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Kogan Agora 5.0" Dual-core Smartphone review

Cheap as chips

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Our Verdict

There is a lot to like about the Agora smartphone beyond its bargain-bin price tag. Kogan has excelled at creating a product which is so full-featured on a budget, even if some of these features don't perform as you might expect them to.

For

  • The price
  • Fully featured
  • Decent battery performance
  • Good web browsing

Against

  • Below average screen quality
  • Basic software package
  • Some stability issues
  • Woeful camera

The budget-priced smartphone posed a peculiar problem for technology reviewers. Often we need to look closely to spot the parts of a new gadget that demand attention, and perhaps criticism, but with a cheap phone, these elements are plain to see. But for every shortcoming, there is a part of the mind that replies, "yeah, but it's only $150".

So when does that excuse wear out?

Agora 5 inch

It certainly not the first thing you think when you take the Agora 5-inch out of the box. In fact, we were genuinely surprised at how good the phone looks and feels, given how cheap it is.

Agora side

It also looks a lot like the original Samsung Galaxy Note. Like, a lot. The shape of the handset, the position of the buttons, the fact that it has a rectangular Home button below the screen: everything screams Samsung.

Agora back

Even the back of the phone looks like the Note, with the same textured plastic battery cover and the same positioning of the camera lens and flash.

This isn't great for Samsung, but it is a boon for those of you who pick up this bad boy for a quarter of what it costs to buy a Galaxy Note.

Agora screen

Screen time

The first letdown comes when you turn the phone on and see the screen's 800 x 600 pixels stretched across the 5-inch display. If you've every connected your computer into a TV, you'll know what we're talking about here. Pixels are more visible and everything looks sort of soft, like it's just out of focus.

Not only, but the colour of this screen is pretty woeful, too. When viewed at the optimal angle, all screen elements look washed out, with an obvious blue hue across the panel. When viewed off-axis, however subtle the angle, the image of screen degrades considerably.

Agora off axis viewing

There is also so obvious colour banding in this screen, so that gradients of colour appear as strips of incrementally different colours, rather than one smooth transition in tone.

But, you know, it's only $150, right? Not when you add the cost of the painkillers you'll need to dull the throbbing headache emminating from behind your eyes.