Review: Gionee bets big with the A1 Plus
Gionee is taking a shot at the big-screen smartphone segment with a 6-inch phone called the A1 Plus. Priced at Rs26,999, the smartphone is the bigger and more powerful sibling to the A1 which was released early this year at Rs19,999.
Design: Premium and stylish but bulky
The A1 Plus has a similar unibody metal design with matte black finish as the A1. It looks good and grips well, but feels too big and bulky for one-hand use. It weighs 225g, making it one of the heaviest big-screen smartphones. The bezels on the front look wide, and this is one of the poor design choices which adds to the phone’s big size. The physical keys (volume and power) are smartly placed and are easily reachable. The fingerprint sensor has been integrated with the home button. It is accurate and unlocks your phone instantly.
Display: Bigger and brighter
The 6-inch display is a treat for gamers and movie buffs. Some may find fault with the 1,920x1,080 pixel screen resolution, but despite it the display doesn’t look subdued at any point. Colours in games and HD videos look rich without hurting eyes. App icons and text in webpages look crisp. It also provides the option to change the colour temperature and switch on the Bluelight filter to reduce stress on eyes.
Software: New Android with a custom UI
The smartphone runs Android 7.0 with Gionee’s proprietary Amigo UI on top. The basic layout is similar to most of the Chinese UIs, but there are some subtle differences. For example, the Quick settings panel has been separated from the Quick notifications panel. It pops up by swiping up from the lower edge of the screen. It allows users to add or remove options in the Quick settings. The UI also comes with an online themes and wallpaper store which has more than 100 cool options. It has a unique feature called Story locker which shows short news stories with a beautiful image on the lockscreen. Users can read up the news without unlocking the smartphone.
Performance: Works well under stress
Powered by MediaTek’s new Helio P25 octa-core chipset with 4GB RAM in tow, the A1 Plus was able to rush through most tasks and games without any performance or heating issues. Games such as Real Racing 3 and FIFA 16 ran smoothly even with 8-10 apps running in the background. The smartphone offers 64GB internal storage which means ample space for offline movies, music and games. In case you want more, there is a microSD card slot too. The other major crowd puller in the A1 Plus is the 4,500mAh battery which can deliver a day-and-half of backup comfortably on modest use.
Camera: A mixed bag
For photography enthusiasts, the A1 Plus has a 13-megapixel and a 5-megapixel dual camera setup. It is fast and offers plenty of cool modes to play around with, such as Night, Smart scene, GIF, Time lapse and Face Beauty. Picture quality is average, though. In well-lit conditions, it can reproduce detail and colours well. In indoor shots, colours look washed out. The 20-megapixel camera on the front is quite impressive. It can take good-looking shots even in indoor conditions and is backed by a front-facing flash.
Gionee A1 Plus is a beast when it comes to performance and battery backup. The big screen is another element which tilts the balance in its favour as there are very few smartphones which offer a screen size of 6 inches and above. What goes against it is the big and bulky form factor. If you are looking for something lighter but with a bigger screen, you can consider the Oppo F3 Plus (Rs30,990) or the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 (Rs16,999). The former offers a 6-inch screen with a resolution of 1,920x1,080, is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 octa-core processor and has a 16-megapixel camera which can take better shots. The Mi Max 2 offers an even bigger 6.4-inch display with a resolution of 1,920x1,080p, yet it weighs just 203g and looks a lot slimmer. It is powered by a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor with 4GB RAM and packs in a 5,300mAh battery which lasts over two days.