LeEco’s flagship Le Pro3 smartphone isn’t trying to compete with the Google Pixel, which puts modern Google services in front of a stock Android backdrop. After playing with the Le Pro3 at the company’s U.S. launch event in San Francisco today, I’m left feeling that it’s an easy, low-cost way to get the full experience of LeEco’s applications.
There are proprietary LeEco utility tools like the browser, email, calendar, messages, notes, and phone apps, along with bloatware like Yahoo Weather, but mostly the Pro3 is a means of distribution for the LeEco apps, like Live, LeVidi, and Le. There is also a standard-issue My LeEco app for managing services like EcoPass membership. Under it all is the EUI custom user interface.
If you swipe left from the home screen, you see videos that LeEco recommends you watch — not Google Now.
Swipe down from the top of the display, and you’ll see a dark notification shade that’s reminiscent of the ones in multiple generations of iOS.
If you open the camera app, you’ll see that you can swipe left or right on the bottom panel to bring up other shooting modes — just like on iOS.
On the chin below the display on the front of the phone, you’ll find hardware buttons. The middle button is a LeEco icon, not the circle you find on most Android devices. To the right of the home LeEco button is the back button, and to the left is a user interface where you can quickly lock or switch to apps, as well as a combination of iOS’ Control Center and Android’s Quick Settings. Ordinarily the back button is on the left and the app switcher is on the right, but this phone is from a company that for years has done business on the other side of the world, and so it’s the other way around. This confused me initially. I was similarly thrown off when I found the volume rocker is above, not below, the power button on the right edge of the phone.
All of this is riding on top of Android Marshmallow, not Android Nougat. Things move smoothly but it’s lacking the latest out of Mountain View.
The software presentation resembles what you find on Huawei devices like the P9. But LeEco’s origin is in content, and that’s very clear here.
The Le Eco3 has a premium-feeling brushed metal case. The phone feels sturdy. The rear camera, which shoots good enough pictures, has a bump. The fingerprint scanner is a little indentation on the back, like several other Android phones.
There is no fu$%king headphone jack, just like the iPhone 7.
You get it. You know what this phone is about. Some people will buy it here in the U.S. I figure it will play best with people who are already familiar with LeEco’s service offerings. As for me, I think I’ll stick with my Pixel for now.