Gionee had been offering some of the unique smartphones in India since when company started their operation in a country couple of years back. They’ve smartphone line-up dedicated to cameras, slimness, and battery. Before them, there were not many brands focusing on different portfolios of smartphones. Now that trend has begun, and it has grown quite fast that every month you see a launch of iconic smartphone that promises to disrupt the portfolio, or either the entire range.
Consumers of mobile users in India are living in the age of the smartphone; it’s not just about choices, but people in India are getting latest mobile phones before other countries. India is now considered to be a part of large mobile hub among the big brands. To showcase that love, the company has keenly shown interest to the “Make in India” campaign run by the Govt.
As a matter of fact, Gionee has also taken part in this campaign, as the company would be investing $50 million to manufacture their newly announced F and already existing P series handsets in India. Just for your information, our review unit was not Made in India.
With F103 Smartphone, company debuts its fashion-focused series in India and set on to achieve new goals. What are those goals? Would it be fulfilled? Is this an ultimate mid-range smartphone? We answer all the questions that you might have for the Gionee’s F103 Smartphone in our detailed review.
F standing for fashion, the new F103 is designed keeping in mind the youth generation of India. Carrying a fashion tonality for the audience in here, one of the top Chinese manufacturers wants to build for India. Or we can say they’ve already built for India.
The new device offers a sleek lightweight design that has everything to be proud of. The edges have been given golden finish all around the body, which are made out of metal. It’s not a unibody design; so you get a removable back panel, which is quite solid. The device has capacitive buttons instead of on-screen buttons.
Moving ahead on talk of ports and buttons, you get volume rocker keys and power button on the right edge of the device, left edge is kept empty. While on the top edge there is a 3.5mm audio jack and microUSB 2.0 port is placed on bottom edge alongside microphone.
Coming to the rear side, underneath the back panel device houses Dual SIM slots, as well as microSD card slot. The camera module is present on the top alongside the LED flash. Below that is a Gionee branding, and when you go further down, the speaker grill is present there. Backside is specifically made to reflect, but our white unit doesn’t have much reflection on it. Even with smooth plastic surface we thought it was not at all slippery as we hold the device in one hand. The back of the phone was not at all smudgy, well not at least smudgier than the front.
Overall, it kind of feels like the combination of S and P series, as the F103 packs sturdiness of P series, but the design of S series. I’m not exactly saying that it’s a slim device, but it is quite neatly designed to fit in hands and look attractive.
The F103 comes with a 5-inch display that offers 720p resolution. I was not pleased to know that there is no Corning Gorilla Glass protection on the display. Instead, you get Dragontrail protection that is not exactly a tough layer. It might not offer the strength and scratchproof abilities of Corning Glass, but we were quite satisfied with touch responsiveness. So, you needn’t worry about the experience, but I would suggest you take care of the display since it’s no Gorilla Glass.
The display felt quite sharp for only 720p resolution. Most importantly I liked the color reproduction on the screen while playing graphic intense games like Asphalt 8. On full brightness, the colors glow beautifully on the display. Of Course, there is an option of turning ON Adaptive brightness, which would adapt the level according to light conditions.
There are more display settings available on F103 that might personalize the experience. Such one option is the LCD effect; you get three modes in that, Neutral, Cool Color and Warm Color. I would suggest you keep it neutral; at least I like the colors in neutral.
The sunlight legibility is pretty good on F103; you can see the content clearly under direct sunlight, but only with full brightness. Talking about the viewing angles, they are pretty decent for an HD screen. Though with PPI count of less than 300, the images don’t look much clear once you zoom-in the high-resolution image. Nowadays you can even get a full HD display in the mid-range, so why to opt a device with HD Display anyway.
Here’s come an Android skin that actually feels snappier and more finished than ever. The Amigo UI of Gionee has already been renamed as Amigo OS and the F103 runs on that skin. The Amigo 3.0 is based on Android Lollipop 5.0 version, which is not the latest version of Lollipop, but it feels bug-free.
The interface looks like a tweaked version of what we saw on the Elife S7; there are a couple of changes done, some according to device hardware while some to make it cleaner. And that pretty much worked for me. Now I just hope that F103 gets Lollipop 5.1 update soon where I’ll have some extra features to play around.
It comes packed with tons of bloatware, while half of them are useful to many users, other half would be junk for non-gamers, as it packs games like Spider-Man, Danger Dash, Asphalt Nitro, Real Football 2014. But remember, these are only trial games, you’ll be asked to download further data to start playing pre-installed games.
Smart gestures are quick, good for a mid-range smartphone, although, now many devices offer them. They have become the necessary part of Android skins. You can initiate any app launch by drawing the specified letter and it is quite quick. Smartly using the integrated sensors on device, these gestures do make your tasks efficient.
Talking about the internal storage there was around 10GB of internal storage available on the device out of 16GB. It’s good for an average user, but if you’re a heavy user then you might run out of storage pretty fast. That’s when the microSD card support comes in, but unfortunately it supports only up to 32GB that is quite disappointing. Though, you get an OTG USB support, which comes in handy. We tried and tested the support and it works fine. These things come in handy when you talk of storage convenience on the go.
Hardware & Performance
Gionee’s first F series handset packs an Octa-core MediaTek MT6735 chipset, it can clock up to 1.3GHz. Accompanying is the Mali-T720 GPU on a device that makes it possible to run heavy graphic intense games. There is a 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage support on the device, which has become sort of a standard in the mid-range. It is Gionee’s first such device that is priced almost correctly according to its specifications.
The gaming part was quite fun on F103 because it didn’t lag at all giving me the satisfiable experience. Moreover, the scenery during game play looked stunning. The Asphalt 8 and Riptide GP2 were two games that I played on the device. The overall performance was quite good, and you can’t expect the processor to be able to play heavy games and make the switch between them easily. Although, the device can handle many apps at a time, which was surprising considering it is not that powerful chipset.
The speaker output was not loud, but I still like the clarity in sound. Since, it’s placed on the back bottom, the speaker grill gets blocked when you play games that require you to hold in landscape mode.
Moving on to the benchmark score on the device, it scored around 21000 on Antutu App while the device scores 2054 for Browser, 1008 for Metal and 1441 for Multicore on Vellamo App. Not the best scores, but it does beat Meizu MX4 in Metal score, which was last year’s flagship from Meizu. And almost equal score to Asus Zenfone 2 in Multi-core.
The F103 packs an 8-megapixel shooter on the rear while on the front there is a 5-megapixel snapper. In terms of color reproduction the rear shooter is one of the nice cameras you will see in a mid-range. While the white saturation was not at all good, as the details seemed to be washed out sometimes. Though, the megapixel count isn’t exactly on par with current mid-range standards. Therefore, don’t expect the captures to be that detail oriented.
You can get the good daylight captures on the device but with some real hard work. Out of ten times, I experienced bad focusing on the F103 rear camera. Apart from the megapixel count, the focusing should also be good on a camera. Even though it is claimed to have Autofocus, the camera seemed to be struggling for the focus. The issue seem to be there when I tried to get Macro shots as well as during low-light captures.
There are some modes available on the camera app, such as HDR, Pro, PicNote, Beauty, etc. Since focusing seems to be slow, it affected the HDR captures too, by making the delay time more. I preferred the Normal mode over HDR on the F103 while if you know the way around to camera stats, then you can manually set exposure, ISO, and many more aspects according to need.
The rear camera disappoints in low light conditions as the captures lack details even during some dim light conditions. Though, the images look detailed when we took captures with LED flash ON.
The front-facing camera on the device is a treat, as it offers excellent details and colors reproduction. I would recommend the selfie cam on F103 for low light as well, it won’t capture full detail but is one of the best selfie cams in the mid-range.
Requires some patience to take great captures, it’s not good if you want a camera phone with quick capturing abilities. Overall, I would say that this is a decent camera for a mid-range device, which can capture good shots for social media sharing.
The fashioned focused device offers good battery life when it comes to standby time. But not quite good if you’re a heavy user. The battery drop over the 7 hours of idle time was 4%, which is quite good for the device with the 2400mAh capacity battery. It’s not the largest capacity on a 5-inch device but is considered to be quite good.
Talking about the screen-on-time it gave me fair amount at 4 hours, which is more than you could ask for such battery capacity. I was using my SIM card, and all the social accounts on the device while keeping the brightness at a medium level. So, it was more than average usage, which is good.
The charging time isn’t the fastest, as you can get the device charged from zero to hundred within 2 hours. There are some powers saving modes available on the device if you ever stuck in an emergency crisis. Under the power management in Settings app, you get Normal Mode and Extreme mode, which would close the background apps and services accordingly. In normal mode, it can last for double than your standard mode while in the extreme mode the claimed estimated time is five times what was offered in Normal mode.
Talking about the connectivity the F103 packs a unique dual SIM support. One for GSM and one for CDMA SIM. I have been using my GSM SIM in the first slot, but it also worked in the second slot. So, it looks like there is an auto-detection feature that’ll detect which type of SIM you’ve inserted. Technically, the device shouldn’t allow you to store two GSM or two CDMA SIM. But we haven’t tested that as CDMA SIM was not available with us.
“We got confirmation from company officials that the F103 in India won’t support CDMA SIM. But note that MT6735 Chipset supports World Mode (GSM and CDMA), so there’s a hope that Indian variant might offer support in future via software updates. The retail packaging says there is a support of WCDMA but not a CDMA. These two standards are different.”
Apart from the 4G LTE connectivity, the F103 supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.0, GPS and few more necessary options. While talking about the call quality, it was quite good; I didn’t experience bad connection, even when I was talking with Bluetooth paired headphones. For a device in mid-range, this type of solid connection and unique Dual SIM support would act as a deal breaker.
Gionee has never offered anything like this before in the mid-range, earlier the only presence the company had in mid-range was their P Series handset, and the most recent one was Pioneer P6. I like to think the F series has the design of S Series and price of P Series handset from Gionee. A combination worth creating.
The things that I liked on F103 was its build quality; it has been a tremendous ride when I talk compactness and sturdiness of the device. It felt lighter than any mid-range smartphone and still somehow showed great strength.
There is a tough competition out there in the mid-range smartphone market.
There are contenders like Lenovo K3 Note, YU Yureka Plus, Huawei Honor 4X and many others. The only advantage F103 has over other devices in the attractive design, because it’s scarce among the mid-range smartphones. And if I take Dual SIM 4G Capability then it might not be good idea, as that feature is also available on a most affordable 4G phone in India.