exposure for difficult scenes, often leaving certain areas inadequately lit. Take our sky shot for example. The contrast between sky and buildings is always a difficult one for even the best smartphone cameras and the IMO S just can’t quite get it right.
Likewise, we have another disappointing situation when it comes to macro photography. A lack of OIS means that fine detail continually gets lost as a result, with some images appearing slightly blurry. It’s unfair to expect OIS at this price point but perhaps some digital image stabilisation would’ve at least helped the situation.
Low-light photography was expectedly pretty bad, with next to no detail in our test image. We’ve seen other budget devices carve out some detail in our tests but the IMO S couldn’t really muster anything except a dark void.
The 5 megapixel front shooter was okay, with a washed out look to images but enough detail for the odd selfie. The field of view was much smaller than other selfie cams we’ve tested, meaning group shots could be a little hard to squeeze everyone in. That said, this does have the benefit of giving the face a more natural appearance. Facial features were not distorted as the result of a wide-angle lens, giving people a more flattering look without the elongated forehead.
[highlight color=#336699 ]Screen[/highlight]
The IMO S comes with a 5-inch HD IPS display, which is good for a budget handset. It boasts strong viewing angles with only a slight colour change at the extremes. The colour tone of the panel seems to be slightly on the cool side, with whites taking on a subtle blue hue when placed against other displays. With a pixel density of 294 pixels-per-inch, it sits just below the print standard and should be fine for most budget users.
One thing we did notice about the panel was that the touch responsiveness felt a little off at times, with some of our taps not being correctly registered. Sometimes they would fail to work at all, while other times it would hit the wrong button or click slightly outside the intended area. This is only a small niggle but definitely worth mentioning, as at times it was something of an annoyance.
Maximum display brightness also felt a bit low when compared to the competition, with the highest setting never quite feeling enough for direct conditions. That said, it still seemed perfectly usable under most circumstances.
[highlight color=#336699 ]Performance[/highlight]
Inside the IMO S is a MediaTek MT6735Pm, which is a very basic processor. Having half the number of cores compared to the popular Helio P10 and half the clock speed means that performance is fairly entry-level on this handset. RAM is an equally low 1.5GB, which Real-world performance is mostly adequate, though things can drag at times. Browsing the interface introduced a number of stutters when things get a little task-intensive, leading to awkward pauses and unresponsive button presses. It also seems to struggle with multi-tasking, especially when updating applications in the background. This instance seemed to bring out a lot of lag, with even simple tasks taking a noticeably long time to complete. The mail application in particular was a big annoyance and at times, it became practically unusable.
Benchmarks reflected this, with some decidedly low scores across all tests. GeekBench 4 recorded a result of 429 for single-core and 1179 for multi-core, which is about the same as a 2014 Moto G or Samsung Galaxy S2. Likewise, the Antutu test scored a result of 24,723 which is far behind current leaders and also behind its nearest competitor, the WileyFox Spark. Graphics tests were not much better, with the 3DMark score coming in at just 81.
The IMO S runs on stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which is nice to see for a budget handset. The lack of any unnecessary skins means that you won’t be losing performance to the launcher. It’s got a bit of old-school flair to it, with classic caller and messaging icons harking back to the days of KitKat. It gives the phone a bit of character and we have to say, it’s quite nice.
Other than this, things are very much business as usual. While Marshmallow isn’t as big of a jump as Lollipop, it still offers several new features that are worth mentioning for those unaware. The app tray has been redesigned and is now much easier to use, while Google Now on Tap is here and fully functional, offering information for just about anything you allow it to look at.
[highlight color=#336699 ]Conclusion[/highlight]
For under £100 you shouldn’t expect miracles and the IMO S had a lot going for it until we reached performance. It doesn’t necessarily feel slow all the time… but there’s numerous occasions where the device ground to a halt without really pushing it too much. Whether you can deal with this depends on what you expect from a handset but for most users, it’s likely that the hit could be a little too much.