[Review] Neffos C5 Max - The Budget Buckaroo 1

[Review] Neffos C5 Max – The Budget Buckaroo

The sub RM1K phone market is as competitive it gets with vendors attempting to eke out every single last bit of efficiency out of their hardware or offering some unique twist to their phones by emphasising one feature or another. TP-LINK’s Neffos C5 Max is their first foray into the market and is a phone squarely aimed at those on a tight budget.

[Review] Neffos C5 Max - The Budget Buckaroo 2

Externally, the phone comes in your choice of either white or dark grey done up with a contemporary design that emphasises smooth rounded corners and a matte polycarbonate finish. Our test unit came in a shade of dark grey. The finish is primarily polycarbonate with the front consisting of the TP-LINK logo at the base of the phone, faux silver trim edging the 5.5-inch 1080P display and a small 5-MP selfie camera perched on the top of the phone.

[Review] Neffos C5 Max - The Budget Buckaroo 3

The base of the phone is otherwise unadorned save for a microUSB port for charging and docking duties. The right side comes with a faux metal volume rocker and power button while the left side lacks any defining buttonry or features.

[Review] Neffos C5 Max - The Budget Buckaroo 4

The rear of the phone is otherwise taken up by a removable backplate that protects the rear 13-MP camera that sports an F/2.0 aperture and an LED flash. Levering the backplate open revealed a somewhat pleasant surprise: dual dedicated SIM and microSD card slots. This effectively enables you to use two SIM cards along with additional storage though  the microSD card slot is only rated for up to 32GB cards. The built-in 3,045mAh battery is otherwise non-removable. As build quality goes, the C5 Max is adequate though it doesn’t quite stand out with a defining feature in its design.

[Review] Neffos C5 Max - The Budget Buckaroo 5

Performance & Camera
In terms of hardware, the phone runs a somewhat dated Android Lollipop 5.1 on a MediaTek MT6753 1.3Ghz octacore processor paired with 2GB RAM and 16GB of expandable storage with about 9.9GB of effective usable space. It’s not exactly a standout set of hardware but it’s par for the price tag.

Overlaying Lollipop is their own take on a user interface and like many phones of recent vintage offers a modicum of aesthetic customisation with the ability to tweak your phone theme somewhat and perform basic system management tasks like clearing your phone memory, managing permissions, activating the battery saver or conserving data usage. The phone also has its own unique browser alongside Google Chrome along with a basic photo editor and a rather quaint Mirror app that uses the front selfie camera as – you guessed it – a mirror. To its credit the UI is straightforward without hiding everything under deeply nested menus.

When put to the test with benchmarks, Geekbench yielded a single core score of 552 and a multicore score of 1954. 3D Mark’s Sling Shot Extreme gave a low score of 186 while Antutu gave a score of 36,997. When put to the test with Epic Citadel at 1,800 x 1080 resolution and ultra high quality settings, it snagged an average of 27.8FPS. This, along with its middling hardware set paints it as a markedly middle-of-the-road workhorse that is adequate for mainstream use though heavy gaming and extensive multitasking will tax its capabilities somewhat.

Navigating around the UI was a painless affair though it occasionally felt a bit on the slow side. The display itself on the other hand was crisp, bright and served up good colours and detail with decent viewability under direct sunlight. When subjected to several games like Asphalt 8 and Star Wars: Force Arena, it handed itself in a competent fashion though it had slightly longer loading times on average. Unfortunately, you’ll have to ramp up the phone’s mono speaker to maximum as it isn’t particularly loud, made more so by its placement on the rear such that sound is fired ‘away’ rather than at you; a side mounted or ideally a front mounted speaker would have been a reasonable compromise in this case.

[Review] Neffos C5 Max - The Budget Buckaroo 16

The rear 13-MP camera is serviceable under good lighting conditions. Indoors or in more challenging low light scenarios, the autofocus seemed off at times and firing it up was a ponderous affair. Indoor and low light shows are underwhelming with lackluster colours and quite a bit of noise. Shots are adequate for social media use and the rear camera is also capable of 1080P video.

Battery life on the C5 Max was decent, lasting the better part of a day with a standard usage profile that consisted of data usage all day long, social media use in spurts through the day, some e-mail and calls as well as some usage of the rear camera. It was in need of a serious top-up come late evening; carrying along a power bank would be a prudent choice with the phone.

[Review] Neffos C5 Max - The Budget Buckaroo 25

As it stands, the C5 Max  is a mediocre performer across the board. While it doesn’t have any glaring flaws, neither does it excel in any particular area. It’s a competent debut for TP-LINK but the design decisions made towards its creation veer towards the safe and conservative which makes it struggle to stand out in its price category.

[Review] Neffos C5 Max - The Budget Buckaroo 26


WHAT WE LIKED Decent screen, sturdy build quality, dedicated dual SIM and microSD card slot
WHAT WE DIDN’T Poor speakers, underwhelming camera
WHAT WE SAY The Neffos C5 Max is adequate if you’re on a tight budget though there’s a slew of choices in its price range. Wait for their higher end X1 Max.

Neffos C5 Max
Price RM699
Display 5.5-inch IPS LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 403ppi
Processor MediaTek MT6753 1.3GHz octacore
Memory 2GB RAM/ 16GB + microSD card
OS Android 5.1
Camera 13-MP autofocus + LED flash (rear) / 5-MP front
Battery 3,045mAh
Size/Weight 152 x 76 x 8.95mm / 161g
*Review unit courtesy of TP-LINK Malaysia

Neffos C5 Max
  • Design
  • Value
  • Performance
  • Display
  • Battery Life
  • Camera


The Neffos C5 Max is adequate if you’re on a tight budget though there’s a slew of choices in its price range. Wait for their higher end X1 Max.