Gionee A1 first impressions: A well rounded package that could struggle with competition

Packing a large battery and a promising front camera, the Gionee A1 is an interesting offering from the company in the mid-range. Here is our initial impression of the device.


Chinese smartphone maker Gionee hasn't been as popular as it used to be but it made an appearance this year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The company announced two new flagship smartphones, the A1 and A1 Plus, both running on the latest Android platform and featuring a metal design.

The company has just launched the A1 in India which is a mid-range smartphone, packing a selfie focused camera and a larger battery. Here is a quick look at the smartphone.

Build and Design

The first thing that I felt was that the handset is a bit heavy, which is probably due to the metal construction and large battery. The design is typical Gionee with a glass finish on the front and metal at the back. The edges are curvy making it sit well in the hand and although it isn't glossy, it feels as if it would slip out of your hand. The design feels premium, no doubts about that.

Gionee A1 first impressions: A well rounded package that could struggle with competition

There is a metal casing at the back. You can also see the primary camera with the dual-LED flash, the Gionee logo dimple (not a fingerprint scanner) and antenna bands.

 

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The smartphone comes with a microUSB 2.0 port sitting at the bottom. There are grilles for the loudspeaker on either sides of the USB port but its isn't a stereo speaker so there is a single unit on the right.

 

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I wouldn't say this smartphone is very thick, but it does feel bulky. According to Gionee the thickness is at 8.5 mm.

The handset is comfortable to use, and is very sturdy. The fingerprint scanner sits at the front embedded in the home button which was surprisingly quick. The handset will be offered in gold, silver and grey colour options.

Display

The smartphone features a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with a Full HD (1920x1080 pixels) resolution. This means a pixel density of 401ppi. There is a protective 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass on top. The screen to body ratio is about 71 percent which is pretty average. The use of AMOLED definitely makes colours pop out, which also means slightly high contrast, which looks great. I didn't see any issues with its viewing angles or touch response. Under the direct sun it manages to hold up well.

Chipset, Storage and RAM

Gionee has not been using Snapdragon chipsets for sometime, and even the A1 gets the same treatment. The handset is powered by a MediaTek MT6755 Helio P10 SoC. It features an octa-core processor with four 2GHz Cortex A53 cores and four 1GHz Cortex A53 cores. There is also a Mali-T860MP2 GPU to handle graphics intensive tasks.

As for the memory, the handset features 4GB of RAM which sounds good for heavy multitasking. For storage, there is 64GB of internal memory. One can further add storage using a microSD card of up to 256GB using the hybrid SIM card tray.

While the memory department is pretty good, I am not sure how well the MediaTek processor be received by consumers.

OS and Software

This is Gionee's first smartphone to run on the latest Android 7.0 Nougat update. Of course it is overlaid by Gionee's Amigo OS which shows version 4.0. The UI is mostly similar to other Gionee smartphones, but there are new Nougat goodies embedded. I noticed the split screen feature, Maxx Audio support, fast charging and more in the re-worked settings. I was a bit annoyed with the amount of bloatware that came with the phone. Fine, there is 64GB of storage, but that doesn't mean you load it up. Gionee really needs to work on it UI and cut down the number of apps that offered by default.

Camera

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Gionee is known to experiment with smartphone cameras, especially the front camera. The A1 is yet again targeted as a selfie smartphone, there is 16MP front camera with an f/2.0 aperture and a 1/3-inch sensor. There is also an auto front facing flash, just like the one on the Gionee S6s. The camera at the back is a 13MP unit with an f/2.0 aperture, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED flash, HDR and a similar sensor size as the front camera. The rear camera can shoot 1080p videos while the front camera can shoot only at 720p. I tried the cameras for a bit and I think this is a really good selfie smartphone. As for the rear camera, it can click decent pictures in daylight but struggles with shots taken indoors.

Battery and connectivity

Gionee has crammed a 4,010mAh battery into this handset. This means it should last all day without any issues. The company says that it supports fast charging as well. The large battery does make the handset quite heavy.

As for connectivity you get all the standard features including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.0, LTE, microUSB 2.0 with OTG support, FM Radio and GPS/A-GPS. The handset comes with dual-SIM support although you can only use two SIM cards or one SIM card and a microSD card.

Conclusion

Gionee already has a couple of selfie smartphones under the S-series and some battery focused smartphones under the Marathon or M-series. The A1 is a combination of the two. Apart from that, the design is neat an premium although there isn't anything unique and is a pretty standard looking metal smartphone.

The company needs to price it right as the competition in the market has become stiff. Sure, this will be an offline offering, as with most Gionee smartphones. Vivo and Oppo sell smartphone offline and they too have selfie focused smartphones under their portfolio. If Gionee wants to topple them, it has to do way more than just a big battery.

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