CREO Sense, you might be hearing this word since past couple weeks now, it is a Bangalore based budding startup that recently got into the smartphone business with their Mark 1. For those who didn’t know, a brief background of the company. They initially went by name Mango Man Media, and their first product was a dongle called TeeWee, which was in direct competition with Google Chromecaset. After its success, the company got funding for releasing a smartphone, and here we are. This is not our first coverage of the Mark 1 smartphone, as we have exclusively covered the software features that company has been touting. Especially we tested the Retriever feature that claims to offer better ways to retrieve your lost/stolen Mark 1 as they have added hardware level chips to track the device, as said by founder, Sai Srinivas. Now it’s about time for the review of the Mark 1. Let’s get started.
The first thing that you’ll notice about the smartphone is that how heavy it is at 190 gram when comes to the competition. But as heavy it might be, the device offers one of the sturdiest builds we have seen in the sub 20K price bracket. With a unibody design sandwich between glass bodies, it is quite a fingerprint magnet on both the side. I will not say it’s too slippery, but rather argue that it’s too reflective on both sides. The device doesn’t feel comfortable at all while holding in one hand, so no points for comfortability. While talking about thickness, it has an 8.7mm thickness, which is nowhere near being slim. The best thing about the design apart from the sturdy build is that you get button placements, as well as ports placements too. Overall, the design looks good, but it doesn’t feel good in hands. What good that would do, huh.
This is just one of the most vivid displays one can hope to have in this segment; you get massive 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution on a 5.5-inch real estate, which is a huge deal. In terms of the pixel, there are not many devices that can beat the 534 PPI (Pixel Per Inch) score of this display. The Mark 1 not only comes with better pixel density but has a good color reproduction, as I mention colors look vivid on this screen. Moreover, they offer good viewing angles as well, although, in the sunlight, the adjustment has to be made in order to see the content as they are hardly viewable. Just like the rear side, which is a fingerprint magnet, the display seems to be same as well. I can still argue it is one of the better displays out there in this segment.
We had some talks with developers at CREO, when asked why they didn’t customize the interface as many buddying manufacturers are offering these days. The answer I got was that their philosophy is simple, they want their user to have best software interface, which they believe is offered by Stock Android. The interface is called Fuel OS, which is based on the Android Lollipop. And the whole point of introducing this handset was that they’ll be offering new software updates every month that promises to improve experience, just like using a new phone. Though, they have done some changes such as the recent menu offers a better look at what’s going on in apps running in the background, while the Stock UI fails to offer that. But overall, the stock Android is quite better and offers the cleanest look as well. Integrating their features such as Echo, a first of its kind voicemail built right in the software. Sense, a faster way to searching almost anything, from apps to contacts, you can open a dedicated system option, which is nothing like I have ever seen on any OS. A commendable job in terms of software experience, which is easily the USP of this device.
Hardware & Performance
The device packs a Helios X10, which is a MediaTek flagship chipset, packing eight cores. They clock at 1.95GHz and have a PowerVR G6200 chipset, which is a GPU for carrying out graphics processing. I wouldn’t say it is the most powerful chipset in this price range; maybe a Qualcomm processor would have been a better option. We have seen Helios X10 in the handset priced around Rs11K, so a smartphone, which is priced Rs 20K sporting this processor doesn’t really makes a good point for sale. In terms of performance also, it’s not that the chipset doesn’t support the 2K display, but gaming experience could have been better, if the company had optimized the performance. Multitasking is easy thanks to the simplest recent menu UI, which is again a software advantage, but not the processor, which can’t manage more than a couple of heavy duty games at a time. The heating is considerably high; maybe the glass body can be blamed for it. It has a 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 128GB via microSD card slot. The fact that it doesn’t have a fingerprint sensor is a big disadvantage, and might be a deal breaker for some smartphone consumers.
Packing a heavy duty 21-megapixel resolution sensor on the rear, the Mark 1 has got a good camera sensor in the form of Sony IMX230, which is the most widely used 21MP module of Sony. The aperture number of the lens is f/2.0. It has been seen on the handsets from Motorola, Honor, and LeEco handsets, as far as we tested, they performed quite well. And this is not a bad exception. The color reproduction quality is impressive, good white balance and exposure levels in auto settings. There are many modes that you can play around within the camera app, such as Live Photo, 3D Photo, and Panorama, apart from HDR and normal captures. The rear module is good for videography too, as it offers dedicated settings for recording Timelapse and Slow-motion videos. It is not usual that companies offer slow motion videos recording in 1080p resolution, but that is available on this handset. For selfie lovers, there is an 8-megapixel resolution on the front to take all the selfies you want to. It has an aperture number of f/2.0 and can record up to 1080p at 30fps rate, which is great. With 86 degrees of Field of View, you can fit a lot of family members or friends in one selfie.
Battery & Connectivity
The battery capacity of the device is at 3100mAh, which is quite low considering the standards these days are quite high. Since it has a 2K display to power, we felt the battery capacity was short. But considering the low power consuming chipset, the battery life wasn’t that bad, but quite average. The standby time particularly wasn’t pretty. It supports fast charging, but the device could hardly charge at a fast pace. Talking about the connectivity, it has a 4G LTE support; the mobile data speed was quite on par with other handsets that we have used it with a same SIM card. The other usual connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS, GOLNASS, BeiDou and microUSB 2.0 port.
CREO has identified a need of better software experiences and even worked hard to implement the shortcoming we have seen on other handsets in terms of the software experiences. I would say that Fuel OS lives up to the hype, as it offers swift functionality and features that actually prove to be resourceful and convenient. But I’m afraid that hardware doesn’t live up to the hype with an exception of the display. The performance of the processor is just not enough to call it a multi-tasker, as well as battery life is average too.