Gionee A1 Lite Smartphone Review

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We have already reviewed two devices from Gionee A1 series i.e. Gionee A1 (Read Review)and A1 Plus (Read Review). Apart from these two devices, there is a third one too i.e. the lite variant in A1 series as Gionee A1 lite. While A1 and A1 plus are priced higher, A1 lite is priced under 15k i.e. Rs. 14,999 and the company is looking to encash the selfie obsession of consumers in that price segment by offering a 20 MP selfie camera with selfie flash and 4,000 mAh battery. Gionee A1 Lite falls into the category of selfie-focused smartphones, on which manufacturers like Oppo, Vivo etc., are concentrating on. In this review, we will check out how good it is and how it fares with other similar selfie-focused smartphones such as Vivo V5 (Read Review), Vivo V5 Plus (Read Review), Oppo F3 Plus etc.

Gionee A1 Lite - Gionee A1 Lite Smartphone Review

As we always do, this review is based on our experience with Gionee A1 Lite as our primary device for one week with dual SIM, one having a 4G LTE connection and other for voice calls with 2G network.

Gionee A1 Lite specifications

  • Display: 5.3-inch 720p HD display
  • CPU: 1.3GHz Octa-Core MediaTek MT6753 Processor
  • GPU: Mali T-720
  • RAM: 3GB RAM
  • Storage: 32GB, expandable up to 128GB with microSD card
  • OS: Android 7.0 (Nougat) with Amigo OS 4.0
  • Misc: Hybrid Dual SIM, Fingerprint sensor
  • Camera: 13MP rear camera with LED flash + 20MP front-shooter with LED selfie flash
  • Dimensions: 150.5 x 74.4 x 8 mm
  • Connectivity: 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, USB OTG
  • Battery: 4000mAh

Design and Build Quality

In terms of design & build quality, Gionee A1 just like every other smartphone in this price band with a solid metallic build with the matte finish at the back. Thanks to a 5.3-inch display with negligible bezels at two sides, it is compact and easy to hold with one hand.   The fingerprint sensor is moved to the rear panel instead of embedded with the front Home button in case of Gionee A1. Again, the circular Gionee branding at the back can often be confused as fingerprint sensor too. The Antenna bands are there at top and bottom, while the phone is slightly curved at all the four sides at the back which means thinner sides compared to the middle body.

In terms of buttons placement, the Power button along with Volume rockers is on one side, while the Dual SIM slot is at the other side of the phone. The dual SIM slot is a hybrid sim slot which can use two nano SIM cards or one nano sim card with a MicroSD card. The 3.5 mm audio jack is at the bottom along with micro USB port & Speaker grills, while the top is free from any slots.

Check out some of the device shots below to understand better. Click on the images for full resolution images.

Display, Performance, Gaming and Benchmarks

The phone sports a 5.3 inch 720p HD display with 1080 x 720 pixel resolution with 2.5D curved glass. It comes with negligible borders at sides, making it great for watching videos and browsing the Web. The display looks decent with good colours, sharp and clear. The display is good enough for watching the videos or browsing the web, but you may miss the Full HD experience. The viewing angles are good letting you view the screen even at steep angles.

Gionee A1 Lite is powered by1.3GHz Octa-Core MediaTek MT6753 Processor with 3 GB of RAM. Even though it runs well under daily usage with casual gaming, browsing, music etc. without any issues, yet you can feel the sluggish response while opening the apps including some graphics intensive games such as Asphalt 8 Airborne, Nova 3 etc. under default graphics conditions. Under those gaming conditions, it lags & frame drops are visible often. The colour reproduction and graphics look decent as it is just an HD device. The good thing here though, there is no heating issue while playing heavy games for more than 15 minutes. The heating is negligible even after 25-30 minutes.

A1 Lite comes with 32 GB of internal storage out of which about 24 GB is available to the end-user. It also supports USB OTG and MicroSD cards. The call quality during voice calls was good without any issues including that on VOLTE network of Jio. The dialer app also gives you an option to record calls without installing any additional app or rooting the device (though the option is disabled by default).

Once again, we encountered slow speeds while using the WiFi of our broadband connection. We managed to get a speed of ~3-4 Mbps only on our WiFi connection of 20 Mbps. We rechecked with other smartphones at the same spot in our home and they managed to get WiFi speeds of 20 Mbps. We are not sure if this is anything to do with MediaTek processors, but we have faced this issue only while using the devices powered by MediaTek only.

The AnTuTu benchmark score for Gionee A1 comes out to be ~ 36,000+ which is an average score for a device priced ~Rs. 15,000 and it reflects in performance in various conditions, especially during gaming. Even older smartphones such as LeEco Le 2 (Read Review) offer better performance with a score of 80,000+ in Antutu Benchmarks, yet priced much lower than Gionee A1 Lite.

Camera

The phone comes with 13 MP main rear camera with LED flash and 20 MP front-shooter with selfie flash to shoot selfies. The 20 MP front camera with selfie flash makes it a great phone to shoot selfies for the selfie-obsessed younger generation. Thanks to the 20 MP front camera with flash, it shot some great selfies with good colour reproduction and details. The front flash worked well, but yes it can be a replacement for ambient light. Thanks to front flash, it does shoot some decent selfies even in low light yet noise starts creeping in spite of a front flash. If you are looking for a good selfie camera smartphone, this won’t disappoint you.

The main camera produced average images under normal lighting conditions. Yet the noise is visible the moment you start shooting in low light conditions. The main camera can shoot full HD 1080p and 720p HD videos of decent quality. The camera app comes with modes such as beauty mode, professional mode, Night mode, time-lapse mode, slow-motion mode, smart scene mode and GIF mode etc. Using professional mode, you can shoot some great shots if you know what to do with professional settings such as exposure, white balance, shutter speed and more.

Camera samples

Check out the images below taken under different light conditions and different modes. Click on the images for full resolution images on Flickr.

Fingerprint Sensor

The fingerprint sensor in Gionee A1 is located on the rear panel instead of being embedded in the Home button at the front as in Gionee A1. In terms of performance, it is not as fast or as accurate, as we expected.  For random or irregular placement of finger, it is slow or inaccurate. But when you place your finger properly, it works fine. We have seen better fingerprint sensor performance from devices such as LeEco Le2 (Read Review) or even the Coolpad Note 3 Lite.  You can add up to five fingers, but these can be used only to unlock the phone.

If you read our reviews, then you may find this common in almost all smartphone reviews which has a fingerprint sensor.  We expect customization ability for different fingerprints so that each fingerprint can be used for different functions such as opening an App or dialing a contact or any other custom function. Coolpad Note 3 lite fingerprint sensor comes with these features which makes fingerprints much more useful than for just unlocking the phone.

Battery

Gionee A1 comes with 4000 mAh non-removable battery but without fast charging support. The battery performance of Gionee A1 is good enough and it lasted for one & half day for an average use of the phone with a 4G LTE data connection. Our average use includes some Voice calls, browsing Twitter, Facebook, messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Telegram & other social sites. Even for a heavy or moderate usage, it lasts easily for a full day without the need to charge.During our review period, we used dual SIMs with a 4G Airtel SIM for data and another SIM for voice calls. It also comes with different battery modes such as Battery Saving mode, Extreme Mode etc.

Operating System and UI

Our opinion about Gionee AMigo UI remains mixed as we have stated before with Gionee A1 and A1 Plus reviews. Gionee A1 Lite runs on Amigo OS based on Android 7.0 Nougat operating system with features such as Split Screen support. You can access notifications by swiping from top , while you can access feature toggles by swiping up from the bottom screen. Amigo OS comes with loads of additional features such as smart Gestures which lets you answers calls automatically by picking phone up, or pause alarms by flipping over and more.

It does not come with an app drawer and uses a launcher similar to iOS. We recommend to install a launcher app such as Nova launcher which also comes with App drawer. Again Gionee A1 Lite comes with loads of bloatware or third-party apps pre-installed such as UC Browser, Amazon, Xender etc.  The Amigo OS also support themes and ability to customise your theme based on your surrounding colors with Chameleon feature. The phone also comes with messages on Lock Screen which can be considered as Spam messages and the option to disable those messages is very difficult to find. Also, there is no way to control or customise those message. After much digging, we found the method to disable those lock screen messages (Screen Locker – Disable by Clicking subscribe >> settings>> uncheck subscribed).

Amigo OS comes with themes that can be customised based on your surrounding colours with Chameleon feature. Again, it comes with messages on Lock Screen which can be considered as Spam messages and the option to disable those messages is very difficult to find. Also, there is no way to control or customise those message. After much digging, we found the method to disable those lock screen messages (Screen Locker – Disable by Clicking subscribe >> settings>> uncheck subscribed). The touchpal keyboard often displays advertisements on notification screen which is not good for user experience.

Conclusion

Gionee A1 Lite focuses on offering a Selfie camera with flash combined with 4,000 mAh battery. It does deliver on that promise but lags on other fronts including the performance of device and the user experience. The pricing of ~Rs.15,000 may be considered more if you are looking just the Online sales channels, but it is similar to what other brands such as Oppo and Vivo are offering. Still, If you can buy from online stores, you have much better options to choose from at lower price.

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