FNB ConeXis X1 review – a cheap phone with amazing battery life

 

First National Bank recently launched its own range of branded smartphones, which it calls ConeXis.

The aim behind the devices is to offer clients affordable ways to use its digital banking channels, said FNB.

It announced two devices, the more expensive of which was the ConeXis X1.

FNB ConeXis X1: Price – 5/10 to 10/10

ConeXis X1 deal

The ConeXis X1 is available for R150 per month on a 24-month plan.

The repayment plan is different from a typical cellphone contract as FNB won’t do a credit check before selling you either of the smartphones.

Instead, it asks for a refundable deposit. In the case of the ConeXis X1, the deposit is R1,500.

A standout feature is that the monthly price can be reduced through rebates based on your eBucks rewards level, ranging 10% to 100% off.

Premium customers’ rebates will be as follows:

  • Level 1 – R15
  • Level 2 – R30
  • Level 3 – R60
  • Level 4 – R90
  • Level 5 – R150

Without the discounts, the ConeXis X1 is not that competitive, though.

Devices like the Vodacom Smart Ultra 7 and smartphones from Xiaomi provide stiff competition.

If you’re not on a decent eBucks reward level, I would hesitate to recommend the X1.

Design – 8/10

FNB ConeXis X1 photo

The X1 looks like an iPhone 4, and you can’t fault FNB and ZTE for copying the great design.

The micro USB port is in the middle of the bottom edge of the device and on the right edge you’ll find the power/wake switch and volume rockers. The headset jack is just off-centre on the top edge.

Design-wise the X1 looks great, is a comfortable weight, sits well in your hand, and is practical.

Display – 7/10

For a cheap phone, the display on the ConeXis X1 isn’t bad.

However, even though it runs at 720p, the input lag on the touchscreen will frustrate those used to responsive devices.

Because of the slightly sluggish response, there is no way to type fast on the X1’s screen.

Cameras – 6/10

FNB ConeXis X1 camera test

In full light, the rear camera of the X1 takes decent shots – including good macro shots with a good, small depth of field.

At night and in low light, the camera does not perform well. It struggles to focus, the viewfinder in the camera app is sluggish, and shots come out grainy.

The front camera is also not great, with perceptible lag in the viewfinder and tricky focusing.

Battery – 8/10

With minimal usage and background data, Wi-Fi, and NFC turned on, the ConeXis X1 lasted more than a week.

Unfortunately, it does not support fast charge – which means you will have to charge the phone overnight. The battery is also not removable.

Storage – 4/10

FNB decided to split the X1’s storage into two 4GB partitions: system – which you cannot touch – and user.

This means that only 2GB of the device’s internal storage is actually usable.

While the X1 does have microSD support, the way Android works makes this configuration undesirable.

Every app you install takes up space on a phone’s internal storage, even if you are able to install it onto the SD card.

This results in users only being able to install a handful of apps before the internal storage is full.

Every device I have used with a restriction like this has been a frustration.

Network lock-in, shovelware, and software – 0/10

FNB ConeXis X1 homescreen

We don’t normally review SIM-locked phones, as the devices automatically score 0 for network flexibility and customer-friendliness.

The rest of the ConeXis’ software is decent. It sticks close to a stock Android experience, only removing the app tray in much the same way as Huawei does.

This means all your app icons are dumped onto your home screens. Not everyone will like this, and I would have preferred the option LG gives you to turn the app tray back on.

FNB also shipped only a moderate amount of shovelware with the device, most of which is removable.

The only pre-loaded third-party app we couldn’t remove was SwiftKey.

Overall

All things considered, the ConeXis X1 is a great deal if you are on a high eBucks reward level.

If you know what you need from a smartphone, and the limited storage and network lock-in won’t bother you, then it is a good bet for eBucks reward customers.

The Basics

Battery life. Excellent – On minimal usage it lasted more than a week.

Display. Reasonable – 720p, decent visibility in sunlight, not quite as responsive as it needs to be.

Storage. 8GB partitioned into a 4GB system area and 4GB user area. 2GB available. MicroSD support.

Network. LTE support. SIM-locked to FNB network.

Cameras. Reasonable. Decent quality in good light, grainy in low light. Camera app gets sluggish in low light.

The Verdict: ConeXis X1
Likes Dislikes
  • Cheap, provided you have a high eBucks rewards level.
  • Excellent battery life.
  • Cool headset and USB cable.
  • Case included in box.
  • Minimal shovelware. Removable: FNB app, Facebook, WhatsApp, WPS Office.
  • Performs like a low-cost phone.
  • Average camera.
  • Screen response isn’t quite there.
  • Weird internal storage partitioning scheme.
  • SIM-locked to FNB network.

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