The Luna Phone, from developer Unihertz, is an updated version of their original Luna phone design. It features a unique set of LED light strips that add flair and function to the Android experience. Hosting a unique range of features and tech, Unihertz attempts to pack a lot of functions and features into the Luna Phone. Packed with 256 GB of memory, 8 GB of ram, and an ARMv8 CPU, the Luna attempts to find the middle ground between form and function.
Speaking of form, the Luna is a hefty phone. It comes with a 6.81-inch display with a 2400 x 1080 resolution. For reference, the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch display. Likewise, the Luna weighs in at 298g, an astounding 58g heavier than the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Needless to say, the Luna isn’t a phone you’ll easily forget is in your pocket. It’s the heaviest phone I’ve used to date and, honestly, is a bit cumbersome to carry around all day.
While it is a large phone, Unihertz has presented fresh takes on classic design elements. For starters, along with the standard power, volume up and volume down buttons which are located on the right side of the phone, the Luna also has two programmable buttons on the left side, allowing for some great customizing and shortcuts. This is a feature I’ve not experienced previously on an Android phone.
It ended up being a handy little extra that allowed me to map six different functions to the two buttons. This is achieved by linking a function to each button as a short and long press along with a hold option. It’s simple to set up and works great.
Along the top of the Luna are two features I see making a comeback over this past year; a 3.5mm headphone jack and an infrared port. Both offer an extra layer of connection for those who still like to sport wired headphones and rely on infrared for remote control of devices around the home.
The front camera (32MP), which traditionally rests center of the display, is tucked conveniently into the lift corner of the display. While this might seem like an odd choice initially, it’s a smart design for video calls. You can position your camera display to the left corner, making it easy to monitor your image while looking into the camera. This translates into video calls where you look more engaged, even if you’re checking to see if your lighting is good.
The phone’s rear side is where the Lunapulls out all the stops. While the traditional camera bump is in the upper left corner, the Luna also features a transparent back plate revealing a series of unique LED light strips. These lights come with a huge range of customization and can sync with music or video with the flip of a switch.
This is where the Luna shines, pun intended. Along with the stock Android 12 experience, the Luna also hosts a software suite dedicated to the LED lighting experience. Here you’ll see a range of options for customizing notifications, adjusting the lighting brightness and colour palette and managing how the LEDs interact with various apps and other phone features.
The software works well and is fairly easy to navigate. I will say that during testing, I did find it a pretty fun and unique experience to have so much customization and the ability to manage every aspect of the lighting experience.
On the white version (it also comes in black), an additional non-luminous adhesive strip allows the light from the LED strips to pass through it, essentially expanding the range the LED lights can travel. The result is a unique and fun light outline on the edges of the phone that reflects whatever the LED strips are projecting. This feature is unique to the white version of the phone as it seems to rely on the white backing to help pass light through the adhesive strip.
The rest of the back of the phone is uniquely designed as well. Unlike most phones that either have a light pattern or a solid colour, the Luna instead ops to leverage the transparent backing and has added some great design elements. Each section of the back of the phone has a nice etched-out area making each part feel distinct. It adds to the already unique look of the phone.
As mentioned, the Luna sports a 6.81-inch display with a 2400 x 1080 pixels resolution. This is in line with a lot of the flagship phones on the market today. While I couldn’t find the refresh rate specs on the Unihertz website, I found out via other tech sites that the screen is locked to 60Hz.
While it’s not noticeable in everyday apps, it does become apparent when gaming or watching higher-resolution videos on the Luna. It’s a bit disappointing, considering that while the Luna does support 1200×1080 resolutions, it doesn’t leverage those pixels. This translates into a less smooth gaming or video-watching experience.
It is also an LCD screen as opposed to OLED. While it is plenty bright (though as of the time of writing, I couldn’t track down an official nit count), viewing angles are a bit more limited than you would be used to on phones with OLED tech. The glass that covers the screen is comprised of Panda MN228 Glass, however, offering plenty of protection and an exceptionally transparent viewing experience.
For those that are used to traditional Gorilla glass, which is what most flagship phones in North America are comprised of, Panda glass uses a similar process for manufacturing but is less expensive to make. While the internet does debate which glass is better, my observation has been that the Panda glass on the Luna provides a scratch-resistant experience and offers excellent transparency. It is rated for high-impact resistance and, thus far, has done a great job at resisting the wear and tear I’ve exposed the Luna to.
The Luna also has a 5000mAh battery, which will get you through the day, even with the LED strip lit up like a Christmas tree. In my test, I ran the phone all day with my typical day’s use, with the LED lights on all the time, and still had around 40% left when I charged it in the evening. The only thing I noticed was that, despite using the included charger and cable, it wasn’t that fast in terms of charging time.
As for processing power and functionality, this is where the wheels start to fall off the cart a bit. While I do appreciate all the fun and functional features mentioned up to this point, these were offset but some lacklustre performance of the phone.
The ARMv8 chip boasts a single processor, 8-core setup. Geekbench scored the phone at 1322, which is lower than the 2-year-old Pixel 6. While it is definitely in the range of functional, Luna struggles from time to time to keep up with daily multitasking.
More than once in the week of my daily driver testing, I ended up having to either wait for over a minute for the phone to catch up to a Google assistant request I had asked or, on three occasions, had to restart the phone to get full functionality back. This was further exasperated by the constant issues with the included biometric unlock function that would hang or simply refuse to read any of the five fingerprints I added to the profile.
Face detection, while included, also struggled from time to time to read my face. It did seem to get a bit better after an OS update, but still, on occasion, it takes five to six seconds and an occasional tilt of the camera to get it to read.
The Luna also comes with Android 12 out of the box, which is odd considering Android 13 was released last October. While Android 12 works fine, starting a new phone experience with an outdated OS feels limiting. At the time of writing, Android 13 isn’t supported, which again feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.
This speaks to a broader issue with the Luna that should be addressed. While the present features work fine, the lack of features makes the phone feel dated out of the box. Along with the OS, the biggest culprit here is the lack of 5G support. While the Luna does support 2G up to 4G TDD-LTE, there is no 5G support for the Luna.
It’s unnecessarily limiting. I understand the desire to keep the phone affordable (hence the Panda glass instead of Gorilla glass), but cutting corners on connectivity on a device that relies on connectivity to be productive seems like an odd choice. Wi-fi suffers from the same issue with only supporting up to Wi-Fi v5. WiFi v6 has been available since 2019 and is considered standard today.
Interestingly Bluetooth is an exception here, with the Luna sporting Bluetooth 5.3. In testing, I had no issues connecting devices,v and the phone handled all my devices without trouble. Luna also includes USB OTG (on the go), making it easy to connect and access devices like USB drives from the phone with the right adaptor. Additionally, Luna also supports FM radio.
Yes, you did read that correctly. Leveraging the 3.5mm jack, you can kick it old school, use your corded headphones as an antenna, and tune into your favourite radio station, which is also streamed online. Once again, it feels like some fun features were included, which is great but at the cost of future-proofing.
The final area of note on the Luna is the aforementioned cameras. Luna sports a 108MP AI-driven triple-lens camera designed to capture everything you could need. It sounds great on paper, but it’s a bit disappointing in real life. For starters, it’s not the sharpest AI in the proverbial toolshed. Shots are often overexposed while in auto mode, autofocus struggles, and lighting is hit-and-miss.
While you can manually adjust every feature (which I appreciate) for those quick snap-and-go shots, you’ll be left a bit disappointed. Likewise, Portrait mode struggles to distinguish what part of the image should be focused or blurred, leaving you with undesirable results. Overall it feels like everything here is limited by the AI more so than the tech itself.
While functional, the included 20MP night vision camera also struggles with overcompensating in low light situations, which can lead to overexposure on night shots in some cases. While both cameras can produce good images, this only happens when you adjust the settings yourself.
The front 32MP camera likewise struggles to produce solid images easily. Portrait mode isn’t supported on the front camera at all. This seems like an odd choice considering that selfies are generally a spot you would want to leverage the feature. Additionally, the camera struggles with lighting a shot properly. This means you’ll need to be conscious of the lighting conditions when shooting.
Video recording likewise struggles to produce the quality we expect from modern phones. In my testing, everything recorded felt flat and rough. I couldn’t find any stabilization options for filming at all. Additionally, You’ll also be limited to 2K filming and for all my tinkering, I couldn’t find any settings to adjust FPS. From what I can deduce, as there are no official specs, the footage seems to be locked at 24 or 30FPS.
Overall the Luna is a phone that presents some unique and interesting features but fails to measure up in the areas it should, namely performance and photography. While I can appreciate the customization the Luna offers, it’s hard to look past its lack of function, especially when compared to other phones in its 400-dollar price range. While it is unique in its design, it’s hard to overlook its shortcomings.