Gionee A1 Plus

Dual camera on smartphones is one of the most common trend we've seen in 2017. Whether its from Chinese brands like Xiaomi, OnePlus, Oppo or old guns like Apple and Samsung. However, this setup may vary in terms of rear and front camera. There is also a sufficient increase in the demand of big battery phones as mobile phones are not just used for calling these days but are full-fledged media devices. To fill in the spot with a big battery and dual camera setup, Gionee launched the A1 Plus in the market. It is the successor to the Gionee A1 which was launched early in 2017 targeting selfie obsessed consumers.

Priced at Rs 26,999, the Gionee A1 Plus is a phablet, big in size and bigger in the battery department. The smartphone has a true competitor in the form of Xiaomi Mi Max 2, which is already owned by 3 million users. TechRadar India reviewed the Black variant of the phone and here’s what we found after two months of usage.

Design

The phone has a slightly curved design with fine antenna lines at the back. It also holds the dual camera setup accompanied by the LED flash placed next to it. The company logo can be found just below the rear camera.

The Gionee A1 Plus is a big phone. Believe me when I say this, it's huge. It boasts of a 6-inch full HD display protected by 2.5D curved glass on the front with a metal back. The back has a smooth matte finish making the phone slippery in hand, so it's wise to use it with a case. The phone is quiet bulky at 226g, which  I found was difficult to use especially while calling, as I had to keep on switching it between my hands for holding it on long calls. The rounded edges give a smooth finish to the phone which also helps in gripping it tightly but one handed usage is not a thing here.

The front camera sits next to the earpiece and has a LED flash as well. The home button houses the fingerprint sensor with the navigation keys on sides of the button. The navigation keys are not backlit which makes them difficult to operate in darkness. 

On the bottom lies a USB 2.0 charging port that is placed between the two grills, one is for the loudspeaker and other is for primary microphone. Surprisingly, the company hasn’t used Type-C port which is usually found in the smartphones at this price range. but it has a 3.5mm audio jack which sits at the top.

 

Display

The 6-inch full HD display is something that catches the eyes right away as you look at it. Such gigantic IPS display offers great video watching and multimedia experience to the users. If you love watching videos on your phone then this phone is made for you. However, the thick bezels on either side of the display look a bit outdated but these can be ignored if you desire to enjoy your favorite movie holding a bright widescreen in your hand.

The screen will also add on to your gaming experience. Because of the size, it becomes easier to hold the phone and hover it easily especially if you are playing games like Asphalt 8. I personally enjoyed playing and watching videos on this phone. The colours were good and vibrant and I was able to operate the phone smoothly while staying indoors. I also decided to test the display outdoors in bright sunlight and found that it was difficult to operate the phone and the screen was hardly visible even after maxing out the brightness of the phone. I expected the screen to be brighter and readable rather than reflective but sadly, that's not how I expected.

Overall, the display of the phone is good for gaming and consuming multimedia content on it but that's majorly because of it's size.

Hardware

The phone comes with an inbuilt storage capacity of 64GB which can be further expanded up to 256GB at the cost of secondary SIM card. Since the phone has a hybrid card slot so either you can use it to increase the memory or place secondary SIM in it.

A MediaTek MT6757T Helio P25 quad-core processor powers the phone. The cores are clocked at 2.5GHz Cortex A53 and 1.4GHz Cortex A53 respectively in a stack of four. The 4GB RAM ensures faster and smoother functioning of the phone which works in tandem with the processor. The graphics are managed by Mali-T880MP2 GPU.

For testing the phone, I played Asphalt 8 for about an hour. It was smooth and lag-free experience when but we noticed minimal slowdown in some cases but it was very rare. Also, I didn’t find any issue while switching between the apps as well. Also, there was no sign of the phone getting warm during my usage of the phone which includes calling, messaging, watching videos among other basic uses. However, the phone does heat up slightly after 8 to 10 minutes of continuous gaming. The fingerprint scanner also struggles to identify the fingerprint sometimes. We also put the smartphone up on GeekBench where the single core secured 845 and the multi-core got 3951.

Software

The phone has its own App store called the 'G store' that provides a wide range of app categories similar to that offered by Google Play Store. You can also give your feedback about your experience with the phone through the User Center. Services like Mobile Anti-theft, G-Care and AmiClone are also provided through this app.

The Gionee A1 Plus runs on Android 7.0 Nougat along with Amigo 4.0 UI on the top. The UI is a bit confusing as the settings and other shortcuts are placed in a slider that comes out when we swipe up from the bottom of the screen similar to iOS. It took me sometime to figure it out, as I am in a habit of viewing the app shortcuts along with the notifications in the drop down window at the top.

Coming to the apps and features, the phone comes preloaded with apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Saavn, TouchPal, Truecaller and Xender. It also has a bunch of preloaded games in it. Apps like Theme Park and Mood Wallpaper offers a variety of wallpapers and themes which the user can download for free.

There is also a Child Mode which allows the users to restrict the access of the apps which they do not want their child to use. They can choose the apps and can adjust the time period till up to when they want the restriction to turn on. Through this, they can keep an eye on the stuff that their child is watching and can also keep their important files safe. It also has Peel Remote through which the user can control its home appliances like TV, AC, home theatre system etc. Just like Xiaomi’s IR blaster based Mi Remote.

During the first month of my usage, the UI felt smooth and was doing a fine job in day to day. But it started showing minor lags and hiccups when I loaded it up with good number of apps and data. Also, if you like simplified ANdroid experience like Moto phones, then this isn't the best UI for you but it does offer a lot of features that are actually useful.

Camera

Gionee launched the A1 Plus with dual cameras on the rear. It comes with a 13-megapixel primary camera with 5-megapixel secondary monochrome lens. While the primary camera takes care of the RGB colour spectrum the other lens creates a depth of field while capturing a photograph.

In the camera interface, you will find different modes like video, face beauty, photo, portrait and professional. Portrait mode creates a bokeh effect while clicking the photograph. Users can also adjust the density of the effect in real time using the scroller.  With the professional mode, you can tweak individual camera settings like the ISO, white balance, shutter speed of the photograph just like any DSLR camera. I clicked the photographs using all the settings and effects and this is what I found.

The camera worked well, capturing the all the details under normal lighting conditions. But, the autofocus failed to impress me as I had to tap the screen every time to select the area that is needed to be kept in focus. The performance was good in artificial light as well but it went below average in low lighting conditions. The images appeared more grainy thus losing the details of the object. However, the flash managed to balance it.

The 20-megapixel front shutter delivered good selfies in normal and artificial lighting conditions. The selfies captured in low light were also satisfactory, thanks to the LED flash that is present on the front to balance the light. Some of you will also like the Face Beauty mode which comes with face enhancements like smoother, whitening, slimming and eye enlarger.

Apart from these, the camera offers filters and a bunch of other modes like night, panorama, time-lapse, smart scene, GIF, PicNote, Text recognition, slow motion, mood photo, card scanner, smart scan and translation.

Overall, the camera performance was average in case of dual rear cameras. However, the front camera succeeded in clicking some good pictures.

Below are some of the camera samples.

Audio

The phone has got an impressive audio quality. It has two built-in speakers and the WAVES Maxx Audio feature that enhances the quality of the audio when you are watching or listening music. You can set the WAVES Maxx audio feature by tapping on the blue icon on the screen while watching videos and listening to music on your phone. Speakers also enhance the overall gaming experience as well.

Battery & connectivity

The performance of the battery enhances the overall experience of the phone because nobody likes sticking around a power plug all the time. As discussed earlier, most of the smartphones carry a big battery in them that promises to provide enough fuel for the phone to last for a whole day. Gionee has also put in a strong battery in A1 Plus and during my usage, it lasted for more than a day.

The phone has a 4550mAh battery that is pretty big and provides enough power to the phone on a moderate use of the phone which includes calling, web browsing, using social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook, one and a half hour of online video consumption and gaming for half an hour.

I ran a battery test and I found the battery consumption to be higher while gaming as compared to video and web browsing sessions. The consumption while gaming was one percent per minute, one percent per seven minutes during web browsing and one percent per eleven minutes while watching videos. On a standby mode, the battery may even last for more than two days.

Though the phone lacks a Type C port it has fast charging option as well. For connectivity, the phone has Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, NFC, USB OTG, FM Radio, 3G and 4G VoLTE support.

Verdict

The successor of A1 has a lot to offer to its users. Though it is big and bulky, it has also got good video and sound quality supported by a huge battery to power it for more than a day. I would say that Gionee A1 Plus is a decent performer. Considering the price range in which it falls, the smartphone will get tough competition from Honor 8 Pro and Moto Z2 Play. However, if you want to have similar features on your smartphone but at a lower price tag and better hardware, then Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is a good option for you.

Deepti Purohit
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