Like current mavericks of the Indian smartphone space Oppo and Vivo, Gionee focuses its efforts on brick-and-mortar stores in India, in an offline-first sales and distribution strategy. It’s helped the brand achieve a fair bit in its time in the country, with particularly good sales figures in parts of North India. This year’s key range of smartphones from Gionee has been the A1 range, which already has the A1 and A1 Plus which were launched earlier this year.
Today, we’re reviewing the Gionee A1 Lite, which is the third and most affordable device in the A1 range from the Chinese company. Priced at Rs 14,999, the phone comes with mid-range specifications, but has an above-average front camera and battery to boast of. We’ve reviewed the Gionee A1 Lite, and here’s what we think.
Uninspiring design, dated specs
The Gionee A1 Lite is an ordinary-looking smartphone. There’s very little that stands out here, and there are no distinct features that are worth mentioning. Even visual elements and features that should be considered basic at this price level are missing, such as a lack of backlighting on the capacitive keys and a plastic frame. While the back of the phone is metal, the sides are plastic, which feels tacky and doesn’t give the phone a very solid build.
Considering the price of the Gionee A1 Lite, it faces direct competition from the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Moto G5S Plus. Even in the offline space, devices such as the Oppo A57 and Vivo V5 are available at similar prices, and it makes sense to compare these devices to the Gionee A1 Lite.
While the online-exclusive devices are far better specified as is usually the case, even the offline-first options here are notably better specified than the Gionee A1 Lite, which comes with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage (expandable through a dedicated slot) and a 4000mAh battery. It’s powered by the now two-year-old MediaTek MT6753 SoC, and has a 5.3-inch 720×1280-pixel screen. Therefore, when it comes to specifications, the Gionee A1 Lite can be considered average at best.
This is also the case when it comes to performance. Although the phone functions as you would expect a mid-range phone to in most cases, there are times when the phone simply doesn’t perform up to the mark expected for a Rs 15,000 device. From the low-resolution of the screen to the occasional lag and stutter, to the slow loading times and frame-drops when using graphically-intensive apps, the Gionee A1 Lite doesn’t quite perform as it should.
Additionally, while the Gionee A1 Lite is running on Amigo OS 4.0 on top of Android 7.0, the interface is a bit oddly laid out and lacks any real visual appeal. Simply put, this isn’t the ideal phone for users who want reliable performance, customizability and comfortable usage. The device does tend to be a frustrating to use, particularly with multi-tasking and intensive apps.
Front camera and battery life define the phone
While the rest of the Gionee A1 Lite might not be praiseworthy, the device does come through in two departments. The first is the 20-megapixel front camera on the device has an aperture of f/2.0, and also has a dedicated lamp flash for well-lit selfies. The rear camera is a standard 13-megapixel shooter that also takes acceptable enough photos for the price, but the focus of the Gionee A1 Lite is definitely on the growing market for buyers looking at selfie-centric phones.
Pictures taken with the front camera are good, thanks to the sheer detail afforded by the large sensor. The software uses algorithms to detect faces and automatically modifies brightness and colors to properly highlight faces in selfies, neatly bypassing the flaws that are typically found in front cameras thanks to the lack of variable focus.
(Camera samples shot with the Gionee A1 Lite)
The camera’s tuning is geared purely around selfies, with the fixed focus set to shoot capably within the typical distance range that you’d keep between the camera and faces. Skin tones, detail and lighting are usually up to the mark, and the strong lamp flash at the front ensures light correction for the camera to work with even in low-light conditions.
The rear camera, while not quite as capable as the offering on the Xiaomi Mi A1, is still good enough to take decent pictures in most conditions. There are no real tricks here, although the rear camera does gain a bit from the algorithms that help the front camera get lighting and brightness right. However, if you’re considering the Gionee A1 Lite, it’s likely because you intend to use the front camera more than the rear camera. If that’s the case, the 13-megapixel rear camera should be fine for you.
The next big advantage is the 4000mAh battery. Smartphones tend to have batteries around 3000mAh in capacity, which does fall a bit short if your usage is heavy and won’t always get you through the day. With its larger battery and optimization, the Gionee A1 Lite does get through a day on a single charge with moderate use. While you’d expect more, it’s worth noting that battery life would be better if not for heat issues caused by the dated and average SoC. If you can keep the phone cool, you should have no trouble in getting decent battery life out of the Gionee A1 Lite.
The Gionee A1 Lite sits in what is perhaps the hottest price category in the Indian smartphone market, and represents the brand and its values accordingly. And while performance and design do leave something to be desired, the A1 Lite does come through in two departments that have defined Gionee’s approach to the segment; camera and battery.
With a good set of cameras, a particularly good front camera and battery life that will outdo many others in the price segment, the Gionee A1 Plus has the sheer numbers to win over buyers. With a decent fingerprint sensor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, the phone does not skimp on the things that buyers have come to expect from a Rs 15,000 smartphone. It’s worth a look if you want a good selfie shooter and battery life, but you’d be better served by other devices if you need a more rounded experience or are willing to shop online.
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