The selfie craze is not slowing down by even a bit. With the increase in the number of people getting their wide smiles and grin on in front of the screen, it is being closely followed up by the smartphone companies that have been actively working to have the best optics for selfies in their smartphones. It was mostly a war being led by OPPO and Vivo while others doing not so much in the selfie department, but Gionee has recently done its bit and the latest offering from the company, the Gionee A1 has quite something to say when it comes to the selfie camera.
It has been a bumpy recent journey for the company in India after a successful run in a few markets, which was majorly due to the fact that some Chinese brands led the game with affordable options that gave the others a run for the money. Gionee had its phones under E-series, S-series, and such, but now, the Gionee A1 begins a new one with not one but many USPs brought into one device.
Let’s quickly take a look at the specs of the phone before we jump into the views about each aspect.
- 5.5-inch Full HD display, AMOLED
- MediaTek MT6755 Helio P10 octa-core processor
- 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage, MicroSD expansion
- 13MP rear camera with F/2.0, SONY IMX258 sensor
- 16MP front camera with F/2.0 aperture
- Android 7.0 Nougat, Amigo OS 4.0
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Dual-band
- Dual SIM (2nd SIM slot hybrid for either SIM/MicroSD)
- 4010 mAh battery
As usual, let’s start with the design. The Gionee A1 doesn’t bring in any fresh air to breathe. It is similar to quite a few phones and the front resembles the OnePlus 3, but let’s end the comparison here. As I’ve been always telling, judge the design on how well you can be comfortable with it, not how much the company has put its thought into making the design unique.
It doesn’t matter if it has a resembling design to the other phones in the market. The Gionee A1 with its 5.5-inch display has a solid build, thanks to the metal backplate and the soft curvy edges. It always gives a feel of holding a premium device and the thickness adds up as a good factor here for the assuring feel of holding a rigid device, something that the slim devices cannot do.
The buttons are placed rightly with the power and volume rocker buttons being adjacent on the right side of the display and they have a tactile response. The entire back isn’t metallic as Gionee had to make some compromises here and there, and the plastic also aids in signal reception. While the bottom of the phone has two grills, only one house a speaker and other is merely for the aesthetics. In between the two grills is a MicroUSB port. On the back, there’s the 13-megapixel camera, the Dual LED flash, and the Gionee branding in a vertical arrangement as the company has tried to keep it symmetric.
The front, where Gionee hasn’t done much about reducing the size of the bezels, quite some area seems wasted on the top as well. There is a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button, and on the either side of it are the navigation buttons that don’t seem to be backlit, posing as a disadvantage, though you don’t have to typically tap on a thin point for the button to recognize it.
Overall, even though there are some bits that we don’t appreciate, the Gionee A1 is solid, good in the hand and is nowhere going to give you a feel of holding a brick even with that thickness of 8.3mm.
Gionee has chosen the vibrant AMOLED display over the standard IPS panel that is preferred by many in this price range, and that is sure one of the good things about the phone. The bezels are thick, but if we talk about the actual colors on the display, they come out very well. The brightness levels are enough to let you easily read while under the sunlight, but at the same time, there is not much you can do to keep the brightness at the minimum and see the display getting too low on brightness – you will still feel that the display is brighter than what you would have been comfortable with at night.
The color temperature can be changed in the settings, so if you feel like some colors are blown out of proportion, you can change them to warmer or cooler. The Amigo OS doesn’t have anything to filter out the blue light for low-light reading.
Fortunately, an extra point here to Gionee for keeping the device on the latest OS, at least. OPPO and Vivo both have their flagship phones on Marshmallow OS, even though there are security updates being sent. Here, the Gionee A1 is running Android 7.0 Nougat based Amigo OS 4.0.
But unfortunately, it doesn’t look like an interface many might want to use and get accustomed to. It isn’t new, though, as most of the Chinese smartphone manufacturers tend to take cues from iOS and bring similarities into the OS that they make by using Android as the base. If you are happy to ignore how it looks like, you should be happy to know that the phone has smart gestures, edge bar, suspend button, and such shortcuts and features that try to make your usage experience better.
Annoying enough, there is a big bunch of pre-installed apps that includes Peel Remote, Saavn, Swiftkey, Amazon Shopping, Xender, trial versions of Asphalt Nitro, Danger Dash, Bubble Dash 3, Real Football, and Hotoday news app apart from some of the system apps and the entire Google Play app bundle. Let’s not end it here by saying system apps, as these are Weather, Sound Recorder, Notes, Compass, Child Mode, Video, Theme Park, Mood Wallpaper, Torch, System Manager, Gstore, User Center, FM Radio and others.
Dragging the notification panel down won’t show you any quick settings, as that is something called as “Control Center” and shows up when you drag up from the bottom of the screen. Quite iOS’ish but nevertheless, I would like it in the bottom as it is easy to reach the buttons with the same hand. While talking all about it, the UI is very quick in response and doesn’t hang randomly.
The features section is a very useful one, putting out the information about Lambency selfie, beautified video, Fingerprint security, Split screen, AmiClone, MaxxAudio, Virus detection, Ultrafast charge, Power manager, and these at least give you the indication of what are the best features of the device.
An octa-core processor, one of the best from MediaTek is what the Gionee A1 is powered with. But, it isn’t close to many in the price range at which the phone is being sold. The blame is more on the GPU for being not so good in putting out the graphics at the best pace, and there are certain lags noticed while playing games. I’m strictly talking about gaming here to point out the flaw because otherwise, the performance of the device is great.
Every regular function like clicking pictures quickly, switching between the apps or scrolling through a large number of messages or call logs won’t show you even a minor glitch as that is well settled here by the Amigo interface, but that won’t be justifying anything in front of the glitchy gaming experience. Not to forget, metal bodies do tend to get heated up quite a bit just like the glass ones, and thus while playing games or during any other intensive tasks, the back of the phone gets heated.
For clicking the pictures, the camera combination is not bad at all. The Gionee A1 has a 13-megapixel rear camera and to be fair, the number might not impress but the camera is quite good. There are several modes in the app that you can use, including Time-lapse, Text recognition, Smart scan, Professional, Smart scene, PicNote, Night, Slow motion, GIF, Translation, Card scanner, and Mood photo. You can also take Panorama shots, and there is a separate Night mode. The captures taken with the rear camera of the Gionee A1 were bright and good with a neat color reproduction. Only at times when the camera sees sudden changes in the brightness, there is hardly any coping up and thus, the exposure is not under the control.
Of course, HDR helps a lot and the colors come out even better, and better with the fact that there is no over-saturation of them. Play around with the manual camera settings in the Professional mode and you will see how well it fares when you know what settings to have. Since there is no stabilization offered, the video recording that is limited to 1080p doesn’t come out real good except when taken by a very steady hand and when the camera isn’t moving much.
Check: Gionee A1 Camera Samples
The selfie camera, of course, is what the company likes to call as something people will like. A 16-megapixel camera with F/2.0 aperture does a great job in taking selfies and to be fair, even if there are better selfie shooters in the market, you won’t find a good one in the price range of the Gionee A1. There is also a LED flash given to help with some light on the faces while taking selfies in conditions where there is no appreciable light.
What the company tries to portray as the USP, apart from the selfie camera, is the battery. Even the tagline for the device mentions that, and Gionee might well have a winner there with the 4010 mAh battery offering a great usage. Roughly about a little more than 5 hours of screen-on time is what I got on a full charge and that is while using the device extensively with data network and Wi-Fi being switched regularly throughout the day. For the normal users, the battery can easily last for over a day on a single charge.
Gionee has made a mark here with the new series. The A-series, starting with the Gionee A1 should not be only about the selfies because the battery on the phone sure is to stay for a good time. The bold design and the decent performance add to the positives but then, the price range in which the device is available makes it a hard choice because of the competitors.
If we are not talking selfies, the Gionee A1 is just a decent bet but can be overshadowed by the likes of Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, the Moto G5 Plus, and the Lenovo P2 in one or the other ways. But then, as an overall package, the Gionee A1 is a great phone with good optics, a good display, and even if there are some not-likeable inclusions, the company had also given a lot of likeable ones and that makes the Gionee A1 a decent phone for the price.