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One locally known brand that has been stepping up its game recently is Kata Philippines. This year, the company launched its very first 4G LTE-enabled Android handset. It’s called the Kata M2L, and while a bit unimaginative in that regard, it’s intended to let you do things you might never have even imagined.

So what kind of phone is the Kata M2L? How well does it utilize the ability to connect to 4G data networks? If you want to find out the answers to these questions and more, continue reading for more info from our Kata M2L full review.

Design and build quality

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Like many other Kata devices, the Kata M2L is made out in the color white. It has some metallic accents but otherwise, it’s just plain white.

It’s also made out of a combination of plastic, metal, and glass, like many other Android phones available today. Its screen is dominated by a touchscreen display and the back holds the main camera, while either side features a hardware button of some sort. The left side has the volume rocker while the right side has the power button/lock switch.

Although not quite interesting in terms of design, the good thing about the Kata M2L physically is that it has a slim profile. This makes it easy to hold and not let go of in the hand. It’s also surprisingly lightweight for its size, which again lends to better ergonomics and portability.

Display and cameras

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The display on the Kata M2L uses a 5-inch capacitive touch panel with a native resolution of 1280×720 pixels. That means it can be used with HD-native content just fine, so TV or movie buffs out there would be pleased.

Unfortunately, the Kata M2L suffers a little bit from slightly poor viewing angles. Reading text on the phone becomes hard past a certain angle, and watching movies is affected in a similar way. This is merely a small complain however, and it doesn’t affect the overall performance in a drastic way.

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As for the cameras, they’re kind of a mixed bag. For one thing, the rear camera works great in normal lighting conditions. It can be used with HDR or without to capture detailed photos with good color reproduction.

The front camera is a bit disappointing, however. It can be used for random selfies, of course. But it’s pretty much unusable at night, and is only useful in bright locations if you have a steady hand.

Audio and connectivity

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At this point in time, it seems like the vast majority of Android phones come with the same standard level of audio performance. You can play the same type of high fidelity audio files, and you’ll get mostly similar results.

The Kata M2L is no exception. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired audio and wireless audio connectivity options as well. The long and short of it is, it can be used for your typical morning or evening commute sound trip. But only if you have headphones or speakers on you, because the built-in speakers don’t work well beyond a certain level of loudness.

Speaking of connectivity, this is where the Kata M2L is supposed to shine. And if you’re thinking of the 4G LTE connectivity, well, shine it does indeed.

On top of the usual Android wireless options like Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi b/g/n, the Kata M2L comes with support for not only HSPA+ 3G data but also 4G LTE. This means that you can use it with the fastest mobile data networks available in the Philippines right now. And you know what? Based on some tests we did, it worked flawlessly with 4G LTE as long as there’s LTE network coverage in the area where it’s used.

It automatically detects and connects to 4G LTE data networks if you’ve activated mobile data, just like any good LTE smartphone, and it didn’t seem to run down the batteries that quickly or suffer from an overheating battery. That’s a sign of a good smartphone no matter which way you look at it. And obviously, we have no complaints here.

Software and performance

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Now, speaking of complaints, the Kata M2L uses slightly modified version of Android 5.1 Lollipop that may or may not irk some experienced Android users. But before we talk about why, let’s first get some things out of the way.

The default OS on the Kata M2L is modified in ways that add a number of distinct positives. First, the phone has a custom quick settings menu that has a few extra settings buttons. The phone even has buttons for bnoth Cast screen and HotKnot. This kind of easy access is always good to see in a phone.

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Secondly, the phone offers a few smart features like handsfree gestures and a smart wake function. These changes are welcome over Android 5.1 and just needs a little time investment to become part of your smartphone usage style.

Now with all of that said, the Kata M2L software package also comes with a few negatives. First of all, the 16GB of phone storage is reduced to just a little over 8GB when you first get the phone in your hands. The reason for this is none other than bloatware, so good on you if you managed to call it.

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Bloatware is hidden in the Kata M2L’s scrolling home screen — it lacks an app drawer — and it comes in the form of pre-installed apps for the likes of Netflix, History Channel, Discovery Channel, and Fox Now. If you’re the kind of person who still watches cable TV, then perhaps you’ll find this all wonderful. But personally, we felt that this was a waste of storage space. The phone has a microSD card slot for memory expansion, but the default storage is still very precious.

Not to mention, one of the main uses for a 4G LTE data connection is wireless streaming of TV shows and movies found on various parts of the Internet. So having the bloat on the Kata M2L which includes apps for regular cable TV channels kind of defeats the purpose of having such a speedy connection.

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In any case, the phone performs reasonably well in every other aspect: messaging, phone calls, Web browsing, and mobile gaming. And it should be noted that when a 4G signal is unavailable, it can fall back on 3G speeds automatically.

Battery life

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The battery life on the Kata M2L surprised us in a good way. Leaving the phone on standby, it managed to last more than 4 days with about half of the charge left. On a continuous gaming session, meanwhile, it took us about 3 hours to run down the battery to 40%. So far, we can say with confidence that it’s a phone that will last you for up to three or four full movies played back to back, or about a full day of actual, normal smartphone use.

Verdict

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So what’s our verdict on the 4G LTE-enabled Kata M2L? As an LTE phone, it’s pretty much perfect. If you have 4G coverage in your area, the Kata M2L will change the way you use mobile data for good.

As for the rest of the features, the Kata M2L is like a good low-midrange handset. It might be the first Kata phone model that we can’t find anything to really complain about. If it didn’t have support for LTE, we would have taken a dig at it with that.

But it does, so all we can say to Kata is this: Kudos. Now is the time to stand up to the rest of the local competition with the proper smartphone that you have in your hands and, well, fight. May the 4G signal gods be with you.

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Author

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.

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