With cost of production coming down and chipset makers launching cheaper
options, a 5-inch phone with a 720p display and a quad-core processor
at a price point of Rs. 12,000 is no longer a dream. The Zen Ultrafone
701 HD is one such smartphone. It's a feature packed device that looks
really impressive on paper. We find out if it's indeed worth of praise
in real world usage.
The Zen Ultrafone 701HD follows design cues seen
in a lot of recent large screen smartphones often referred to as
'phablets'. The phone sports a rectangular slab form factor with rounded
edges and is Black in colour.
The front of the phone is dominated
by its 5-inch display, with the three capacitive keys - Menu, Home
(doubles up as the task-switcher key on long press) and the Back key
placed just below it. The 3.2-megapixel front-facing camera, a
notification LED light and sensors are located above the screen just
adjacent to the earpiece.
The Power/ Lock key is located on the
right side of the phone, while the Volume rocker key is at the left.
There are no ports on the bottom, while the Micro-USB port and 3.5mm
headset jack sit at the top.
The back of the phone sports a soft
rubberized finish which gives the phone a premium look and makes it
pleasant to hold. The 8-megapixel rear camera lens located at the upper
part of the back along with an LED flash, while the speaker outlet is
located towards the bottom.
The phone has a removable back cover
and opening it reveals the battery compartment with slots for 2 SIM
cards and a microSD card slot. The SIM cards are not hot-swappable
because of the placement of the slots.
There's some minimalist ZEN
and Ultrafone branding on the back of the phone. Overall, the design of
the phone is understated but exudes a pleasant feel.
Zen Ultrafone 701HD comes with a 5-inch IPS HD screen that has a
resolution of 720x1280 pixels and pixel density of 294ppi, which is
pretty good and graphics and text appear sharp. The viewing angles
looked good, and the under-sun visibility on the phone was decent. The
screen is not very reflective. Videos and pictures looked good albeit a
little less vivid compared to AMOLED displays but then again AMOLED
displays offer saturated colours.
autofocus shooter takes good quality images in daylight. However, we
observed that pictures taken in low-light conditions did not come out
well. Also, at times colour reproduction was not that accurate with the
pictures coming out a little oversaturated. Pictures taken indoors with
less light were also grainy.
The phone can record HD videos and we
found that the quality of videos captured through the back camera was
good. It also offers EIS or Electronic Image Stabilization to minimize
distortions caused by shaking of hands while shooting a video.
Unfortunately, the camera saves videos in the archaic .3gp file format.
phone comes with a customized Camera app and allows you to capture
photos in HDR, Multi angle view and Panorama modes as well. It comes
with the usual controls including settings for Exposure, Colour effect,
White balance and ISO, among others. The phone's camera also supports
continuous shots taking up to 99 shots in that mode, smile detection and
face detection. Some of the options in the camera app's interface are
not self-descriptive which makes it unintuitive for new smartphone
The front camera takes above average shots and is great for
video calls. Overall, we feel that the phone's pretty good for casual
The Zen Ultrafone 701HD
runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the latest iteration of the OS at the time
of penning this review. Zen has not skinned the OS. There are five
customisable home screens that can be filled with app shortcuts and
widgets. The notification tray also features a settings shortcut and a
clear all notifications button, along with expandable notifications
(expanded with the two finger pull gesture). It features the same
setting toggles shortcut that's found in stock Android for quick access
to Airplane Mode, Battery status, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Data
connection, Data usage, Audio Profiles, Brightness, screen backlight
Timeout and Auto Rotation.
The phone also offers another Android
4.2 feature, Daydream that displays photo albums or the clock while the
phone's charging. The option to wirelessly mirror the phone's display
with an HDMI enabled device through a wireless display adapter is also
As we mentioned earlier, the phone features three
capacitive buttons for navigation - Menu, Home and, for respective
functions with Home button doubling up as the task switcher on long
press. We'd like all manufacturers to switch to the three soft controls
that are included in the Stock version of the OS. One major gripe with
these buttons is that they don't light-up in the dark even when the
screen is on until you press one of them.
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
also offers Google Now, which needs to be initialised for the first
time, before use. For the uninitiated, Google Now is a voice-based
information assistant and an extension of Google search. You can ask
questions and the tool returns answers or search results. It uses
'cards' which are essentially small boxes that offer different sets of
information ranging from weather forecast, directions, traffic
information, scores, appointments, and currency conversion, among
others. Google Now collects information based on the user's behaviour,
location, and even e-mail, to offer information automatically.
has also bundled some apps with the phone including ColorNote for
creating colour coded notes and task lists, Emoze - a push email client,
a File Browser, Flashlight, Saavn, Skype, a ToDo app, TOI news app, a
video player app, MX Player (another video player), Facebook, Twitter,
WhatsApp and Zen's own app store.
Performance/ Battery Life
Zen Ultrafone 701HD is powered by a 1.2GHz Mediatek MT6589 quad-core
processor. It has 1GB RAM onboard, and PowerVR SGX 544MP chip for
processing graphics. There is 4GB of internal storage, which is
expandable up to 32GB via a microSD card.
With Android Jelly Bean,
the overall experience of navigation through the interface was
impressive, thanks to Project Butter and the phone's quad-core
processor. We did not experience any lag while launching apps, playing
games, scrolling web pages or switching between apps. It is safe to say
that performance wise, the Zen trumps other dual-core processor powered
phones in this price range.
We were able to play full-HD clips
smoothly and the phone supported formats like .AVI and .MOV, natively.
The speaker on the phone delivers decent quality sound at high volume
levels, but there's some muffle when the phone lies on its back, as the
speaker grill is located on the back. The headphones that come with the
phone offer average quality sound output. The phone also offers FM
Radio. It also offers Audio Profiles to quickly switch between different
Call quality was good, during our testing
process. The phone was also able to get a GPS lock rather easily while
using the Maps app.
The phone comes with a 2000mAh battery, and
based on our experience, it will just about last you a full day with
medium to heavy usage, including 1-1.5 hours of phone calls, two e-mail
accounts with push notifications, screen at maximum brightness, playing
some music and video clips, Twitter notifications and WhatsApp chats.
It's also worth pointing out that we had turned off Wi-Fi and
auto-brightness, and the phone was hooked to a 3G network. Altering
these settings might help in running the phone for a longer duration,
depending on your usage pattern.
At a price of Rs.
11,999 the Zen Ultrafone 701HD is a competent budget smartphone that
delivers good performance. In addition to its 720p display, the major
selling point of this phone is that it runs the most recent iteration of
Android without additional skinning. We hope that Zen doesn't
disappoint when it comes to offering OS updates in the future.
you're looking at alternatives, the Micromax A116 Canvas HD comes close
but is priced higher. We like the Zen Ultrafone 701HD's build quality
more than that of the Canvas HD. If you're not particularly looking at a
720p display, the Karbonn S1 Titanium is another good budget quad-core
Zen Ultrafone 701HD: In Pictures