Tech Review: Gionee Marathon M4 @Rs.16,210

Chinese handset-maker Gionee has finally joined the race for producing smartphones with long battery life with its new M4. All companies have been gunning for this as they feel Indian consumers expect smartphones to last longer on a single charge. Here is our analysis of the Gionee Marathon M4, which is priced at Rs.16,210:

Things that are good:
You simply cannot ignore the battery capacity and size of the Marathon M4, which also happens to be its USP as it is targeted at heavy users. The battery is so potent that it lost only a single percentage point while downloading a 1.84 GB game over Wi-Fi. Simple in design, the metallic body improves phone’s look. The plastic back panel has been given a silver grey finish to make it look metallic.

The 64-bit MediaTek MT6735 quad-core SoC (system on a chip) along with 2GB RAM makes for a decent performance without lag while switching between apps. There was no heating issue, while gaming performance was decent – although very heavy games lagged a bit.

The phone is 4G LTE ready and supports a dual-SIM. This means that the customer will be able to take advantage of the faster network as deployment speeds up by the end of the year.

Instead of NFC (near field communication) communication, the phone uses HotKnot technology which works like NFC. Unlike NFC, which needs a chip or antennas to work, chip-maker MediaTek’s HotKnot’s transmits data through projected capacitive touch panels (display).

The technology was developed by China-based touchscreen IC designer Goodix, in which MediaTek holds a major stake. NFC is the set of protocols that enables electronic devices establish radio communication with each other by touching the devices together or bringing them into proximity to a distance of typically 10cm or less.

The performance of the 8-megapixel rear and the front 5-megapixel camera is excellent in good-light conditions. There are a few camera modes like ‘Take Anytime’ and ‘PicNote’ which makes the camera experience interesting. The PicNote mode allows users to add text to a previously-taken photo.

The phone also supports USB OTG (on-the-go) which is a huge advantage and comes with a flurry of useul pre-loaded apps.

What doesn’t work for the phone:
Although Gionee is very focussed on design, yet the huge battery not only changes the look of the M4 but also makes it a little heavy and chunky. The front camera without an LED flash deprives it of a sales edge as there are other phones with this facility available for the same price. The rear camera doesn’t perform very well in extremely low-light conditions, although the night mode makes up by taking a little better picture. There is no laser auto-focus which could have been better but the price of the device has to be kept in mind. Also, the camera doesn’t have a manual mode.

Verdict: The Gionee Marathon M4 is an improvement on its predecessor, the M3, which came with a slower processor, less RAM, older OS and lower internal memory. The M3 was priced at Rs.12,000 and the M4 is priced at Rs.16,210. So it is not difficult to understand the increase in price. The M4 is a perfect choice for a consumer who likes to enjoy an uninterrupted smartphone experience and it will not fail the regular heavy user. Our only suggestion: the camera could have been better.

Full specifications: 5-inch display | 8-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera | Mediatek quad-core 1.3 GHz processor | 2GB RAM | 16 GB internal memory (expandable to 32 GB via microSD) | dual SIM 4G/3G/2G support | 5,000 mAH battery | Wi-Fi | Wi-Fi Direct | Bluetooth 4.0 | Android Lollipop 5.0.

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