Review of the Victory V3 from iRulu-  an Affordable Smartphone with a 6.5″ Screen

Review of the Victory V3 from iRulu- an Affordable Smartphone with a 6.5″ Screen

IRULU3

Pros…

Large screen, low price point, dual SIM is great for travel, expandable memory, unlocked, lots of features for the money

Cons…

plastic back, need an adapter to use nano SIM card,  no protective cases available

Summary

If you are looking for an unlocked phone with a large screen size then the Victory V3 from iRulu has a lot of features for under $200

Our Rating

 

recommended-by-the-imums

If you like the screen size of the iPhone6+, but not the price, one alternative is to look at Android Phablets instead. I recently had the opportunity to test out an Android Smartphone with a large screen but very budget friendly price- the Victory V3 from iRULU. The V3 has a 6.5″ screen, comes unlocked, so no contract is required, and retails for under $200.

The phone runs on Google Android 5.1. It comes in 2 versions a “high” (16GB) and a “low” (8GB) version. I tested the high version which has 16GB ROM, 2GB RAM,  5MP front camera and 13MP rear camera. The memory is expandable using a micro-SD card, I used a SanDisk Ultra 64GB microSDXC UHS-I Card  which added another 64GB of memory for under $25.

The V3 is a GSM phone which comes unlocked, in the USA it works with AT&T, T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Straight Talk and others, and it will work on any GSM network in the world.  A full list of worldwide GSM networks can be found at mobileworldlive.com. Having an unlocked cellphone is useful, as you are not tied into a contract, and it also allows you to purchase and use a local SIM card when traveling abroad avoiding hefty roaming fees.

The phone comes with earbuds, a charging cable and wall charger. Before use you need to install the included 3000mAH battery, and your own SIM card (plus micro-SD card if you wish to expand the memory.) There are 2 SIM card slots and a nice feature for travel is that you can have two SIM cards installed at one time and switch between them in the settings section of the phone. If you wish to use a nano SIM (which is commonly used in iPhones and Android phones) you will need to purchase an adapter, such as this one that I purchased on Amazon for about $7. To get to the SIM card or SD card slots you need to remove the backplate of the phone which is a thin piece of plastic held in place by lots of tiny tabs. The first time I did this I was nervous it would break easily, but I have removed and replaced it many times now without incident.
IRULU2

 

Size

This is a really big phone! It measures approximately 6.93″ x 3.56″ x 0.35″, compared to the iPhone 6S+ at 6.23″ x 3.07 ” x 0.29.” I did find that even with this large size it fit quite comfortably in my hand. I wouldn’t keep a large phone like this or the iPhone 6S+ in my pocket, but if carrying it in a purse or bag it is fine. It’s weight is virtually identical to the iPhone6s+ at 191g (just under 7oz.)

Screen

There are definitely some advantages to having such a large phone as it can have a much larger screen. The V3’s screen size is 6.5″ which is even bigger than the iPhone 6S+ at 5.5″ and makes my iPhone 5’s 4″ screen look tiny. It’s big enough that you may decide to use it instead of a tablet when you are out and about. It makes viewing movies and videos much more enjoyable than watching on a smaller phone and I definitely appreciate the larger screen size for many apps too. I have used it for navigation using Google Maps and it is much easier to see the route than on my iPhone5.

The screen resolution is not as good as the iPhone, which is not surprising due to its much lower price point, however it is still good enough that it didn’t interfere with my enjoyment when watching videos or playing apps. It has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels compared to the iPhone 5’s 1136 x 640-pixel resolution and the iPhone6s+ 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution.

Apps

The phone runs on Android 5.1 (Lollipop) and has a Qualcomm 1.2 GHz Quad Core Processor. It has the Google Appstore installed by default, but you can also use the Amazon app store (Amazon has directions on how to do this), so I also installed apps using the amazon underground app, which is a great place to get free apps without in-app purchases. I found that the phone worked well for playing apps and noticed no appreciable lag time. My son loves to play action games, especially Stars Wars themed apps such as EA’s Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes. He loves using the V3 to play them on, and reports no problems using it with them.
For my normal everyday use charging the phone once a day was enough, if my son used it to play a lot of graphic intensive apps the battery would drop much faster (as expected.)

Phone Reception

I tested the phone using AT&T and found I actually got a stronger cellphone signal for phone and internet with the V3 than I did with my iPhone 5 (also on AT&T.)

Camera

The V3 has a 5MP front camera and 13MP rear camera. I found it very easy to use and the controls were very intuitive. A right swipe brings up all the camera settings. A moveable focus window appears if you tap the screen and it is easy to zoom in and out. It is one of the easiest to use smartphone cameras I have found.

Travel

Because the phone is unlocked and can have 2 SIMs installed at once this makes it very useful for travel. It allows you to purchase and use a local SIM card to avoid hefty roaming fees and lets you switch back and forth between the SIM cards at the touch of a button.

Overall Impressions

I found the phone to work well for making and receiving calls, internet browsing, playing apps, listening to music, taking pictures and watching videos. I liked the large screen size especially for watching videos and playing apps.

My main concern is that the plastic back feels somewhat flimsy and may not provide a lot of drop protection.The speaker output is also via the plastic back so you need to be careful not to cover this, or the audio is muffled. I would like to see more cases available, especially protective ones, as the only case I have seen for it is this folio style case which will protect the screen from being scratched but I don’t think will add a lot of drop protection.

Pros: Large screen, low price point, dual SIM is great for travel, expandable memory, unlocked, lots of features for the money

Cons: plastic back, need an adapter to use nano SIM card, no protective cases available

Summary:

If you are looking for an unlocked phone with a large screen size then the Victory V3 from iRulu has a lot of features for under $200. It does not have as high a quality materials or as high end specifications as an iPhone6s+ but it works well, is a fraction of the price, and offers good value for money.

Available from iRulu.com or Amazon current price $189.99

iRULU1NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).
TEXTNOW Wireless Phone Service – Affordable No Contract Smartphones #Backtoschool tech

TEXTNOW Wireless Phone Service – Affordable No Contract Smartphones #Backtoschool tech


Texting messages

Summary

An affordable cellphone option, with cheap Smartphones, NO CONTRACTS, plans from $18.99/ month, including unlimited texts, unlimited calls within the USA & unlimited 2G Data, 3G/4G Data varies depending on the plan.

I have been impressed with the TEXTNOW cellphone service and would recommend it as an affordable cellphone option for Middle School, High School and College students.

Our Rating

 

recommended-by-the-imums

As the mom of a new middle school student, a big topic of conversation with my fellow moms has been finding an affordable cellphone service for our kids. As our kids become more independent traveling home from school by public transport or on foot we want to have a reliable way to contact them, but don’t want to give them expensive handsets or let them run up huge bills.

One option is to add an additional line on to your family cellphone plan, but this risks them running up big text or data bills.  Unless you have an old handset to pass on to them, getting them a new one can be costly or can lock you into a long contract. Another option is to get them their own plan, and TEXTNOW has a variety of really affordable options for doing this.

TEXTNOW wireless plans are non-contract and plans start at $18.99 a month. They have a variety of Android cellphones available inexpensively, with their current sale some are under $5 or even free WITHOUT a contract. I tested out the TEXTNOW service using a Motorola Moto X.

TEXTNOW is a little different than most mobile phone carriers as it uses a combination of WiFi and Sprint to provide its cellphone service. If you are anywhere that you can connect to WiFi e.g. at home, library, school or coffeeshop it will use that as the preferred calling option and if that is not available it will use Sprint.

I live in Northern California in a rural area where in the past AT&T and Verizon have really been our only cellphone options, so I wasn’t sure how well the service would work here. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked, and having the WiFi calling does really help in areas where the Sprint signal may be weak. I did not notice any discernible difference in the call quality when made over WiFi vs over the Sprint network.

They have a variety of plans available, none of which require a contract, and they can all be cancelled at any time. Plans start from $18.99/ month, all plans include unlimited texts, unlimited calls within the USA & unlimited 2G Data, the amount of 3G/4G Data varies depending on the plan chosen. With teens using the phone I like that there are no hidden surprises, they can text and call their friends as much as they like without getting a shock when the bill arrives. The phone will try to connect to Wifi whenever it is available to decrease data usage. If they use up all their 3G/4G data there are no overage fees, instead you get asked if you want to upgrade to the next plan level, if you decline then their data is just kept at 2G until the next billing cycle.

I also like not having to worry that my kid will lose or break an expensive SmartPhone whilst still under contract. TEXTNOW have a good selection of affordable (or even free) handsets, the big carriers make these kinds of offers too but the difference is you need to lock into a (usually) 2 -year contract to get these deals. With TEXTNOW there is no commitment, if the kid loses the phone next week you can just buy another at the same low price. The handsets offered are typically not the newest models, but they are still very good phones. I used a MOTO-X which had a 4.7″ screen a 10MP camera and is a good quality Android phone, a perfect phone for my son.

Overall, I have been impressed with the TEXTNOW cellphone service and would recommend it as an affordable cellphone option for Middle School, High School and College students. Their handsets are very affordable, there is no commitment and no overage fees, and with plans starting at $18.99 including unlimited texts, US calls and 2g data it is very reasonably priced. Phones can be ordered from the TEXTNOW website.

 

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).
An iPhone Fan Reviews the LG G3™ Android Smartphone with Comparisons to the Apple iPhone 5 and iPhone 6

An iPhone Fan Reviews the LG G3™ Android Smartphone with Comparisons to the Apple iPhone 5 and iPhone 6

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As a longtime Apple fan it has been a while since I really looked at an Android phone closely, so when LG offered to let me test drive their G3™ I was curious to see how it compares to the iPhone. I currently use an iPhone 5 and my husband has an iPhone 6, so I was able to compare it to both of these. I tested a 32GB LG 3™ on the Verizon network.

Size

The G3™ is very comparable in size to the iPhone 6, and both of them make my iPhone 5 look tiny! It measures 5.76″  x 2.94″  x 0.35″ compared to the iPhone 6 at 5.44″ x 2.64″ x 0.27″ (the iPhone 6+ is 6.22″ x 3.06 ” x 0.28″)

It has a much more organic feel compared to the iPhone’s more boxy look, and it has a curved back which feels pretty comfortable in the hand. Although it is similar in size to the iPhone 6 it has a 5.5″ screen like the iPhone 6+. For comparison in the picture below you can see the G3™ (in green case) in between an iPhone 6 (blue case) and iPhone 6+ (clear case.) Although it is much larger than my iPhone5 I found it quite comfortable to hold and use.

 

G3V Iphone6:6+

 

Screen

One place the G3™ really stands out, in my opinion, is in it’s screen – its display really is stunning. The display is a 5.5″ Quad HD with 538 pixels per inch, compared to the iPhone 6’s retina display with 326 ppi (the iPhone6+ has 401 ppi). Because it has no real bezel the screen covers virtually the entire front surface of the phone. The difference in resolution is really noticeable when viewing movies, although I like watching movies on my iPad I’ve never really enjoyed watching them on my iPhone, but on the G3™ the clarity and image sharpness makes movie watching enjoyable even on a 5.5″ screen.

Camera

The G3™ has a 13MP rear- facing and 2.1 MP front-facing camera, compared to the iPhone 6’s 8MP rear and 1.2MP front-facing cameras. It has laser auto-focus and image stabilization and can also record HD video.

I was impressed with the camera on the G3™, it took clear sharp, well focused images.  The lens is much more zoomed-in than the iPhone 5 or 6, which is great for taking portraits or close-ups. For most of the photos I want to take with my phone the G3 was easier to compose the shot wanted than the iPhone but it was not as for a wide angle view. Like the iPhone the G3 has a panorama option when you want a  really wide field of view.

A fun feature is the picture in picture option, which lets you combine images from both cameras into one shot, so you can add a selfie to your landscape showing you and your location. A nice extra feature is “Magic Focus.” which lets you adjust the focal point after you take the picture, so you can correct your mistake if the picture is not focussed the way you would like.

The G3™ utilizes gestures for taking selfies without touching the screen, and there is an option to add voice control for taking pictures too. To switch between forward and rear facing cameras you swipe the screen, this is simple once you know how, but early on I did accidentally switch to selfie mode whilst taking pictures several times and had a hard time working out how to get out of it!

At first I was confused about how to take a picture, as unlike the iPhone you don’t tap on a virtual button to take the picture but instead tap anywhere on the screen. I soon got used to this and found it very convenient, so much so that I now keep forgetting that tapping anywhere doesn’t work on my iPhone!

Overall, I was very happy with the picture quality and camera features and I liked the camera better than the one on my iPhone 5.

In Use

LG have replaced most of physical buttons on the G3™ with virtual buttons, which makes for a very different user experience than the iPhone. The only remaining physical buttons are on the back of the phone, these are the power button and the volume controls. The display can be switched on by double tapping in the centre of the screen and off by double tapping on the top of the screen. You can add a level of security by changing the screen-on code to your own unique 3-8 point knock code, with over 86,000 different possible combinations.

VS985 Blue Steel

The physical home button is replaced by a virtual home button accessed by swiping up from the bottom center of the screen, allowing the bezel to be much reduced in size giving a larger usable screen area.

The home screen contains the current weather, notifications, Google search and a small selection of your most used apps, but there is a shortcut button to quickly access all your full app selection. Swiping left from the home screen allows you to access Google Health and “Smart Tips” which is a good place to get started in learning all about the phone’s features.

It took me a while to discover the “help” and “info” buttons which are in the “info-zone” on the second home screen, I’d really like to see a shortcut to the help area visible on all screens, early on I did find several times that I got “stuck” in a screen or mode and didn’t know how to exit it. There is a “help” app you can drag to the home screen, but took me a while to discover that.

When using the phone to play apps and surf the web it was very responsive with no lag noticeable, it has a Qualcomm Quad core processor that works well.

It has a number of other cool features including the ability to use the phone as an IR remote control, the ability to answer an incoming call simply by bringing the G3 to your ear, and to switch off a ringing alarm just by turning the phone over. The keyboard also has some nice features including the option to split the keyboard so you can type with both hands, a one-handed keyboard option and word prediction that worked pretty well for me.

 

Overall impressions

At first I found the lack of a physical home button, and using gestures to control so many features of the G3, very difficult to get used to. However, the more I used G3 the more comfortable I became with the gesture controls, and over time I actually grew to like them. Once you have learned the gestures they work well. All the information on how to use the gestures is accessible in the G3, but an easier to find “help” button would be really useful when still on the learning curve.

I really like how the absence of a physical home button increases the useable screen size, and having no buttons on the sides of the phone gives it a very streamlined feel, but I find the location of the volume control buttons somewhat awkward.

Like many Android phones The G3 has a microSDHC card slot allowing you to easily upgrade its memory, I really wish Apple would add this to the iPhones! It comes with 32GB memory but the microSDHC card slot can add up to 2TB.

The 2 things I really love about the G3 are its HD Quad screen and the camera. The screen really is beautiful- much better than the iPhone 5 or iPhone 6, I have never been interested in watching movies on my phone before but this screen converted me! The 13MP camera is great too – the pictures come out sharp and clear, and the camera has some nice additional features.

Conclusion

As a die-hard Apple fan I still find the Apple ecosystem easier to navigate than Android, but the G3 has enough great features that I will no longer automatically choose another iPhone when I next upgrade. For those looking for a new Android phone I would definitely recommend the LG G3™, and even as a long-time Apple fan I would give the G3 serious consideration, it really is a very nice phone.

The LG G3™is available from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Best Buy and Amazon price varies depending on contract.

 

Technical Specifications
Color Metallic Black, Silk White, Shine Gold
CPU Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 801 Quad-Core Processor up to 2.5 GHz
Operating System Android 4.4.2 KitKat
Battery 3,000mAh / Removable /
Optional Wireless Charging
Display 5.5″ Quad HD (2560 X 1440) IPS
Camera
Rear-Facing Camera 13MP Optical Image Stabilization+
with Laser Auto Focus
Dual Flash
Front-Facing Camera 2.1 MP
Sound
1W Speaker with Boost Amp
Connectivity
Bluetooth 4.0 LE (APT-x) A-GPS, Glonass
USB 2.0HS HDMI supported through SlimPort
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac NFC
Memory
Total Internal 3GB RAM / 32GB Memory
(24GB user memory)
External microSD up to 2TB**

 

recommended-by-the-imums

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

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