Kata M2 Review: The Manly Man’s Phablet

Some phablets are super svelte while others bank on sheer performance. The Kata M2 may not be the most powerful smartphone out there, but with its carbon fiber-like finish, this baby means business. Kata Digital was kind enough to lend me a review unit so here is my full Kata M2 review.

Build Quality and Design

The Kata M2 is a man’s phone. The massive 5.5 inch frame is encased in one of the most intimidating frames I’ve seen yet, and it’s covered in a texture that something similar to carbon fiber. It doesn’t even look like it needs a protective case!

Naturally, the screen dominates the front of the M2 and the bezels are acceptably thin. Not too thin, but just right. Above the screen is the smallish earpiece along with the front camera and light/proximity sensors.

Below the screen are the capacitive navigation buttons: Menu, Home and Back. The microphone pinhole for making calls is also there, although you’ll have to squint really hard to see it.

There aren’t any hardware controls on the left side of the M2, although there’s a metallic strip that runs down the side.

It’s the right side where all the action is at. You’ll find a similar metallic strip, but there’s the power/lock button and volume rocker as well.

On top is the micro USB port and 3.5mm headset jack.

At the bottom is just a small notch on the corner for prying off the battery cover.

At the back, you’ll find the glorious carbon fiber-like texture. In a sea of generic budget smartphones that are all beginning to look alike, the Kata M2 is a refreshing change. Of course, you’ll still find the usual elements: camera and LED flash toward the top, the koi logo in the middle, and the Kata branding and loudspeaker toward the bottom.

The Kata M2 is one well-built phone. I do have one gripe about its build though. It’s massively heavy. In my opinion, the larger the phone, the lighter you should try and make it. The Kata M2 uses quite a bit of metal in its frame, resulting in one massively heavy mother of a phone.

The Screen

Whereas the original Kata M1 came with a Full HD IPS screen with OGS technology, the Kata M2 only comes with a 5.5 inch HD IPS OGS screen. It’s nowhere near as impressive to look at as the M1, but it does bring with it some other advantages.

For example, the M1 was painfully slow because of the added toll the increased resolution had on the GPU. The M2 has no such problem. And you’re still getting a reasonably good image with great color reproduction and viewing angles. Of course, it isn’t nearly as sharp as the M1, but most people won’t notice anyway.

The Chipset

The Kata M2 is powered by the same chipset as the Kata i3, which I also reviewed. The 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6582 quad core processor is well-optimized for phones with HD screens, resulting in smooth overall performance whether you’re navigating through the UI, running apps or playing games. Here are some benchmark results from Antutu and Vellamo. It’s not the best way of measuring performance and user experience, but it will at least give you a good idea of how well it compares with other phones.

Telephony and Wireless Connectivity

The Kata M2 comes equipped with a full connectivity suite minus LTE. You get HSPA+ download speeds, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. It also supports dual SIMs, allowing you to connect to two cellular networks at once.

Of course, the Kata M2 still has to function as a phone, and the massive screen certainly goes a long way toward making things like messaging and calling an easier experience. The screen is large enough that you can even type in portrait mode comfortably. Also, the phone itself is large enough that the microphone pinhole is situated at just the right spot to capture your voice during calls.

Imaging

The Kata M2 is equipped with a 13mp rear-facing camera with LED flash and a 5mp front camera. I took a couple of samples from the primary camera for you guys to take a look at.

Here’s an indoor shot with flash. I’m pretty happy that it didn’t turn out harsh the way some shots with flash do.

I can’t say it works well for product shots though. I shot this image using the same lightbox I use to take shots of review phones (like this one!) and it couldn’t handle the lighting very well. This is actually an HDR shot that combines light and dark exposures. I had to resort to this because shooting in normal mode ended up with shots that looked a little dull.

Entertainment

If there’s an area where the Kata M2 should shine, it’s definitely as an entertainment device. The large screen lends itself well to things like browsing the web, going through your gallery, or watching movies. Of course, the output is limited to HD, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play Full HD content.

Gaming

The Kata M2 is equipped with a fairly decent Mali 400 MP2 GPU. It’s hardly top shelf, but it gets the job done. I was able to a number of my favorite test games, but first I ran it through a couple of benchmarks.

Here’s a screenshot from one of the 3 test scenes from 3D Mark. It actually averaged around 15 to 20 frames depending on the scene.

The first game I tested the M2 on was Minion Rush, a simple game with annoyingly heavy graphics. It’s a very pretty game that surprisingly puts a lot of GPUs to the test. Frame rates weren’t that good, however it was playable. What’s more important was responsiveness, and I’m happy to say there was hardly any delay between swipes and the actual character’s movement onscreen.

Another game I played was Dead Trigger 2, which is a favorite of mine because you can adjust the graphics settings between low, medium and high. On low graphics settings, controls were very smooth, but where’s the fun in low settings? On high settings, the responsiveness was still surprisingly smooth, all while rendering things like lens flares, particle effects and even rain drops that ran across the screen.

Finally, I played Real Racing 3, one of the most realistic racing games that can be found on the Play Store. Again, controls were very responsive. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem as if all the graphical tricks were being rendered, but frame rates ran smoothly except when the onscreen action would get busy with a lot of cars.

Battery Life

For a screen with its size, the Kata M2 comes with a rather disappointing 2,300mAh battery. I tested gaming battery life using GFX Benchmark where it ran the T-Rex test 30 times and estimated overall battery consumption based on how much power was consumed throughout the test. Based on the benchmark, the M2 will only last 117 minutes, or about a couple of hours in a straight gaming scenario.

So Should You Buy the Kata M2?

The Kata M2 is one massive mother of a phone, capable of delivering midrange performance at a surprisingly entry-level price. And that’s despite the attractive screen size, which should have bumped its SRP higher than it is now.

I do have a few gripes however. The phone runs quite warm even under normal operation. When gaming, the heat can get quite uncomfortable. Also, it’s one heavy mother. Personally, I think the bigger you want to make your phone, the more effort you have to put into making sure to use lighter materials.

Of course, there’s a lot of things I do like as well. Despite the HD resolution, image quality is still darn good, and this is a 5.5 inch screen we’re talking about. Then there’s the 16GB of internal storage, which is expandable via micro SD. And if you’re not happy with that, Kata even throws in their own cloud storage!

Finally, I absolutely love the carbon fiber like finish. I remember I bought a carbon fiber sticker to protect the back of my old Cherry Mobile Flare (the original that started it all!) and the Kata M2 has the exact same feel, except this one can’t be peeled off! It’s a manly man’s carbon fiber-like finish that I just can’t get enough of. If only other phones would give you more than just a choice between glossy and matte. Oh well.

The Kata M2 is a great value. However, it’s got some tough competition. The Redmi 1S is a little cheaper and smaller but sports a faster processor. We’re also seeing some octa-core phones encroaching on the Kata M2’s price point. Still, if you’re looking for a large screen experience that doesn’t break the bank, it’s hard to go wrong with the Kata M2.

Kata M2 Specs

  • 5.5″ HD IPS OGS display (720 x 1280 resolution, 267ppi)
  • 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6582 quad core processor
  • Mali 400 MP2 GPU
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB ROM, expandable via micro SD
  • 13mp rear-facing autofocus camera with LED flash
  • 5mp front camera
  • 3.75G/HSPA+
  • WiFi b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Dual SIM support
  • Price: Php6,999

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