TECH BREAK: Is the Tesla 9.1Lite worthy of its name?

Wednesday June 13 2018

The Tesla 9.1 Lite is a mid-range smartphone. PHOTO| AUGUSTINE SANG

The Tesla 9.1 Lite is a mid-range smartphone. PHOTO| AUGUSTINE SANG 

By AUGUSTINE SANG
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The Tesla 9.1 Lite is a mid-range smartphone, and a new entrant in the competitive smartphone market in Kenya not to be confused with Elon Musk’s Tesla.

The company behind the smartphone develops a series of feature phones, tablets, smartphones as well as TV sets. So let's check out what the Tesla 9.1 Lite has to offer.

DESIGN

The design path taken on this device is quite conventional, and everything is placed where you’d expect it to be. But what stands out is it’s much slimmer that what’s out there, making the device look tall. As a result, the screen upfront takes an 18:9 proportion rather than the 16:9 we’re used to on most smartphones.

The body is made of plastic which gives the device a light feel but on the downside, it is a bit of a fingerprint magnet as every smudge sticks and it needs wiping off every once in a while.

The back of Tesla 9.1 Lite. PHOTO| AUGUSTINE SANG

The back of Tesla 9.1 Lite. PHOTO| AUGUSTINE SANG

Included in the box is a clear silicon cover that should add impact protection to the plastic body. I loved the fingerprint sensor placement at the back, and speaking of which, the scanner isn’t the fastest I’ve seen at this price range, but it gets the job done.

PERFORMANCE

The Tesla 9.1 Lite is powered by an octa core Mediatek processor coupled with 3GB of RAM. It also comes with 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded via an SD card by up to 64GB.

With such internals, the phone performs effortlessly even while running demanding tasks like games. The trade-off of heavy usage however, is that you end up draining the 2800mAh battery quickly.

Otherwise, the battery holds up nicely under normal usage, keeping the device running the entire day. Charging it up is pretty fast thanks to quick charge support. 

CAMERA

This device is essentially a dual camera phone with a 13MP and a 5MP at the back. Image quality is average under normal conditions but it performs dismally under low light conditions. Not as good as I expected considering the asking price and what the competition has to offer.

The camera gets very ‘jerky’ when shooting in low light conditions and this is a let-down. I tried using a third party Camera App from the play store and images were considerably better, this indicates that this phones’ camera performance issue can be fixed with a software update. Tesla?

The front Camera on the other hand is a decent 8MP shooter and gladly, image quality is what you would expect from a device at this price range, fair. You also get a front facing flash to light up selfies in low light conditions.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

The device runs on a stock version of Android 7.0 Nougat with no bloatware Apps, you get all the stock Android Apps.

What this means is that the phone will run smoother since there are no unnecessary junk programs taking up device resources i.e. CPU, RAM and even battery.

I didn’t have any issues with network connection, the 4G is quite stable and the general call quality is excellent.

The loudspeaker positioning is at the back of the phone and not that I’m pettifogging Tesla but a bottom firing speaker is better than a back facing one. The audio quality is okay.

EFFORTLESS PERFORMANCE

The Tesla performs effortlessly in handling demanding tasks. The processor is powerful and the RAM included is sufficient to keep operations smooth.

The design is also great considering its price although you only get one colour variant, Grey. They also have repair centres in the country which is good when things go wrong. The fact that it uses a type C USB connection is a positive but one let-down is with the back cameras, its competitors do better in terms of camera performance. 

It costs Sh16,800.