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O+ USA is one of the few local smartphone companies that know to release products with unique and differentiating aspects to them in order to get the attention of prospective buyers. One example of such a product is the O+ 360 smartphone. It’s powered by Android and comes in the usual candybar/slab form factor, but it also boasts something that is so far exclusive to O+ USA: rear-touch technology.

With rear-touch technology, the O+ 360 — along with two other handsets from O+ USA that belong to the same series, the O+ 360 Alpha and O+ 360 Extreme — can be operated with the use of a built-in touch panel integrated into its back cover. So not only can you navigate the menu and make use of apps with the touchscreen, you can also do it with the rear touch panel.

Is this novel way of controlling your smartphone any good? We set to find that out in this O+ 360 review.

Retail package and contents

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The O+ 360 is designed to be a mid-range smartphone and it shows. The retail packaging is commendable, and there are a handful of items in the box that have been included to justify O+ USA’s retail pricing.

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Inside the box, you will find a USB wall charger, USB cable, earphones, a free screen protector, and a 4GB SanDisk microSD card. There are also a couple of documents inside, which are the warranty card and the user manual. And then of course, there’s the O+ 360 smartphone itself.

Hardware and design

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In terms of size and design, the O+ 360 doesn’t look all that different from other O+ USA handsets. In fact, it reminds one a lot of the O+ 8.17. It’s covered by glass on the front and uses plastic for its back cover. It’s not the thinnest Android phone we’ve ever used, but it’s surely one of the lightest. And for bigger smartphone models, that’s a huge advantage.

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But of course, the real highlight of the O+ 360 can’t be found on its front. Rather, it is located at the back, just right below its rear camera.

Rear touch technology

One look at the back of the O+ 360 is all it will take to tell you that this phone not like anything that you have ever used before. The part on the back with the diagram is where the rear touch technology is present and fully active. But it also extends a good bit further away from the drawing itself.

Rear touch technology is a bit like O+ USA’s highly touted Air Shuffle feature. It will allow you to make your way across the home screen, launch apps, and even control them if you want to. But using it wasn’t as intuitive as we first thought it would be. We’ll talk more about that later.

Camera and speaker

Going back to the camera, it uses an 8-megapixel autofocus sensor and is accompanied by a built-in LED flash. Its performance is similar to the 8MP cameras phone in other O+ USA smartphones released last year. That is, it can capture photos with a good amount of details and not that much noise in broad daylight. However, it’s not the best phone to use to take photos indoors, or anywhere that’s dark.

Meanwhile, video recordings turn out clear. And thanks to a dedicated mic for audio in video clips, recorded videos tend to sound good as well.

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Speaking of good sounding audio, the speaker at the back is can be used to listen to music in lieu of an external speaker in case you don’t have one. It’s not as loud as an actual external speaker, sure, but it gets the job done. When used to play music, it lacks bass but tries to make up for it by offering average clarity and detail resolution.

Connectivity and battery

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Now if you’re wondering if the O+ 360 has any outright similarities with other Android smartphones, yes it does. It’s a dual-SIM phone with microSD card support, which is useful if not completely necessary.

On the O+ 360, it’s easy to access the SIM card slots and microSD card slot, as well as the standard 2,000mAh battery by simply removing the plastic back cover. The external memory is necessary to add to the mere 4GB of internal memory, while the battery is capable of lasting up to two full days of mid- to heavy smartphone use.

It’s actually a bit surprising how long the battery lasts, given that the O+ 360 comes with all of the usual connectivity features you’d expect out of a smartphone nowadays. It has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS with A-GPS, and it also comes with proximity and motion sensors that all but help users to easily maximize battery life.

Software and overall performance

As a phone running Android 4.4 KitKat, the O+ 360 should present but a minor learning curve for people who have used any type of Android phone in the past. O+ USA did make a few changes to the software, but they are all mostly cosmetic.

One of the main changes to the Android software we noticed on the O+ 360 is the use of a custom theme for the launcher. This is the same custom theme found on other O+ USA phones, so it’s really not all that new. And even if the icons look different, they all still work in the same way as stock Android icons. And that’s part of what makes using the O+ 360 easy.

And as for the rear touch technology on the O+ 360, we found that it’s a convenient way to control the phone for certain tasks, but still can’t quite replace the traditional user input methods of hardware buttons and touchscreen controls.

At times, even simply picking up the phone ended up activating the rear touch panel and that resulted in accidental menu swipes or app launches that caused confusion. In short, rear touch technology is useful but it could use some work. Maybe with a software update, O+ USA could make the rear touch technology on its phones more intuitive and packed with better options.

Verdict

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If you’re after a phone that works, the O+ 360 will fit the bill and then some. Not only does it have all the usual mid-range smartphone features, it also comes with an innovative user input option that will allow you to operate your phone in ways you never thought you could before.

And if you don’t like rear touch technology, you can still keep using the regular input methods of hardware buttons and touchscreen navigation. it’s not without shortcomings, like the qHD display and mediocre camera, but it works fine overall. The O+ 360 should be an excellent choice

David Gonzales is a geek, writer, and athlete all rolled into one. He specializes in articulating about novel and often shiny things that tend to make whirring noises. He also writes at SemiCurrent.com.