Starmobile Knight Spectra Review : A Triumph, Gets TechPinas Badge of Excellence

As a technology blogger, I'm consisently very critical of every new gadget release -- be it from an international or local player.

Since I know that many Pinoys visit my website to get relevant opinion on a specific smartphone, tablet, or hybrid that they are planning to get, I make sure that the information I present are truthful and that my views are well-founded.

But while I try to highlight points for improvement in every device I play with, I make sure that I give credit where credit is due. After eight years of holding this profession, I'd like to believe that I can already spot a great gadget when I see and hold one.

And with that, I want to recognize the greatness in Starmobile Knight Spectra, the local electronics company's flagship level smartphone for the first half of 2016.

There are five reasons why I think this model is worthy of our TechPinas Badge of Excellence. Allow me to go through them one by one.

1. Gorgeous Design and Flawless Construction

As I've shared in a previous post, Starmobile Knight Spectra is the most beautiful Android smartphone that Happy Man has released so far. Heck, I think the best-looking device - across all categories - that the company has ever come up with.

The handset features front and back scratch-resistant glass panels and a frame made of a durable but light-weight 'metal-and-hard-plastic' composite.

When you hold the smartphone, you will immediately feel how premium it is. The build is spectacular; There are no odd gaps or flexing. It's so good that it can rival the construction of flagship level handsets by international brands that cost twice as much.

The phone's LED notification light is placed behind the power button, which is a nice touch that makes Knight Spectra look even more interesting. The bulb changes to three colors: Blue for standard notifications, Red for when you're charging the device or if the battery is already low, and Green as indication that the battery has been fully charged when the smartphone is plugged to an electrical outlet.

2. Top-Notch Imaging Capabilities for a Local Smartphone Model

Starmobile Knight Spectra is the first ever Pinoy Android handset to feature a Dual-Optics camera module, which says a lot about the company's desire to make this top-of-the-line model an imaging powerhouse.

This module features a combination of a 2 MegaPixel and 13 MegaPixel sensor, allowing the user to play with DOF settings to produce many images from one photo with varying blur and highlight effects, among others.

The secondary optic with lower resolution works like a 'brain' that analyses all the possible subjects in a shot and - simply put - helps isolate each element for easier and more effective focus and color post-processing.

Here are some sample shots taken using the Dual-Optics set-up:

Original Shot

After playing with DOF Re-Focus to produce interesting Bokeh Effect

Original Shot

Bokeh Effect

Background Deco Color Isolation Effect

As I've said, this handset is the first release from any local manufacturer to don this imaging set-up and I think the software that goes with the module is still a work in progress. In many ways, it still requires refinement. Nonetheless, I salute the company for daringly taking on this technology and offering it to Filipinos via a device that does not cost an arm and a leg.

If you're looking for a smartphone that can serve as a standard point-and-shoot camera substitute, check out Starmobile Knight Spectra as it features a standard rear camera also delivers above-average performance; One of the best I have used on a handset from a local manufacturer in this price bracket. The 18 MegaPixel shooter focuses on subjects really fast and - thanks to its BSI sensor - delivers bright and brilliant images even in low-light settings.

Here are standard landscape and food photos taken using the smartphone:

I started the year calling Starmobile Knight Spectra one of the best selfie-centric smartphones with front-facing soft-LED flash providing illumination in low to zero lighting conditions.

As someone who loves to take selfies, I always say that the selfie-phone is the one that gives you shots where you look your best. And for me, the way that Spectra's 8 MegaPixel front shooter captures and brushes up self-portraits is simply stellar.

3. Powerful Set of Internal Hardware

Starmobile Knight Spectra runs its near-vanilla Android 5.1 Lollipop OS (replete with Starmobile software innovations) with a  powerhouse 64-Bit Octa Core Snapdragon 615 chipset, has 3GB of RAM for efficient multitasking, and comes with 32GB of internal memory that you can easily augment using the secondary hybrid nanoSIM slot that doubles as a microSD card memory expansion slot supporting up to 64GB.

This set of innards give the Knight Spectra an Antutu Benchmark Score in the range of 33,000 to 35,000. I got 33,904 the first time I ran the test on the handset.

But more important than its benchmark score, the actual or real-life performance of Starmobile Knight Spectra is what I find particularly pleasing. The screen transitions are fluid; Touch response is also buttery smooth. And 3D gaming performance (Marvel Contest of Champions and N.O.V.A. 3) is more than decent.

4. D-TV Entertainment On-The-Go

Digital TV or D-TV is next generation free TV broadcast superseding Analog TV, which is prone to static noise or blur. The country's biggest TV networks - namely, ABS-CBN, GMA7, and TV5 - have already started to adapt this technology.

DTV Philippines, Starmobile Knight Spectra

Apart from having powerful technical specifications both inside and out, Starmobile Knight Spectra - amazingly - also features a D-TV receiver, which lets users enjoy high-quality, super clear channels on-the-go. And not only that, the handset even lets you record shows so you can watch them at a later time, at your own convenience.

Simply plug the antenna in the 3.5mm audio jack and you're good to go.

5. Great Value For Money

Considering all of its main selling points, Starmobile Knight Spectra - I believe - gives great bang for the buck at Php 14,990.

Yes, it's not particularly cheap. But when you think about everything that you're getting - from the handset's attractive exterior to its powerhouse internal hardware, from the unique imaging capabilities to its useful D-TV feature - this model is well-worth its price tag.

As a Filipino technology blogger who's seen birth, infancy, and rise of the local smartphone scene, I think Starmobile Knight Spectra is a triumph and a source of pride for our industry. Having said that, I believe it is absolutely worthy of our TechPinas Badge of Excellence.

TechPinas Smartphone Technical Specs Table (TSTST)
Name Starmobile Knight Spectra
Type Slate Form Factor (Full Touchscreen)
Price Category Upper Midrange (Flagship Level)
Dimensions154 x 76.6 x 7.25 mm
Weight 161 grams
Available Colors Black
Operating System Android 5.1 Lollipop
Display 5.5-inch Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels (440ppi), On-cell AMOLED IPS Multi-touch Capacitive Screen, 16M Colors, Scratch-Resistant Glass Front and Back Panels
Processor 64-Bit Octa Core = 1.5 GHz Quad + 1.0 GHz Quad Core ARM Cortex A53 (64-bit Octa Core), Adreno 405 GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 MSM8939 chipset
Internal Storage 32 GB ROM, expandable via microSD card / Hybrid nanoSIM slot supporting up to 64 GB
Camera Main: Dual Camera Set-up (13 MegaPixels + 2 MegaPixels AutoFocus BSI with Flash)
Front: 8 MegaPixels, Fixed Focus, Soft LED flash
Video Capture Front and Back: Full HD 1080p 30 frames per second
Audio and Video Playback MP3, WAV, eAAC+, FLAC, MP4, H.264
Ports microUSB v2.0, 3.5 mm audio jack
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP, ANT+, EDR, 3G HSDPA, 42 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.8 Mbps; LTE, Cat4, 50 Mbps UL, 300 Mbps DL, DTV
GPS Yes, with GLONASS and A-GPS
FM Radio Yes
Sensors Accelerometer, Digital Compass, Proximity
Network To Be Confirmed ~ 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, 3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100, 4G Network LTE 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1800 / 1900 / 2100 / 2600 (TBC)
SIM Card Type Dual SIM Dual Standby = Regular Mini + Hybrid Nano
Battery Non-removable 3,500 mAh battery
Uptime Up to 9 hours Talk Time, Up to 18.3 days Standby Time
Value-Added Features Starmobile software, StarCam, Dual Camera Set-up for DOF control, Digital TV
Announcement November 9, 2015
Availability Mid-November 2015
Price Official (upon launch): Php 14,990