So, my phone recently got 'stolen' and i was looking for a cheap replacement for the time being. My friend who is a Qmobile distributer told me to buy the brand new Qmobile Noir A51 smartphone which just launched 2 weeks ago. He kept telling me how good it is and this and that. It's market price is 13,500 but he said he'd even get me a discount.
So yeah, all in all, i decided to give it a go, i mean even if it totally sucked, i could just sell it off OLX/equivalent for a minor loss.
Launch Date: Mid-November 2013
Size: 135.5 x 68 x 11.1mm
Weight: Around 130 g
Battery: 1600 mAh
OS: Jellybean 4.2.2
CPU: ARMv7 1.3 GHz Dual-Core
GPU: Mali-400 MP
RAM: 512MB ROM: 4GB (1.5GB available)
Display: True 16:9 480p (854x480) 4.5" Screen
Camera: 5MP Fixed-Focus with single LED flash + Front VGA cam
Bluetooth, Wifi, Edge, 3g: Yes (speed of 3G is unknown at this point)
GPS: Yes with A-GPS support
FM: Yes with Recording support
Accelerometer, Proximity, Light, & Orientation sensors: Yes
Notification LEDs: Yes (two, red and yellow)
Price at the time of review: 13,500 PKR
For more details visit manufacturer's description: http://www.qmobile.com.pk/phone-noir_a51.html
The Build Quality:
The build quality is decent. It's all plastic, no fancy paints either, but still manages to look attractive. The front and back is all white while the sides are silver. On the front you have the 4.5" FWVGA screen and the usual 3 touch buttons just below it. Above it you can see the VGA front cam along with two sensor dots and the caller speaker. On the right of the cam are two notification LEDs (red and yellow), they are only visible while blinking. On the left side of the phone you can find the volume rocker. The right side has the power button. On the top of the phone you can find the 3.5mm jack and the charging port. The bottom of the phone just has a small microphone hole. On the top of the back of the phone you can find the 5mp fixed-focus camera on the center with a single LED flash on it's left. On the bottom you find the QMobile logo and the loudspeaker grill right below it.
The call quality is also pretty decent. You can hear the caller's voice very clearly and vice versa. The loudspeaker performance is also pretty decent for both calling and media playback. The loudness is fine and the output is crisp enough for a mono speaker.
OS and apps:
The phone comes with a Jellybean 4.2.2 OS which is new to Qmobile. Unsurprisingly, it is more fluid and buttery compared to ICS 4.0.4 and JB 4.1.1 which came with previous Qmobile phones. The upgraded CPU and GPU allows for fast interaction and usability. The good thing though is that you have about 1.5 GB of free internal space to install as many apps as you need. The bad thing is that it still has low RAM. Unfortunately the curse of 512MB RAM hasn't left Qmobile yet. (you get about ~250MB of free RAM on your first view, then it will continue to get lower and lower as you continue to install apps) 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 the usual Qmobile type screen. Multi-touch is supported and the touchscreen is very responsive. The DPI is a little on the lower side (~240), but there are still enough pixels on the screen to keep the jaggies to a minimum. The 256k color is also a let-down considering how other chinese manufacturers like Huawei are offering 16m colors on similar phones. The brightness and the contrast on the other hand are pretty good. The blacks are not very deep though, but that's kinda expectable.
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 dual-core CPU, everything from flicking to panning and even editing the photos is fluid.
Video/movie playback is smooth and fun. The screen is both large and punchy enough to provide a decent on-the-go movie watching experience. The biggest improvement here over previous Qmobile phones is the noticeable upgrade of the GPU. Unlike the previous Qmobile phones which usually had a PowerVR SGX531 GPU, this phone has a Mali-400 GPU which is a very powerful GPU for this class of phone. The upgrade allows you to finally watch 1080p videos on your phone which you couldn't do on the last-gen of Qmobile phones.
Music playback on the other hand is mediocre. The playback quality is ok, loudspeaker volume is decent, but the volume via earphones is not high enough. Plus the audio is a little too flat. The bass is also quite low. The equalizer doesn't really help either. I'm gonna do some research and see if this can be improved. But yeah, this is dissapointing.
Gaming is smooth and responsive for the most part. The Mali-400 GPU is powerful enough to play most modern 3D android games at good framerates. I tried a few famous ones like Temple Run 2, Zombie Run HD, Crazy Taxi, GTA III, GTA Vice City, Max Payne Mobile and they all ran smooth at custom-high settings.
Here's the settings i used:
Temple Run 2: High (full) - Super smooth, no lags whatsoever
Zombie Run HD: (no options) - Super smooth, no lags whatsoever
Crazy Taxi: (no options) - Very smooth, occasional lags at car crashes
GTA III: DD:100,SR:100,VE:High,DS:On,FL:Off - Smooth, ocassional minor lags at car crashes and while raining
GTA VC: DD:100,SR:100,VE:High,DS:On,FL:Off - Smooth, ocassional minor lags at car crashes and while raining
Max Payne: Maxed Out - Smooth, occasional minor lags at explosions.
The camera is above average for a fixed-focus cam. That is not to say it is good per say, but it certainly could've been worse. The images are taken at 2560x1920 via default camera app, though it is capable of taking wide-screen images at upto 2880x1728 via external camera apps. The captured colors are not very splashy, but are closer to reality. The amount of resolved detail is kinda mediocre, and there's noticeable pixel splattering every once in a while, but nothing drastic. Certain objects in the pictures look like they lack 'anti-aliasing'. Sharpness is pretty decent without AF. Close-ups are blurry as can be expected. Indoors and Night-time result is not as bad as one might expect, as long as there's enough lighting it can take decent photos. There's also a single-LED flash available which you can use to take picture of any object in the dark, taking a picture of a whole room or something is not going to be so great because the flash is kinda weak. HDR photo capture is also available but doesn't really improve on the average picture, it might come handy under certain lighting conditions though. Panorama and Burst modes are also available. You can also use the front VGA cam to take selfies, the result here is also mediocre.
Here are some untouched samples:
As far as video capture is concerned, The phone records upto 720p Mpeg-4 30 FPS videos in 3GP container. Video bitrate is ~12000kbps and audio bitrate is 128kbps (stereo audio). A one minute video takes around 90MB of space. The result is similar to the photos. There's enough resolved detail to make the videos classify as true 720p videos rather than look like upscaled videos. The camera also quickly adapts to different lighting situations. The LED flash can also be used as a video light. All in all, video recording is pretty decent and more impressive than the pictures.
* External camera apps can be used to record videos at customized bitrates & in MP4 container if you want.
Here is an untouched sample:
Browsing and battery performance:
As it goes with JB 4.2.2, 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. But if you open multiple tabs (like 4-5 or more) than the browser starts to lag, probably due to running out of memory. Flash player 11.1 comes pre-installed on the phone and is fully supported with chrome. I tried vimeo & dailymotion, videos played smooth. Overall pretty decent.
The battery performance is much better than what you would assume from a 1600 mAh battery. It easily lasts two days on casual usage. You can watch a full-length classic Indian movie and still have some battery left to survive the rest of the day. Battery performance is also pretty decent while gaming. Playing Max Payne Mobile for half an hour resulted in the battery dropping by 13%. This is quite impressive IMO.
Let's outline the goods and bads of the phone first.
Jellybean 4.2.2 provides some nifty advantages over previous versions.
Great specs for the price. Good value for money.
Good gaming performance
Decent battery performance
Mediocre music performance via earphones
So, based on that i would say this phone provides good bang for the buck. It is far from perfect but still manages to provide enough goodies that you'll be able to overlook it's shortcomings (unless if any of the things mentioned in the bad part is very important to you, in which case you should buy some other phone instead).
Overall a very good phone for the price, purchase is recommendable!
I shall keep updating the review over time as i continue to experience the phone.
Last update: Uploaded the sample images to new permanent image host as previous one was going to expire.