Here goes the review of the recently launched Qmobile i9...
The Unboxing & Phone Outlook:
Launch Date: Q2 2014
Size: 146 x 74 x 9.3mm
Weight: 167 g
Battery: 2000 mAh
OS: Jellybean 4.2.2
Chipset: MTK MT6582
CPU: ARM Cortex-A7 1.3 GHz Quad-Core
GPU: Mali-400 MP
RAM: 1GB ROM: 4GB (1GB available)
Display: IPS 720p (1280x720) 5.0" Screen
Camera: 8MP Auto-Focus with LED flash + Front 2MP cam
Video Recording: Yes, 1080p @ 30FPS back, and VGA @ 15FPS front.
Bluetooth, Wifi, Edge, 3g: Yes
GPS: Yes with A-GPS support
FM: Yes with Recording support
Accelerometer, Proximity, Compass Sensors: Yes
Additional Sensors: Yes, Some
Notification LEDs: Yes (Red and Green)
Smart Gestures: Yes, Minimal
Price at the time of review: 16,500 PKR
Clone of: MyPhone Rio
Official Product Page: http://www.qmobile.com.pk/phone-i9.html
The Build Quality:
Build quality is pretty decent. The body has a matte finish to it and it feels good to rub your fingers on it. The size of the phone is on the larger side, it is even somewhat larger than the Galaxy S5. Even though it's large per say, it is still easy to hold in the hand due to it's reasonably slim profile. The back cover is inspired by Lumia phones and comes in multiple splashy colours and is also easily replaceable if you get bored of your colour.
On the front of the phone you have the 5.0" HD IPS screen (that's 1280x720). Directly above it is the earphone speaker grill which also hides the notification lights which are only visible while blinking, to the right of that is the 2 megapixle front selfie camera. Below the screen you can see the usual three touch buttons. Turning the phone over will reveal the 8 megapixel autofocus camera on the top-left along with the single LED flash to it's right. The camera is surrounded by a steel enclosing which helps protecting the lense from scratches. At the center is a "noir" logo and at the bottom is a "QMobile" logo with the loudspeaker grill directly below it.
OS and apps:
It comes with JellyBean 4.2.2 which is not the best anymore but still provides all the important goodies that you'd want. The interface is slightly modified. The camera app in particular is modified in a good way so that it has some nice tweaks to it. The default launcher is a bit laggy so you might want to get rid of it in favor of something more fluid and handy. Most of the Google apps comes pre-installed, along with the usual social-network and QMobile showelware, but you can get rid of them after rooting your phone. (tested!)
One thing I'd like to specifically mention is that the startup and shutdown times are considerably faster than usual, so that's an additional perk.
Note: With the stock ROM, the phone seems to eat quite a bit of RAM so you might wanna use a custom ROM if you're a power-user. I recommend MIUI as it's a lot more smoother and less resource intensive than the stock ROM.
Calls and Messaging:
Calling is average. For some reason the audio from the other end gets somewhat distorted while calling. This might just be an issue on my phone, but until that gets confirmed, I'm gonna call this an issue with the phone. Loudspeaker performance is pretty decent though, although the loudness is average, the quality itself is good.
Messaging is the typical Android type. The built-in keyboard doesn't support Swiping so you might wanna get a different keyboard. I recommend SwiftKey, it is even free to use now!
The Screen and multimedia experience:
The screen is pretty decent in my opinion, although perhaps not quite as good as the one on A900, it is still a delight to look at. Although it is an IPS panel, the viewing angles are not the best. You can see it from all angles, but the colours get somewhat dim from the sides, the corners are even worse. Not surprisingly, the blacks are also not very deep. Those shortcommings aside, the screen itself is pretty bright and vivid. The clarity & sharpness is also on the higher side. The PPI here is slightly below 300 which is still considered pretty good on mid-range devices. There's no Gorilla Glass or such protection on the screen though so you should apply a screen protector.
Gallery is quick to explore around. Everything loads up rather quickly. Video playback is also smooth and jerkless on most HD & full-HD content. Music playback is decent as well, the phone doesn't have any sound enhancing technology installed such as DTS or SRS or such so that kind of oomph is missing, but other than that the sound is pretty clear and loud. If you're missing that oomph, than you can install DFX Audio Enhancer Pro and it will fix that issue as well. The sound with the app is on par with the DTS sound of A900.
Gaming is also enjoyable on the phone especially due to it's big HD screen. The hardware is powerful enough to handle most demanding games at customized settings. The 1GB of RAM also helps here. As usual, the device heats up a little while playing heavy games but it's nothing unusual, and it actually heats up less than the A900 (but then again, that has a much superior GPU than this).
I tested GTA Vice City and Max Payne. Both of them run rather well at maxed out settings. Playing more demanding games is likely to be less impressive as the GPU in this phone is not that good.
It has a somewhat customized camera interface which is better than the vanilla one. The UI has all the important things on the screen for straight-up usage. Image-taking times are above average but not snappy, Autofocus is similar as well.
As far as the image quality is concerned, it's pretty similar to the one on A900 which shortly put is pretty good most of the time. The outdoor/daytime result is pretty good. There's a good amount of detail, the color-accuracy is good (a bit more punchier than reality but that looks good IMO), and the noise is not so bad. Sharpness is good but it tends to oversharpen sometimes. The default image compression is a bit too high though (images can go as low as half the size of similar images from A900) thus i recommend using a different cam app with highest JPEG quality for best results. Coming down to the indoors/nighttime result, it is kind of average. The detail gets on the lower side and the noise gets high. They're ok to use as long as you don't zoom to 100% size.
The LED flash is adequate but not very powerful. Consider is useful at close range or as a torchlight...
The front cam is mediocre, although the image quality is fine, the colors look washed out and it can only take good selfies in well-lit situations.
As far as video recording is concerned, it can record full-hd (1920x1088 to be exact) videos at a steady 30 FPS in well-lit situations. Video bitrate is around 17mbps, audio bitrate is 128kbps (sterio audio) container is 3GP, a 30 seconds video take around 65mb. The detail level is close to the picture quality which is rather impressive.
* External camera apps can be used to record videos at customized bitrates & in MP4 container if you want.
Browsing and battery performance:
Web-browsing is smooth and lag-free most of the time with common websites. It tends to somewhat lag on heavy websites. Zooming in and out is also good to average depending on the complexity of the website. Multiple tabs work just fine. Flash and HTML5 content is well-supported, but the heavier content seems to slow down the phone. All the common video-streaming websites worked fine though.
Battery performance is kind of average. It will last a day on moderate usage or less on frequent usage. Standby performance is decent. As for media performance, i played a 13 minute SD clip and it dropped the battery by 4%.
Note: The battery issue is primarily due to the stock ROM, it eats up plenty of RAM and also drains the battery more than it should, using a custom ROM like MIUI seems to fix both of those issues. The battery after this will easily last a whole day on heavy usage or upto two days on moderate usage.
As usual, lets write down the good and the bads first.
Good performance & benchmark scores with comparable specced phones.
Fresh colourful build with replaceable lumia style covers.
Large HD screen
Good camera result with similar video recording
Good specs/price ratio.
A bit bulky and somewhat heavy.
Call quality is not very clear
Battery performance is not good with stock ROM.
Based on all that, i would say the phone is a rather recommendable purchase. For the price, you're getting a rather well-specced phone with a cute candybar build. If you don't like larger phones though, then you might want to avoid it.
Overall: Recommended! (but see note)
Note: In case you haven't read the whole review, the stock ROM of this phone is a RAM & battery hog, but using a custom ROM like MIUI fixes both of those issues, so if you're ok with phone modding, then this phone is a much better purchase for you than if you prefer to keep things simple.
I shall keep updating the review over time as i continue to experience the phone.
If you have any questions regarding the phone, feel free to ask.