On a random day, I strolled into the Microsoft Store to browse. No purchase in mind, just browse. Windows 10 for Phone Preview had just been announced and I was also in the market for a new laptop. I stumbled across the Yezz Billy 4.7, which sold for $179 unlocked. It was an excuse for me to jump back into trying Windows Phone. Here are my impressions of the cheap and cheery, unlocked device.
Hardware: At $179, the Yezz Billy is a good value. It ships with Windows 8.1, a 4.7″ 720p IPS LCD screen, Snapdragon 200 quad core chip at 1.2ghz, 1GB RAM, with 8MP rear and 2MP front cameras along with 2 SIM slots (only 1 being 3g capable). On paper, the device is solidly mid-range for a budget price. Sadly the Yezz Billy does not live up to the sum of its parts.
Build quality is solid, but firmly in budget category. The device ships with removable back in red, blue, and white. It even includes a screen protector and headphones in the box. In hand, the device is the lightest I have used in recent memory and is a claim to fame. I began fearing I would crack the device and opted not to store it in my usual back-pocket location.
Inside the device, the Snapdragon 200 chip falls at the low end of current offerings, slotting even below the $100 Lumia 635 which contains a Snapdragon 400 chipset. Performance was acceptable, but noticeably slowed by the chip. The devices proved unable to play 720p video from the mobile YouTube site, and 3rd party players. This ended up being pretty irksome and was a performance issue I ran into a lot. Other maladies of the device hardware included the built in sound chip which provided low quality sound and background noise when using anything other than the includes earbuds.
Camera performance on the device was also subpar. Both still shots and video lacked details and dynamic range. Typically I wouldn’t notice a lack of range, but frequently shadows made objects completely blacked out in a way I had not had to care about before. Front camera performance was slightly better, producing soft shots that were on par with other mid-range devices, such as my Nexus 5.
The screen on the device is a definite high point. Excellent viewing angles, color, and brightness. Excellent black levels as well. The screen punches above its weight class. Because the device is a slab, the screen masks the other imperfections. But the novelty of the excellent screen is lost after the first week, and every other aspect of the hardware was a sever compromise.
Software: The Yezz Billy ships with stock Windows 8.1. There is no carrier bloat, although the device does ship with Amazon Kindle and Evernote preinstalled.
Moving around the Windows Phone interface is as seem-less as ever. Due to memory management of the OS, it quickly became an issue the way the phone suspended and resumed background applications. Using the phone for navigation and toggling to Spotify to change tracks resulted in a multi-second delay to resume the music player. Certain Microsoft apps also had trouble functioning. The build in podcast client did not correctly scale the interface, instead producing very small tiles, out of place with the large print OS interface. The Yezz Billy also does not support any of the specific Lumia apps, such as Nokia Camera, and Mix Music.
There are still places Windows Phone is lacking, most major apps are available. It is more than a cheat though, as apps such as Twitter and Instagram are a couple version behind and lack timely updates available on other platforms. This is not a detractor however, as using Windows Phone is a choice that comes with understanding the ecosystem. No one should be surprised or disappointed with the app selection – its a point thats been made rote. Certain backend functionality is still missing in the OS however. Notifications cannot be acted on from the notification shade, as done in Android and IOS. The OS also lack fine control over Bluetooth, such as the ability to rename devices, or enable/disable bluetooth profiles on a device. The later prevented my from turning off calling to the bluetooth adepter in my car (which had no microphone).
Conclusion: The Yezz Billy looks like an excellent package when viewing the screen and handling its light build. It comes packaged with value adds, such as a screen protector, 3 interchangeable back plates, and headphones. Unfortunately, these few areas are outnumbered by the odd defects and performance issues of the device. Perhaps this comes with using a non-Lumia handset. The device seemed to have fully skipped quality testing and any form or tuning the OS installation for the device. Not recommended.