LeEco Le Pro3: Stunning battery life and high quality keep me from ordering a Pixel

We've seen compelling Android phones from Chinese brands under $400 and the new LeEco Le Pro3 may be the best yet. If battery life is important to you, consider this $399 phone.

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The best smartphones today, priced in the $750 to $900 range, will usually get you through a full day of use. The LeEco Le Pro3 is priced at $399 and will get your through at least two full days.

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In addition to fantastic battery life, the Le Pro3 has the fastest Qualcomm processor available, ample RAM, and stereo speakers with an alumimum unibody build that matches phones priced twice as much. It runs LeEco's Ecosystem User Interface (eui) with some features found in Android Nougat. After a few days of use, I ended up canceling my third Pixel pre-order and just can't bring myself to pay double when the Le Pro3 meets most of my needs.

Hardware

For $399, you would expect to be presented with a minimal unboxing experience, but LeEco seems to value its customers with a high quality matte finish box containing the Le Pro3, A/C adapter with USB to USB Type-C cable, USB Type-C to 3.5mm headset jack dongle, clear silicone phone shell case, and USB Type-C wired CDLA (Continued Digital Lossless Audio) earbuds.

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Similar to when I opened up and saw the OnePlus 3 for the first time, the Le Pro3 quality blew me away coming from a perspective of using high end smartphones and those available for just $150. The brushed gold finish, beveled edges, and high quality fit and finish make the Pro3 feel like a device valued at double its price.

Specifications of the LeEco Le Pro3 include:

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad core
  • Display: 5.5 inch 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution LCD, 403 ppi
  • Operating system: LeEco EUI built upon Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64 GB internal storage
  • Cameras: 16 megapixel rear camera with OIS and 8 megapixel front facing camera
  • Wireless technology: NFC, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, and LTE bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/29/20/28
  • Other features: Dual stereo speakers, infrared transmitter
  • Battery: 4,070 mAh battery with Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 technology
  • Dimensions: 151.4 x 73.9 x 7.5 mm and 177 grams

As you can see, the only specification that doesn't match Android phones priced twice as much is the 1080p display. However, the display is crisp and clear while the 1080p resolution contributes to increased battery life.

Apple and Motorola did away with the 3.5mm headset jack. It turns out the LeEco made the move first earlier this year with the Le Max2 and Le2. In addition to removing the headset jack, LeEco included CDLA technology into the USB Type-C port of the Le Pro3.

The Le Pro3 will be available in gold and gray with the gold first to launch and the color that I am testing. The 5.5 inch front glass extends to each side with 2.5D curved glass. There is a reasonable bezel at the top and bottom with the bottom bezel containing capacitive buttons for task switcher/quick controls, home button with LeEco logo design, and back button on the left.

Similar to what we see with the new Apple iPhone 7/7 Plus, LeEco includes dual stereo speakers with one inside the headset speaker above the display and the other on the bottom adjacent to the USB Type-C port. Speaker quality is great with the Dolby Atmos technology, but I would like to hear a bit more bass. You will definitely be able to enjoy music, movies, and online video clearly through the included stereo speakers.

The IR port is positioned along the top. A long volume button and small power button are positioned on the upper right. The nanoSIM card slot is found on the upper left side. One of the stereo speakers and the USB Type-C port are on the bottom.

The fingerprint scanner is centered on the upper back with the rear camera above it and flash adjacent to the camera. The back is brushed aluminum, but it has a smooth glossy finish. There are antenna lines along the top and bottom of the back, similar to what we see on other metal unibody phones.

While the Le Pro3 has NFC, Android Pay is not yet supported on this test device. I was told this support will be present when the phones ship with newer software.

Software

While the hardware is excellent and you aren't going to find another device with these high specs at this price, the default LeEco EUI can be a bit annoying as the company pushes its ecosystem experience. The center button is labeled LIVE and it cannot be moved or changed by default. Tapping it launches a video content interface in landscape orientation.

The LeEco Live content is part of an EcoPass subscription service. Promotional information states new buyers will get three months of free subscription to the EcoPass with a new device purchase. The EcoPass includes the entertainment content, LeCloud services, warranty, and discounts.

LeEco provides a LeCloud sync service, similar to what Samsung and Apple provide, where you can sync and backup contacts, messaging, gallery, notes, and more. The service also includes backup support and the ability to find your device. I haven't built up a level of trust with LeEco yet so do not have these enabled on my test device.

There is also an annoying home screen panel on the left called LeView that provides links to videos under different categories. I'm not sure how the content is selected and what it takes to become a source, but there are no customization options for the Le Pro3 users. If you pinch on the home screen you can easily toggle the LeView panel off.

While I'm not happy with the LeEco launcher and home screen panels, it was easy enough to download and install the Google Now launcher and set it as the default.

Tapping on the left capacitive button pops up the task switcher screen with thumbnails of running apps found on the lower third of the display. The amount of RAM being used is also visible under these thumbnails. Above this are various quick controls and a media player interface. You can customize the order of all of these various icons and even swipe from right to left to scroll through them all. I find these very handy to have and like this part of the user interface.

All of these icons above the task switcher are labeled the control center. You can toggle the control center to function while the lock screen is on too so simply pressing the left control center capacitive button gives you quick access to apps and settings.

You have full control over the notification shade with options to toggle on or off specific app notifications, set importance, and customize the notification. There are also a vast number of settings that let you customize your experience just how you like.

I was pleased to see that VoLTE is supported on T-Mobile and that visual voicemail is part of the default dialer, just like what you find in iOS and in Android Nougat.

Initial experiences

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It's only been a few days with the LeEco Le Pro3, but even one day was enough to convince me I couldn't justify spending double the price for an Android flagship. In the past I always paid the high cost to have flagship devices in hand, but with all of these competitive $400 phones I am having a difficult time making such a purchase. I've ordered and cancelled the Google Pixel three times now and currently do not have one on order.

Many of us have voiced our opinion that manufacturers should be willing to give up a bit of thickness for more battery capacity and it seems LeEco may be one of the first to provide what we've been asking for. It is still a fairly thin device at 7.5 mm, but it has a massive 4,070 mAh battery inside. I can easily go for a full day of very heavy usage and still have battery capacity left over to go most of the next day. With moderate usage, a couple of days is achievable with the Le Pro3.

I've taken a few comparison photos, check out the full resolution samples in my Flickr album, and the camera performs fine. It's not going to challenge the iPhone 7, Galaxy S7, or Google Pixel, but it should meet the needs for most people that share pictures on social networks.

I am not a fan of the permanent Live app button along the bottom of the home screen panel, but like the task switcher button results that show customizable quick controls with the active app thumbnails. There are plenty of available settings to customize the phone, more than most devices and I appreciate having such control over the device.

A couple of weeks ago LeEco held a US launch event in San Francisco. Last week it announced a flash sale kicking off in a couple of days where you can save $100 on an already low priced device.

If long battery life is important to you, then it's tough not to consider the Le Pro3. I'll continue to test it out and if you have anything specific you want me to include in a full review, please let me know in the comments below.

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