Visible Hot Pepper Ghost | $79 | Visible
You can’t receive a phone called the Hot Pepper Ghost and not attempt a covert scratch-and-sniff on the logo. I’m sorry, it’s just natural. I tried it on the surprisingly lavish box to no meaningful avail—you can still see the marks in the photo above—and I almost lost my smile because of it. BUT, I did find an attractive smartphone inside (scratching the Hot Pepper logo on this one is a no-go, too) that launches on Visible today for only $79 after a promotional $100 credit.
I was happy to see a screen protector preinstalled (though mine had the dreaded air bubble of DOOM™), and Hot Pepper even throws in a protective TPU case for added value—nothing great, but we don’t sneeze at free around these parts. Ultimately, however, the Hot Pepper Ghost is the star of this show, and here’s a quick rundown of what ticks its tock.
- Display: 6.0-inch HD+ TFT (1440 x 720)
- Chipset: MediaTek MTK6762 Octa-Core Chipset (ARM Cortex A53)
- Camera: 13MP rear (PDAF, LED Flash), 5MP front
- Memory: 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, microSD Slot
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, Dual-band WiFi AC, 4G LTE (Verizon), WiFi Calling
- Battery: 3,850mAh, USB-C Charging
- Extras: Fingerprint, Bottom-Firing Speaker, 3.5mm Headphone Jack, GPS
All of that is wrapped inside a Gorilla Glass-backed shell with an unassuming blue hue that shouldn’t offend anything in your wardrobe. It’s sleek and dapper to be sure, but it’s also slippery thanks to all that glass at work. (That’s what the case is for!) The 6-inch display size is also working against you in that regard if your hands are on the smaller side.
Speaking of the display, it caps out at HD+ (720p), which can feel a little stuffy if you’re used to 1080p or higher. Additionally, The TFT panel has excellent color accuracy, though it produces a blue tinge in problematic viewing angles. It’s not ideal if you like to keep a YouTube playlist or something running while it’s laying flat on your desk, but you can just snag one of these and call it a day.
In testing, MediaTek’s chipset proved wholly capable. An unblemished version of Android 9 runs very smoothly out of the box. With 4GB of RAM to help, I could launch and switch apps at speeds I’d consider above average, and memory management seemed well-balanced for multitasking.
Things change a bit once you’re inside the apps. I noticed micro stutters while scrolling at a moderate pace in apps that stream in lots of media assets dynamically, like the virtual meltdowns constantly propagating my Twitter feed. But it wasn’t so bad that it felt like watching a slideshow. Likewise, a round of Monopoly wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly playable. It holds up better with 2D titles and older 3D games, but I wouldn’t buy this thing with hopes of launching a PUBG Mobile career.
To its credit, MediaTek’s budget chips have great power efficiency, and combined with the massive lithium-ion cell and the display’s reduced pixel count to lighten the workload, it has impressive longevity. I spent the first day with the Hot Pepper Ghost restoring backups, installing more than 130 apps, getting my settings how I like, and frantically trying to remember my LastPass master key so I could actually log into said apps for testing. I then browsed a bit, caught up on a couple of hours of new videos from my YouTube subscriptions, and questioned my reason for existence as I flipped through another fruitless Tinder session before allowing Al Green’s Greatest Hits to cry me to sleep.
And yet, I woke up to a status bar touting 65% remaining. Hot Pepper advertises two whole days. What a time to be alive!
On paper, the Hot Pepper Ghost doesn’t exactly set fire to your taste buds, but remember, it’s only $79! It’s designed as an affordable entry point to Visible’s pain-free phone service, which features unlimited everything—including text, talk, data, and mobile hotspot—for one flat $40 fee, the first month being $25 for new subscribers. You can get started with selecting your plan after you add the phone to your cart.
If you’re not flying solo, you can put it on family plans starting at $35, $30, or $25 per month for two, three, or four lines, respectively. What’s cool about Visible’s family plan (besides the cascading discounts) is that everyone gets their own separate account, so there’s no messy Cashapp or Venmo payments to wrangle from those friends and family who always conveniently forget to pay their bill despite it being due the same day each month. (You know who you are!)