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TP-Link's latest Neffos smartphones are its most ambitious yet

Engadget Engadget 1/09/2016 Nicole Lee

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Though TP-Link is a pretty well-known maker of networking equipment in other parts of the world, the brand hasn't made much of a dent in the US. Recently, however, it's been working on a rebranding in an effort to do so. It's pivoting more toward the smart home market and has also released a couple of smartphones earlier this year under the Neffos name. At IFA today, the company is continuing that consumer trend with the announcement of the Neffos X Series of smartphones, which consists of the Neffos X1 and the Neffos X1 Max.

Both phones are made out of a unibody metal exterior, featuring a dual curved back that tapers towards the sides. The X1 Max has a stunningly slim edge of 2.75 mm while the X1 comes in pretty close at 2.95mm. At their thickest, the X1 Max is 7.75 mm while the X1 is 7.95mm. Both are clad in 2.5D scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass. The X1 has a 5-inch IPS HD display while the X1 Max has a 5.5-inch IPS Full HD display. Both phones boast edge-to-edge displays, with a 76% screen-to-body ratio. On one side are the power and volume buttons while the other features a slide-to-mute key.

Now on to the features. Both the X1 and the X1 Max have a 13-megapixel camera sensor that boasts backside illumination, fast phase-detection autofocus and f/2.0 aperture. There's also a dual-tone flash LED on the back. TP-Link says that it has something called real-time night shooting, which promises great performance in low light. It also has HDR and time lapse photography. Both phones have a front 5-megapixel shooter complete with something called real-time beautify mode, so capturing the perfect selfie is that much easier. Oh, and also on the rear of the phone is a fingerprint sensor, located right underneath the camera lens and flash.

As for the internals, both carry octacore MediaTek Helio P10 chipsets, which claim blazing fast speeds. The X1 comes in both 16GB and 32GB models while the X1 Max comes in 32GB and 64GB varieties. Both have dual SIM slots, dual-band WiFi and multiple LTE band support. What's even more impressive is that the X1 has a 2,250 mAh battery while the X1 Max has a 3,000 mAh battery. TP-Link says this gives the X1 300 hours of standby and 10 hours of talk time while the X1 Max has a rated standby time of 400 hours and 13 hours of talk time. Both phones ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

I played around with the X1 and the X1 Max a little at TP-Link's event in Berlin and came away impressed by how solid the build quality was on both phones. The chamfered edges look gorgeous and that curved metal back makes it feel really nice and smooth in the hand. The display is stunning too, with colors that pop and blacks that look true and deep. An assistant showed me that he was able to unlock the phone pretty quickly using the sensor, which matches TP-Link's claim of 0.2 second. There's also a gesture awakening mode, which is useful when you're out in the snow and rather not take your gloves off to touch the phone.

The Neffos X Series definitely falls in line with TP-Link's new vision in trying to be much more of a global consumer brand, which is a departure from its humdrum router roots. "We were a low profile brand for nearly two decades," said Thomas Bai, Neffos' brand director. "We were a strong brand but we are quiet. The journey hasn't been easy." He adds, "Neffos brings us even closer to our consumers."

Jeffrey Chao, TP Link's CEO, said Neffos is part of the company's new goal. "Our mission is connecting everything," he said.

The X1 will retail for 199 euros while the X1 Max is priced at 249 euros. It comes in either a black front and a silver rear or a white front and a champagne gold back. Both phones are slated to arrive in store shelves in the fourth quarter of this year.

We're live all week from Berlin, Germany for IFA 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.

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