What was once said for the 4-inch screen devices is now gradually becoming the fate of mobile phones sporting 5-inch displays. The latter are now being overshadowed by even bigger screen handsets which are considered as the ideal gadgets to consume multimedia content.
While we have number of handsets sporting screen sizes in the respectable range of 5.2-inches to 5.7-inches, the focus is now shifting to bigger 6-inch screen handsets. These big-screen mobile devices, or as we call them-phablets are no less than pocket sized TVs that when combined with the affordable 4G internet plans; serve as the ultimate multimedia devices to millennials.
One such handset is Xiaomi Mi Max 2, the big brother of all big screen devices. The phablet sports a humongous 6.44-unch full HD screen and is backed by a powerful 5,300 mAh battery unit. However, the other features of the phablet, i.e. camera and processing power are pretty standard and might not please hardcore smartphone enthusiasts.
This is where Gionee A1 Plus comes in. The phablet not just offers a large screen and big battery unit; it also boasts a capable 20MP selfie camera and a dual-lens rear camera setup to make things interesting in the mid-range price-point. We put the phablet to our standard review process to find out how it performs in everyday life. Here's what we have to say about the big screen Gionee A1 Plus.
Display: 6-inch Full HD screen is bright and vivid
Gionee A1 Plus can be the ideal handset for users who spend most of their time in watching videos, reading news/books on their phones or playing games, which is exactly what I did with my review unit. The 6-inch full HD screen on Gionee A1 might not be as big as the 6.44-inch display you get with Xiaomi Mi Max 2, but it is still a better one. I say this because unlike the screen on Mi Max 2, the display on A1 Plus is much less reflective. It delivers a good overall viewing experience where you don't need to adjust the phone's position to attain the best view. The 2.5D curved glass protecting the screen very well manages the light and results in better video playback and gaming experience.
And the icing on the cake here is the integration of dual stereo speakers. You can play games and watch a whole season of your favorite series even if you are not carrying a pair of earphones. The audio produced by these speakers (placed at the bottom) is loud and clear. However, some amount of distortion is noticeable at maximum volume.
The display offers a resolution of 1080x1920 pixels resulting in a pixel count of and 367 ppi. Unlike the AMOLED screen on the previous Gionee A1, the A1 Plus uses an IPS LCD panel and offers a balanced colour reproduction. The display settings allow you to tweak the colour balance as per your requirement. A built-in smart eye protection mode is also provided to deliver a comfortable reading and viewing experience while you use the handset in low-light.
Overall, the display on Gionee A1 Plus will certainly please multimedia lovers. One thing that seems missing here is some sort of display protection as the company hasn't mentioned anything about it.
Bigger and Bulkier Gionee A1
The big screen Gionee A1 Plus is best suited for two-handed usage because of its big and bulky design. However if you have bigger hands, you can still manage to navigate throughout the home screens, dial a number, scroll your Facebook and Instagram timeline with some little thumb exercise. The rounded corners and gentle curves give the handset some degree of ergonomics. The weight is also quite understandable as there's a big 4,500 mAh battery unit powering the device.
As far as look and feel is concerned, Gionee A1 Plus looks like a bigger A1. It is made out of metal and feels sturdy in hands. The smartphone also looks quite premium, especially when seen from the rear panel where you will find the dual-lens camera setup, dual LED flash and Gionee's trademark branding which can be easily mistaken for a circular fingerprint scanner.
Buttons are placed ergonomically
The right side of the handset has volume rockers and power button that offers good feedback, while the hybrid SIM card tray is placed on the left edge. You can click the power button thrice to trigger the panic button that automatically connects the call to the emergency number, a handy feature in emergency situations. The clickable home button on the front has the fingerprint sensor embedded in it that unlocks the handset in a jiffy. The 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on top.
Overall, the big phablet brings a robust built and also looks premium.
Camera: Crisp selfies and capable dual-lens rear camera
Gionee A1 Plus was originally showcased in Mobile World congress (MWC 2017) along with the Gionee A1. The smaller A1 features a capable 16MP front camera and now sells at Rs. 16,500 on Amazon.in. I have reviewed the previous Gionee A1 and its 16MP selfie camera capture good selfies. The selfie camera on the bigger Gionee A1 Plus is even better and delivers amazing results. The phablet features a 20MP front camera that clicks crisp and vibrant selfies. The results are better when compared to the previous Gionee A1 but not as good as the Honor 8 Pro that is priced at Rs. 29,999.
The front camera is also supported by a LED flashlight to brighten up the images in non-ideal light conditions. You also get Face beauty mode to tweak the selfies you capture.
But the significant upgrade here is the dual-lens rear camera setup. The company has stepped up the game by introducing a 13MP+5MP rear camera that is capable to deliver a good depth of field effect. The depth-sensing ability of the dual-lens camera setup is good and makes for a natural blur effect, but once again the overall output does not match up with the results delivered by the Honor 8 Pro.
Talking about the other aspects of the camera, the images you capture in daylight display accurate colours with ample detailing. The camera however struggles in low-light conditions.
Overall, Gionee A1 Plus brings much improved camera hardware when compared to its predecessor but loses the fight when you pit it against the Honor 8 Pro. The price difference between the two handsets is of Rs. 3,000.
Software: Android 7.0 Nougat with Gionee’s Amigo 4.0
Running on the latest Android 7.0 Nougat, the smartphone does not disappoint in everyday software performance. You get the company's customized skin- Amigo OS 4.0 that also powered the previous Gionee A1. The
user interface is quite cluttered but at the same time, it is also one of the most customizable software layers in the market. A dedicated online marketplace is provided which allows you to download themes, wallpapers and widgets to customize the look and feel of your handset.
The settings menu also allows you to set smart gestures and manage touch capacitive buttons functionality to operate the handset with an ease in everyday usage. Besides, there are several nifty smart settings such as glove mode, edge bar that brings a window of predefined controls on the edges of the screen and skylight mode to make it easy to use the touch screen in case you have applied a flip cover on your smartphone.
The only weak point here seems to be the oddly placed settings shortcuts. A first time Gionee user can get really confused between the notification panel and control center that are triggered by a swipe down and a swipe up respectively.
The design team should merge them in one to offer a seamless Android user experience. In the current scenario, it seems Gionee Amigo is trying too much to mimic the Apple's iOS and that can be a deal breaker for users who prefer pure and seamless Google experience.
Hardware: Quick and Responsive in everyday use
Gionee is still sticking up with the MediaTek chipset that on papers may disappoint some Snapdragon fans but in everyday life, the performance is lag free. Gionee A1 Plus is backed by a Helio P25 octa-core chip that comprises of 4 Cortex A-53 cores clocked at 2.5GHz and the other four clocked at 1.4GHz. The processor is capable to offer a seamless everyday performance where you can execute all the important tasks without any major issues. The smartphone is pretty responsive and apps fire up instantly. Photo editing, camera usage, video playback and browsing experience was devoid of any lags and even the handset handled heavy multitasking with an ease.
The 4GB RAM makes sure the handset runs multiple applications simultaneously without breaking a sweat. The gameplay on the phablet is also quite immersive, thanks to the big 6-inch full HD screen. I mostly played Marvel Champions on the phablet and didn't come across any frame drops.
Storage will not be an issue for users as Gionee A1 comes with 64GB of internal storage that can be expanded by up to 256GB via microSD card.
Battery and Connectivity: Can last for up to two days
Gionee A1 Plus's big 6-inch screen is complemented by a large battery unit. The phablet draws power from a big 4,550 mAh battery unit that managed to last for two days on a single charge with a mixed usage pattern. The battery backup is slightly less than the Mi Max 2 but you can still watch movies, play games and do the other standard tasks without worrying much about the battery life.
The smartphone also supports fast charging and comes with a number of battery optimization modes to reduce the power consumption. You get an 18W charger in the package that can recharge the battery to 100 percent in about 90 minutes. The big battery of Gionee A1 Plus can be also be used to reverse charge other devices as the handset also supports USB-OTG.
As far as connectivity goes, Gionee A1 has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, dual-SIM support, 4G LTE and VoLTE and GPS.
Gionee A1 Plus is a significant upgrade over the previous Gionee A1. The company has fitted a big Full HD screen to please users who love to play games and stream videos on their mobile devices. The camera performance is also significantly improved and the phablet can also last long with the help of its big battery unit.
The bigger A1 Plus also brings some notable upgrades in the camera department. The 20MP selfie camera and the dual-lens rear camera setup will please camera enthusiasts but it's not as good as the camera hardware you get with the Honor 8 Pro that is slightly expensive than the Gionee A1 Plus.
However, what works in the favor of Gionee is the fact that there is still a large base of Indian consumers who is still skeptical about online shopping. For them, Gionee has engineered a big screen multimedia phablet that lasts long, looks premium and delivers capable camera hardware. If you do not belong to the above mentioned user base, you can consider other worthy options selling on e-commerce portals in the Indian market.