So as i said i would, i bought the phone and here goes the review.
Launch Date: Q3 2013
Size: 137 x 68 x 7.9 mm
Weight: Around 110 g
Battery: 1800 mAh
OS: Jellybean 4.2.1
Chipset: MTK MT6589
CPU: Cortex-A7 1.2 GHz Quad-Core
GPU: PowerVR SGX544MP
RAM: 1GB ROM: 4GB (1GB available)
Display: IPS Retina 720p (1280x720) 4.7" Screen
Camera: 8MP Auto-Focus with power LED flash + Front 2MP cam
Video Recording: Yes, 1080p @ 30FPS back, and 720p @ 30FPS 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: None
Smart Gestures: No
Price at the time of review: 18,800 PKR
Clone of: Gionee Elife E3
Official Product Page: http://www.qmobile.com.pk/phone-noir_a900.html
The Build Quality:
The build quality is good. It's hard rubbery plastic, which isn't slippery and feels good to hold in the hand, and it also looks classy. I have the white version which is all white except the screen area which is black. The phone is also available in grey, black and pearl blue colors. On the front you have the 4.7" IPS HD screen and the usual 3 touch buttons just below it. Above it you can see the 2MP front cam and the caller speaker. Unfortunately the phone doesn't have any notification LEDs. The left side of the phone is plain. The right side has the power and volume buttons which are slim but sturdy. On the top of the phone you can find the 3.5mm jack and the charging port. The bottom of the phone is also plain. On the top-left of the back of the phone you can find the 8mp auto-focus camera with a single power LED flash. They're both rather small in size but perform rather well (details in the camera section) On the bottom of the back you find the usual QMobile logo (although it's fully grey this time), a "DTS Sound" text and logo & the loudspeaker grill right beside it.
The call quality is loud and clear. You can hear the caller's voice very clearly and vice versa. The loudspeaker performance is also decent for both calling and media playback. The loudness is average and the output is crisp enough for a mono speaker.
OS and apps:
The phone comes with a Jellybean 4.2.1 OS. The powerful hardware of the phone along with a modern Android OS allows it to perform quick and lagfree for the most part. The outlook and launcher is slightly different than usual vanilla ones. A little disappointing fact is that it comes with only 1GB of available internal memory which is kind of insufficient in this day and age, but thankfully you can move most apps/games to SD card so it works out in the end. The good thing is that it comes with 1GB of RAM which is much better than the usual 512MB we're used to seeing from these phones. After starting the phone you get around 500-600MB of free RAM which ensures that your phone won't start lagging anytime soon. Most of the casual user apps are pre-installed including social-networking shovelware. Keep in mind that you can't uninstall them without rooting your phone, although it is fairly easy to root this phone. (tested!)
The Screen and multimedia experience:
The screen is really good. Multi-touch works very well and the touch is very responsive. The screen is a retina IPS panel which is really impressive. It has 16 Million color display and the viewing angles are really good. The sunlight legibility is also rather well. The display is fully usable even in direct sunlight. The brightness and the contrast are very good too. The blacks are not very deep though, but doesn't ruin the experience. The screen doesn't have any protection though (gorilla glass or similar) which means it's prone to scratches so be careful with it.
Browsing your photos/videos via the gallery is a breeze. All your photos are loaded up very quick, and it takes under a second for it to fully detail the currently viewed pic. Thanks to the upgraded quad-core CPU, everything from flicking to panning and even editing the photos is super fluid.
Video/movie playback is a lot of fun. The Retina HD display provides a very well movie watching experience. The DTS sound technology improves the audio quality providing a virtual theatre like experience. The GPU this time is PowerVR SGX544MP which is twice as powerful than the Mali 400 MP2 display found on the A51 which i reviewed earlier. This phone can practically play anything you throw at it.
Music playback is a loud, bassy, clear and awesome. The DTS Sound technology is not just a logo but a real worthy feature of the phone. The audio it is capable of producing is really well and audiophiles will love the quality (as long as they keep it realistic and aren't being too picky about it). Personally i found it much better than the SRS sound of my previous HTC Amaze 4G. I think it can easily compete with Sony WalkMan series of phones which really were the best at what they were.
Gaming is fun on this phone. HD display combined with powerful CPU/GPU + plenty of RAM insures a fluid and entertaining gameplay experience. The device should theoretically be able to run any current game you throw at it at decent FPS and settings. The device do heats up though while playing heavy games, but that is kind of expectable really.
I thoroughly tested GTA San Andreas and Max Payne and both of them ran very well at high and maxed out settings respectively. San Andreas kind of lagged while maxed out, but turning down the visual effects and shadows fixed that (textures and resolution was maxed out still). Overall these are pretty good results IMO. These results can be further improved if desired by performing kernel tweaks and overclocking.
The camera is surprisingly impressive. There's a good amount of resolved detail and the compression is moderate. The auto-focus sensor is very good and even close-up macros turn out rather well. The images are captured at 3264x2448 (4:3) pixels max and there's no option present to take at 16:9 AR. Although you can easily install an external camera app for that if you want that. Although the day-time and outdoor result is pretty good, the night-time and indoor result takes a hit. The resolved detail here gets on the lower side and pixels get splattered. The pictures are usable but not very good.
There's a single power-LED flash available which does a pretty decent job from close to medium range. HDR photo capture is also available and does a pretty good job most of the time. Other usual modes are also present and the missing ones can be used via external apps. The front cam is 2MP and the result is pretty decent here as well. Selfies turn out great (depends on your face too), and video calling is smooth and clear.
As for video recording, the phone is capable of recording full-hd videos (1920x1088) at 30 FPS in the ancient 3GP container. Video bitrate is ~20,000kbps and audio birtate is 128kbps (stereo audio). A 20 second video takes around ~50MB of space. The result is really good. Captured detail is high and without any obvious artifacts. The compression here is also moderate. The frame rate hovers around 28FPS and everything looks smooth for the most part. The auto-focus also works well though I'd recommend manually focusing for improved results. The LED flash can be used as a video light as well and does an ok job. Overall pretty impressive result.
* External camera apps can be used to record videos at customized bitrates & in MP4 container if you want.
Browsing and battery performance:
As it goes with JellyBean OS, the default browser has been changed to Chrome and that's a good thing for the most part. The browser runs smooth and lag-free. I opened desktop versions of some heavy sites like Endadget and GSMarena and they all opened fine. Panning and dragging is also quick. The phone can also handle a couple of tabs open in the background due to the quad-core CPU and good amount of free RAM. Flash player doesn't come pre-installed on the phone But you can easily find and install it if interested. Most websites these days support HTML5 content so you shouldn't need it though. I opened the desktop versions of Youtube, Dailymotion and Vimeo and they all worked great and lagfree.
The battery performance is pretty decent. Although not quite as good as the A51, it will still last a whole day on social usage. Watching movies doesn't hurt the battery much. One hour of playback takes around ~23% of battery so a whole movie everyday and typical usage is totally good to go for daily usage.
Battery performance while gaming hasn't been tested yet, though i shall update it later.
Let's outline the goods and bads of the phone first.
Ultra-Slim, lightweight and classy looking.
Modern Jellybean OS with slightly customized interface and apps.
Impressive camera result with equally impressive 1080p video recording.
Impressive audio experience via earphones.
Display is excellent for multimedia and gaming usage.
Good specs/price ratio.
File transfers from PC to phone are slow.
No Notification Lights.
Battery life is not too impressive. (though it is still above average)
So as you can see, there's much more pros here than cons. The phone is definitely one of the finest phones I've personally used. And i would certainly promote it when i can.
Overall a great phone for the price, purchase is highly recommendable!
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.