Vernee Apollo Review: A Beautiful Flagship That Almost Redefines The Way We Look At Local Chinese Phones

by Joe 14

blackview giveaway

4.1

The Vernee Apollo is no Oneplus 3T killer, but it can firmly stand on its own as an affordable flagship

Design & Built
Hardware & Performance
Camera
Display
Battery
Software

We have been hearing about the Vernee Apollo flagship for a long time, maybe a bit too long. The company did takes its sweet time to launch the flagship smartphone, and after months of promotions, the device was officially released in December 2016. The Apollo was an important device, not just for Vernee but also for local Chinese smartphone enthusiasts. The flagship promised stellar build quality and performance but we know, not many promises are kept in this market. Hence, it was important to see, whether a new entrant like Vernee could live up to our expectations.

I have been using the Vernee Apollo for the past couple of weeks and I would like to thank Gearbest for sending in this phone for review. You can currently get the Vernee Apollo as low as $249 from the Gearbest store.

Vernee Apollo Review

My overall experience using the Apollo so far has been positive. The company did keep most of its promises and you end up with a flagship smartphone that you can proudly flaunt as your daily driver.

 

Read on to know everything about the phone in this Vernee Apollo Review.

 

Vernee Apollo Unboxing

In the box you have the following:

Vernee Apollo Unboxing

  • Vernee Apollo Smartphone with Scratch Guard installed
  • A decent VR Headset
  • Strap for VR Headset
  • SIM Ejector Pin
  • Manual

Vernee Apollo Unboxing

 

 

Vernee Apollo Review: Design

Like I said above, the Vernee Apollo is extremely well built. I use the OnePlus 3T as my daily driver and I have to say the Apollo matches the OnePlus model in terms of design. The back of the Vernee Apollo is as good as the OnePlus and it looks beautiful. Coming to the front, after like a week of using the phone, I have seen that the scratch guard that comes with the phone isn’t too good. The basic front looks good, but make sure to change the scratch guard with something better. For a phone that’s marketed as a flagship, I would have expected better scratch resistant film up front. However, don’t worry, the screen underneath is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and it is just the scratch guard that’s not up to the mark.

Vernee Apollo Review

The Vernee Apollo feels good in hand. It may not be as thin or lightweight as some other flagships, but the difference isn’t too noticeable. You have the power and volume keys on the right side. At the bottom, there is a USB Type-C port along with dual speakers. On the left side, there are slots for MicroSD card as well as dual SIM cards. Finally, on top, you have a regular 3.5mm headphone jack.

Vernee Apollo Review

Coming to the back, you have a slightly protruding camera hump with dual LED dual tone flash on its left. Just below it, you have a round fingerprint sensor that works well. Rest of the back is clean and polished, except for the Vernee logo down below. The gray antenna bands go well with the overall phone’s design language.

 

Vernee Apollo Review: Display & VR Performance

The Apollo comes with a 5.5-inch 2K display. Yes, the phone boasts of such high-resolution and joins the elite club of quad HD display flagships. The display on the Vernee Apollo looks pretty decent. The colors come out well and thanks to the super thin side bezels on the display, the overall display experience is good. Personally, I would have liked the display to be a bit warmer so that it’s more pleasant to the eyes.

Vernee Apollo Review

However, note that the phone comes with onscreen buttons which eat up some space on the screen. Also, the bezels on the top as well as the bottom are a bit large, at least larger than what I would have wanted. I feel the display would have looked even better if the bezels were smaller in these areas.

Vernee Apollo Review

Vernee is marketing the Apollo’s 2K Display as ideal for VR experience. This is exactly why you get a free VR headset inside the box which is a nice addition. The box is pretty well built for a freebie. The 2K display isn’t the best I have seen for VR but it does provide a decent VR experience. So for someone who wants to watch a few VR videos, the Apollo would be fine.

 

Vernee Apollo Review: Hardware and Performance

In the hardware department, the Vernee Apollo won’t disappoint most users. Like I said above, the Helio X25 chipset is a good performer and is more than enough to fulfill all your everyday needs. The UI is stock Android Marshmallow (yes, unfortunately, the phone isn’t on Nougat yet) and the UI is smooth and responsive.

Vernee Apollo Review

Under the hood, the Vernee Apollo comes with 2.52GHz Helio X25 chip with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. These are pretty decent specs for under $300 smartphone. Now we know Helio X25 is not as good as Snapdragon 820 in terms of GPU performance, but gaming was pretty smooth on the phone.

Vernee Apollo’s fingerprint works well. The phone unlocks in less than a second.

vernee apollo fingerprint

I played a few games on the Apollo, like Asphalt 8 and Subway Surfer. I found no missed frames or hiccups in the gameplay as the Helio X25 chip managed to render the graphics well. So, although on paper, the Snapdragon 821 beats the Apollo by a great margin, in real life, for everyday usage, the deca-core X25 should be enough.

Vernee Apollo Review

Even browsing on the Apollo was a pleasant experience with no hiccups loading and scrolling through multiple pages.

Vernee Apollo Benchmarks

Antutu Score: 90,053

GFXBench Manhattan Offscreen (ES 3.0 | 1080p): 18 fps

GFXBench T-Rex Offscreen (ES 2.0 | 1080p): 36 fps

 

 

Vernee Apollo Review: CAMERA

Overall, the Vernee Apollo is a great mid-range smartphone. But if I had to point out a drawback of the device, then it would be its camera. Inside, the phone comes with a Sony IMX230 camera sensor with f/2.2 aperture. Now, this is a pretty good setup, capable of churning out good quality pictures. But the quality of images captured doesn’t just depend on the sensor inside, but also on the software optimization from the company. This is where I feel, the Apollo could have done better.

Vernee Apollo Review camera

The default camera app takes a few seconds to focus on an object and sometimes it even takes multiple trials for a successful lock. Sometimes, especially indoors, the phone managed to capture grainy images. Given the slow focus speed and the grainy image result, I wasn’t too happy with the camera experience.

Vernee Apollo Review

However, there’s a trick. If you can resist from focusing on an object, the camera turns out to be quite good. Don’t touch the camera screen when you are trying to lock in on an object. By default, the Apollo’s camera locks in on the object in front of you quickly. If you try to touch the area you want to focus, the camera app tries to focus again, which is where things get slow and grainy. So, I would suggest just Point & Shoot. Just point at the object/scenery you want to capture and shoot it quickly. You should be able to get better images.

Vernee Apollo Review

As you will see in the samples added in the google drive folder, the Vernee Apollo did manage to capture decent pictures in ample lighting conditions. Don’t expect anything out of the ordinary but the camera is capable of capture average decent shots.

The video quality is also decent, nothing out of the ordinary. As for the front camera, it’s also average. I managed to capture decent selfies with the phone’s front shooter.

 

 

Vernee Apollo Review: Connectivity

I was continuously using the Vernee Apollo on Wi-Fi and I didn’t notice any drop in speed or signal. Pairing to speakers, wearables, and even other phones via Bluetooth was also pretty straight forward. No issues in these two departments. The call quality is decent and you won’t have issues talking on the phone for a while.

The speaker output is pretty good as the sound comes out loud and clear. The headphone output is also decent as you get clear audio through good headphones. I didn’t find any specific issues with GPS as well.

Overall, the standard connectivity features work well.

 

Vernee Apollo Review: User Interface

What you get is a stock UI experience. Almost everything is stock Android interface, so nothing special and nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, it’s good to see that Vernee went with vanilla Android experience as we have seen Chinese manufacturers mess up the interface when they try to add in their features.

Vernee Apollo Review

What’s disappointing is that the Vernee Apollo comes with Android Marshmallow out of the box. I haven’t heard about the Nougat update for the phone yet (despite Apollo Lite and Thor getting them), but I am hoping that this company flagship gets the Android 7 update soon.

 

Vernee Apollo Review: Battery

Given that the Helio X25 is an efficient deca-core chipset, you easily get a day with the Vernee Apollo. Now, 3180mAh isn’t exactly big in today’s standard, but it manages to last an entire day with moderate usage. But what’s best about the Vernee Apollo is that the phone charges very quickly.

Vernee Apollo Review

You keep the phone on charge for half an hour and the charge goes up from 15% to 50%+ in that time. That’s pretty impressive for a budget flagship smartphone. If you manage to charge the Apollo for like 30 minutes, you are set for an additional 4-5 hours of usage.

 

My Take

Vernee is definitely a company that we have to keep an eye on. The new entrant is here to change the way we look at local Chinese smartphones and the Vernee Apollo is just a glimpse of the kind of quality products we can get from them.

That being said, the Vernee Apollo is not without flaws. The display on board needs some tweaks in color temperature for the best result and the camera is decent but often captures grainy images.

What I like about the phone is its stellar built quality and finish, the efficient Helio X25 chipset inside with 4GB RAM, ample 64GB of storage with MicroSD expansion option and finally a fast charge equipped default charger. The Vernee Apollo has all the traits of a flagship smartphone, with its design being the biggest plus point.

Make note that the Vernee Apollo is no OnePlus 3T killer, but it definitely can stand on its own as an affordable flagship.

Also check out the huge Gearbest 3 year anniversary promotions here.

 

 

 

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  • Marcus

    To bad for the camera. That’s my prio no. 1. And Lte band 800, 900 and 2600.

    • tonio93

      After two Month using this phone,the front caméra disappear from the phone.
      It’ s return to gearbest sav. For the fingerprint,many problem,so I disable it and I got best battery. Also the battery came with some problem,I use doctor battery to correct it.

  • johala02

    Looks like a nice device. But I might go for the new Vernee Apollo X with a bigger battery with 3500 MAh.
    And it got the new Vernee VOS. Will be interesting to see how they have tweaked android? Maybe with a own camera app or something rather than just the MediaTek standard app.

    You can pre-order it now at GearBest to.

    • balcobomber25

      I would never preorder anything from Gearbest. I would wait for it to be actually released. Many people have lost money on pre-ordered products that never launched. That’s not limited to just Gearbest either.

  • AtereJr

    Camera flaw shows that Vernee are still nowhere close to being a trustworthy brand…no matter how perfect build quality is.
    If u don’t have a camera performance at least close to Nubia level (being the least I can take as far as camera performance goes), then u can as well Go To Heaven!

    • Assefa Hanson

      Nah mate your judgement is nowhere near trustworthy you based the trustworthiness of an entire company based on camera performance? Other folks would say things along the line of not having defective devices, not being scammed etc

      • AtereJr

        Aye…perhaps it’s a bit too heavy using trustworthy but point is I can’t get a phone (or look at one) without an above par camera (performance).
        And speaking of defective units, I believe a folk down here said sth about his buy being one.

        • Assefa Hanson

          Ahh i understand what your saying now vernee is young they have a long way to go

    • balcobomber25

      Camera flaws happen with every single brand including Nubia, who has good cameras (overall) but I wouldn’t say they are the best. There was a time when Nubia was just like Vernee, their major flaw used to be software.

      • AtereJr

        I never hinted that they are the best – that’s why I said with at least Nubia level of camera performance – meaning there are others out there with better cameras than them (most notably gigantic brands like Sammy, Apple, Huawei).
        Plus, I now agree with giving Vernee that excuse of being somewhat new in the game. Perhaps I was expecting them to be the way LeEco were when they first got in and launched the Le1 (which turned out almost perfect in many aspects) but look at where they are now…struggling with evolution due to lack of good design artist and brand advicer.
        With all this I’m now convinced Vernee deserve the chance to prove their worth.

        • balcobomber25

          I understand your comment about Nubia now, thanks for clearing that up.

          As for LeEco they are victim of their own popularity. They expanded too quickly and as a result their phones have kind of suffered because of it.

          • AtereJr

            Totally agree mate.

  • balcobomber25

    I used one for about 2 weeks, it was a phone I like to describe as “not memorable”. In other words there was nothing that really stood out, good or bad to me about it. It was just another phone. There are better phones available.

  • Roge Arias

    I really want them to stop trying with imitations of Apple and Sansumg ( no longer the best PPR)… now their overpriced stuff is making room for competition as AGM with cheap strong phones, vernee,Ouk, ZTE, BV, etc … Personally: i like the ruggeds better so to me AGM is rocking right now!

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