Every trade show has a few gems. This year at MWC, one of the most impressive was from Ulefone, with its new T2 Pro smartphone. The device, due to be released in July, was an unexpected delight of the show.

What makes the phone interesting, compared to other devices on the show floor, is the design. Ulefone list it as a 6.7-inch device, with a 2160x1080 (19:9) display, but by using a combination of an edge-to-edge display, a notch for the front facing camera, and a fingerprint sensor under the screen, the device is a similar size to other Pro flagships. Ultimately what we are looking at is the future, moving to near 100% displays on the front facing real estate. We are clearly going above 90% with a device like this.

I'm going to be bold and say this is what almost all smartphone vendors will do, and soon. The notch extends the screen right to the top of the device, and keeps the camera in the same place (unlike the Mi MIX). Having the fingerprint sensor in the display (or the rear) removes almost all the bottom bezel. Until the camera can also be put into the display, this is how phones are going to go. The Ulefone T2 Pro is the second device we now know of with an in-screen fingerprint sensor, alongside a device made by Vivo, and we confirmed that the Synaptics sensor is being used.

The device has a specific 'first', in that it was showcased as the first implementation of MediaTek's P70 processor. Mediatek has only just announced the P60 at Mobile World Congress, so this device is essentially preannouncing the SoC. We were not able to get specific details about it, but expect it to be a 4x4 Arm Cortex A73/A53 implementation, with Mali G72 in some form, perhaps on TSMC's 12FFC process. We are awaiting information from Ulefone. We tried to benchmark it, but the software was very early.

Despite being such a big screen, as someone who uses ~6-inch display devices day to day, it really did not feel that different. The demo units had plastic curved rears, but we were told that the final units will be curved glass. The software on the units was super buggy and barely booted, crashing in chrome, showing just how early in the cycle these devices are. We were told that there will be some software adjustments to take account of the notch, as the OS was clearly just ignoring it at this point. The rounded corners also cause some overlap for the display, which will have to be optimized for.

So despite the device rear being broken (apparently some journalists earlier in the week dropped it on purpose?) the device felt premium. Along with the display, it we were told it will ship with 8 GB of memory, 128 GB storage, and a 5000 mAh battery. This last one I am a bit skeptical of, as the phone was very light - lighter than expected for 5000 mAh. It could be that the demo unit had a smaller battery in, but if that was representative of a final device, then it comes across as a very nice design.

This is the point that I tell you that it might be impossible to get one. Ulefone mainly operates in China as one of the secondary smartphone brands, but we were told that they are branching out to Europe at least, through retailers. We were told that the estimated price for the unit is expected to be $380, though that might be confused with the wholesale price and doesn't include tax. Assuming the P70 is a nice and highly optimized SoC, then the T2 Pro could easily be a really nice smartphone to use. 

We don't give awards at these shows, but this would be something close to an unexpected surprise. I hope that Ulefone can deliver.

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  • BobSwi - Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - link

    with malware backdoors to boot
  • Hurr Durr - Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - link

    What`s the difference with murrican malware backdoors?
  • 69369369 - Thursday, March 8, 2018 - link

    He likes being rammed in the @$$ by the NSA
  • peevee - Thursday, March 8, 2018 - link

    Chinese actually exist not just in your mind.
  • The_Assimilator - Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - link

    The best thing about Ulefone is that they use rock stock standard Android, so you get none of the preinstalled crapware or "alternative" UIs that other manufacturers believe you need. They also ship relatively up-to-date versions of Android with even their entry-level products, whereas the bigger manufacturers force you to fork out for more expensive models (and features you don't want or need) in order to get anything newer than Android 5.1. And unlike some of the other Chinese manufacturers, Ulefone's devices have (so far) been clean of any spyware/adware.
  • BobSwi - Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - link

    Wrong, literally any search with Ulefone Android and Malware shows many reports of malware found.
    You all get googly eyes over specs when you should be thinking about security, a shame really.
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - link

    Are you talking about search hits for malware, which you can surely find for any device, or preinstalled malware?
  • GreenMeters - Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - link

    Good in that we need to see companies push back in to real phablet territory; 6.7" looks perfectly usable as a phone. But even as someone who doesn't mind reasonable bezels and "chins", the noticeable black line around the bottom of the screen, the contrasting color base with then another, third color true bottom bezel, looks terrible. No double chins, please.

    Add to that an SoC from chronic GPL violator Mediatek, the stupid notch, and no head phone jack... just more Chinese junk.
  • Plumplum - Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - link

    Releasing sources is OEM's job, not Vendor's one.

    You can find sources for devices with nearly all Mediatek's soc...
    Sources include code from others vendors (touchscreen, cameras, gyroscope, fingerprint scanner), that's why it's OEM's job!
    M.A.D. Team developpe custom 8.1 for mt6735,6737, 6750, 6752, 6753, Helio X20 devices from sources.
    Some brands release sources, others don't. That's all.
    For exemple Sony release sources.
    An others exemple, Google released source on their few Android One devices equiped with Mediatek's.
    Nokia doesn't released sources for Nokia 3...but they doesn't released sources for Nokia 8 equiped with Qualcomm's
    Is any courthouse said that Mediatek is guilty of GPL violation?

    You must compare brands that use soc.
    On one side, brands like Ulefone...on the others, brands like HTC.
    They haven't the same development team!

    You must ask why major brands don't use Mediatek's and choose :
    - SD410 instead mt6732 which if far far far better
    - SD615 instead mt6752 which is far better...
    Is it Linked to the fact that many courthouses said Qualcomm abuse of dominance?
    You should get informations about Standard Essential Patents and how they should be used fairly (and aren't according to judgements)

    You should Ask you why that most benefits of Qualcomm Comes from patents and not from soc's sales.

    Raise the price of essential patents that OEM must buy them without any choice to reduce price of soc? Is that fair?

    You must ask why Intel, NVIDIA, Texas instruments, St-microelectronics suit 4g market...
    And why there isn't any Qualcomm soc in TV or TV box that don't need CDMA/LTE patents to work.
    Or why the only high-end soc used are made by companies that do both soc and smartphones (Samsung, Huawei...)
    All these facts let me think that there is a huge problem of unfair competition with CDMA/lte
  • GreenMeters - Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - link

    Mediatek is releasing product based on modified GPL code, they are obligated to provide freely the code containing those modifications.

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