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Vchok M9 LTE Smartphone Review

Rugged and inexpensive. Rugged smartphones and laptops tend to cost a fortune. Chinese manufacturer Vchok is looking to change this with the IP68-certified rugged M9 smartphone for less than $300 with LTE and even walkie talkie functionality. Is this smartphone truly reliable?

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Aside from the usual consumer and business class products, manufacturers will sometimes throw us a curve ball with rugged models designed for reliable use under extreme weather or terrain conditions. We've had a good handful of rugged models come our including the Kyocera Torque, Panasonic Toughpad FZ-E1, and even the rugged Dell Latitude 12

A Chinese company called Vchok launched its M9-LTE smartphone late last year and is one of the most inexpensive rugged smartphones available at roughly $300 USD in a niche market where prices can easily surpass $1000 USD due to more stringent build quality standards. Packed with pure Android 5.1, 4G, and some unique features, we'll find out here if the M9-LTE is up to snuff.

VChok M9-LTE
Graphics adapter
ARM Mali-T720, Core: 600 MHz
Memory
1918 MB 
Display
4.5 inch 16:9, 540 x 960 pixel, 5-point capacitive, IPS, 24-bit, glossy: yes
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm, Card Reader: MicroSD, NFC, Sensors: Accelerometer, Ambient light, Gyroscope, Orientation, Magnetometer, BMI160 Rotation Vector, Gravity, Linear Accelerometer
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0, 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz 3G: WCDMA 850/1900/2100MHz 4G: FDD-LTE 700/800/850/1700/1900/2100/2600MHz, LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 25 x 149 x 75 ( = 0.98 x 5.87 x 2.95 in)
Battery
0 Wh, 4700 mAh Lithium-Polymer, removeable
Operating System
Android 5.1 Lollipop
Camera
Webcam: 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz 3G: WCDMA 850/1900/2100MHz 4G: FDD-LTE 700/800/850/1700/1900/2100/2600MHz
Primary Camera: 13 MPix w/ Flash
Secondary Camera: 2 MPix
Additional features
Speakers: Monaural, Instruction manual, Screen protector, European power adapter, Antennae, Earphones, Micro-USB cable, 12 Months Warranty, fanless, ruggedized
Weight
350 g ( = 12.35 oz / 0.77 pounds) ( = 0 oz / 0 pounds)
Price
289 USD
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

For a 4.5-inch smartphone, the size of the M9 is larger than 5-inch consumer models in length and width. It's also one of the thickest and heaviest at 25 mm and 350 grams, respectively, compared to the IP65/68-certified 5-inch Sony Xperia M4 Aqua (7.3 mm, 163 g) or rugged 4.5-inch Kyocera Torque (13.5 mm, 182 g). The airtight rubber casing is waterproof up to one meter, rated for drops on concrete of up to 1.2 to 1.5 meters, and is held together by 20 T5 torque screws on both the front and back. The device is completely rigid and with no creaking when attempting to twist it from any angle. Pressing down firmly on the screen will not produce any visible crystals as could happen on most consumer models.

Ports are protected by a rubber flap and the bottom of the device includes a loop for attaching strings or collars for easier carrying. The large battery itself is removable after taking out the thick cover behind it with a flat head screwdriver. Like the Kyocera Torque, the touchscreen will not respond to touch when completely submerged in water.

The M9 is relatively comfortable to hold and grip for one handed operation. The bulging battery cover on the back, however, will make it more difficult for smaller hands. Additionally, the buttons around the edges are not so easy to press as they are well recessed beneath the surface. Thus, simple actions like pressing the Power button or adjusting the volume will require more force than initially expected. The volume buttons are also much lower around the edge than what most users may be accustomed to since the SOS and LED Flashlight buttons take priority.

Connectivity

Physical ports include Micro-USB 2.0 and a 3.5 mm earphone jack. Charging is supported up to 1.2 V and the same port can be used to charge other devices as well since the M9 doubles as a power bank. A flap on the rear of the smartphone covers a threaded base used for attaching the included antennae for handheld transceiver (walkie-talkie) functionality. The feature works without the need for any major mobile network towers and is a wide appeal of the M9.

Otherwise, the healthy number of buttons around the left and right edges makes certain one-touch functions easier to use than simply navigating through the touchscreen. None are unfortunately customizeable; It would have been very useful to be able to pair user-defined applications to certain buttons.

Right: Camera, Reset, Power button, Micro-USB 2.0, 3.5 mm earphones
Right: Camera, Reset, Power button, Micro-USB 2.0, 3.5 mm earphones
Top: No connectivity
Top: No connectivity
Left: PTT, LED Flashlight, SOS, Volume rocker
Left: PTT, LED Flashlight, SOS, Volume rocker
Bottom: No connectivity
Bottom: No connectivity

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Software

Pre-installed Walkie Talkie app
Pre-installed Walkie Talkie app

The M9 ships with an unfettered version of Android 5.1, so users are treated to no bloatware or excessive background applications that would be essentially useless for the target audience. Pre-installed applications are kept to a minimum as well with the FM Radio and Walkie Talkie applications being the most relevant. The radio, however, will still require a pair of compatible earphones to function.

We would have liked to see pre-installed applications for barometer, compass, GPS, light, and others to make the most of the wide array of sensors. Nonetheless, users can still install such third-party applications directly from the Play store without any issues.

Communication & GPS

GPS Test (Indoors)
GPS Test (Indoors)
GPS Test (Outdoors)
GPS Test (Outdoors)

The integrated GPS is quite accurate for a smartphone according to GPS Test. Accuracy was as high as 12 feet indoors and into the single digits when outside with no tower assistance. Nonetheless, it is still slightly less precise than a dedicated Garmin 500 GPS when making sharp turns.

Unique to the Vchok M9 is its walkie talkie feature for communication independent of cellular network towers. Users can set the receiver and transmitter frequencies with two Power settings (High, Low), two GBW settings (12.5K, 25.0K), standard SQ settings (1 through 8), and CTCSS encryption.

Garmin 500
Garmin 500
Vchok M9
Vchok M9

Telephone & Voice Quality

Two Mini SIM slots are available behind the battery alongside the MicroSD reader. 4G FDD-LTE is supported, though one must always make sure that its accepted bands (700/800/850/1700/1900/2100/2600 MHz) are compatible with the networks available in the region. Note that only the first SIM slot is capable of FDD-LTE/WCDMA while the second SIM slot is GSM/EDGE only. We attempted to insert a CDMA SIM card and while the M9 was able to recognize it, it was unable to connect to any towers to make or receive calls.

Call quality from both the earpiece and speakerphone is loud and clear with little static. The speakerphone is not any louder than on a standard consumer smartphone, however, and we would have liked it to be even louder to better serve outdoor conditions. According to our LG G3 caller on the other end, our voice sounded slightly softer and more muffled than usual. We experienced no dropped calls or other major issues whilst using the T-Mobile network during our tests.

Cameras & Multimedia

The rear 13 MP camera (4608 x 2592) produces muddy and darker images. Details are quite grainy even for a smartphone, such as around branches where fringing will be more noticeable. With that said, colors are not terrible and contrast is good enough where darkened objects under shadows can still be observed.

Video recording is available up to 1280 x 720 pixels at 15 FPS. Quality is very poor with muddy textures, blurry motion, and stuttering frame rates. We recommend shooting at lower resolution settings for higher frame rates if the video feature must be used.

1080p playback is otherwise smooth with no issues. We pre-loaded our test unit with Big Buck Bunny in 1080p as a .MOV file and noticed no hiccups for the entire duration of the video.

LG G3
LG G3
LG G3
LG G3
LG G3
LG G3
Vchok M9
Vchok M9
Vchok M9
Vchok M9
Vchok M9
Vchok M9
LG G3
LG G3
Vchok M9
Vchok M9
Canon EOS Rebel XSi
Canon EOS Rebel XSi

Input Devices

Touchscreen

The 5-point capacitive touchscreen is reliably responsive to light touches with no perceived issues around edges or corners. Typing with the standard virtual keyboard is fast and accurate without any significant latency. The haptic feedback could have been a bit stronger as the sheer size of the unit muffles the vibration. Larger hands will definitely find the typing experience more difficult due to the small screen size as well. Nonetheless, the precision and accuracy of the screen is not any different from brand name mainstream consumer smartphones.

5-point capacitive touchscreen
5-point capacitive touchscreen

Display

The 4.5-inch IPS screen provides a sub HD resolution of 540 x 960 pixels, far fewer than the Kyocera Torque and Panasonic Toughpad FZ-E1, though matching the similarly sized CAT S40. The screen itself is buried quite deep under the front glass, so users can see the thick protection that Vchok has provided for its display. On the flip side, colors and texts do not pop or appear as crisp as they do on mainstream consumer models. Text and icons will still be larger and blockier due to the relatively low PPI compared to most modern mainstream or even budget offerings.

The backlight for rugged devices are almost always much brighter than standard consumer models. The Kyocera Torque and Dell Rugged latitude, for example, are well over 600 nits each at their respective maximum settings.

The Vchok M9 disappoints in this category largely due to its dim backlight. At an average of about 237 nits, the display is dimmer than most budget consumer smartphones let alone the rugged devices that the M9 is competing against. Contrast is below average and the moderate backlight bleeding gives a Blue hue when displaying darkened content.

Moderate backlight bleeding
Moderate backlight bleeding
Subpixel matrix
Subpixel matrix
247.2
cd/m²
245.5
cd/m²
239.2
cd/m²
238.2
cd/m²
243.2
cd/m²
233.4
cd/m²
222.2
cd/m²
238.7
cd/m²
230.1
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro Basic 2
Maximum: 247.2 cd/m² Average: 237.5 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 90 %
Center on Battery: 243.2 cd/m²
Contrast: 417:1 (Black: 0.583 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 9.38 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.2
ΔE Greyscale 10.38 | 0.64-98 Ø6.4
Gamma: 2.09
VChok M9-LTE
4.5, 540x960
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-E1
5, 1280x720
CAT S40
4.7, 960x540
Kyocera Torque
4.5, 1280x720
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 3
4.5, 800x480
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
5, 1280x720
Response Times
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
44 (15.6, 28.4)
Response Time Black / White *
28 (7.6, 20.4)
PWM Frequency
Screen
56%
88%
81%
54%
51%
Brightness middle
243.2
494
103%
607
150%
723
197%
452
86%
547
125%
Brightness
238
481
102%
579
143%
722
203%
436
83%
535
125%
Brightness Distribution
90
95
6%
90
0%
87
-3%
91
1%
92
2%
Black Level *
0.583
0.54
7%
0.5
14%
0.65
-11%
0.53
9%
0.81
-39%
Contrast
417
915
119%
1214
191%
1112
167%
853
105%
675
62%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
9.38
5.74
39%
4.25
55%
9.07
3%
5.71
39%
5.77
38%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
14.7
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
10.38
8.58
17%
4.09
61%
8.92
14%
5.02
52%
5.87
43%
Gamma
2.09 105%
2.24 98%
2.61 84%
1.65 133%
2.15 102%
2.14 103%
CCT
13247 49%
7030 92%
6959 93%
8090 80%
7441 87%
7784 84%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
71.2034
72.0875
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
94.1292
96.5753
Total Average (Program / Settings)
56% / 56%
88% / 88%
81% / 81%
54% / 54%
51% / 51%

* ... smaller is better

Colors and grayscale are both poor on the M9. Color temperature is also much too cool, so there is again a Bluish tint to the entire screen when displaying any sort of content. As a direct result, Yellow colors appear quite Green and Violet colors have a hint of Purple.

Grayscale
Grayscale
Saturation Sweeps
Saturation Sweeps
ColorChecker
ColorChecker

Outdoor usability is poor due to the weak backlight and only made worse by the glossy screen. Glare and reflections are almost unavoidable when using the M9 outdoors. Comfortable use under direct sunlight is out of the question.

Viewing angles are slightly below average for an IPS screen. Colors and contrast will shift noticeably if viewing from too shallow of an angle. Fortunately, the device is still very much usable in both Landscape and Portrait modes.

Display on an overcast day under shade
Display on an overcast day under shade
Display on an overcast day
Display on an overcast day
Color degradation from extreme angles
Color degradation from extreme angles

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
28 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 7.6 ms rise
↘ 20.4 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 59 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (25.7 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
44 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 15.6 ms rise
↘ 28.4 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 64 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (41 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 52 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9152 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Performance

The quad-core MediaTek MT6735 SoC is a budget chip for very inexpensive devices. Its raw performance sits in between the Snapdragon 210 and Snapdragon 410 according to LinPack. According to CPU-Z, the processor can run up to 1.04 GHz and a minimum of 300 MHz when the system is idling.

The smartphone is nonetheless responsive despite the slow processor due in part to the 2 GB of system RAM and low overhead from the lack of bloatware. Frame rates, however, tend to get clunky very quickly when switching between applications. Launching larger applications like games also take noticeably longer with the M9.

Linpack Android / IOS
Multi Thread (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
225.49 MFLOPS ∼8%
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
2956.69 MFLOPS ∼100% +1211%
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-E1
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AB, 32 GB eMMC Flash
978.204 MFLOPS ∼33% +334%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
334.656 MFLOPS ∼11% +48%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
207.718 MFLOPS ∼7% -8%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
184.942 MFLOPS ∼6% -18%
Single Thread (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
77.337 MFLOPS ∼21%
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
369.586 MFLOPS ∼100% +378%
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-E1
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AB, 32 GB eMMC Flash
244.551 MFLOPS ∼66% +216%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
238.841 MFLOPS ∼65% +209%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
117.086 MFLOPS ∼32% +51%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
70.448 MFLOPS ∼19% -9%
PCMark for Android - Work performance score (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
3010 Points ∼81%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
3236 Points ∼87% +8%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
3701 Points ∼100% +23%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
2927 Points ∼79% -3%
AnTuTu v6 - Total Score (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
26391 Points ∼28%
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
94122 Points ∼100% +257%
Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
2103 Points ∼100%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
1563 Points ∼74%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1021 Points ∼49%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
539 Points ∼100%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
528 Points ∼98%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
313 Points ∼58%
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1569 Points ∼100%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
1561 Points ∼99% -1%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
532 Points ∼100%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
526 Points ∼99% -1%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
2384 Points ∼32%
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
7362 Points ∼100% +209%
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-E1
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AB, 32 GB eMMC Flash
2806 Points ∼38% +18%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
3565 Points ∼48% +50%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
3125 Points ∼42% +31%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1945 Points ∼26% -18%
Browsermark - 2.1 (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1139 points ∼95%
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
988 points ∼82% -13%
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-E1
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AB, 32 GB eMMC Flash
838 points ∼70% -26%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
1203 points ∼100% +6%
Sunspider
1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1639.4 ms * ∼71%
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
409.7 ms * ∼18% +75%
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-E1
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AB, 32 GB eMMC Flash
515.8 ms * ∼22% +69%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
1676.1 ms * ∼72% -2%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
1573.1 ms * ∼68% +4%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
2314.3 ms * ∼100% -41%
0.9.1 Total Score (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1738.8 ms * ∼100%
JetStream 1.1 - 1.1 Total Score (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
16.296 Points ∼35%
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
46 Points ∼100% +182%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
20.832 Points ∼45% +28%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
15848.2 ms * ∼47%
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
5552.9 ms * ∼17% +65%
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-E1
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AB, 32 GB eMMC Flash
10459.6 ms * ∼31% +34%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
18847.3 ms * ∼56% -19%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
11843 ms * ∼35% +25%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
33490.8 ms * ∼100% -111%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
2487 Points ∼31%
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
8059 Points ∼100% +224%
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-E1
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AB, 32 GB eMMC Flash
2891 Points ∼36% +16%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
3215 Points ∼40% +29%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
3296 Points ∼41% +33%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
2052 Points ∼25% -17%
WebXPRT 2015 - Overall Score (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
48 Points ∼42%
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
113 Points ∼100% +135%
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-E1
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AB, 32 GB eMMC Flash
73 Points ∼65% +52%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
48 Points ∼42% 0%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
52 Points ∼46% +8%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
38 Points ∼34% -21%
Vellamo 3.x
Metal (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
976 Points ∼80%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
1219 Points ∼100% +25%
Multicore Beta (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1339 Points ∼100%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
966 Points ∼72% -28%
Browser (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
2271 Points ∼100%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
2043 (min: 1641) Points ∼90% -10%
Quadrant Standard Edition 2.0 - --- (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
9324 points ∼60%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
15455 points ∼100% +66%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
15455 points ∼100% +66%
Smartbench 2012
Gaming Index (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
3537 points ∼86%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
4114 points ∼100% +16%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
3234 points ∼79% -9%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
3241 points ∼79% -8%
Productivity Index (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
4481 points ∼90%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
3782 points ∼76% -16%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
4962 points ∼100% +11%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
3331 points ∼67% -26%
PassMark PerformanceTest Mobile V1
3D Graphics Tests (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
583 Points ∼72%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
811 Points ∼100% +39%
2D Graphics Tests (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
2772 Points ∼100%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
2745 Points ∼99% -1%
Memory Tests (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
4368 Points ∼100%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
3154 Points ∼72% -28%
Disk Tests (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
31844 Points ∼100%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
7518 Points ∼24% -76%
CPU Tests (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
34641 Points ∼100%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
13288 Points ∼38% -62%
System (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
2762 Points ∼93%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
2966 Points ∼100% +7%

* ... smaller is better

Storage Devices

The internal 16 GB eMMC provides around 12 GB for end users when all is said and done. Performance according to AndroBench is very good with sequential write rates coming very close to the flagship HTC One M9. Sequential write speeds, however, are average in comparison and not all that different from the Xperia M4 Aqua and Kyocera Torque.

Users can utilize the MicroSD slot behind the battery for additional storage space if needed.

AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
9.56 MB/s ∼69%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
13.91 MB/s ∼100% +46%
Kyocera Torque
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8928, 16 GB eMMC Flash
10 MB/s ∼72% +5%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
5.39 MB/s ∼39% -44%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
3.91 MB/s ∼28% -59%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 3
GC7000UL, Armada PXA1908, 8 GB eMMC Flash
4 MB/s ∼29% -58%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
25.87 MB/s ∼100%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
20.66 MB/s ∼80% -20%
Kyocera Torque
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8928, 16 GB eMMC Flash
20 MB/s ∼77% -23%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
14.93 MB/s ∼58% -42%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
9.76 MB/s ∼38% -62%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 3
GC7000UL, Armada PXA1908, 8 GB eMMC Flash
15.8 MB/s ∼61% -39%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
40.03 MB/s ∼32%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
123.81 MB/s ∼100% +209%
Kyocera Torque
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8928, 16 GB eMMC Flash
45 MB/s ∼36% +12%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
64.3 MB/s ∼52% +61%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
28.81 MB/s ∼23% -28%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 3
GC7000UL, Armada PXA1908, 8 GB eMMC Flash
25.6 MB/s ∼21% -36%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
216.15 MB/s ∼92%
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
235.14 MB/s ∼100% +9%
Kyocera Torque
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8928, 16 GB eMMC Flash
155 MB/s ∼66% -28%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
137.88 MB/s ∼59% -36%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
130.02 MB/s ∼55% -40%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 3
GC7000UL, Armada PXA1908, 8 GB eMMC Flash
113.5 MB/s ∼48% -47%

GPU Performance

The integrated dual-core ARM Mali-T720 MP2 GPU is a common graphics chip for low-end Chinese smartphones. The Bluboo Xfire and Valencia2 Y100 Pro, for example, carry the same GPU as our M9.

Gaming potential is limited on the Vchok smartphone. Titles like Asphalt 8 will stutter to the point of being unplayable while 3DMark can feel like a slideshow from start to finish. This isn't necessarily a big downside as smooth gaming performance is beyond the scope of the device. However, anyone hoping for strong GPU performance for other applications will be disappointed.

GFXBench shows no throttling of the system after almost 30 minutes of looping tests.

Single-digit frame rates on 3DMark
Single-digit frame rates on 3DMark
3D games stutter or run slowly
3D games stutter or run slowly
Consistent frame times; No performance throttling
Consistent frame times; No performance throttling
3DMark
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Physics (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
7152 Points ∼80%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
5660 Points ∼64% -21%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
6168 Points ∼69% -14%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 3
GC7000UL, Armada PXA1908, 8 GB eMMC Flash
8885 Points ∼100% +24%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Graphics (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1413 Points ∼35%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
4028 Points ∼100% +185%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
2233 Points ∼55% +58%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 3
GC7000UL, Armada PXA1908, 8 GB eMMC Flash
1412 Points ∼35% 0%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Score (sort by value)
VChok M9-LTE
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB eMMC Flash
1720 Points ∼40%
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 8 GB eMMC Flash
4304 Points ∼100% +150%
CAT S40
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 16 GB eMMC Flash
2602 Points ∼60% +51%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 3
GC7000UL, Armada PXA1908, 8 GB eMMC Flash
1737 Points ∼40% +1%

Emissions

Temperature

Surface temperatures are very low on the M9 even when under high loads for extended periods. This should be unsurprising since we have a slow MediaTek CPU underneath thick layers of rubber casing. At worst, we were able to record a maximum of just over 33 C on the front of the device. Oddly enough, the dedicated Android buttons warm up slightly more than the rest of the smartphone perhaps due to the positioning of the chipset inside.

In comparison, the thinner and more powerful Torque can reach surface temperatures of over 43 C while the Galaxy Xcover 3 can reach over 38 C under similar testing conditions.

Maximum load (Front)
Maximum load (Front)
Maximum load (Back)
Maximum load (Back)
Max. Load
 31 °C
88 F
31.4 °C
89 F
32.8 °C
91 F
 
 30.8 °C
87 F
31.6 °C
89 F
32.6 °C
91 F
 
 29.8 °C
86 F
30.8 °C
87 F
33.2 °C
92 F
 
Maximum: 33.2 °C = 92 F
Average: 31.6 °C = 89 F
30.2 °C
86 F
30.6 °C
87 F
30.8 °C
87 F
30.2 °C
86 F
30.8 °C
87 F
29.6 °C
85 F
27.6 °C
82 F
29.2 °C
85 F
27.8 °C
82 F
Maximum: 30.8 °C = 87 F
Average: 29.6 °C = 85 F
Room Temperature 19 °C = 66 F | Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer
(+) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 31.6 °C / 89 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 33.2 °C / 92 F, compared to the average of 35.6 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 30.8 °C / 87 F, compared to the average of 34.1 °C / 93 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 24.3 °C / 76 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.

Speakers

The speaker on the back of the device is loud at maximum volume with no noticeable static. Quality, however, is narrow in range. It's acceptable for voice while being quite poor for music and media playback.

Battery Life

Substantial 4700 mAh battery pack
Substantial 4700 mAh battery pack

VChok offers 4700 mAh and 5100 mAh battery packs, both of which are very large and thicker than many smartphones. Our test model is equipped with the 4700 mAh pack that still easily doubles the capacity of even larger smartphones where the low 2000 mAh range is more common. Consequently, runtimes are very long at a minimum of 7 hours and 20 minutes under maximum display brightness and extreme stress with StabilityTest 2.5. Users can expect 15 hours of constant WiFi use or even more with more reserved settings and lower performance demands.

Charging will take quite some time from empty to full due to the high capacity of the battery pack. Expect to wait 4 to 6 hours for a complete charge on the M9.

VChok M9-LTE
4700 mAh
CAT S40
3000 mAh
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 3
2200 mAh
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
2400 mAh
Kyocera Torque
3100 mAh
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
2700 mAh
Battery Runtime
-27%
-53%
-55%
-61%
-29%
Reader / Idle
2091
1429
-32%
1002
-52%
791
-62%
2249
8%
WiFi v1.3
905
611
-32%
503
-44%
420
-54%
446
-51%
440
-51%
Load
440
370
-16%
166
-62%
221
-50%
132
-70%
242
-45%
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
34h 51min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
15h 05min
Load (maximum brightness)
7h 20min

Pros

+ IP68 compliant; rugged
+ substantial in weight and feel
+ large battery; long runtimes
+ walkie talkie mode
+ MicroSD and dual SIM support
+ NFC, GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou
+ Relatively loud speakerphone
+ inexpensive

Cons

- inaccurate colors; very cool color temperature
- low maximum brightness
- backlight bleeding; low contrast
- poor cameras
- weak internal hardware
- poor speakerphone for media playback
- slow charging

Verdict

In review: Vchok M9-LTE. Test model provided by Gearbest.com
In review: Vchok M9-LTE. Test model provided by Gearbest.com

The Vchok M9 is inexpensive for its purpose as an all-terrain rugged smartphone. The cut corners are easy to see after spending a short amount of time with it as the display quality, backlight brightness, cameras, processing power, and GPU power are all well below average. If your intended workloads depend heavily on any of these factors, then it would be best to look elsewhere and at more costlier alternatives. The dim backlight is a big blow to the versatility of the phone as it is difficult to see onscreen content outdoors.

Otherwise, the rest of the M9 performs very well. Build quality is excellent from top to bottom with very long runtimes and an accurate GPS. Its handheld transceiver mode should be the most appealing feature to anyone considering the smartphone and is the real highlight of the device considering the $300 price point.

VChok M9-LTE - 01/19/2016 v4.1(old)
Allen Ngo

Chassis
94%
Keyboard
78 / 75 → 100%
Pointing Device
89%
Connectivity
50 / 60 → 83%
Weight
86%
Battery
98%
Display
70%
Games Performance
52 / 63 → 83%
Application Performance
26 / 70 → 37%
Temperature
94%
Noise
100%
Audio
70 / 91 → 77%
Camera
65%
Average
75%
80%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Vchok M9 LTE Smartphone Review
Allen Ngo, 2016-01-16 (Update: 2016-01-21)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.