The LeEco story is an interesting one. Recently changing the name from LeTV - because it does more than just TV - the "Eco" part of the name is nothing to do with being green, it's about ecosystem.

LeEco popped onto the radar of smartphone fans with the CES unveiling of the Le Max Pro, the launch device for Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 820 chipset, the first to appear with the hardware.

The LeEco Le Max Pro may have been joined to others - the LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7 for example - but this is still a fully-specced flagship handset, even if it's from a company you might not have heard of. 

LeEco doesn't consider itself to be a smartphone company. It is really a content company, hence the TV part of the previous name, with a huge streaming TV service in China. The Le Max Pro and other handsets are not really about selling smartphones either, they're about putting devices in people's hands so that they can consume LeEco's TV content.


That works for China where the company is well established, with something like 70 million daily users of its TV service, but LeEco now has its sights set on the US, and global expansion plans.

Devices like the Le Max Pro will certainly help as the quality of the build and design is top notch, although it bears more than a passing resemblance to Huawei's Mate 8, and that's no bad thing.

It has a huge 6.33-inch display, with a Quad HD resolution, which looks wonderfully crisp, but sports a special floating design. There's no rubber grommet around the edges, and this really is edge-to-edge glass, flowing over the sections above and below the display for a seamless finish. 

Around the back there's 21-megapixel camera, with optical image stabilisation and a sensor from Sony and a fingerprint scanner. It's not just a fingerprint scanner, it's the first device to feature Qualcomm's Sense ID, using an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, rather than the usual capacitive sensor.

That means the fingerprint scanner is harder to fool and works better when wet. As a Qualcomm spokesperson said of LeEco on the stand at Mobile World Congress: "these guys are hungry."

Aside from the Snapdragon 820, there's 4GB of RAM and a 3400mAh battery to keep things running. The phone is incredibly snappy and the off-display backlit capacitive navigation controls and lovely and responsive.


The Le Max Pro runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but with the company's EUI, or ecosystem user interface, customised for the Chinese market and integrating LeEco's TV content. That puts it a swipe away, ready for consumption.

One of the interesting things about that content is that there's both standard streaming (and it is worth noting that Le Vision Pictures is the LeEco's production company, behind films like Expendables 2), as well as live streaming content. Yes, it's Chinese in the form we saw it, but in the future, LeEco could be bringing you a smartphone where you can tap to go straight into live event or live sports streaming. Think of this as an Amazon Fire Phone, but a phone you'd actually want, and you're thinking along the right lines.

The march into the US begins in the next couple of weeks, taking LeEco on the road, showing off what it's doing, crowdsourcing feedback on its devices and making its move into new markets. 

LeEco is certainly ambitious and based on the hardware we've seen, we don't think this will be the last we hear of the company.