LeEco Le Pro3 a solid option for a high-end smartphone with a budget price tag

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Here in the U.S., we live in a world ruled by Samsung, LG and Apple.  You can’t deny that.  None the less, there are other companies worth paying attention to that are working hard to break into the smartphone, TV and accessory market.  LeEco is one of them.  I had a chance to test out their high-end LeEco Le Pro 3 smartphone that sells for an amazingly low price.

Hardware

I was immediately impressed with how solid the Le Pro 3 feels.  At a sub $400 price tag I expected something plasticky.  The Pro 3 is anything but.  It has a glass front and a metal back.  It has a decent weight to it and feels like a solid smartphone.  On the back there is a fingerprint scanner right underneath the 16 Megapixel camera.  On the front is a 5.5" HD screen that appears to go edge to edge until you turn it on.  There is a slight bezel along the edges that you'll see when you power up the screen.  Deal breaker?  No way but it is deceiving at first glance.

The screen looks good.  It did seem a tad light to me even when I tried tweaking the color settings.  Most people probably wouldn't even notice but I'm a geek like that.

On the bottom you'll find speaker holes and a USB-C port.  There is no headphone jack.  A set of USB-C earbuds and an adapter for your old headphones is included in the box.  This move away from headphone jacks kind of stinks.  I don't like it either but this is where the industry is going.  Fight it if you wish but I think the 3.5mm headphone jack is dying a slow death.

The battery in the Le Pro 3 is something to point out too.  It's 4070mAh which means you'll likely get a solid full day or more with a full charge.  For comparison the iPhone 7 reportedly uses a 1960mAh battery and the Samsung Galaxy S7 uses a 3000 mAh battery.  With that said, software and hardware optimization can often make a big difference so the mAh rating doesn't always tell the whole story.  The Le Pro 3 supports Quick Charge 3.0 that helps you juice up the phone quickly.

Camera

Best in class?  Not necessarily but impressive nonetheless!  The 16 Megapixel shooter does a good job with pictures and video.  It even includes a slow-motion mode.  It's another aspect of the Pro 3 that surprised me for the price.

Software

I'm an Android purist.  I like my Android straight-up.  The Le Pro 3 runs a "massaged" version of Android.  There are some changes that I like (their multi-tasking menu) and some things that drive me crazy (their drop-down options.)  You'll get used to it.  Samsung has their changes, LG has their changes and so does LeEco.  Personally I'd probably install the Google Now Launcher or Nova Launcher.  It's all personal preference.

Free media

LeEco prides itself on being a streaming media company first.  This means the included LeEco app packs a bunch of free shows and movies.  My short time browsing through the selection reminded me of Netflix.  Most of the options are Movies and TV shows that I've never heard of but there are a few gems mixed in there (All Dogs Go To Heaven for the kids, The Usual Suspects for the adults.)   In the U.S. LeEco worked out a deal with DirecTV to give users 3 free months of DirecTV NOW with their phones and TVs.  It's a good deal considering the NOW service runs $35+ per month if you sign up on your own.

Conclusion

For $349, I'd be hard pressed to find a smartphone with this power and build quality.  It's easily among the best smartphones under $400 and in my opinion it plays well against the big dogs from Samsung, Apple and LG.  Sure, there are a few trade-offs and I would prefer a cleaner Android software experience but for the price, it's hard to beat.  Nearly impossible.

You can find the LeEco Le Pro 3 for $350 directly from LeEco or from BestBuy.

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