Innjoo i1s Review: Disruption at the bottom

On paper, the Innjoo i1s promises a lot of value for the price. We have had a go with the device and have our Innjoo i1s review ready.

A week ago, I had never heard of the name Innjoo. Today, I am quite a fan. How did that come to happen? It was the combination of Android Kitkat, quad-core processor and price that first caught my attention. It was impossible not to get interested in seeing what a N14,000 5-inch, quad-core processor smartphone would perform. From the moment I first read about the Innjoo i1s, I knew that I had to get my hands on one. A quick run-down of specs:

SIM type: Mini-SIM/Dual SIM
Released: July, 2014
Dimension: 142.0 x 72.7 x 9.3 mm
Weight: 156g
Display: 5.0 inches, 854 x 480 pixels
Memory: 8GB, plus micro SD card slot
Camera: 5MP back with LED flash, 0.3MP front-facing
OS: Android 4.4 Kitkat
Chipset: Mediatex MT6592
CPU: Quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex A7
GPU: Mali-400-MP2
RAM: 1GB
Radio: Yes
Battery: 1,900 mAh
Price: N14,000

You can get the full specs here.

Innjoo i1s front

Innjoo i1s UNBOXING

i1s on box
The packaging is rather lovely: a glossy white box with the brand name embossed in red. Accessories bundled include: USB cable and wall plug. Dazall.

Innjoo i1s  accessories

Innjoo i1s Review: HARDWARE AND DESIGN

The Innjoo i1s is made of plastic, yet you will notice that some attention went into the design and finishing. There is a faux metal lining around the sides, giving it a measure of premium looks.

There’s 8GB of internal storage and a micro SD card slot. The display is 5 inches in size, and with a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels, it comes to a PPI of only 196. In real life usage, it isn’t bad. There is no Gorilla Glass and sunlight legibility is poor. Once out in the open, you will need to crank the brightness up to the brightest to be able to use it. It isn’t a stellar display, but it is not that there are any stellar displays at the price range, so it is just fine.

Innjoo i1s Review: SOFTWARE

Innjoo i1s app menu
The i1s runs Android 4.4 Kitkat, which is novel at the price point. That means you are almost bang up-to-date with Android OS. The UI is light on customisation: icons look different from pure Android. I suspect its just a custom launcher baked into the device.

Innjoo i1s Review: CAMERA

Innjoo i1s  rear
The 5 megapixel camera on the i1s is a standard 5 megapixel shooter. An LED flash assists with low-light settings, and of course works best within a few metres. Photography in adequate natural lighting is okay, but resolution is not great. It does not belong in the class of the best 5 megapixel shooters.

The camera does have an HDR mode and gives you access to manual controls, so you can tweak if you are a hobbyist. There is a 0.3 megapixel front camera for your selfies and video calls.

MULTIMEDIA

There is a pre-installed Music player and Video player. Media playback for both is standard fare for budget level phones. The loudspeaker is mono and adequate. Using a headset gets you better audio, which is almost a given across most devices.

Innjoo i1s Review: NETWORK, CALLS & INTERNET

Innjoo i1s  SIM slots
The i1s is a dual SIM phone, with both SIM slots being the Mini SIm standard. That’s the normal SIM card type. The i1s holds on to network signals fairly well.

You can pick what network to use for calls and SMS, or set it to ask you each time you initiate a call or want to send out a message. In call, the microphone and earpiece speaker sometimes come across as weak. Using a Bluetooth headset, I got better audio quality during my telephone calls.

The i1s offers 3G/3.5G internet and you can determine which of either SIM cards is pegged to 3G.

WiFi is here, and the phone can be used as a WiFi hotspot too.

PERFORMANCE, APPLICATIONS & GAMING
Performance-wise, the Innjoo i1s is impressive. Powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core CPU and 1 GB of RAM, I needed to know how it performs. So, I pitted it against some of the finest mid-range quad-core Android smartphones, and it performed quite admirably, beating back the Motorola Moto G, Huawei Honor 3C and LG L90 D410.

Here are its raw benchmark results:

  • AnTuTu Benchmark: 17,998
  • Quadrant Benchmark: 8,619

I am not an app junkie: I install only what I need. I have 26 apps installed on the i1s, and it runs fairly smooth. It isn’t flagship smooth, but then you weren’t expecting that from a device squaring off in the low to mid range arena.

I did run into a problem that is common to budget devices: the allocation of internal space to applications is very small – a mere 0.89GB. So, very soon I ran out of storage space for applications. While I was able to move some apps to SD card, I finally hit that point where there are no more apps to move to SD card and the phone keeps returning an insufficient space error when I try installing some large apps. I wouldn’t hold this against the i1s, except that it has memory specs similar to the Moto G, Honor 3C and L90 D410, and none of them gave me those issues when I reviewed them.

BATTERY
Innjoo i1s battery

The i1s has a removable 1900 mAh battery. I had fears that this would be a weak spot off the i1s, as it is for most budget smartphones. I was not wrong. If you are a heavy user, you will need to plug in the i1s at least twice a day. Sometimes thrice.

My regular use case scenrio: active WiFi connection, two active SIMs, light to moderate phone calls, two email accounts, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram synchronising and in use, BBM and WhatsApp active, and moderate web browsing. With this scenario, the most I could squeeze out of the battery was 7 hours and 41 minutes. Many times, I got significantly lower.

Fairly moderate users can get by with plugging in twice. In my opinion, you will need a power bank as a companion to the i1s. Battery certainly isn’t this device’s strongest point.

MISCELLANEOUS
Default keyboard is Google keyboard. I simply installed the new Android L keyboard with “Material” design and I lived happily ever after. That keyboard is much better than the current Google keyboard.

There is a pre-installed file manager and Battery Doctor.

Innjoo i1s  Docs To Go and Amazon Store

Docs To Go is also pre-installed for managing Office documents. However, when I launched it, it threw up an error about Amazon Appstore being required. The app wouldn’t run without Amazon appstore. Bummer. However, there are plenty of free Office editors available in Google Play, so no worries. But I wasn’t able to download any because of the earlier mentioned insufficient memory issue.

Innjoo Store

Innjoo has its own store, Innjoo Store, that comes pre-installed on the i1s. This is in addition to Google Play on the device. Innjoo says on its website that it plans to make money off services and not from selling hardware, which explains the price of this device. The Innjoo Store offers app downloads, app updates, automatic updates, and a download manager. I haven’t figured out what extras it brings to the table beyond what Google Play does.

CONCLUSION

Innjoo i1s presented
The InnJoo i1s is incredible value for money. It is a combination of entry level and mid-range features at a price point that no-one can argue with. It beats every other Android smartphone at the same price point and outdoes many other mid-range Android smartphones. All for the price of an entry level Android smartphone.

No; I am not just happy with the InnJoo i1s. I am very impressed at what has been pulled off here. And yes; I heartily recommend it if you are shopping for a sub-N15,000 Android smartphone. It is incredible value for money.

Award-winning Content creator, Digital marketing consultant, Trainer, Conference speaker, and Nigeria's pioneer and foremost mobile phone reviewer. Legend.

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