A review on Pipo Smart-S2 (aka Pipo S2)

A review on Pipo Smart-S2 (Pipo S2) (Pipo Max-S2 on its back cover)

Update (April 2, 2013): Battery problem (charging stops at 99% and drains very fast) occurs when battery level reaches around 10% or below before charging the unit. So I think it would be much better to charge Pipo S2 before its battery level reaches 15%.

Another thing is about the external SD Storage. The moment I unmount  my External SD Storage, all apps installed in internal NAND storage are also not usable. It seems that my NAND storage was also unmounted, even though its not. So, I have to reboot my Pipo tablet so that all applications installed in my internal NAND storage is loaded again. Better, turn off your Pipo S2 before removing your SD Card rather than unmounting it in settings.

PS: these issues are my observations only on my Pipo S2, I’m not sure if its applicable on all Pipo S2 tablets.

*****End Update *****

(Full Pipo S2 Specs on the bottom)

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

I’ve been hunting for a “cheap” tablet on the market that is capable in handling my daily needs (browsing the net, facebook, reading and sending emails, gaming, and of course reading e-books, reviewing PowerPoint presentations, reading and editing documents and spreadsheets — wew, ok I’ll stop here  😆 ) ..

Wait, why “cheap” tablet?

Technology changes so fast. What is new today, is quite old next month, or even ancient next year 🙂 .. So to avoid spending so much on gadgets (I’m poor), I have decided to try the cheap ones, since as soon as this cheap gadget dies, well, I can buy a new one with much higher specs than my first cheap gadget, rather than having an expensive one that stays with me for 5 years and watching its hardware and software becoming antiques 😆

My first choice was the Cherry Mobile Fusion Ice I found in Lazada Philippines, a 7 inch tablet with a very unique shape  😕 its almost square! and well, I like it  😉 .. Unfortunately it doesn’t have Bluetooth, and that’s one of my requirement in a tablet. So after days of research, I stumbled upon a tablet that I’ve never heard of, but with excellent hardware + software! The Pipo Tablets. There are lots of different models of Pipo Tablets, for 7 inch they have Pipo S1 & S3. For 8 inch they have the Pipo S2, and Pipo M5, for 9.7 inch the Pipo M1 and many more, they even have 10.1 inch tablets. Well to make this story short, I end up choosing Pipo S2, an 8 inch dual core tablet which theoretically has everything that I need in a tab (it doesn’t have a SIM slot, so no built-in 3G connectivity).

I have received my Pipo S2 last February 23, 2013 and today as of this writing, is March 21 27, 2013. So this is a review of Pipo Smart-S2 after a month of use.

Please note that my Pipo S2 is NOT rooted, and uses a stock firmware (until now).

Appearance

Pipo S2 is thick! yes, its thicker than the other tablets. Back cover is made up of plastic, which is OK for me. And having all of its ports on the right side, including the power button.

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

 

 

On top of the Pipo S2 Tablet are the volume buttons, menu and back button.

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

 

 

Pipo S2 front camera is badly located at the edge of the right-side-corner of the tablet. Grrr.. why did they put it there! Its just not practical! when you have a portrait only application, your front camera is in the bottom! And when your video calling, you need to align yourself on the side of your tablet to be seen. And if your using “Face Unlock”, it would be difficult to align your face on the camera 🙁 …

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

 

 

The speaker of Pipo S2 is located on the back, which I don’t like also. It would be better if its on the front.

 

Camera

Pipo S2 has 2 Megapixel back camera and a 0.3 megapixel front camera. If you’ll ask about its quality, they are awful  😈 But it doesn’t really matter for me since I am more comfortable in using my phone (my old Samsung Galaxy Ace) in taking pictures or I would rather use my digital camera.

 

Sound

Sound quality and loudness of Pipo S2 is OK, as I have said above, it would have been better if the speaker is in front for better sound clarity. I tried using my Philips In-ear headphone and well, the sound quality is awesome, it sounded even better than my Samsung Galaxy Ace!

 

Wi-fi

In terms of Wi-fi connectivity, Pipo S2 is above average. It can pick up distant wi-fi hot spot. I didn’t encounter much problem about it. Except when the SSID of the AP (access point) is hidden/not broadcasting, Pipo S2 connects but you should wait a little loooongeeerrr (that is why I changed my AP’s SSID from hidden to broadcasting). Another instance that I experience a problem is when I was in a very weak wi-fi signal where in the tablet prevent itself from connecting due to poor signal (Cherry Mobile Flare and Rave established a connection during this time, my Galaxy Ace failed to connect too).

Performance

Pipo S2 is packed with dual-core 1.6 GHz (Cortex A9) processor and Mali 400 Quad-core GPU (Rockchip RK3066). In short  😎 , this Pipo S2 is capable in handling graphic intensive games (3D games) and would open applications without a sweat!

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

 

 

I have tried the game Dead Trigger in my Pipo S2 and its flawless, Real Racing 3 (a very huge and graphic intensive game — its more than 1 GB in size! wew) and its working fine with a little bit of lag (didn’t experience annoying lags during races though). Well in summary, these are the different games I have installed and they all work flawlessly in Pipo S2: Beach Buggy, Battle for Rebirth, Fruit Ninja, Fruit Slice, Jetpack Joyride, Temple Run 2, Raging Thunder, Hill Climb Racing, Angry Gran Run, Arcane Legends, Candy Crush, Angry Birds – Star Wars, Lane Splitter, CrashFighter2 and Death Moto. For Office Application, I am using Kingsoft Office and it works perfect.

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

 

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

 

Although Pipo S2 performs very well in opening application, performing multiple tasks (watching video while browsing the net, thanks to its floating video), playing games, etc, I have noticed an occasional freeze when I am in Settings, specifically in “Apps” (also when browsing using Google Chrome with around 7+ tabs opened, I know its too much 😈 ). Sometimes I perform forced reboot (by pressing and holding the power button until the tablet reboots) in these occasions. I think the problem is with its slow read and write speed in its internal storage. But anyways, that is very seldom, most of the time, if it hangs-up, I just leave it be and after few seconds or minutes its back to normal and everything is smooth again.

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

Battery Life

It has a 5000 mah battery which in theory would last at around 6-7 hours of use. In my experience, the Pipo S2 battery life is OK, not perfect, not awesome, just OK :). If your playing a graphic and cpu intensive game I think it would only last for around 3-4 hours. With occasional browsing and watching videos in YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, reading e-books (moderate use) it would last for a day.(I’m charging mine every night). Charging time is around 4-5 hours.

At first charge, my tablet reaches 100% at around 6 hours. On my second charge, I was shocked since, it won’t charge up to 100% after around 9 hours of charging. So I thought it was defective. So I read some info bout Pipo tablets problems, and wow, so many complaints about Pipo’s battery. Although there are lots of people saying that the solution is to root the device and perform battery calibration, I have never done that. Since in my opinion, battery calibration by erasing a certain file doesn’t make any sense. (I know rooting will give you freedom with your device, but I think I don’t need that yet). Ok, so what I did is let it charge up to 5-6 hours, if it doesn’t reach up to 100% I simply remove it on the charger.

In the event where the battery stays at 99% during charging, as soon as I use it, battery level will suddenly go down in just minutes. (Example from 99%, down to 60% in just around 5 minutes of use.) During this time, I simply put back my tablet on its charger and let it charge again up to 99% (well, as I have said, it won’t go beyond 99%).

By the way, I have installed “Battery Mix” and “Better Battery Stats” to monitor my battery from charging to discharging. Those bad experiences in battery charging and sudden discharge, simply disappears after around 3-4 charging cycles. It only happened again when I accidentally discharged fully my tablet, but fortunately the next day, charging was back to normal.

I would suggest having “Battery Full Alarm” app to make sure not to overcharge your battery. Just remember not to discharge your battery completely and never overcharge it. (to calibrate your battery, discharge it once a month ***Note: use it until your tablet turns off, do not completely discharge your battery by turning it on after battery low shutdown).

So to continue, as of this writing, my Pipo S2 is running for 20 hours on battery with 36% remaining battery.

Pipo S2

Pipo S2

In summary

What I like about Pipo S2

  • First, its price, for Php 6,200.00 (I bought my Pipo S2 in Cellpower Sales, I’ve asked my brother to buy it in their physical store, you can also find them in sulit.com.ph or multiply.com) this is really a “bang for the buck” tablet, a tablet with a performance more than its expensive competitors!
  • Next is, Pipo S2 has a standard size USB port, yep its not mini nor micro. In short, you can directly plugged-in a USB flash drive, mouse, keyboard and broadband dongle in Pipo S2 without using  an OTG USB cable. I tried them all and well, they all work! (Please note that not all broadband stick will work on this tablet, but my old smart and globe broadband stick works!).
  • Another is its 8 inch 5-point capacitive touch screen. I know IPS is much better, but Pipo S2 (although not IPS) still delivers an awesome quality in terms of image and video appearance. Its size is perfect for reading, its not very small so reading ebooks, browsing websites, etc. is simply perfect. Its not that big like 9.7 or 10.1 inch tablets so carrying is not a problem too.
  • A powerful GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), Pipo S2 is packed with Mali 400 GPU, thanks to its RK3066 series SoC. There are lots of “cheap” tablet out there with a very weak GPU. Since many people tend to look only on the CPU speed without considering its GPU. Having a fast CPU (Quad-core) tablet but with a very weak GPU will still make your gaming experience a bit sad. If you are with gaming, then this Quad Core Mali 400 GPU is OK!
  • Another is Storage: it has a 16GB Internal storage capacity, 1 GB for its system partition –acts as its internal storage (although I hate this 1GB system partition — why only 1GB, 2GB is much better, but anyways smaller system partition means faster start-up time), and around 13GB usable which acts as SD card storage – and that’s not all, its storage is expandable up to 32GB using MicroSD card, I tried my 2GB MicroSD card and it works well. Lastly, its Android Jellybean (4.1.1) OS, although its not the latest (4.2) but still this is far more better that those ICS tablets on the market.

 

What I don’t like about Pipo S2

  • Thickness – again its thick (13mm) 😥 !
  • Next is the location of its front camera and speaker
  • The Slow read/write speed in Internal Storage (based on my benchmark –maybe its not accurate)
  • No temperature gauge, you will never know how hot its internal components gets when your playing games. (By the way, tablet produces a lot of heat when playing graphic intensive games like Real Racing 3).
  • And lastly, its charger (not USB), and you can’t charge it via USB.

 

In general, although there are things that I don’t like with this tablet, it is still the best “bang for the buck” tablet that I can find. It is not an imitation, and has a powerful hardware inside combined with android 4.1.1 (jellybean). It can perform all my daily tasks without problems. And so far, after almost a month of use, and after almost a month of install and uninstall of different applications (I have a total of 83 downloaded and installed apps), my Stock Pipo Smart-S2 or commonly known as Pipo S2 stays strong and fast.

Well I recommend it? Yep! perfect for those who don’t like huge tablets. And of course for those people who don’t want to spend much on gadgets like this. (like me — I can’t afford the expensive one 🙂 )

Full Pipo S2 Specs

  • Model: PIPO S2 Dual Core Tablet PC
  • CPU: Rockchip RK3066, Dual-core Cortex-A9 processor (ARMv7 architecture) clocked up to 1.6 GHz
  • GPU (Graphics Processing Unit): Quad core Mali 400, clocked at 250 MHz
  • VPU: (Video Processing Unit): Multi-Media Processor supporting 1080p image and video decoding
  • Operating System: Android 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • RAM: 1GB (DDR 3)
  • Internal Storage: 16GB NAND Flash (divided into 2, 1GB internal storage, 13 GB usable as NAND Flash (acts as SD Storage)
  • Shell Material: Plastic
  • Screen Size: 8 inch
  • Screen Type: LED Capacitive Screen (NOT IPS)
  • Screen Resolution: 1024 x 768px (4:3)
  • Multi-touch: Yes, 5 point-touch
  • External SD Card Support: Yes, up to 32 GB
  • Camera: Dual camera, front is 0.3 megapixel, back is 2.0 megapixel
  • Gravity sensor: Yes
  • Flash Player: Yes, pre-installed
  • Android Market: Yes, pre-installed
  • Bluetooth: Yes Bluetooth v2.0
  • Video: up to 1080P, with pre-installed floating video player
  • Music: MP3/WMA/WAV.APE/AAC …, stock music player and google music pre installed
  • Mic: Yes
  • HDMI out: Yes, mini-HDMI
  • Ebook Reader: Yes, pre-installed
  • Email and Browser: Gmail, stock browser and Google Chrome pre-installed
  • Wi-Fi: Yes, 802.11 b/g/n
  • 3G: Not built-in, supports external USB 3G dongle (E1916, ZTE AC2736, HUAWEI E1750, HUAWEI EC122, HUAWEI EM770W)
  • Earphone/Headphone jack: 3.5mm
  • Work time: up to 7 hours
  • Battery: 5000MAh, 3.7v
  • Size/Dimension: 263.5 x 160 x 13mm
  • Weight: 486g
  • Card slot: Yes, MicroSD
  • USB Port: 1 micro USB Port and 1 USB Port (standard size)

 

Please note that my Pipo S2 is NOT rooted, and uses a stock firmware (until now).


  • bong

    hi thanks for the nice review,i bought a pipo s2 2 weeks ago,it was fine until last week when it wont charge to 100% only 99% even after 8 hrs of charging.then when i unplug the charger,it quickly drains to 50%,then 15% after only about one hour of very light usage (reading pdf files with wifi off and screen brightness to the lowest setting).i already tried rooting it and calibrating the battery as per instruction on a handful of forums,but it did not work.should i upgrade the fimware? what dya think?
    thanks and more power

  • jtech07

    although most people would recommend in updating the firmware, rooting, reseting etc., I haven't used any of that in solving my problem, I have encountered that too, but I simply leave it be, I charge it again when the battery percentage suddenly drops. remove it when it reach 99%. Charge it at a maximum of 6 hours (when bat level is below 20%), even it won't show 100%. Just don't overcharge or completely discharge your tablet and charge it in cool environment, mine has stabilized after few charge cycles.

  • ninaxr

    Does anyone have any more information on the battery drain issue? Did anyone else manage to get it fixed without rooting, just by charging it over and over?
    Thanks

  • ninaxr

    Does anyone have any more information on the battery drain issue? Did anyone else manage to get it fixed without rooting, just by charging it over and over?

  • nhel

    i guess this is the answer to all of our problem, as a default pipo s2 cpu has been clocked at 1600 ghz of interactive governor and we all know that governor eats a lot of battery , so what i do i root my pipo s2 and download cpu setters, like no-frills, set cpu or rom toolbox , i set my cpu to 800-200 mhz with a governor of ondemand , now my battery lasts 10+ hrs straight of browsing and watching movie with a wifi on and brightness set to 1/3 i hope i would help you.

  • Jon

    Hi,

    Just bought Pipo Smart S2 here in Cebu Philippines. First unit, it always hanged-up and freezes when the body becomes hot upon usage, that is why the seller replaced the unit with a new one. But the replacement unit also has a problem; It wont easily turn on after a long period of standby having the screen off. I need to press the power button first for about 15 seconds just to turn it on. I already tried upgrading the firmware to newer version downloadable in http://www.pipo.cn but still the problem is the same. Is this a hardware problem already? How to fix this?

  • Jon

    Hi,

    Just bought Pipo Smart S2 here in Cebu Philippines. First unit, it always hanged-up and freezes when the body becomes hot upon usage, that is why the seller replaced the unit with a new one. But the replacement unit also has a problem; It wont easily turn on after a long period of standby having the screen off. I need to press the power button first for about 15 seconds just to turn it on. I already tried upgrading the firmware to newer version downloadable in http://www.pipo.cn but still the problem is the same. Is this a hardware problem already? How to fix this?

  • RCCK

    Hi there, this is a wonderful review on the S2. I'm getting an S2 after having M1, M3, U1, S1 (returned, resolution is too low). I'd like to comment that the SD card issue (non-working games after external SD card is unmounted) exists on my M3 (stock ROM). However, my M1 does not have this problem (custom ROM). http://www.rockchipfirmware.com has a lot of custom ROMs for Rockchip-based tablets by Roman who's worked on a lot of the ROMs.

    The sluggish access on Internal Storage appears to be a common issue across all my PiPo tablets, perhaps due to the large number of apps (games). I usually notice the sluggish performance after the unit boots up – games are not available. A minute later, all is good.

    Cheers!
    –RC

  • BARBEI

    i bought pipo s2 at cavite , i am at cebu now . im so disappointed with this bcuz less than a
    month im having prorbs with the unit . when i turn on the unit it keeps on processing then off.
    You have a branch/affiliate here at cebu located at E-mall (game core/game console) the prob wa it leave my unit there its almost 2 months but my unit still there , is this wat u call customer satisfaction.

  • Your blog is amazing. I wish to visit again on your blog, Thanks for sharing.