A brand well known in Asian markets, Gionee revealed its two flagship phones, the A1 and A1 Plus at MWC this year. The brand released the A1 soon after, and we got our hands on it. Reputed for its concept of mid tier to high tier specs at a budget price, the Gionee A1 is priced at a surprising AED999. However, should you get the A1 for this price? Read on to find out.
A bit of research showed me that the Gionee A1 is in fact targeted at those who are looking at getting a decently powered phone at a budget price, without having to go shopping online. This makes the Gionee series a direct competition to the likes of Oppo and Vivo, which are phones with a similar price range and in the same market. However, personally I dont feel like this is something that is applicable to the region.
Moving on, lets get to the phone itself. Packed in a simple white box, the image of the Gionee A1 makes it look like an iPhone 6S Plus at a quick glance. This seems to be a trend among budget phones these days, so I am not going to focus on it. The box highlights the main features of the phone, which are the battery and selfie camera. Or as Gionee calls it, Super Battery and Super Selfie. The contents of the box are pretty much what you would expect. However, you also get a screen protector and a leather flip case. We had the silver model for review, which could be why we got the silver case. I am not sure if the case color differs according to the phone’s color.
Now to be honest, the Gionee A1 is one of those phones which dont have anything striking when it comes to design. However, the phone does seem to have a premium finish to it. As I mentioned earlier, we received the silver model for review, but the black matte model seems to look a whole lot better.
Moving around the phone, upfront you get the almost side bezel-less, all glass display with a home button which houses the fingerprint sensor. The front side of the phone also has the 16MP front camera and a flash, just for that perfect selfie. The back of the phone houses the main 13MP camera, dual flash and a Gionee logo which I kept mistaking for a fingerprint sensor. As usual, the top edge houses the 3.5mm headphone jack, left edge has the SIM card tray, right edge has volume rockers and power button while the bottom edge houses the microUSB port and speakers.
The Gionee A1 is actually quite a large phone, which wasn’t really a problem for me, but I can imagine others having issues with it. Though it is rather bulky, it is quite comfortable to hold and use thanks to the curves along the edges. On the other hand, the bulkiness of the phone can be attributed to it’s massive battery.
Overall, the phone does have good build quality and a premium finish, but does lack any sort of design element that will catch your eye.
Being a budget phone, the Gionee A1 does not really house groundbreaking features. However, the ones it does have are quite impressive in its own regard.
Lets talk about the display first. The Gionee A1 comes with a nice 5.5 inch FHD display with an IPS AMOLED panel. This 1080p display gives bright colors with great contrast, making it perfect for extended Netflix or YouTube sessions. But thats not all. You can also customize your display with three different color profiles, Warm, Neutral and Cool.
Another feature that amazed me was the fingerprint scanner. I have used quite a number of phones with fingerprint scanners before, and the Gionee A1 is by far the fastest out of the lot. It is so fast that just a single tap is required to unlock the phone.
The Gionee A1 ships with Android Nougat out of the box and with its own Amigo 4.0 skin on top. The Amigo 4.0 skin is not bad to be honest, however, it does bring a lot of bloatware to the phone. The OS also incorporates a lot of gestures, most of which come from Android 7.0 itself. However, if you are into customization, then you would love Amigo 4.0. This skin will allow you to choose your theme, wallpaper and even effects for switching between windows, something seen only on third party launchers. The A1 also brings the split screen feature seen on Android Nougat, allowing you to text while watching YouTube.
Now we finally come to the camera. With all the hype behind the camera, both front and rear, I honestly had high hopes for the camera. However, the results were disappointing. Now dont get me wrong, it is not that the camera is bad, but its not great either. It is simply your average modern day smartphone camera. On the other hand, it does come with a bunch of features and editing tools, most of which are focused on the selfie mode, which will make you appear slimmer, whiten your teeth and much more. You can talk a look at some of the sample photos here.
One of the largest selling points of the Gionee A1 is in fact its super sized battery. Pack 4010 mAh of power, this battery gives the phone a battery life of almost two days on a full charge with mediocre use. If thats not enough, the phone also supports the 18W Ultracharge, which will charge the phone entirely in less than 2 hours. The phone even has a dedicated power saving mode, which closes all background apps and leaves the phone with bare necessities.
However, its the performance where the A1 struggles. The overall performance of the A1 is average. Multiple open apps can slow down the phone, and gaming on the phone also heats it up quite a bit. It scored 48177 on Antutu, but failed to do the benchmark on Antutu 3D.
The Gionee A1, by itself is a pretty decent phone. The phone is targeted at consumers who want a good looking phone with decent specs, without breaking their wallet. However, if you ask me, there are lots of other phones for less than AED999, with much better overall performance.