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Yet another Android review: Kphone K5 Unlocked
#1
Time for another review of an off-brand Android device. Today, it's the Kphone K5, sold in the USA through the QVC TV network and on their website. It also received an on air presentation, which for QVC is a bit surprising as they tend to stick to name brand electronics, at least on air. HSN is the one that [strike]shills[/strike] sells off brand electronics. Tongue
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHyybGxYZLI[/youtube]

Unlocked phones are still a foreign concept in the USA thanks to the contract business model that has been the status quo since cellphones became standard. But stores are starting to advertise unlocked phones that you can use with GSM based carriers, and there are now "bring your own phone" kits from prepaid wireless firms like Tracfone.

The Kphone K5 is a dual-sim unlocked smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core CPU with Adreno 306 GPU, 2GB RAM and 16GB of storage. There is no expandable storage option available. The screen is a high quality IPS 1280x720 display with very sharp clarity and good colors. There is a 13mp rear camera and 5mp front camera. Android is a customized Lollipop 5.1.

Kphone really wanted to emulate the iPhone as much as legally possible, and perhaps even pushing that boundary as well. The UI of the Android build has been thorougly customized to mimic the look of iOS as much as possible, right down to the "hold the screen until the icons jiggle" way of moving or removing apps. The settings menu also seems to be watered down at first, but a quick right swipe will reveal a standard Android settings menu. You can also enable developer options by hitting the build number seven times, and through this, you can unlock the bootloader and enable USB debugging among other things. Because of this, there is no dedicated app drawer for the home screen like every other Android device.

The OS performs rather well, and is quite responsive. The included apps load quickly and installing more apps from Google Play was a breeze. The Antutu Benchmark score is 26151, with 3D coming in at 296. By comparison, Poppy (Alcatel Pixi) gets a lower 12603 with no 3D score due to being "unsupported". Pumpkin (RCA 11' tablet) gets a 18472 and no 3D score again due to being "unsupported". Maybe later if I have the time I will test out additional benchmark apps.

There really isn't much in the way of bloatware on the Kphone aside from the standard Google apps. It's basic stuff like a clock, notepad, calculator, etc. There is an FM tuner chip, which is the primary reason why I got the Kphone. FM reception is rather good, but for weaker signals, it's best to be outdoors. It can record FM broadcasts as much as space allows and they are encoded in MPEG-4 AAC using the .aac container. I have to change the container to M4A to get them to play in Winamp. In comparison, a typical Chinese MP4 player records to MP3 or WAV, and Poppy records FM broadcasts in Ogg Vorbis.

Hardware wise, the build quality is rather stunning for an unlocked Chinese Android. QVC and the manufacturer claim that the screen is Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Judging by the weight of the phone, I'd say they may be right. The iPhone-esque design continues to the phones casing, consisting of a piano black rear with the Kphone logo and the all glass front display. Stereo speakers adorn the bottom along with the Micro USB port. The only buttons are the power and volume keys. There is a SIM slot on the right that holds two cards, and a small metal key is included to open this slot should you want a SIM or two.

One thing I can't test at the moment is phone functionality. I don't have SIM cards at the moment, and Poppy serves my needs well as my prepaid phone. There is another reason... a suspicous APK preinstalled on the device is flagged as malware by a few mobile AntiVirus apps, such as Malwarebytes. Those apps classify the APK as a member of the "SmsSend" trojan family. I pulled the APK and analyzed it the best I could, but I notified QVC of the potential issue and sent off a sample to Malwarebytes. I'm still waiting to hear from them, but it might be a few days.

It would be a shame if that APK is indeed a trojan. QVC promoted this on air a few weeks ago at a special price, so no doubt people bought it. It led me to buy it too with their ValuePay. Unlike HSN, QVC was far more honest in the devices presentation. The camera is excellent, and the performance is excellent. If that APK is indeed a trojan, the best course of action would be to issue a firmware update that removes the offending APK, or at worst, a recall of the phone. That would upset a lot of people. Me, I would have to unlock the phone and delete the APK myself since antivirus tools can't remove it. I'm waiting to see the outcome of the email requests.
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#2
Seems like a 'swell Qualcomm-powered device, if not for the trojan that slipped through unnoticed.
[Image: huckleberrypie.smart.jpg]
[Image: sue8hj-6.png]
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#3
huckleberrypie Wrote:Seems like a 'swell Qualcomm-powered device, if not for the trojan that slipped through unnoticed.
I'm still waiting to hear from the Malwarebytes team on their analysis. It's too early to tell if it's a false positive or an actual trojan, at least for me. I wish I could read Java code...

Screenshots of the OS. I already changed the wallpaper and home screens by then...
[Image: Oscar_Home01.jpg]
[Image: Oscar_Home03.jpg]
[Image: Oscar_SimpleSettings.jpg]
[Image: Oscar_RadioUI.jpg]

I also forgot to add things about media playback, but since it's a quad core CPU, it should handle HD video just fine. Wink
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#4
Well, most antiviruses flag it as malicious, Avast included, so it's certainly a red flag.
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#5
huckleberrypie Wrote:Well, most antiviruses flag it as malicious, Avast included, so it's certainly a red flag.
Well, for me, only Malwarebytes, Avast, AVG, and 360 Antivirus flagged it. ESET, Avira, F-Secure, and Trend Micro failed to flag it, so I guess it's half and half overall. All had up to date virus databases.
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#6
Well, some good news this early Sunday morning.

I haven't got the Malwarebyte's support reply yet, but I went ahead and re-scanned the Kphone. Here is the new result:
[Image: MB_UpdatedScanResult.jpg]

After sending the file in question via email, they changed the classification from Malware to PUP.Riskware. PUPs are potentially unwanted programs, while Riskware is defined by Kaspersky Lab as legitimate programs that can cause damage if they are exploited by malicious users – in order to delete, block, modify, or copy data, and disrupt the performance of computers or networks.

So the risk is somewhat reduced. This APK still has no place on a newly opened Android phone. I'm interested in what Malwarebytes found out about how the APK functions, and perhaps their support staff will get in touch with me on Monday. If not, I will send them off an email noting the change in classification. From there, I will determine next steps of action.
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#7
An overdue update on the situation. I emailed Malwarebytes about what I believe should be done next after the reclassification. The guy stated that the best method would be to email the company or the seller and perhaps find more customers who bought the phone. I am going to work on a response shortly, and contact Kphone themselves with my findings. I also plan on asking him if the PUP provides any risk if the phone is connected to a GSM network.

I also did send a email to Kphone support email as well. I asked them if the file in the specified directory is a PUP or a benign false positive.
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#8
Again I am still hoping that something good would come out of this. Of course the consensus on what appears to be a PUP would be to proceed with caution.
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#9
[Image: Kphone_SupportResponse_edited.jpg]
Well, I actually got a response from Kphone's online support system. In the above screencap is my original message followed by the response. I was detailed in my description and also included the path to the APK in question.

According to Kphone, the file is apparently used in international markets and not in the states, and that it's a false positive.

It's very encouraging that I got a response from Kphone, as it shows they are rather good at customer support when it comes to their online help desk site. Hopefully they are right and that the APK is nothing to worry about in the long run.
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#10
I'd take their response with a grain of salt though. If it does have a mother lode of unnecessary permissions like sending messages and whatnot, avoid it like the plague. What if we send the offending APK to XDA for a second opinion? Customer support reps aren't necessarily reliable and would merely recite a spiel they're trained to use from what I gather.
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