It has the same textured back as the Galaxy S5, the same home button, and the same 13-MP camera lens. You’ll even find the same TouchWiz interface and wallpaper as Samsung’s flagship handset. In fact, the only way you’d be able to tell that this $179 smartphone from China from a Samsung Galaxy S5 without close examination is by looking at the logo on the back, which says “No.1″ rather than “Samsung.”
We had a chance to spend some time with the No.1 S7, a very well-designed clone of the Galaxy S5, and were impressed with how well it mimicked the original’s look and feel. Unfortunately, when we dove below the surface, it became obvious you get what you pay for.
We immediately noticed that, while the No.1 S7’s 5.1-inch screen wasn’t as vibrant, bright or sharp as on Samsung’s AMOLED display. In fact, the clone’s screen is a mere 960 x 540 pixels, compared to Samsung’s 1920 x 1080 panel. At least the No.1 S7’s display uses IPS technology, which promises decent viewing angles.
We don’t know whether No.1 re-engineered Samsung’s TouchWiz Android skin or took a Samsung ROM and modified it, but the S7’s interface looks identical to the Galaxy S5’s in almost every way, from the look of the lock screen and app drawer to the quick settings menu that appears when you pull down the notification shade and the full settings menu.
We did notice a couple of key things missing from the No.1 S7’s software. First, there’s no Multi Window mode. While there’s a side nav bar that lists apps like the multi window bar on the Galaxy S5, it doesn’t actually allow you to drag two apps on to the screen. All you can do is tap a shortcut on the bar to launch a single app.
The camera app looks a bit like Samsung’s, with the same icons for mode and settings, but it has none of the functionality you’ll find on the Galaxy S5. There’s no real-time HDR, no drama shot, no eraser mode, no Best Face or any of Samsung’s other special modes. There’s simply the option for HDR or panorama, two things that are available on any Android camera.
Though the Galaxy S5 has a fingerprint reader, the No.1 S7 does not. Forget about using a finger to unlock your phone, to pay with PayPal or to access your specially encrypted data. As you might imagine, there’s also no Samsung Knox enterprise software. We also did not see the Samsung browser, Samsung app store, Group Play or S Voice.
The clone phone apparently supports Samsung-like eye and gesture controls such as Smart Pause, Smart Stay and Smart Scroll, as all of these were available through the QuickSetings. In fact, as we were using the web browser on the phone, it kept scrolling up and down as we tilted the handset. An eye icon in the notification bar showed us when it recognized that we were staring at the screen, just as it does on Samsung phones with Smart Stay or Smart Pause enabled.
The No.1 S7 does include a copy of Samsung’s S Health fitness app, but as far as we could tell, the app cannot read your heart rate like the S5 can. In fact, the heart rate monitor on the back of the phone appeared to be fake; we’re not sure if it’s actually a working component at all. When placed side-by-side with a real Galaxy S5, the monitor on the S7 looked like it was painted on or possibly a sticker.
The No.1 S7 has a 13-MP back-facing camera and 5-MP front-facer as compared to the 16-MP / 2-MP cameras on the Galaxy S5. We didn’t get a chance to shoot any photos ourselves, but our colleagues at Mobilegeeks.com, who showed us the device, took several pictures as part of their review of the No.1 S7 and found the images somewhat washed out.
While the Samsung Galaxy S5 packs either a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU or a Octa-core Samsung Exynos processor with 2GB of memory, the No.1 S7 has a much less powerful 1.3-GHz MediaTek MT6852 quad-core chip with just 1GB of RAM. In our brief hands-on time, we found the clone’s UI less responsive than the Galaxy S5, but still acceptable. However, when the team at Mobile Geeks benchmarked the S7, they found the device significantly slower than the original, particularly on graphics tests and games. That said, Mobile Geeks was able to play the first person shooter Dead Trigger 2 on the S7 without a hitch.
The No.1 S7 comes with a 2,800 mAh battery just like the Galaxy S5. Also like the S5, the No. 1 S7’s back is removable so you can swap the battery out. Though we did not attempt to swap batteries back and forth with the real Galaxy S5, both batteries were the same size and shape, leading us to believe that they are probably compatible. Mobile Geeks did not run a battery test on the No.1 S7 but found the battery life disappointing in everyday use.
While Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is built to survive 30 minutes under water, the No.1 S7 makes no such claims. Even though it has a port cover over the USB connector, we wouldn’t count on this device to survive a dunk or spill.
As a knockoff phone, the No.1 S7 isn’t going to show up on the shelves at Best Buy or any other major North American or European retailer. However, users outside of China can purchase it from an online distributor such as cect-shop.com, which currently lists the S7 for $179.13. You can find more details, benchmarks and photos by reading Mobile Geeks’ review of the No.1 S7.
If you like the look and feel of the Galaxy S5 and are willing to compromise on performance, battery life, screen quality, software, camera and durability — pretty much everything — the S7 at least looks like its predecessor for less than a third of its full retail price (an unlocked Galaxy S5 goes for $600 to $700). However, we don’t anticipate that many shoppers will be willing to make all of the above trade-offs.