Monsters from Asia: the Smartisan T1 and its stylish, full-glass body

In today's edition of our fortnightly column on awesome tech from faraway lands, we'll be highlighting an overly interesting phone from an overly young, new company in China -- the stylish T1 by Smartisan.

New smartphone vendors are cropping up all over the place in the world's most populous country, and Smartisan is one of the latest to add its name to the burgeoning list. This isn't a wholly surprising fact, all things considered. For one, Chinese manufacturing plants have been tasked with the production of big name phones for a good part of the last decade, so the know-how is definitely there. That massive pool of potential talent is not to be underestimated either.

Looking at the Smartisan T1, its portmanteau of a name (Smart + Artisan) is a defining part of the package and reveals the vision of the company's CEO (Luo Yonghao). Indeed, the T1, unlike many of its local competitors, is not at all about affordability. The devil is in the details, they say, and those were instead a primary focus for the folks behind the stylish phone. 

Starting with design, it's hard to argue the source of inspiration for the T1 -- despite some discrepancies, the flagship does remind a whole lot of the iPhone 4/4S. With that in mind, it should not surprise that the T1 went for a sleek, clear-cut design language that is dominated by glass -- nearly 84% of the chassis is covered by it. Interestingly enough, Smartisan went for pronounced hardware navigation keys instead of opting for a flush surface that could have been achieved with capacitive keys, but Mr. Yonghao claims those are more prone to unintentional clicks. Another point of differentiation are the T1's two button rockers on both sides of the device -- one for the volume, and one for easily adjusting the brightness of the display.

Of course, most of you will be looking for something beyond an attractive device. Thankfully, the T1 delivers, and is no wimp when it comes to the hardware embedded within. It's got a 5-inch, 1080p display by JDI with Gorilla Glass 3 for protection (both front and back), and is powered by the mighty 2.5GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 801 chipset and 2 gigs of RAM. As for imaging, the device makes use of a 13-megapixel Sony IMX214 sensor with wide, f/2.0 aperture. Smartisan made a point out of the reportedly very close collaboration of its imaging team with Fujitsu, though what kind of practical benefits will that entail remains unclear. That said, we're curious to see the T1 perform in low-light conditions, as its proprietary camera night mode is said to take six consecutive shots before combining them into a singular, enhanced shot with reduced noise levels.

The rest of the hardware highlights include a 2570 mAh cell, a secondary, noise-cancelling microphone, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.0. Much alike to the audiophiles-targeted Vivo Xplay 3S, the T1 also makes use of a Texas Instruments operational amplifier (OPA2604) in order to deliver Hi-Fi sound.

Last, but not least, the Android-based Smartisan OS that drives the T1 is anything but ordinary. A tile-like design dominates the homescreen, and is at the core of what makes the Smartisan OS... well, the Smartisan OS! And while the proprietary interface won't allow you to set a custom wallpaper (in order to keep the looks clean), it does offer quite a few customization options. For example, that aforementioned side rocker for the brightness can be reconfigured as to allow for one-click image snaps -- you squeeze both side rockers (even when the phone is asleep), and that'll instantly launch the camera app and take a shot. Indeed, the likes of gesture recognition, general OCD settings, and a dedicated one-handed mode, all make an appearance in order to round up the features list.

The 3G version of the Smartisan T1 goes on sale in China in July, and, as already mentioned, won't sell on the cheap. The equivalent of $480 is what the price tag demands for the 16GB version, while the 32GB model will cost about $505. As for an LTE version, Smartisan has promised to have one up by the end of the year, and cost $560/$590 for the 16GB/32GB version, respectively.

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Monsters from Asia (49 updates)



1. sriuslywtf

Posts: 297; Member since: Jul 09, 2013

Such Beauty.. Very Asian.. So Smart.. Wow

20. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

That's my line ._.

24. Ashoaib

Posts: 3298; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Iphone4 is back.... law suit will be back as well... the beauty of china, they damn care about apple and their law suits.... thumbs up for them

25. Daniel.95

Posts: 89; Member since: Sep 20, 2012

Back copied from iPhone Front down is ugly with that keys

2. Katrina

Posts: 84; Member since: Aug 17, 2012

apple want its design team back..... o wait, sony want its design team back.

9. zuckerboy

Posts: 898; Member since: Dec 22, 2011

apple wants too

17. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

not, it design better than sony. sony are just big bezzel with flaps means less neat and asymmetrycal.

21. T.Law

Posts: 423; Member since: May 10, 2014

iphone 4, larger screen, slimmer bezel.

3. Akfred

Posts: 76; Member since: Nov 08, 2012

I want to believe that the OS is base on Android. If not then it's going to stutter.

8. alrightihatepickingusernames

Posts: 474; Member since: Dec 29, 2013

Either way I can't change the wallpaper. What type of evil sorcery is that?!

18. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

yes oh you can

4. adwienc

Posts: 136; Member since: Mar 26, 2014

It's a shame that not every manufacturer installs additional amplifier in their phones. As faras I know only HTC and Samsung (Exynos models) do that. C'mon most people use their phones to listen to music and they want high quality. Sony do what You are best at and use your experience from Walkman models!

5. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

The only problem is the battery size

6. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

There's apparently an optional 'battery cover', which adds more juice (and thickness).

12. deewinc

Posts: 455; Member since: Feb 21, 2013

Thickness o_O

7. iMemo

Posts: 113; Member since: Feb 22, 2014

That UI though.

10. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2361; Member since: Apr 18, 2011

Looks like a iPhone?

16. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

would please stop comparing everything with iphone. iphone design are pretty or decent i know tho they only specialized marketed for snob

11. Smokin

Posts: 120; Member since: Oct 10, 2013

The UI looks like iOS 6. This is basically an iPhone copy under covered.

19. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

yeah, why keep talking about iphone. maybe because it is very pricy exclusive and luxurious that it become phenomena?

13. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

fabulous symetrical design and you have two rocker button for easy music navigation yes thats just what audiophilia need. design wise if you know sony z2 just that big bezel and flaps. hmm not very neat

14. BaffledTruffle

Posts: 523; Member since: Dec 07, 2013

The only downside is its UI. The hardware looks attractive but the software somehow looks... out of place, I guess.

15. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

UI are just neat and different. out of place if you used to all too similiar ui from other android

23. PorkyBurger

Posts: 585; Member since: May 18, 2013

I think it's the home screen. Everything else, imo, looks gorgeous, except for that ... not hideous, but weird looking home screen.

22. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

They have made a better looking larger 5inch iPhone then Apple has.

26. WilliamWang

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 13, 2014

A correction. It should be "Mr. Luo" instead of "Mr. Yonghao". Luo is the surname and Yonghao is the first name.

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