Kogan Agora HD Android phone

The Agora HD smartphone combines a good display with solid performance, making it great value

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  • User Reviews (1)
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Kogan Agora HD
  • Kogan Agora HD
  • Kogan Agora HD
  • Kogan Agora HD
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5
  • User Rating

    4.00 / 5 (of 1 Review)

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Good display & pleasing performance
  • Relatively stock Android experience

Cons

  • Battery life could be improved
  • Only 4GB of internal memory
  • Erratic ambient light sensor

Bottom Line

The Kogan Agora HD smartphone combines a good display with solid performance and retails for a hugely competitive price. It's only let down by a lack of internal memory and below average battery life, but still comes highly recommended for anyone on a budget.

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Kogan's previous Android phone was widely panned as a dud, but the company is back with a new variant, once again claiming to offer outstanding value for money. This time around, the Australian online retailer seems to have learnt its lessons from the past. The Kogan Agora HD smartphone combines a good display with solid performance and retails for a hugely competitive price. It's only let down by a lack of internal memory and below average battery life, but still comes highly recommended for anyone on a budget.

A bland but functional design

The Kogan Agora HD isn't going to win any design awards, but given its budget price tag, that was never the intention. The phone combines glossy, black plastic on the front and sides, and a basic matte black finish on the removable battery cover. This thin battery cover feels flimsy when removed and does creak when pressed in various places, but it's a minor issue. We can't really fault the Agora HD's design otherwise, though keep in mind that this is on the large scale for a smartphone, an industry-wide trend.

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The matte finish on the back provides good grip and makes the Agora HD comfortable to hold.

The matte finish on the back of the Agora HD can attract some grubby fingerprints if your hands aren't clean, but it provides good grip and makes the Agora HD fairly comfortable to hold. The comfort stems from rounded edges that taper inwards from the sides to the back of the handset, a design that's very similar to Samsung's Galaxy S4.

The Kogan Agora HD has most of its ports and controls in the usual places, with the exception of the top-mounted micro-USB port. That location means it won't play nicely with most charging docks, but given the limited amount of accessories that will be available for this phone, it's not a significant issue.

The micro-USB port sits next to a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the top, while there's a volume rocker on the left, and a power/lock button on the right. The buttons provide good tactility, though could have been positioned a little lower to avoid stretching your fingers when using the Agora HD single-handedly. Three capacitive buttons (menu, home, back) sit below the display on the front and are responsive when pressed, while a small notification LED is cleverly hidden inside the speaker grill above the screen.

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The screen is bright and produces vibrant colours.

The Agora HD's 5in 720p touchscreen is the highlight feature of this device. While the IPS display isn't as truly vibrant as the super AMOLED panel Samsung uses on the Galaxy S4, that phone costs four times as much as Kogan's offering.

The Agora HD's screen is bright, displays relatively crisp text, and produces vibrant colours, a far cry from most budget smartphones we've seen in this price range. Our only real complaint is the automatic brightness setting, which is very erratic and best switched off, and the fact that the glossy surface is tough to keep free of fingerprints. The screen is also prone to glare under fluorescent lighting indoors, and sunlight legibility is below average, but these are minor issues given the low asking price.

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Stock Android, smooth user experience

The user experience will be familiar to anyone who's used an Android phone.

The Kogan Agora HD runs a relatively stock version of Google's 4.2 "Jelly Bean" operating system, so the user experience will be familiar to anyone who's used an Android phone before. There's a few extra touches, headed by an range of new toggles in the notification window. These can't be edited but in addition to the standard suite of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and airplane mode, Kogan has added data connection, data usage, audio profiles, screen timeout and auto rotation toggles.

Audio profiles is one of two features that you won't find on many other Android phones. The setting allows one of four predefined profiles to be selected, including silent, meeting and outdoor. Only the main "general" profile can be edited, but the ability to quickly toggle silent, vibrate and outdoor (loudest ring) profiles is a nice touch on a budget smartphone. The Agora HD also comes with the ability to set the phone to power on and off at predefined times. The on/off schedule can be set to repeat on a particular day, similar to how a repeat alarm works.

The Agora HD runs a largely stock version of Google's 4.2
The Agora HD runs a largely stock version of Google's 4.2 "Jelly Bean" platform.

Overall performance is impressive considering the price tag.

These two features aside, the Agora HD runs much the same as any standard Android phone. 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 Candy Crush Saga. The icons for some core apps, like gallery, camera, phone, contacts, messaging, and calendar, have been changed for no apparent reason, but this aside, they are all Google's standard applications and work as normal.

The Agora HD's overall performance is impressive considering the price tag. The 1.2GHz quad-core processor, and 1GB of RAM results in a largely lag-free experience, and general use is quick and speedy. Apps open quickly, home screens are smooth to scroll through and although some UI animations can appear a little slow, the Agora HD feels snappy for everyday tasks. The Agora HD can become a little sluggish when updating multiple apps through the Google Play Store, but this is a minor issue.

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The Agora HD runs most graphically intense games without any issues. It handled FIFA 14, Deer Hunter 2014, and Dead Trigger without any significant lag or delay, offering smooth and fast game play. Unfortunately, the most significant drawback of the Agora HD, particularly if you will be using it for gaming, is the paltry 4GB of internal memory. While the device has a microSD card slot to expand the on-board storage, many apps from Google's Play Store can only be installed on the system memory, not an external microSD card.

The Kogan Agora HD comes preloaded with a few extra apps including a backup and restore app that will move personal data and apps to and from a microSD card, a basic file manager, an FM radio, a music player, a handy quick start guide, a sound recorder, a to do list, and a basic video player. A nice touch is the fact that the default messaging app comes with built-in Emoji support.

The lack of internal memory on the Kogan Agora HD is its biggest issue.
The lack of internal memory on the Kogan Agora HD is its biggest issue.

Dual-SIM support, average camera

The Kogan Agora HD supports the 850MHz and 2100MHz 3G network bands in Australia so it's suited primarily for use on the Telstra network. We managed download speeds of up to 13 megabits per second (Mbps) on Telstra's Next G network in North Sydney, with upload speeds averaging 2.7Mbps. The Agora's second SIM card slot only supports 2G networks.

Conveniently, the SIM management option in the main menu allows you to switch SIM card slots on and off, select which SIM supplies data for the phone, and also allows you to edit the name and colour of each SIM slot. The Agora HD's dialler features two call buttons, one for each SIM card slot.

You can edit the name and colour of each SIM card slot, and we managed good download speeds on Telstra's Next G network.
You can edit the name and colour of each SIM card slot, and we managed good download speeds on Telstra's Next G network.

Most camera shots are spoiled by excessive image noise.

The Agora HD comes with an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, but still photos are default set to a maximum of 6-megapixels with a 16:9 aspect ratio in the camera application. You can change the aspect ratio to 4:3 to take a full 8-megapixel image.

Photos are about what you would expect from a phone at this price range, with most shots spoiled by excessive image noise. The Agora HD performs particularly poorly outdoors, especially in both bright and low light conditions, though it is capable of capturing decent macro shots. A 2-megapixel front-facing camera works well enough for video calls but predictably captures poor quality photos.

The camera application is slightly different to the stock Android one, and offers plenty of different camera modes. Among the highlights include HDR, smile shot, and multi-angle view modes, along with a face beauty mode that captures two images, one normal shot and another that attempts to smooth skin tones. For full HD video, the Agora HD offers a customisable time lapse setting, and features a range of live effects including big eyes, big nose, small mouth, and small eyes.

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

Perhaps the only downside to the Agora HD besides its lack of internal memory is battery life. While less frequent users should be able to achieve a full day of use before requiring a recharge, we struggled to push the 2000mAh battery through a full day, often having to reach for the charger after 14 hours.

The Kogan Agora HD quad-core smartphone is available to order now through Kogan's Web site. In addition to Australia, the Agora HD smartphone is also available in the US and the UK for US$189 and £149, respectively.

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mate

1

what a useless amount of memory

The old guy

2

Read this review on my new Agora. Battery is lasting two days per charge for me but otherwise review is 100% correct. Great phone for the price.

My phone

3

Frequent loss of signal when back to using my old HTC

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Rohan

4.0

1

Pros
Fast and responsive, with a clean and simple user interface. BIG screen. feels reasonable quality.
Cons
Nothing significant.. To be picky screen colours are not as vibrant as the big (and much more expensive) players. Standard ring tones a little wishy/washy. Competitor $60 Android phone I used recently had better ring tones. But for $199 who cares!
• • •

Took delivery of this phone today and so far very impressed; the phone feels quick, responsive, feels reasonable quality. Big screen is awesome.

I also own a Samsung S3 and find this phones both feels and behaves very similarly. When you put the two phones side by side the screen of the S3 interface is of course, more crisp, the colours have more depth to them and the Agora doesn't have swype text (that I can see). Otherwise this phone is amazing for what you get for the price, but regardless of the price is very simple and user friendly.

I like how the power button is in the same position as the Samsung Galaxy models and I like the fact the home button is flush rather than a push button (more durable over time?)

The print/text on this phone is crisp and professional looking too

I have recently used a small, basic Android $60 phone and found that one to be infuriating. This is a value packed phone but to me it gives a seriously close experience to the big players for a lot less money. No lag, and the touchscreen is light to the touch.

IMHO this phone would be good for both beginnners, (chosing this over various other Android phones with tiny screen for a few less dollars), to those who looking for a good all rounder for internet use, messaging and phone duties.

Verdict; highly recommeded. I'd use it over the iphone 5 I used to have (smaller screen, no standout features over the Kogan phone).. Enough said. :-)

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