Years ago, I ventured into the unknown – I bought a cheap Chinese phone, with flagship specs and mid-range pricing, hoping to use it as a daily driver. While I originally thought I was getting a deal, it turned out that you really do get what you paid for. The phone had flagship specs, and had flagship written all over it, but the performance and overall user experience was lacking. When the Venmee Thor E showed up on my doorstep, I was very sceptical, considering my past experiences. It’s priced at $105 USD, so using the “you get what you pay for” logic, it was clear I couldn’t expect much. However, after using the phone for a few days, I can say that the Venmee Thor E has proved me more wrong than I have ever been. If you’re able to find this online at a similar price, go ahead and buy it, it’s an absolute stunner.
Venmee, and the Venmee Thor E
Venmee is a relatively unknown Chinese phone manufacturer which designs mid-tier phones at budget prices. They’re generally high quality, and compromise on the right things, in order to bring the price down. The Venmee Thor E is the latest addition their lineup, joining the Venmee Thor as their flagship offering. Though it’s their best phone ever, it’s priced mind-numbingly low at $106.99 at GearBest.com. Standout features of the Venmee Thor E are the 5000mAh battery, and the 5″ 720×1280 display. Although it isn’t the most premium-feeling phone, it has a few features that not even flagship phones have.
When I received the unmarked package, I hastily unwrapped it to reveal a plain white box. It’s very minimalistic, and it’s a nice box. The box was closed without any adhesive, so it’s possible GearBest had previously opened the phone to test it. Inside the box was the phone, wrapped in a smooth feeling plastic wrap. There isn’t much else in the box – just a cable, SIM card ejection tool, and a QuickCharge brick. Though it’s unfortunate they didn’t provide a set of earphones, but I’d hate for the price to be driven up by $10 for a set of $1 earphones. It’s an excellent choice for Venmee not to include unnecessary extras, and just keep the cost and price of the phone as small as possible.
Ok, let’s get this out of the way – the Venmee Thor E isn’t a great looking phone. It’s a large slab of plastic, which has been fashioned to look like a metal Huawei P9. While I’d usually say the bad design was a bad choice, it’s clear it’s one of the better things to compromise on, on such a cheap phone. A compromise here allows for the retention of other useful features, such as the large 5″ screen.
The front of the phone is actually kept relatively clean looking, with only three soft-capacitive buttons spanning the bottom. You can choose between the three capacitive buttons, or on-screen controls, much like Google’s Google Pixel. At the top of the front is the front facing camera, and the earpiece. Overall, it’s not a great looking phone, but it’s plain enough that isn’t extraordinarily ugly. This isn’t a bad thing, because it saves costs, which is evidently passed on to the customer.
Build Quality and Durability
The Venmee Thor E is a budget phone. It’s made with cheap materials, and isn’t the most sturdy phone I’ve held. It isn’t the king of build quality, but for the price, it’s well put together. Since it’s made primarily of plastic, the phone feels cheap, but it does mean that drops and flexes don’t have such a massive impact on the overall aesthetic of the phone. During testing, I dropped the phone face-down on concrete from about 2.5 feet. It was completely fine, save for the few nicks on the back, and the fact that the SIM tray fell out. Overall, it’s not a premium build, but it’s well put together and fairly durable.
Though the Venmee Thor E is just $105.99, it packs a very nice looking screen. It’s not groundbreaking by any means, but the fact that it’s a 5″ 1280×720 IPS display is great. Although it’s an IPS display, viewing angles aren’t as impressive as I’d expect them to be, but they’re good nonetheless. Much like the Apple’s iPhone line, the Venmee Thor E has a night shift mode, which turns the display a comfortable shade of yellow. Also, there’s an “e-ink” mode, but all that does is set the display into grayscale mode. This technically shouldn’t increase the battery life, but in real world usage, it does by a small amount, so the “E-ink” mode might also be underclocking the processor.
The Venmee Thor E packs a real punch in the hardware department, especially for the price. While it doesn’t have a very powerful processor and GPU, it has an incredibly large battery pack, coming in at a whopping 5000mAh. That’s around 2.5 times the battery capacity of the iPhone 6s, and coupled with the low-red screen, you get phenomenal battery life. Aside from that, the Venmee Thor E has a Mediatek MT6753, which isn’t too powerful, but it gets the job done. The MT6753 is loaded with a generous 3GB of RAM, which is 75% of the amount of the RAM on the Samsung Galaxy S8. That’s not bad for a $105 phone.
Hardware – Camera
The cameras on the Venmee Thor E aren’t spectacular, but for $105, they’re relatively good. The photos do come out oversharpened and oversaturated, but they’re not bad. The rear facing camera on the Venmee Thor E is an 8MP shooter, which is also capable of 720p 30fps video recording. The front facing camera is 1.92 megapixels, and while that isn’t the greatest, it’s higher than a lot of front facing cameras, which can be as low as 0.7 megapixels. Colors feel washed out, and it definitely looks like a cheap camera, but it gets the job done. At $105, I’m grateful they put a front facing camera in at all.
This is the absolute killer feature of the Venmee Thor E. While having a fingerprint scanner on a $105 phone is a phenomenon by itself, the Venmee Thor E takes it a step further. This fingerprint scanner is simply the best fingerprint scanner I have ever used on a phone. I’ve used a lot of phones, from the iPhone 7 to the Galaxy S8, and I’ve never used a fingerprint scanner which is so fast, and so accurate. After a few tests, the average time for the phone to unlock after placing my finger on the sensor was just 0.1 seconds. I could literally tap the sensor, and the phone would just turn on and unlock. That’s something I can do on my iPhone 6s, but it’s much more hit-and-miss than the one on the Venmee Thor E, which gets it every time.
When I first tried the fingerprint scanner, I though it was a fake. I assumed that the scanner was just fooling me, and that it was just a touch sensitive panel which unlocked the phone regardless. However, using unregistered fingers did not unlock the phone. The fingerprint scanner is placed in the middle of the phone at the back, like a lot of Android phones today. I like to have the fingerprint scanner on the front, since I’m used to the iPhone 6s, but with these incredible speeds, I can’t complain. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S8, the fingerprint scanner is the lone object on the back of the phone, except for the large camera bar at the top, so finding the fingerprint scanner is no problem. Just having a fingerprint scanner alone is amazing, but this is hands-down the best fingerprint scanner I’ve ever used on a mobile phone.
As previously mentioned, the raw speed and performance of the Venmee Thor E are unimpressive, but for everyday users, it still does the job fine. In fact, I’ve been using it for the past week, and I’ve had next to no hiccups whatsoever. Granted, I haven’t been playing graphics-intensive games all day, but even a bit of World Of Tanks Blitz was fine on the Venmee Thor E. If you’re not a heavy user, the Venmee Thor E will be fine, and it’s roomy 3GB of RAM is up there with the flagships of last year.
The Venmee Thor E has a massive 5000mAh battery, and the battery life statistics seem to show that this figure is accurate. With data, WiFi, and Bluetooth on, and at half brightness, I was able to achieve a whopping 10 hours of screen on time. I was using facebook messenger and snapchat for most of the time, and since snapchat uses the camera as well, 10 hours of screen on time is absolutely out of this world.
By comparison, under the same sort of workload, my iPhone 6s will die from between 3.5 and 4.5 hours of usage. Keep in mind that the 10 hours of screen on time doesn’t count the hours and hours it was on standby, so I’d say you could get around 2 days of usage if you’re like me (4 hours usage a day ), or 3 days if you’re a light user. Overall, the battery life on the Venmee Thor E is stellar, and another standout feature.
Value For Money
The Venmee Thor E is one of, if not the best phone I’ve used under $200, and the combination of crazy long battery life and ultra fast fingerprint scanner will keep me recommending it for anyone who is cash-strapped and needs a new phone. It’s performance is nowhere near flagship, but everything else about it you could easily find on a $300 phone. This is the best value for money I’ve ever seen on a phone, better than the Motorola Moto G, and that’s saying something.
The Venmee Thor E is one heck of a deal. It’s available for just $105 on Gearbest, and if you need a phone for under $200, get this one. It has impressive battery life and a blisteringly fast fingerprint scanner. Add all of this to a large screen and sturdy build quality, and you have a very well rounded phone. If you need the fastest speeds and want to stay on the bleeding edge, don’t buy this phone. If you want to have a good, all-rounder phone for just $105, this one is a no-brainer.
Buy the Venmee Thor E from GearBest for just $105 here: http://www.gearbest.com/cell-phones/pp_624909.html?wid=11&lkid=10807236