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iNew V8 Hands-on and Initial Impressions

Through the past couple of years, OEMs in China have done extremely well to do away with the ‘clone makers’ stereotype. Established companies like OPPO, Gionee, etc. and startups like OnePlus have been the pioneers who’ve lead this movement to finally churn out some fresh, new and often, innovative tech.

These brands have found recognition not only in their home country, but also in many similar markets internationally. One example that almost every internet-savvy Indian will relate to is Xiaomi; the 4 year old phone maker from China has turned out to be a phenomenon more than anything else through just one month of operations in the country. However, as they say, old habits die hard. Xiaomi’s latest flagship, the Mi 4 is known to be ‘inspired’ by the iPhone as well.

Recommended: Xiaomi Mi 4 hands-on and initial impressions

It’s a known fact that R&D can often cost as much as, or sometimes even more than, manufacturing a new device. So, why would a rising OEM spend bucketloads of cash on R&D instead of just lifting an existing, proven design? The answer to this has more to do with ethics than business, and clone makers often choose to ignore the former.

This can sometimes lead to a change in priorities; consider this — iNew is a Chinese OEM that rose to fame with the chic iNew V3 a handful months back. The device had all the essentials to make a bestseller, as it later turned out to be anyway. However, for some reason (read: to save on R&D costs), iNew turned to making clones.

The company released the iNew V8 this June, a device that is, without doubt, an OPPO N1 impostor. Contrary to what the name would suggest, the V8 does not come with an octa-core processor, but rather a hexa-core one. It isn’t hard to guess where this processor is sourced from; it is the 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6591 that we’ve seen on a couple of Indian devices as well. Read on as we go hands-on with the V8!

To call the device an OPPO N1 clone wouldn’t be entirely accurate. With a 5.5-inch display, the V8 actually sits right in between the 5.9-inch OPPO N1 and the 5-inch OPPO N1 mini that was showcased a couple of months back. Interestingly, the V8 also comes with the rear touch panel that OPPO call ‘O-touch’, something that you would expect a clone maker to omit.

For a clone, the V8 is surprisingly (and refreshingly, if you don’t mind me using the adjective) well built. An unassuming newbie would easily fall prey to the clone believing it to be the original thing. The rotating (swivel) camera is convincing in its functionality, and the mechanism holding it in place feels rigid enough to give a feeling of using a ‘premium’ device.

Thanks to the rotating module that hogs space, there’s no port/button on the top edge of the iNew V8. Moving on to the right edge of the device, you find volume buttons and a power/wake key, both of which provide feedback that is satisfying enough. Those with keen eyes will also notice an indentation on the rear cover on this side that aids in taking it off to access the battery, SIM and expansion slots.

A micro USB port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and the primary mic find place on the bottom edge or the ‘chin’ of the phone. Again, it’s perhaps because of the rotating module on the top edge that iNew (and OPPO) have had to move the 3.5mm headphone jack to the bottom, which usually isn’t the first preference.

Nothing to fiddle with on the left edge. Clean as a slate!

Taking the rear panel off, you are welcomed by a host of connectors that sit on the case. These are what send and receive data to and from the NFC radio as well as the rear-touch panel on the V8.

Screens, these days, are arguably the most important component on a smartphone. We’re happy to report that the iNew V8 comes with a gorgeous screen that’s unexpectedly beautiful for a clone. It doesn’t score too high on the specs set with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels across 5.5 inches, but even then is a charm. Having said that, we must also mention that the iNew V8 isn’t the most affordable of clones; it goes for about $200 apiece.

Beneath the screen you find the usual suspects — three capacitive buttons, menu, home and back. Unlike other cheap clones, there’s no backlight bleeding on these which reflect the effort and quality that has gone in to making the V8 (only if it had an original design!).

Moving on to everyday usability of the phone, the rear touch panel is usually a hit-or-a-miss. Although it works well, it does take a lot of time to get used to it. iNew have also embedded a few cool tricks, for example double tap to open camera, tap and hold to click a picture. The good thing here is that you can choose to turn off the rear touch whenever you like.

To make the device look and feel as close to the original thing, iNew have also attempted to replicate OPPO’s Color OS. While the company has done a good job on the looks department (icons and the general UI look extremely similar), stability is something they will have to work upon. During the short usage span, we came across a lot of recurring bugs, many of which had to do with the rotating camera which the Android OS doesn’t seem to like much.

All in all, we are very impressed with the build quality on the iNew V8, but the software leaves a lot to be desired at the moment. The unfortunate thing is that you really cannot expect a clone maker to provide frequent software updates; but we’re all in for surprises.

This was what we felt about the iNew V8 after a couple of days of light usage. There will be a full review coming in a few days, so do stay tuned, and be sure to let us know if you have any questions!

By Yash Garg on Monday 1st of Sep 2014


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