Feature Articles

Hands-on: Starmobile Engage 8 Quad

By Marvin R. Velasco - 26 Nov 2013

Hands-on: Starmobile Engage 8 Quad

Last week, Starmobile released a grand total of 12 Android devices, ranging from 4-inch smartphones to 8-inch tablets. While there has always been an abundance of smartphones from local manufactures, tablets are often an afterthought or simply larger versions of smartphone counterparts. The Engage 8 Quad is one of the more serious tablets you can find from a Filipino brand, and it gets our hands-on treatment today.

The Engage 8 Quad is very iPad-like, with an all-white front, solid aluminum back, and fairly thin bezels.

The Engage 8 Quad is the second-most expensive tablet hailing from Starmobile's factory, right behind the PhP 9,990 Engage 8 3G. The version we have here is PhP 3,000 cheaper, and manages to do so by removing the 3G connectivity, clocking its quad-core processor to a slower 1GHz speed, and lowering the resolution of its camera to just 5 megapixels. Here's the complete list of specifications:

  • 1GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7
  • PowerVR SGX544 MP2
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • 8GB ROM, expandable storage up to 32GB via microSD
  • 7.85-inch, 1024 x 768-pixel IPS LCD
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n
  • 5-megapixel autofocus main camera
  • VGA fixed focus front-facing camera
  • 3800mAh, rated at 450 hours standby and 3 hours video playback
  • 199.6 x 134.3 x 9mm
  • 338g
  • PhP 6,990

 

Physique

The only item you'll find up front is the VGA camera on top. The Engage 8 Quad uses a pure Android OS, eliminating the need for hardware buttons around the screen.

 All ports, except for the microSD slot (which is on the side), are found on top. These are the headphones jack, micro-USB port, and HDMI port, along with a reset button and microphone.

We have to give it to Starmobile for making such a solidly built tablet. It's easy on the hands as well, being 9mm-thick and weighing just 338g.

The resolution is only 1024 x 768, and it has to stretch itself on a rather spacious real estate, but surprisingly, everything is easy on the eyes and sunlight legibility is better than expected.

Benchmark Performance

A score of 5399 on Quadrant Standard puts the Engage 8 Quad above the Starmobile Knight's 3945 and the Starmobile Diamond V3's 4112.

We also recorded 12380 points on AnTuTu, which puts it in line with other budget-friendly quad-core devices.

Multimedia Experience 

The sole loudspeaker is beside the 5-megapixel camera. The mono speaker is loud enough in calm environments, but be careful not to block it with your hands during landscape orientation use.

The 3800mAh battery was able to last 2 hours and 50 minutes during our video loop test with Wi-Fi turned on, which is close to the rated 3 hours. The tablet does better though at web browsing, providing us half a day's worth of Internet usage on a full charge.

The Engage 8 Quad is advertised as a gaming tablet by Starmobile. 3D games were definitely smooth on the tablet, and visuals were sweet thanks to the strong colors of the display. Unfortunately, we weren't able to test any true HD games.

Camera Quality

The rear camera is quite sharp despite using aggressive noise reduction in dark areas, which leads to less detail. The dynamic range and colors are also very pleasing, so you'll definitely enjoy shooting outside with the Engage 8 Quad. (Click for full resolution.)

Artificial indoor lighting isn't as friendly to the Engage 8 Quad. The rear camera has difficulty finding the correct white balance at times, but once again, noise is thankfully kept at a minimum. (Click for full resolution.)

The front-facing camera shoots only at VGA resolution, but it does a good job at emphasizing the colors and pushing the saturation. You should look good even while video calling indoors.

Like most tablets, there's little to adjust in the camera settings. Still, there's not much shutter lag to speak of, and framing with the 7.85-inch display is trouble-free.

Conclusion

 Is this Starmobile's best tablet yet?

The HWM Team conducted an Android tablet Multi-Test back in September. The entries were all priced below the PhP 10,000 mark, placing them under the entry-level or budget-friendly segments. Had the Starmobile Engage 8 Quad been a part of it, we're sure that it would have been a frontrunner. 

The Engage 8 Quad exhibits pretty much everything we would want out of a PhP 6,990 tablet. The aluminum unibody build is solid, the interface is fluid for a quad-core processor-equipped tablet, and the screen quality is surprisingly good. The only knocks against it would be the short battery life while watching videos and the inconsistent camera, but we can easily let those go because of the more-than-fair price tag. 

It's possible that the higher-end Engage 8 3G resolves some of these issues, but we'll have to try it out ourselves to know for sure.