At the beginning of the year, we introduced you to Koolnee K1. Kool … what? Don’t you know Koolnee? Maybe we will change that soon. The Chinese manufacturer has made a mixed first impression with his first device. We were convinced by the great, bezel-less display and by the good performance. Even the camera delivered decent pictures. Nevertheless, there were a few dark sides, like the battery life of just 5 hours, minor bugs in the system and the high risk of breaking the glass of the display. With the K1 Trio, Koolnee releases its second smartphone. If it is an improvement over the latest phone and whether the inconsistencies of the first device have been resolved, you’ll learn in the following review.
Design / Build quality / Scope of delivery
We thought about three different reasons why this smartphone is called “Trio“- since Koolnee K1 Trio does not have much in common with its predecessor:
- Trio stands for the 3 of the new Helio P23 processor – an upgrade compared to the old MT6750T
- Trio because of the 3 different slots: 2 SIM slots and a separate Micro-SD card slot
- Koolnee means the transition from the S8-like design with a 2 “bezel-less” display, to a tri-bezel-less design – decide for yourselves what may be the best reason 😉
When I first saw the pictures of K1 Trio, I was slightly skeptical. Once again a Galaxy S8 Clone. We have already tested Homtom S8, Leagoo S8, Blackview S8, and Meiigoo S8… And now also K1 Trio by Koolnee? But the specifications were very interesting and when I then held the device in the hand for the first time, I was no longer skeptical. The dimensions are very similar to those of Galaxy S8. The phone is 8.7mm thick, measures 75.3mm in width and is 157.3mm long. The smartphone is an absolute flatterer. The phone weighs 214g and even if you use the thin silicone bumper included in the scope of delivery, the weight is still relatively light, with only 230g. Rarely a smartphone could impress me at first sight. If you switch on K1 Trio for the first time, the gigantic display shines in its full glory. The bezels with just 2mm are extremely thin. This is a “Tri-Bezel-Less” display par excellence!
Below the display, there is an 18mm frame. Here there are the fingerprint sensor and the front camera. That’s right, so if you want to take a selfie, you’d better get used to turning the phone upside down. The smartphone is available in the colors black and blue. I have to admit that I really loved the blue version. While the front of the display, as well as the back, shine in a beautiful sky blue, the frame is painted in a matte silver. The rounded corners of the display and of the rear, however, are quite shiny. On the rear, in the upper area, there are the dual camera and the LED flash. The rear is relatively prone to fingerprints. However, these are not too visible. On the frame, there are little gaps. Although they are very small and hardly noticeable, there is the risk that dirt particles could accumulate there.
Another minor deficiency is the home button/fingerprint scanner. Here, the gap is so “big” that you can sometimes see the LCD light under the display. In everyday use, that is still not noticeable. Only in darkness and at high display brightness is the light visible. Last but not least, during the two-week trial, the main camera cover simply fell off. It was just glued to the phone.
On the left side of the metal frame, there are the volume control keys. On the right, there is the power button. Although both buttons have a pleasant feedback, they have a certain amount of play. On the top of the frame, we find the SIM tray. The latter looks a bit cheap. The metal body is interrupted by 2 plastic elements at the top and bottom to ensure good reception. On the bottom, there are 4 holes for the speaker, the USB port, the opening for the microphone and the headphone jack. The fingerprint scanner is located on the front below the display. It has no hub. A single tap will take you one step backward. Since all the necessary sensors are on the display top, there was probably no more space for a notification LED. Such a pity!
Out of the box you can find:
- USB charger
- Quick-Charge adapter
- Quick start manual
- TPU Silicone cover
- SIM ejection tool
- Screen protector
Although K1 Trio belongs to the long list of S8 clones, it feels just so incredible in the hand that you can not put it down anymore. Here and there you realize, however, that Koolnee is still quite new on the market: the SIM-tray and power and volume keys are really cheap. So we hope that the young manufacturer will fix these little things in its successor products. First impression: great appearance, but the details betray it.
K1 Trio has a 6.0-inch IPS display with an 18:9 ratio. It also has a resolution of 2160×1080 pixels, resulting in 402 PPI. The display is just incredible! The image is very sharp and single pixels are no longer visible. Due to the extremely narrow bezels of the display (Tri-Bezel-Less), K1 Trio has a screen-to-body ratio of just 78%. Thanks to the 2.5D glass, the display edges are nicely rounded. However, K1 Trio does not have Gorilla Glass, just like the last model we tested (Koolnee K1). You should handle the phone with extreme caution!
The touchscreen registers a maximum of 5 points of contact simultaneously – if you disabled the “screenshot with 3 fingers”. The multi-touchscreen responds very well and quickly to the commands. The display is very bright. Even in direct sunlight, you can still see read the content of the display, although it reflects very strongly. In the upper part of the display, it reaches a maximum of 620 Lux (a very good value). In the center of the screen, we have 593, and in the lower part, we still have good 557 Lux. The viewing angle stability is almost excellent. The colors are very strong and the user can adjust the display settings at his own will thanks to MiraVision.
All in all, we liked the display very much. Considering the low price of K1 Trio, the display is almost too good. Nevertheless, we would rather pay some more money to have a Gorilla Glass. Did they saved money on the wrong parts? As long as you are careful with your smartphone, it won’t be a problem… but you’ll probably have some troubles in case the phone falls on the floor.
In K1 Trio, Koolnee installed the new middle-class SoC Helio P23 processor from the Taiwanese manufacturer MediaTek. This new generation of “one-chip systems” is said to be particularly energy-efficient, very powerful, and is manufactured with a 16-nm process. Another plus point of the Helio series is the so-called CorePilot technology, which guides the 8 ARM Cortex-A53 cores in such a way that the phone reaches optimum performance still saving battery. The first cluster handles more complex tasks with its 4 cores that clock up to 2.0 GHz. Less demanding tasks are performed by the second cluster, with 4 Cortex-A53 and a maximum of 1.5 GHz.
The main memory of K1 Trio is very big. In theory, Koolnee installed a Samsung RAM with 6 GB. Its speed is on average with 4.3GB/s. The smartphone performs multitasking tasks quickly and, during the test phase, the device never overheated. A Mali-T71 GPU (which we can also find in Samsung’s S8 and S8 Plus) is responsible for the graphics. This GPU is one of the high-end Android graphics chips. In fact, even demanding 3D games can be played fluently and with high resolutions. We could play Asphalt 8 without problems during the test phase. The game runs smoothly and without any problem!
If you have a lot of multimedia data you will really enjoy Koolnee K1 Trio. All in all, the smartphone has 128GB of storage that you can use. If that wasn’t enough for you, you could use an SD card to extend the storage (but in this way you have to renounce the Dual-SIM function of the phone). The internal storage reaches 168MB/s of reading and 197MB/s of writing speed. In the benchmarks, K1 Trio achieves 65,181 points in Antutu V7, while in Geekbench, the smartphone reaches 3558 points in the multi-, and 453 points in the single-core.
The benchmarks’ results should provide information about the performance and the speed of smartphones. Obviously, we can speak about speed differences, for example, when comparing a Snapdragon 835 (182,000 points in AnTuTu, on OnePlus 5) with a low budget SoC like the MT6737 from MediaTek (29,450 points in AnTuTu, on Leagoo M8 Pro). If you compare the Helio P23 used here with a P25, Koolnee K1 Trio also has slightly worse results. But that will not be noticeable in everyday use. What do I mean by that? we are speaking “only” about numbers, all standard tasks – such as surfing, WhatsApp, Facebook, videos, and Co. – are performed out by K1 Trio without any delay. There is nothing to complain about here.Antutu Result Geekbench Multi Result Geekbench Single Result 3D Mark Result
Many users are still waiting for Android 8.0, even if they are dealing with “mainstream smartphones”. Probably, those who expect an Android 8.0 on Koolnee will have to wait even longer. It is simply unrealistic that Koolnee will provide an Android update. However, possible updates would be conveniently imported via OTA. At least the user may enjoy Android in the 7.1.1. version. The security patch is based on early January 2018. All standard Google Apps are naturally pre-installed on the phone.
Fortunately, also the Android App Drawer is available. In contrast to Koolnee K1, you can successfully install another launcher without a problem and set it as “standard”.
A few months ago, the dual cameras were considered a must-have, now, thanks to Apple, also the Face-Unlock function is more and more popular. Even Koolnee decided to integrate a Face-Unlock function. To make it brief: the unlocking by face-recognition does not work. I did not even manage to register my face. I’ll go a little further and assume that the Face-Unlock Interface is a pure fake function because the phone does not give any notification whether a face has been registered or not. This should not be an insinuation to Koolnee and I really hope that I’m wrong. Will it maybe work after a possible update of Koolnee?
Koolnee maybe listened to us and provided the smartphone an update to version V5MA86A.YIN.KOOLNEE.FHJ.AN.0309.V3.04.
Happily, another test designed to find malware was negative this time.
Overall, the system is running very fast, but still, it seems that Koolnee probably lacks some experience. Here and there, a few bugs appear. For example, during the test phase, the Bluetooth turns itself on, even though it was previously disabled. Moreover, the flash function -that initially worked- didn’t work very well, the LED flashes only for a moment and then simply turns off. Furthermore, according to the system, the fingerprint sensor is located on the back of the smartphone. So, have fun looking for it!😉
Koolnee offers an additional nice feature to users who would like to customize the system to their own liking: the system font can be changed at your will. The desired font can be downloaded directly from the system and will then appear in the library.
Unfortunately, Koolnee collects some minus points in this area. The first impression is clearly affected by the bugs and the presence of a Trojan. We hope that Koolnee will listen to us and provide an update that not only fixes minor bugs, but that is also “malware-free”.
However, we do not exclude a false alarm because only Malwarebytes found the Trojan. We will extend the report if necessary at this point!
Koolnee K1 Trio houses a 16MP dual main camera with an f/2.2 aperture supported by an additional 2MP camera. Videos can be recorded in HD. In the lower left part of the display, there is the front camera, also with an f/2.2 aperture, and with 8MP. Here, we can speak of the disadvantage of the Tri-bezel-less displays, since the smartphone should be turned upside down to take selfies. If there are good light conditions, you can make very good shots with Koolnee K1 Trio. When the sky is cloudy or in dark rooms, the pictures lack color intensity. The quality of the selfies is also fine, if one is able to look relaxed when convulsively trying to take a photo with an upside-down smartphone… You can take photos pressing the volume button or by touching on the display, If you zoom a bit, you will notice that – especially at the edges – the photos are no longer very sharp. But for selfies the quality is sufficient. Please do not be confused by the “live photo preview”: If you look at it while the front camera is activated, photos will look pixelated and blurred. The result after deactivating it is much better. The autofocus works fast and precise and also the trigger time is fortunately very short. Furthermore, the owner of the smartphone has the possibility to set the camera functions at his will, such as ISO values, exposure intensity, geotagging or even a scene selection.
I did not speak directly about the dual camera function and the associated bokeh effect yet. Well, how should I best describe it? Let’s start with the good news. In fact, Koolnee has installed an actual dual camera here. This time, it’s not a dummy, as we’ve seen almost every time in the recent past. If you select the corresponding function “SLR” in the photo app, the display borders automatically blur. If you cover the upper of the two lenses with your finger, the image will remain, but the bokeh filter will be switched off. So you get a standard photo. If you remove the finger, the filter is reactivated. The display also shows a message not to obscure the lens. What bothers us then? Quite simple: the photos just do not look very good, especially since the degree of sharpness cannot be adjusted manually. So, again just a filter over the actual image. The bokeh effect is indeed sufficient, but by no means offers the quality of premium models.
Connectivity and communication
The K1 Trio supports all the most important networks, as well as the Band 20. When connecting to the network, the phone makes no mistake. For navigation and for the location identification, the device uses GPS, A-GPS, and Glonass. The navigation, whether on foot or in the car is possible without any problems.
The device supports Bluetooth version 4.0 and WiFi standard 802.11b/g/n, in the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz range. The WiFi reception is very good. I could reach the WiFi down to the 2nd floor (I live on the 5th floor). The user has access to all standard sensors such as brightness, acceleration and proximity sensors. In addition, there is a compass, a gyroscope, a magnetic field sensor and a hall sensor. All sensors perform their tasks as expected and very precisely.
The fingerprint scanner is sometimes a bit moody and it can quite possibly fail. Although the device was unlocked 8/10 times directly and quickly during the test, my finger was repeatedly not recognized in daily use. On the other hand, the sound of the internal speaker was amazing. A clear sound and even at maximum volume, it didn’t oversteer too much. Sure, basses are not realized so well. The quality of the conversation is nothing to complain about. Nevertheless, the volume of calls could have been a bit higher. In loud surroundings, I couldn’t hear my interlocutor very well.
K1 Trio houses a 4200mAh battery. In the Battery Life Test, K1 Trio reached 8 hours and 30 minutes. It shouldn’t be a problem for it to last a whole day. A normal user could reach definitely 2 days. A 60-minute video on YouTube consumes 12% of the battery power. The phone is charged with a 5V / 2A charger via standard Micro-USB. To recharge the device from 19 to 100% it takes 2 hours and 22 minutes. However, the length of the Micro-USB connector is somehow unusual. It is a lot longer than usual. Nevertheless, I could charge the device also with another normal cables, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Moreover, you can use Koolnee charging cable also for other Micro-USB devices. Maybe the manufacturer wanted to make sure that even when using a smartphone cover, which might be a hindrance for the insertion of the Micro-USB cable, the charging cable could easily plug in.
As we know, Android usually indicates the user in how many minutes the smartphone will be fully recharged. In this case, if the smartphone says 5 minutes, it actually means 15 minutes. 🙁
Unexpectedly, the Power Management of the system is really annoying: If you reach the critical battery level of 15%, you will be constantly reminded to activate the energy-saving mode.Battery lifetime Result Unit: hours