These days Indian smartphone industry is seeing a fierce competition, especially when it comes to mid-higher range. That is a sweet spot which offers devices with an affordable price point for a premium set of features. Last year it was occupied by the OnePlus 2 and Honor 7, but with entering in just fourth-month only the year has seen a lot of handsets in this segment. The most recent ones include Xiaomi Mi 5, Oppo F1 Plus and Vivo V3 Max. These are some of the devices that sport heavy duty specifications for a pricing around Rs 20-25K.
We have used all of these handsets and have posted a review about half of them. And the one thing that we realized recently was that they were not quite significant when it comes to software experience. This realization came when we got to use the recently launched handset, Mark 1, from CREO. A Bangalore-based company whose first phone offers a lot of promising software features that will prove quite valuable to the usage of a smartphone. The Indian brand promises new monthly updates, where the device will be receiving new features and performance improvement as if the phone is new.
Note: The brand isn’t going to give you a new phone every month, which was evident, but we are stating the fact.
How does CREO Mark 1 become a New Phone Every Month?
We consumers forget what is important when it comes to the smartphone experience. With specification war going on among mobile manufacturers, sometimes it’s hard to think about what software features we would like to have on our smartphone. Thanks to the developers at CREO who got it figured out. When asked about why didn’t you change the interface design; the official statement we got was somewhere around this, “We want Android smartphone users to have stock UI and yet offer features that no one has bothered to offer.” Not in exact those words, but this Indian company has finally got some things right. And that is why the Mark 1 is more about software experience rather than hardware.
But just so you know, as far as specifications go, the brand is offering decently powerful specs on the Mark 1. If you are not aware of it, let’s get you aware on that.
The Mark 1 comes with a 5.5-inch Quad HD display, which let me tell you is quite stunning. The color output seemed great, even though it was shiny, I found it leaves fewer smudges than most of the recent handsets (Mi 5 & Galaxy S7) that I have used. While I can’t say that’s true for the rear side, as it is a fingerprint magnet. The device is sandwiched between glass body with metal construction running through all edges; it’s the most sturdiest handset I have felt in the recent times in this price point.
Though there are some things I didn’t like about its design, as the stiff volume rocker and power buttons, they require the hard press to operate. Most of all I didn’t like how bulky the device feels; switching from Xiaomi Mi 5 to Mark 1, that is, moving from the 129 grams to 190 grams phone. It’s quite the weight that one won’t like to carry in their jeans pocket. Although, as much as I would hate the large size and weight, the impressive 2K display made it all worth it, as most of the time I have been browsing YouTube videos on this handset.
Powered by a MediaTek Helio X10 chipset, which packs True Octa-cores clocking at 1.95GHz makes it a decent powerhouse when accompanied with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 128GB via microSD card slot. It has a 3100mAh capacity battery, which supports fast charging. It might be too early for the performance and battery parts review, so I’ll skip that for my detail posted (Review) later. But I can give you the glimpse of the software features it promises. The Fuel OS (very impressive name BTW) running on the device is based on Android Lollipop 5.1.1 version. Below I have briefly highlighted some of the exciting features of the Fuel OS.
Sense is a universal search bar, which gives you streamlined results for everything present on your handset. You might be thinking that even Google Now launcher offers such feature, which is, showing apps installed on the device, as well as searching through contacts. But there is a difference that makes up for the better experience. The Sense can search through phone settings; it proves quite helpful when you want to enable some feature that is seating inside number of options.
For instance, gesture option to enable the double tap to wake up functionality. If you go with conventional way, you would first have to open the settings and then tap on gesture and again scroll through options to find the one you’re looking for. While with Sense, you can just double tap the home button (or swipe down on the home screen) from anywhere in the app or home screen and this search bar will open. Moreover, it is interesting to note even if you type food rather than the food apps name installed on your device; it will show up in the list. That goes for recharging apps and many other things; Sense intelligently understands the category of apps installed on the device.
This is like having a personal answering machine on your smartphone. Yes, you read that right, with Echo the company has finally put an answering machine on a smartphone. Without the involvement of mobile operators/carriers anyone from another smartphone (regardless of make & mobile version) can leave a voice message on your Mark 1. This would prove quite helpful if you’re in a meeting and the person on other end want to leave you some information.
How does it work? Well, whenever someone calls there are some options appear; accept, reject and text. But on this handset the Echo option has been added, now you can swipe up to receive an Echo whenever you’re too busy to take calls. What’s more interesting is that if the calls get unattended for more than 30 seconds (it can be customized), then Echo will receive the message for you if the person on other end wants to leave a message after the beep. Meanwhile, you can also add a personal 10 seconds message greeting your caller and asking to leave a message in case they want to.
This is another one of the revolutionary features that company claims is introduced for the first time on any smartphone. Retriever swears to protect & serve your Mark 1 smartphone. The service is foolproof in detecting the theft of your device. As pointed by the CEO, Sai Srinivas, there are more than 200,000 reports of stolen phones in the country, now imagine many don’t even file a complaint as it’s hard to retrieve your handset once it gets stolen.
There are some services like Android Device Manager, which access the location of your device, but it needs a device to be connected to the internet. But with this feature on the CREO handset, it doesn’t need an internet connection to detect the location where the new SIM is inserted. Moreover, the company promises that you’ll also get the SIM number, time stamp and exact location of where the SIM was detected. You don’t have to worry about even if the device is factory reseted, as it will work. Now that is something Google should have figured out and offered on the Stock Android.
These were some of the interesting features that we were able to explore extensively. Though, it doesn’t stop here as there are many additional features that we would like you to see on the Mark 1. But that is for sometime later, as we are still in the initial phase of testing this handset. You can look forward to a detailed review of the device sometime next week. If you have any query about the device or services? Shoot them in the comments section below.