Friday, 12 April 2013

Gionee Dream D1 Mobile Review

GIONEE, a firm that has made a name for itself in China’s phone market, which incidentally is the largest smartphone market in the world.

India is the second-biggest cellphone market in the world. At a time when smartphones are fast replacing feature phones, several companies are eyeing this market with interest. One of them is Gionee, a firm that has made a name for itself in China's phone market, which incidentally is the largest smartphone market in the world.

Gionee, just like many other Chinese cellphone manufacturers, makes devices for other companies on a contract as well as sells phone using its own brand. It claims that 23 million Gionee phones were sold in China in 2012. Many of the smartphones sold by Indian OEMs have been actually made by Gionee.

Recently, the company launched Gionee Dream D1, a dual-sim phone, in India. On paper, it is a fairly well-endowed device. And with a price of around Rs 18,000 it seems to offer a lot of value.

But does it offer enough to entice you despite carrying an unfamiliar brand name? The answer is NO. But this doesn't mean Dream D1 is not a good phone.

Form Factor Bar
Screen Type HD Super Amoled Plus
Screen Size 4.65 inches
Protection Gorilla Glass 2
Processor Quad Core Cortex A7
Speed 1.2 GHz
Internal Memory 4GB, 1GB RAM
Extendable Memory TF, up to 32GB
Camera Features
Sensor Resolution 8MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels
Features Face Detection, Geo-Tagging, Touch Focus
Video Recording HD Video Recording
Front facing camera 1MP
General Features
OS Android
Version 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
FM Radio Yes
Bluetooth Features Yes, v4.0 with A2DP
Dual Sim Support Yes
GPS Yes, with A-GPS Support
Browser Yes
Available Colours Graphite Black
Carrier Networks
2G GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G HSDPA 900/2100 MHz
WiFi 802.11
Dimensions 67 x 8.6 x 130 mm
Media Player Music formats: MP3
Video formats: MP4, H.264/H.263
Type Li-Ion
Capacity(mAh) 2100
Miscellaneous Features
Built in Applications Facebook
Yahoo Mail
Other Features Proximity Sensor, G-Sensor, E-Compass, Light Sensor, Face Unlock, Digital Compass, 316ppi (the most distinct and clear display)
After Sales Service
Warranty Period 1 Year

Good mix of Premium finish and good hardware
The Dream D1 is a well-built handset. It uses a shell made of plastic but with different patterns. The back cover, which can be taken off to access battery, two sim slots and micro SD card slot, is made using matte plastic with a grainy pattern. It feels nice to touch. The rest of the body, including the chin below the back cover, uses glossy plastic. The finish is very good and the plastic feels sturdy. Screen is covered with the Gorilla glass that adds to the sturdiness of the device. The glossy plastic, however, is prone to scratches.

Dream D1 uses onscreen buttons and hence has a minimalist design. With a screen size of 4.65 inches, it is a compact phone. Unlike the phones with five-inch screen, which dot the budget smartphone segment, the Dream D1 can be easily used with single hand.

The most striking feature, at least on the paper, of the Dream D1 is its Super AMOLED Plus screen with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The device packs in components typical of the current mid-range smartphones. It is powered by a quad-core processor - MT 6589 - made by MediaTek. The chip runs at a speed of up to 1.2GHz. It has a single core of PowerVR 544 to handle graphics and 1GB RAM. The phone comes with 4GB internal storage. A 16GB microSD card has been bundled with the device. It has two cameras: The rear camera can click images in 8 mega pixels while the front camera is capable of taking photos in up to 1 mega pixel.

Processor - Neither too fast nor too slow
Dream D1 is powered by Android 4.1 aka Jelly Bean operating system. Except a few changes in the notification shade - it has shortcuts to toggle settings for GPS, data connection, screen rotation etc with single click - and the shape of icons, the user interface has not been changed. This is good because the stock user interface in Android is polished and looks slick.

Despite a quad-core processor, the phone lags when a user is accessing apps or switching between a few running apps. It's not a deal breaker but Dream D1 doesn't feel as smooth as Androids phones like Galaxy Grand or Canvas HD do. Fortunately, everything else works well. Pinch-to-zoom while web browsing is smooth, games like Temple Run play well, speakers are loud and most of the videos in popular formats like MP4 and AVI can be played with ease. We used the phone with apps like Google Navigation and RunKeeper successfully but the GPS was little slow in connecting to satellites.
On paper, the biggest selling point for Dream D1 is its Super AMOLED Plus screen. In actual use, we found the screen to be very good but with a few minor annoyances. Given that it uses AMOLED panel, it shows punchy and saturated colours. The high resolution means the text is sharp and you will not mind reading a lengthy article or two on this device. But if AMOLED is the screen's strength, it is also its weakness. AMOLED requires lot more fine-tuning for accurate colours compared to IPS screens. We found that Dream D1 screen has a hint of green tinge, which makes white colour look dull. We also found that the brightness was on lower side, especially during outdoor use.

The 8 mega-pixel camera is average. It clicked photos that were acceptable for use on social media sites like Twitter or Instagram. But low-light performance was poor and images shot in dimly-lit areas showed lots of grain. The feed from front camera looked a bit dull during video chats but was acceptable for a mid-range smartphone.

The battery life is competitive. When fully charged, the phone lasts a little over 13 hours when used with 3G connection for emails, Twitter, web browsing, some photography, calls and some gaming. Needless to say, it is easy to get the full-day smartphone experience on single charge from Dream D1.

Pros: Great build quality
          Compact form factor that makes it easy to use
          Screen that can show vibrant colours
          Good hardware

Cons: A bit of lag in user interface
           Price too high  

Buy it or not !!!
Dream D1 has its plus points. It fits well in hand and has a fantastic build quality. The overall smartphone experience with Dream D1 is good. Everything works well, screen is vibrant and the core hardware is decent. There is a bit of lag when you access apps but it is a minor annoyance.

Yet, we feel that there are better options in the market. The reason why we say this is the price of Dream D1. With an MRP of Rs 17,999 - the market price is likely to be lower -- it is overpriced, especially for a device sold by a company new to India. While Gionee has told us that it is committed to provide best aftersales support to Indian consumers, buying Dream D1 is a leap of faith at the moment for people who have probably never heard of the company.

This wouldn't have mattered if Dream D1 was a phone vastly superior to products with similar prices. But it is not. It competes well but offers nothing special that can make us recommend it over the products from more familiar brands in India. Choose it only if you find Canvas HD or Galaxy Grand too big and Xperia P too small.

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