Kogan Agora Android phone

The Kogan Agora is let down by a poor quality display, below average battery life and sluggish performance

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  • User Reviews (5)
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Kogan Agora
  • Kogan Agora
  • Kogan Agora
  • Kogan Agora
  • Expert Rating

    2.00 / 5
  • User Rating

    4.00 / 5 (of 5 Reviews)

Pros

  • Very low price
  • Dual-SIM card slots
  • Relatively stock Android

Cons

  • Doesn't support 850MHz 3G
  • Poor quality display
  • Buttons can be unresponsive

Bottom Line

While the Kogan Agora will deliver most of what it promises, it has a poor quality display, terrible battery life and often sluggish performance. It also doesn't appear to work on the 850MHz 3G network band in Australia, despite being advertised as such.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 1 store)

  • The Athenian Agora by John M. Camp 8.14

Four years after promising then failing to launch two Android smartphones, Kogan is trying a second time. The Kogan Agora is a low-cost, dual-SIM Android phone but it ultimately proves that you usually get what you pay for. While the Agora will deliver most of what it promises, it has a poor quality display, below average battery life and often sluggish performance. It also doesn't appear to work on the 850MHz 3G network band in Australia, despite being advertised as such.

Note: Kogan has promised to send PC World Australia a second review unit of the Agora. We will update this article with any necessary changes should the new model work on the 850MHz network as advertised.

A note about the Agora's design

You'd best look elsewhere if you want something that's easily pocketable.

The Kogan Agora looks very similar to the original Samsung Galaxy Note, a smartphone that first launched back in 2011. Although it's quite an old design now, we appreciated it then and it still works quite well for a budget device like the Agora, though it is a little heavy at 180g. Combined with the fact this is a pretty large device, you'd best look elsewhere if you want something that's easily pocketable.

The Agora is constructed solely from plastic. The curved edges of the phone have a glossy, metallic finish, the bezel surrounding the display is gloss black and the back features an etched finish that makes the Agora easy to grip. This thin battery cover feels flimsy when removed and does feel a little hollow when pressed but it's both practical and comfortable.

The Kogan Agora looks very similar to the original Samsung Galaxy Note.
The Kogan Agora looks very similar to the original Samsung Galaxy Note.

We found these buttons were not always responsive.

The Kogan Agora has its ports and controls in the usual places. There's a volume rocker on the left, a power/lock button on the right, a micro-USB port and microphone on the bottom and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. We wish the volume and power buttons were positioned a little lower, as they require a real stretch to access when using the Agora single-handedly.

The Agora has a physical home button below its display, sitting in between menu and back capacitive keys. We found these buttons were not always responsive. The home button often required an extra press or two to activate while the capacitive keys didn't always register our finger taps. It makes for a very frustrating user experience.

The home button often required an extra press or two to activate & the capacitive keys didn't always register our finger taps.
The home button often required an extra press or two to activate & the capacitive keys didn't always register our finger taps.

The Agora's 5in touchscreen is quite poor. It's reasonably responsive to touch but it performs dreadfully in direct sunlight, the extremely glossy surface is almost impossible to keep clean and viewing angles are mediocre. The resolution of 800x480 is rather low by today's smartphone standards so text isn't super crisp. However, this isn't a huge issue given the price. The Agora's screen resolution is perfectly good enough for most tasks including browsing the web and playing games.

The Agora's 5in touchscreen is quite poor. It's reasonably responsive to touch but it performs dreadfully in direct sunlight.
The Agora's 5in touchscreen is quite poor. It's reasonably responsive to touch but it performs dreadfully in direct sunlight.

Stock Android, mixed performance

The Kogan Agora is capable of everything it promises on the software side of things.

The Kogan Agora runs a relatively stock version of Google's 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Android software, so the user experience will be familiar to anyone who's used an Android phone before. There's a few extra touches, headed by the range of toggles at the top of the notification window. These can't be edited but there's toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, data, airplane mode, screen brightness, screen timeout, auto rotation and sound profiles, so most major settings are covered.

The Kogan Agora is capable of everything it promises on the software side of things. You can browse the Web, download apps through Google's Play Store, access services like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and play games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. More taxing games, like Real Racing 3 and GTA III, are also playable but can be laggy.

The Agora's software is a largely stock version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
The Agora's software is a largely stock version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Overall performance is a mixed bag. The Agora has a dual-core processor and 512MB of RAM and the latter can often make for a sluggish experience. While most apps we tested worked without many issues, the phone can occasionally be unreliable and sometimes inconsistent. Apps occasionally crashed during our tests for no apparent reason. Startup time is also a little slow and the default browser isn't smooth when pinching the screen to zoom in. The Agora also becomes very sluggish when updating multiple apps through the Google Play Store.

The Kogan Agora comes preloaded with a few extra apps including AccuWeather for Android, a basic file manager an FM radio, a notepad and a sound recorder. There's also a "Magic Keyboard" but thankfully you can switch to the stock ICS keyboard in the settings menu, which is far more intuitive and better designed.

The Agora includes a range of quick toggles at the top of the notification window.
The Agora includes a range of quick toggles at the top of the notification window.

Dual-SIM support

A key feature of the Kogan Agora is support for dual SIM cards, a function that's popular in many Asian markets but not so prevalent in Australia. Only the first SIM card slot of the Agora supports 3G networks, with the second slot supporting 2G-only networks.

The first SIM card slot of the Agora supports 3G networks. The other supports 2G-only networks.
The first SIM card slot of the Agora supports 3G networks. The other supports 2G-only networks.

Our review unit did not work with the 850MHz network band.

The Agora's first SIM card slot is advertised as supporting the 850MHz and 2100MHz 3G network bands in Australia but our review unit did not work with the 850MHz band. Our review device happily connected to 2100MHz network towers using the Telstra network in the North Sydney area to provide 3G service. However, when travelling away from the city the phone only picked up a 2G, EDGE signal.

The fastest data speeds we managed when away from the city area was a meagre 0.18 megabits per second (Mbps) download and just 0.04Mbps upload. With this in mind, we can't recommend the Kogan Agora for use in Australia, particularly if you're using the Telstra network. For further information about this issue, click here.

Some speed tests we ran on the Kogan Agora outside the Sydney CBD (Using the Telstra network).
Some speed tests we ran on the Kogan Agora outside the Sydney CBD (Using the Telstra network).

If you choose not to use the Agora's second SIM card slot, the phone displays a permanent alert on the notifications panel and the lock screen. There's no way to remove these alerts, which is annoying if you're only going to ever use one SIM card in the device.

Poor camera, average battery life

The camera is about what you would expect from a phone at this price point.

The Kogan Agora has a 5-megapixel rear camera and a front-facing VGA camera for video calls. The rear camera is about what you would expect from a phone at this price point. Pictures captured suffer from a lack of detail, excess image noise and poor colour reproduction, highlighted easily when viewed on a PC. However, shots are passable for quick uploads onto social networks like Facebook and Twitter and most people will be happy with that at this price.

A photo we captured with the Kogan Agora (click to enlarge).
A photo we captured with the Kogan Agora (click to enlarge).

Video recording quality is also below average. The Agora can record up to 720p HD videos but any slight movement results in jittery footage. The front camera naturally takes appalling photos but works reasonably well with video calling apps like Skype and Tango — provided of course that you're not expecting the best quality.

Photos can be stored on either the 4GB of internal memory or an optional microSD card, accessible by removing the back cover of the Agora. The speaker on the back of the phone isn't the best but the earpiece is loud and clear, so you shouldn't have any problems making or receiving phone calls. The same can't be said for the speakerphone which sounds muffled and isn't very loud.

The back of the Agora features an etched finish that makes it easy to grip.
The back of the Agora features an etched finish that makes it easy to grip.

The Kogan Agora has a 2000mAh battery that should last you a full day, but we consistently achieved less than that. In most cases, the Agora only lasted for about 12 hours before needing a recharge, quite a poor result. Kogan officially lists the battery as having four hours and 50 minutes of talktime and 400 hours of standby time but your milage will vary depending on usage patterns.

The Kogan Agora is available now through Kogan for $149, along with a standard $19 delivery charge to most Australian locations.

Related content

Is Kogan's Agora not compatible with the 850 3G network?
Kogan Agora preview
Kogan unveils low-cost, dual-SIM Agora phone
How fast is the Kogan Mobile network?
Kogan officially enters Australian mobile provider market

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Phil From Brisbane

1

My Kogan Agora smartphone with a kogan 3 month data and calls plan sim will NOT work on the 850Mhz (telstra) 3G network at all and i know i have good 850mhz coverage in my area using telstra mi fi devices.However to be certain i went to the top of the highest hill ... it still says EDGE (2G) , data speeds are unusable of course. I've asked Kogan what the solution is.

Brad

2

I just bought a Kogan Agora 5.0 phone and connected to the Boost (telstra) unlimited pre-paid for $40 per month. I'm getting good speeds of 3Mbps download and 1-0.5Mbps upload in areas in and around melbourne (CBD, hawthorn, even out in bayswater). I'm not interested in playing the latest GTA game on my phone or live streaming footy at cos so I'm more than happy with what I got. Not sure what is going on with the testing of this phone in north sydney by the people at PS World but is sounds like a bit of Kogan bashing if you ask me. I would be interested to know which 3rd party telstra service provider they tested it with. I have no experience with Kogan as a 3rd party service provider as I steered well clear of it do to all the issues on the news. But using Boost i'm getting great speeds. Don't knock the phone, knock the Provider!

DVDA

3

I bought one of the agora's a few weeks ago after reading the specs on it which said that it has a 5 inch screen and a 1 gig twin core processor which I really wanted in a phone. After I'd purchased it I read a heap of reviews which said basically that it's crap and I really started wishing that I hadn't bought it. I just got it a couple of days ago and I'm really surprised how good it is so far. I'm getting a good 3g signal with telstra prepaid in the south eastern suburbs. Most of all though the screen is much better than I expected after reading the reviews on it. I was also expecting the touch capability to be really bad but it's just as good as the one on my galaxy tab. The camera and speaker aren't that great and I haven't used the gps, but I never used that on any of my previous phones either. It does have a good music player though so it seems like a total bargain to me at $150. It was either this or the galaxy s4 for the same sized screen, but I didn't want to pay $740 for a phone that I will probably lose within the next 12 months and I wouldn't use all of the functions on it anyway. The main thing I like is that the screen area on the agora is twice the size of the one on an iphone 3 at 5 * 5 inch compared to 3.5 * 3.5 inch. It's true that it is a little less clear than the one on a galaxy tab which is the only thing I have to compare it against, but it is a lot better than I thought it would be. So far I'd definitely buy this phone again for the same money given the other options on the market in that price bracket. However it remains to be seen if it holds together for at least a year without breaking down. If it does that then it's more than worth it.

Anonymous

4

I'm an old bugger and deliberately sought the largest sized smart phone;thus Kogan. I have poor eyesight, large fingers and have 'wasted' much money on lost phones...Even my minimal usage has meant inordinate per unit costs on previous monthly plans, I like it's weight, I like it's size and I like its price and usability per my needs, I have great respect for "Mac" technology/appliances, but the evangelical Mc wankers who reify their little tools can really peeve me, the medium is far to much of their message and, I would argue, their pockets. I need a panel van not a mercedes

Praco

5

We have had our kogan phones for two months now and ate very happy with the value represented.
Photo color not perfect but acceptable .

jess

6

I want to know if anyone know if the 'emergency calls only' feature can be hidden on the locked screen, it absolutely drives me crazy and don't want it on my main screen

Anthony Maher

7

I waited almost 3 months for the delivery of my Agora phone. Don't waste your money-it simply does not work in Australia. It cuts out regularly. Try and ask for help, servicing or your money back - Kogan are no where to be found. They have no phone number, no address - I wonder why? I have sent several emails and guess what - no replies - basically I would suggest that that if you buy a Agora phone from Kogan it is a bit like buying a special watch from "the bloke in the pub" good luck - you will need it. I have tossed mine in the bin. Think before you buy any Kogan product - they make themselves invisible once you have given them your money.

Lynn

8

Our Kogan phone is actually pretty good for the price. We use it as a GPS & it's the perfect size as we always found the Galaxy a bit small. Battery life is actually exceptional, lasting 3 days without a charge. Kogan make their support as hard to find as possible & only provide an email which you'll be lucky if you get a response within a week. They do have a phone number which they try to keep discreet: 1300 304 292. SPREAD THE WORD!!! :)

We ordered a coffee machine from them which arrived WITHOUT a brewing unit. Complained and they sent a brewing unit for a different model. I then said I wanted a full refund so had to pack & send back the unit to them (luckily, return postage paid) and about two weeks later, still no refund but, lo & behold, a new unit arrives! Obviously it pans out exactly as they'd planned - too much hassle to send back so we keep the coffee machine.

Mick

9

An Average good value phone:
Wifi antenner is poor; sometimes the phone does not recognize my sim card, hope this will never happen again; screen does not rotate automatically most of time; battery lasts only 2 days.

richie

10

Every few months, Kogan does free shipping, so I purchased an Agora 5 for only $149 for my father. He is loving the phone. 0.5 GB RAM is not great but it is the same amount of RAM as in the iPhone 4S, which is much more expensive.

Jill

11

Not being techno savvy could some one tell me what the red x with the number 2 is. It is on the direct left of the battery icon!

Joan Ayling

12

Problems with Skype overriding normal phone . How does one restore normal phone usage

william taylor

13

how do I remove the back of phone to install battery, as no info supplied

Old salt

14

To remove the back cover look for a small slat top left on the back.
You can download the manual from Kogans web site, it's free.

Good luck.

PS. I love my Kogan 7.1"

Rose

15

Bought the phone 2 weeks ago and it arrived on Monday. Charged it overnight as directed and put in my sim and turned it on in the morning. Had a quick look at it before work and at lunch time and took it home in its box. Sat down to have a good look at it and to get started and it won't turn on. Nothing!
Sent an email to Kogan. Their response so far, is that they are on it but very busy. I'm not busy because no one can contact me.

Tom

16

waste service Ever seen ,Do not join with them,real Cheating .Fair use policy trap.just offer 6 gb useless offer .i used few months kogan ,simply they blocking mobile internet ,answer from kogan i used my daily limit 400 MB then ask them what i need to do for extension .then recommenced me topup for three month spend another 79,after 10 days again blocked i asked them why u blocking ,no option for extension .that time my usage balance near 5gb. Bu..... sh.........
Also voice mail blockage every time with in 1 month 3 time voice mail blocked .
Call centre very worse.bye bye kogggggan .trapping Australian people.where is australian consumer law.

Aussiesue

17

Husband and I both have one of these phones, and are very happy with them. They do work on the 850 network, as we have used my husband's phone (with next G sim) in a remote area where we know for a fact you only get Next G coverage out there. My sim was kogan/telstra at the time and did not receive signal (we expected this). It is our first time using smart phones, and we have muddled our way through and have not had any problems so far. I have installed a navigator onto my Agora, and use it frequently to find my way around.

Streads77

18

How do you edit contacts?

Ian Woodhouse

19

Why not get the Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos i9082 (Dual Sim) from Kogan instead?

If you compare the latest "Kogan Agora HD" phone (Kogan Agora phone successor), its a wiser investment to spend only a little bit more money ($79 more) in a device that offers better quality and reliability bar the camera megapixels: better battery life, and double the internal memory. You will also have a phone that looks very similar to reputable Samsung flagship model (Samsung Galaxy S3) that no one can tell the difference at a glance. Currently selling on Kogan for $279.

You can also do genuine multitasking by Samsung split screen feature and run two applications at once, such watching youtube while responding to a text.

Lorraine Dutch

20

still can't find where to navigate to change default ring tone. Only been able to change message alert tone. Can anyone help?

Neil

21

No idea either, really would like to know.

Ed

22

Unreliable Agora mobile that kept crashing (not a battery issue)
Bad experience, returned the phone to Kogan with unopened spare battery still in original mail pack.NO REFUND for the battery. Absolute rip off by Kogan, who keep sending "kindest regards" in their emails" they speak with forked tongue. Do the right thing for your Customers Kogan.
I f you want a reliable mobile, buy a Reputable Brand,( it wont cost a lot more) not the make believe Kogan Agora

Raneeta

23

I bought this phone one year ago and could not use it as the screen would randomly jump from page to setting to another page or option. Even when you lay the phone on the table and did not touch it the phone would continue to randomly select settings and options. Finally after putting in the draw for 12 months because it was unusable and I didnt get around to returning it... I finally had a closer look at the settings and discovered that a third party app Magic Keyboard free was preinstalled and enabled. I switched it off but cannot uninstall it and set it to the native android keyboard and now the phone works.. Would have been so much easier if kogans support could have told me that 12 months ago... Now given to my 14 year old son who will probably get some use out of it but I wont buy another agora again for myself

Anne

24

How does one print photos from the Kogan smartphone?

alysq

25

please list "how to edit contacts"

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mick

3.5

1

Pros
An Average good value phone:
Cons
Wifi antenner is poor; sometimes the phone does not recognize my sim card, hope this will never happen again; screen does not rotate automatically most of time; battery lasts only 2 days.
• • •

An Average good value phone:
Wifi antenner is poor; sometimes the phone does not recognize my sim card, hope this will never happen again; screen does not rotate automatically most of time; battery lasts only 2 days.

Hill Billy

4.0

2

Pros
Price, Dual Sim, Speed, Overall pretty good except >> see below
Cons
To heavy, to big for a handheld phone, low light display, SMS & text could be better
• • •

Not bad a phone, to heavy and low screen light and not a very good text message program, eg no Inbox etc... takes a little time to get used to but apart from that it is a good buy for what you get.

Sk monjur Ali

5.0

3

Pros
Huge Display
Cons
Picture quality
• • •

I am so obsessed with this smart phone.Battery is as powerful as galaxy phones, touch screen responds as fast as iphone / galaxy. Expectations were totally fulfilled...

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