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The Saygus V2 Wonder Phone, Hands On

One of the great things about CES is that you can be walking around the show floor and discover something (possibly) amazing that you've never heard of before. This happened to us this year when we came across the Saygus booth. Despite its odd-sounding name, the company was showing off its new Android phone, the V2, and we were immediately intrigued.

At first glance, there didn't seem to be much to it -- just another 5-inch device from a small company swimming in a sea of similar devices. Also, we did find it a little disconcerting that the first pitch from one of its spokespersons was that it's the only other American cellphone manufacturer, other than Apple, now that Motorola has been scooped up by China-based Lenovo. In reality, we are pretty sure the V2 is made in China, and there are other small U.S. cellphone companies such as Yezz Mobile and BLU, but we digress.

It wasn't until we looked at the spec sheet for the V2 that we understood why it could be a pretty big deal. If your jaw doesn't drop after reading (ALL of) the specs below, then perhaps you're on the wrong site!

SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AC)
CPUQualcomm Krait 400 (4 Core) @ 2.45 GHz
GPUQualcomm Adreno 330 @ 578 MHz
Memory3 GB LPDDR3
Display5.0-inch IPS @ 1920 x 1080 (445 ppi) with Corning Gorilla Glass 4
Storage64 GB with Dual MicroSD slots for up to 256 GB of expandable storage
Battery3,100 mAh (removable) with Wireless Qi charging
CamerasFront: 13MP with OISRear: 21MP with OIS and dual LED-flashHardware camera shutter button
AudioStereo Speakers with Harman Kardon 3D Audio sound technology
Expansion PortsDual microSD slot, USB 3.0
SecurityFingerprint side scanner
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, 60 GHz wireless HD video beaming, IR transmitterCDMA & LTE (Bands ?)
Dimensions137 x 67 x 9.7 mm
Weight141 g
Operating SystemAndroid 4.4.4 KitKat
OtherIPX7 water-resistantRoot access availableMulti-Boot (supports booting from MicroSD card)

It's as if Saygus took every Android geek's wish list and created a phone that featured every single one of them. The most exciting feature, at least for me, was the touted ability to load a different mobile OS from the second microSD slot. A smartphone that can run more than one OS was my pick for our '2015 Wish List,' but I never expected it to (potentially) come true so soon. Of course, there are still hurdles to overcome with this feature, such as how to achieve the same level of performance running an OS off of slower microSD memory rather than the phone's internal NAND. Also, due to licensing issues, it's likely that the only alternate OS that will be officially supported is another open-source one like Ubuntu. You're not going to see Saygus provide Windows Phone for the V2.

A few of the other standout features are that both of the V2's rear and front cameras will have OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) and that it will have 60 GHz wireless HD video output. This latter feature, known as WiGig, must be provided by a separate chip, because the only SoC currently supporting this feature is the Snapdragon 810. It will also be sold as a developer device, with root access available out of the box. The V2 is definitely a device for an enthusiast.

While we were at the booth, we got a chance to go hands-on with the V2, which you can see in the video below:

As you can see, the demo unit was clearly a pre-production model that was quite rough around the edges. It's a little lacking in the aesthetics department, too; the Kevlar back and industrial look definitely has more limited appeal than something sexier like the red LG G Flex 2 we also saw at the show. We were also disappointed to see that the V2 only uses a Snapdragon 801 SoC and isn't running Lollipop (Android 5.0).

Saygus did not disclose any pricing but did say it was going to be around $100 cheaper than equivalent flagship phones, so we expect it to be in the $500 price range.

Despite these issues, the Saygus V2 still has a lot potential, but as the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. Saygus talked a big game at CES and said all the right things. But the question remains: can it deliver? After looking closely at the pre-production unit we went hands-on with, it's clear that half of the features being touted aren't actually active yet.

While anyone with a little money can create a wish list of specs and have some Shenzhen ODM throw together a working prototype, it's another thing entirely to build a cellphone company from scratch—just look at all the teething troubles OnePlus went through this year.

While we want to believe a small American startup can build our dream phone, we're not ready to say that Saygus can pull it off. It's clear that it was using CES, like so many other startups do, to help drum up some publicity with the hopes of finding more investors to help make its phone a reality.

So, even though we are skeptical, and think it's more than likely that the V2 will end up being vaporware, we will still be keeping an eye on Saygus and will let you know if the dream comes true.

Follow Alex Davies @alexbdavies. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • joaompp
    There specs are similar to a Nexus 5 or a 1+1, but at a higher price point. Why should we be excited about early 2014 specs at a $500 price point, might as well as get a Moto X and get better support and greater customization options.
    Reply
  • sausen
    There specs are similar to a Nexus 5 or a 1+1, but at a higher price point. Why should we be excited about early 2014 specs at a $500 price point, might as well as get a Moto X and get better support and greater customization options.
    You're joking, right? The OnePlus isn't always available, but even so this phone practically matches the 1+1 spec for spec but has wireless charging, OIS, and not ONE but TWO microSD slots. That alone is impressive. If it's under $500, it might be worth considering for storage users.
    Reply
  • alidan
    2 sd slots... there isn't a flagship that even has an sd currently... or am i mistaken... as i cant think of anything but the one+ and they aren't putting a phone like this out for 200$
    Reply
  • wildkitten
    2 sd slots... there isn't a flagship that even has an sd currently... or am i mistaken... as i cant think of anything but the one+ and they aren't putting a phone like this out for 200$

    Um, the S5, the One M8, the G3 just for starters all have SD slots. Not long ago Samsung was the only OEM to add them into their flagships, but several others recently have. Perhaps a big reason Samsung lost some marketshare.

    That all being said, I love the idea of 2 SD slots AND a removable battery. If this is made and the cell radio is of good quality, I hope it comes to Verizon cause I will be buying it.
    Reply
  • Gaidax
    Mmmm... meh?

    The only useful and new thing I can think of here is multi-boot from SD card.

    2 SD card slots? It's cute but definitely not a show steal here... we have tons of flagship phones with amazing features and another heap coming in like two months, 2 SD card slots pales in comparison to that to be honest.

    All in all, the phone is decent, but it's hardly something special, compared to alternatives.
    Reply
  • Economister
    The saying is "'the proof of the pudding is in the eating", not "proof is in the pudding"

    Google is your friend.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    The saying is "'the proof of the pudding is in the eating", not "proof is in the pudding"

    Google is your friend.

    Actually I've NEVER heard it said any other way than "The proof is in the pudding". Anyone with a functioning control unit can interpret either version.

    Also, Google doesn't really want to be your friend anyway. They just want to follow you around and sponge off you. :P
    Reply
  • Vorador2
    To be honest, the 801 is already old, with options like the 805 already in the market and 810 being manufactured right now.

    Everything else is pretty good, and combined in a single phone is sounds great. I'm specially liking the dual microSD slot and microSD booting. No phone in the market has that functionality.
    Reply
  • Tibeardius
    @joaompp The CPU is better, battery is larger(user replaceable too) and should last longer due to the new Amprius tech in it, it has a smaller footprint, 2 microSD cards, fingerprint reader, IR blaster, dedicated camera button, 21mp rear and 12mp front cameras both with OIS. The list goes on. This is in an entirely different league from the Nexus 5. I own the Nexus 5 and look forward to upgrade to this phone.
    Reply
  • BulkZerker
    Only killer feature m seeing is booting from a SD card.

    Wireless charging is nice and so is the battery being removable.

    Now concerning the cameras... Reaks of "moar! ... Because moar!" I'd rather a good 14mp that can take low light / sun glaring off the snow pics than something that has to be in a laboratory setting to get not crap exposures.
    Reply