BenQ B502 exclusive hands-on review: Slim on a budget

BenQ B502

BenQ B502

BenQ isn’t a name synonymous with smartphones, at least not in Malaysia. The Taiwanese brand, however, kicked off its smartphone journey in the region late last year with two products — the BenQ F5 and BenQ T3, both affordable 4G LTE-enabled devices. Coming this March, BenQ is set to add another to its Malaysian portfolio — the BenQ B502. I’m one of the lucky few in the country (and region) to test the yet-to-be-released device.

While the 5-inch BenQ F5 sits on top of the family tree, the B502 occupies below the smaller BenQ T3. Still well-specced nonetheless, though non-LTE and dual-SIM. The ultimate question is who the B502 would appeal to. BenQ thinks its likely the 18-25 year old crowd — fresh out of school, on a tight budget but want the smartphone experience. And that makes sense. Or perhaps those seeking a second phone. Perhaps even your moms and pops.

BenQ B502 BenQ B502

Design and build

Judging from the BenQ F5 and BenQ T3, you can expect the B502 to be as well-built, and it is. in its own plastic sort-of-way. I genuinely liked the flagship F5, which reminded me of old HTC Desire phones. Design-wise, it’s pleasant-looking, nothing fancy with clean lines and decent build. It comes in black and white with a matt finish so none of that fingerprint-staining business on some makes. And thanks to the matt finish the B502 feels good and non-slip in the hand, too.

BenQ B502
And the winner of the Ms Slim contest is…
BenQ B502
Spot the anorexic.

If there’s one thing that BenQ is touting about the B502 is its slimness. At 6.99mm it’s not the slimmest phone in the world, but frankly, slimmer than many and the fact of the matter is, slimmer than many 2-3 times its price. We’re talking about a sub-RM500 phone here. It’s almost as slim as the iPhone 6, certainly less mass than off my HTC Butterfly 2 and the Samsung GALAXY Note Edge I currently have as well. It’s also slimmer than its more expensive brethren, the F5 and T3.

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On the scale, the B502 weighs just 125g.

BenQ B502BenQ B502

Hardware

The budget, mid-range market is flooded with MediaTek and base Snapdragon 200/400 chips, so the inclusion of the 1.3Ghz quad-core MediaTek MT6582 in the B502 isn’t at all a surprise. At least it’s a proven chip and not a bad workhorse at that. What’s great about the B502 though, and as similarly seen on the F5, is the generous 2GB RAM and 16GB of storage that’s included with the device. More RAM is always welcomed with Android, and these days, anything less just doesn’t cut it.

And if you find you’ve taken way too many hi-res selfies and filling up storage fast, you’ll also have the option to add more (up to 32GB) via microSD, another plus for the device.

The B502 comes with a 5-inch HD IPS display that is decently bright and sharp.

As mentioned, the budget phone is non-LTE and comes with a GSM/WCDMA radio supporting up to 21Mbps download speeds. Being a dual-SIM, it supports mini-SIM (SIM 1) and micro-SIM (SIM 2).

Like its more expensive siblings, the B502 features a 13MP autofocus main camera with LED flash, and a 5MP front camera. This particular 13MP doesn’t have the Low Light Sensitivity tech that’s in the F5 and T3 though. Shame.

BenQ B502

On the battery front, despite its slim profile, BenQ has managed to squeeze a 1800mAh non-removable battery into the B502, giving you 11 hours of talktime, or 430 hours of standby time.

Overall, a good piece of kit for the price and includes everything you need in a smartphone.

Full official specs available here.

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BenQ B502 benchmarks

Software

The B502 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box with its own UI flavour called Q Home UI. It’s much improved from the F5 and T3, and generally light and snappy. It doesn’t try to do too much, and that’s a good thing.

There’s also a Q Family of apps and utilities including Qmemo, QMoney, QissMusic, PiQture, QSora, Qloud Media, QissPaper and QissDay. There’s also YouCam Makeup (hmmm…), PhotoDirector and Kingsoft Office.

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