altek Leo Preview

Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can beused with T-Mobile USA andAT&T, but without 3G.

Introduction and Design:

The first Android phone from Altek, one of the largest OEM/ODM camera makers for companies like Kodak, Olympus and HP, is predictably a cameraphone. And we use the word in its literal meaning – the altek Leo reminds more of a small point-and-shoot camera, rather than a smartphone.

Yet that's exactly what the Leo is – a cell phone running Android that happens to have a 14MP autofocus camera with AF-assist light, Xenon flash, and 3x optical zoom lens. During our preview the first impression from the prototype's design was that it is quite thick for the modern smartphone standards at 0.61” (15.5mm), but not that heavy at 4.94oz (140g).

Naturally, the thickness is mostly due to the optical zoom mechanism of the lens above the 14MP  sensor. It protrudes each time the camera or camcorder apps are started, or when you press the dedicated camera button on the right side of the phone (or should we say at the top of the camera). There you can also find the shutter key, optical zoom wheel, and the volume rocker. The top hosts the power/lock button, and underneath is the microUSB port (or should we say left and right sides of the camera, we are confused now). The phone's sides are covered with a silver plastic band.

You can compare the altek Leo with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The altek Leo's display is a 3.2” capacitive touchscreen with generous for the size 480x800 pixels of resolution, which makes the image look very sharp. It is also of above average brightness outside, which is handy when you are framing your photos.

Underneath the display are four physical Android navigation buttons tucked in a row, which are easy to spot and press. The screen side is made of glossy black plastic, whereas the flip side is still plastic, but matte with a brushed metal look, and also serves as a battery cover.

The main action, however, is going on at the back, where we have the large camera module and the adjacent Xenon flash, occupying more than a third of the space there, hinting at the phone's photography prowess.

altek Leo 360-degrees View:

Interface, Functionality and Browser:

We have to start this section with a relative disappointment. The altek Leo is running Android 2.1, probably because that's what was available when the company conceived the idea. It is skinned, though, with nice graphical decisions for both the homescreens and the icons. The default green/orange/brushed metal grey color combo looks very good, too.

The 800MHz chipset delivers fluid performance in the interface, but when we ran Quadrant it gave us graphics chip and OpenGL support warning, and returned the very low score of 219. It is most likely due to the prototype version of the device we had, with not all the drivers, such as those for the GPU, fully functioning yet.

Now we have to disappoint you again – no Android Market or Google Maps are present on the altek Leo from the box, as it is not a true “with Google” device, just uses Android for its own purposes. The phone carries the Leo PC Sync software, though, which you can instal when connecting it for the first time. It has an App Installation option, where you just drop the .APK files, and they appear as apps on the phone.

Since you have Android 2.1, don't expect Adobe Flash support in the browser, although navigation there is smooth and responsive. The phone supports European/Asian 3G GSM frequencies, and has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.


The focal point of the altek Leo is, of course, the camera, with the largest resolution on an Android handset to date, and overall on smartphones to date. It uses the latest Sunny 9 DSP from Altek, and the imaging sensor size is 1/2.3", which is akin more to standalone cameras, than smartphones, with the notable exception of the Nokia N8, which has a larger 1/1.8" sensor.

The camera interface has all the goodies you'd expect from a standalone point-and-shoot, actually be careful when you enter it by pressing the button, or launching the camera apps, since the lens starts coming out, and might catch you by surprise if you are still holding the altek Leo in your palm with the screen facing you.

The camera interface has large, easy to press buttons, and offers a Smart Scene mode, where it automatically chooses the exposure and other adjustments, and also Smile shutter, Swift panorama, Self portrait, Handheld night shot, and P mode. A number of scene modes are also in play, like High ISO, Sport, Macro, Landscape, Night, Portrait, Museum, Snow, Sunset, Fireworks, Beach, Candle light, Foliage, Baby, Kids and pets, Text, Backlight and Frame composite, which places the object in eight frame designs.

Overall, the choice of scene modes is way above your average smartphone, and we wouldn't expect anything less from the altek Leo. The color effects are just the basics, but there is also face-detection, burst mode, where a few photos are taken in quick succession, and also white balance, focus and flash adjustments.

The pictures themselves are very good, as if they've been taken with a point-and-shoot camera. Detail is plenty, focus and exposure metering are spot-on, and the colors are vivid, without being oversaturated. Just hold the phone very steady, otherwise the results are blurred.

The altek Leo shoots HD 720p video as well, which exhibits the same excellent qualities, and runs smooth at 30fps. Still, we can't say that the altek Leo shot better stills than our simple Canon point-and-shoot camera, but it takes much better stills than your typical cell phone camera, save for phones like the Nokia N8.

altek Leo Sample Video:


The gallery and music player are skinned with the brushed metal look, which is pretty nice, but other than that, and a few basic editing functions for the pictures and videos, they are the default Android apps. You can set up your Facebook and Flickr accounts in Settings, so that you upload multimedia straight to these sites from the Gallery. The loudspeaker is of average quality when playing music, and it doubles as the earpiece. The video player runs MPEG-4 files up to the screen's resolution.


All in all, the altek Leo is an intriguing foray into the world of convergence devices with Google's mobile OS Android. It looks and feels more like a small camera than a smartphone (it's definitely not as good-looking as a phone), but yet you are able to call people with a decent voice quality, at least if you judge by our protoype unit.

It is not your typical “with Google” handset since you have to jump through hoops to install apps, but it has 3x optical zoom, unlike any other contemporary smartphone.

To recap, if you needed to take two devices before on your vacation or event – your cell phone and a small camera, with the altek Leo you need one. The same can be said for the Nokia N8, however, but it doesn't run Android.

In that case, after you do some legwork to make Android apps appear on the Leo (looks like only free ones for now), you will be very satisfied with the picture and video quality of that peculiar cameraphone, called altek Leo.

altek Leo Video Preview:

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