The TECNO Q1 is An android smartphone that packs a hardware QWERTY keyboard. Naturally, it is expected that only users who are interested in a physical keyboard will be interested in this device. The Q1 is not as sexy as the P3. If the P3 were to be described as a lady, the Q1 would be a hunk – or a hulk. That’s not necesarily a bad thing. Many ladies would love be seen with hunks. Looks aside, it feels like a well built device. This one will hold up to some more serious abuse. Will it live up to expectations?
If you are not interested in the techie stuff, but just want to know if the TECNO Q1 works well, here is your section.
– solid hardware build
– cramped 2.6-inch display (Android UI’s large icons and real estate seem unsuited to small displays)
– text entry needs optimising: when typing, if you hit the Shift key to type a capital letter, you need to hit it again after typing that so as to return to lower case. Same process is required if you hit the Alt button to use numbers and symbols, you have to hit same button a second time to return to regular letter. This isn’t how we are used to typing, and it takes a bit of getting used to
– battery life is good and should keep through a busy day
– internal storage of 2GB, which is adequate; there are no “insufficient storage available” errors like occur on the P3 because of the very small internal storage space
– apps can also be installed on the microSD card as well
– an 8GB microSD card comes pre-installed in the Q1
– dual SIM functionality
– 13-month manufacturer’s warranty at TECNO service centres in the country for warranty and support issues
For the techies and geeks who love to read all the details, here is the part of the review that you want. The Q1 runs Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich and is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor and 512 MB of RAM. In use, the device runs smoothly. However, the limited 512 MB RAM means that apps shut down in the background a lot. Of course, when you launch them, they open back to where you left off. 512MB RAM is more than most products from the competition offer at this price range.
Apps, Management, Multitasking
Pre-installed apps include a Bible, a Quran, UC Browser, Yahoo Messenger, GO Keyboard, Af Market, PalmChat, Flash Share, Carlcare, Files, and Opera Mini, among others. There are also games by Gameloft. Little Big City is a game that looks like fun. I shall try it out later. There is also a handful of uninstalled app files on the phone – I counted 11 of them. The user can manually install these according to his wants. The Q1 allows you to set where you want your apps installed – phone memory or SD card.
I launched WhatsApp and got prompted to do an update, which I proceeded to run. First time on the Play Store, and that needed updating too, alongside 10 other app updates, but all updates were run over Wi-Fi without hitches, so all went well. In a few minutes, my mails were dropping in and all my contacts synchronised to the Q1 via Google. WhatsApp too was up and running in no time. I have not seen a single “insufficient Internal Storage” error in days of updating several apps. Pressing and holding the home button pops up the apps management menu, displaying a horizontal row of thumbnails of running (or most recently used) apps, from where you can select one of them.
Hardware QWERTY Keyboard
A hardware QWERTY keyboard is on board here, so we must look at text entry. The keyboard has large keys, and is comfortable to use. Very. However, text entry is spoiled a little by how the software works. The normal way text entry via keyboards work is that when you hit the uppercase key, the next alphabetic character that you type comes out in uppercase and the software switches back to lowercase automatically without you having to do anything. That is the same way that the ALT key works everywhere else. However, not so here on the Q1. Here, when you hit the shift key to type a capital letter, the software does not switch back after typing the next character. It stays in uppercase till you hit the shift key again. Same thing happens when you ht the Alt button to use numbers and symbols, you have to hit same button a second time to return to regular letter. This isn’t how we are used to typing, and it takes a bit of getting used to. It spoils an otherwise nice typing experience.
Update on text entry software
Like the TECNO P3, the Q1 comes with the Go keyboard aboard, and it turns out that when I activated and used this as default option for text entry, it corrects the above quirks and the typing experience is in line with how one is used to typing. I wonder why TECNO did not activate the Go keyboard as default from the factory. Also, do be sure to install the Go keyboard to the internal memory, or if you ever pop out the microSD card or use the phone as a USB drive with a PC, for that period, you are back to the quirky typing mode.
Using the Q1 as a phone is easy too. Of course, TECNO have become the gods of dual SIM phones, and that is present here on the Q1 as well. While the phone menu is not as sexy as the P3’s, it offers similar functionality. Once setup to ask which line to use when making calls, two dial buttons show up in the phone menu marked 1 and 2 to initiate a call on lines 1 and 2 respectively. To make a call, type out the number you want to call or select a contact and hit the corresponding green button. Presto!
Like most dual SIM Android smartphones that I have seen, the Q1 lets you peg one of the available SIMS on 3G for mobile internet. Both SIMs can be used for internet, but only one can be so pegged to 3G. This helps keep a lid on battery power consumption, of course. Network internet settings were automatically configured correctly for both Etisalat and MTN when I put their SIMs in. Wi-Fi is also available to use, if you have access to a hotspot. You can also configure and setup your Q1 as a hotspot too, which is standard Android fare these days.
For email, both the built-in Gmail app and the generic mail apps are there. Managing email works fine. However, despite the presence of a file manager, when needing to attach files, there are only options to attach pictures and videos. Bummer! But I attempted a quick work around and got the problem solved. ASTRO file Manager is one of my favourite. I downloaded it from the Play Store and installed. Going back to attach files, I selected the option to attach a picture, and ASTRO File Manager showed up. Browsing using that, I was able to find and attach any kind of file to my outgoing emails.
Video plays well on the Q1. The landscape nature of its display means that the viewing is rather nice. There is a pre-installed Gameloft Asphalt Adrenaline 6 video that played back superbly without any stuttering. Same with the other videos that I watched on it. I tested one HD video on it and it played well. The video was AVI format too. FM radio is in there too. The music player is nice and audio quality is significantly louder and better than what obtains on the Nokia Lumia 610. It has much more bass and depth. there is support for playlists, shuffling, and has an equalizer.
The 5 megapixel autofocus camera takes passable pictures in good lighting and not so good ones in low light situations despite the presence of an LED flash light. TECNO has included a semi-transparent plastic case that wraps around the back of the Q1 without hiding its body. This is the kind of carry case that I like, as I am not a fan of clothing up my phones. The back case fits snugly and gives access to all buttons, ports and the camera.
The TECNO Q1 does not feel as exciting to me as the P3 does, but again it does not have one of the limiting factors of the P3 either – the low internal memory. The Q1 gets the job done, though that text entry quirk takes some getting used to, and I have to mark it down for that. Can we hope for a software update from TECNO to address this issue? Update or not, you can use the bundled Go keyboard instead, or any other 3rd party keyboard from the Play Store. The small display too might be an issue for some. Like I said earlier, a 3-inch display could have been fitted on this device. Still, performance wise for an Android smartphone, there is little sluggishness in use and the TECNO Q1 chugs along well.
Mo Rating: 8.5/10.