iNO 2 Review: The non camera phone successor to the iNO One

iNO 2 (or iNO Two) is the successor to the hugely popular iNO One. The iNO One owed its success to being of the few non camera android phones available, but was plagued by numerous complaints of software bugs and slow speed.

The iNO 2 comes at a higher retail price of $328, as compared to the iNO One, which retailed for $268. So expectations of the iNO 2 are high. Let’s review the iNO 2 and see if it’s worth the difference in price. It’s now available from MyMobile, an online retailer at $298. Which is a $30 discount.

Comparison of the iNO one and iNO 2
iNO one on the left, iNO 2 on the right

Hardware

First impressions: The iNO 2 is freaking light and thin compared to other phones. I haven’t got a chance to actually weigh it, but it’s both lighter and thinner than my nexus 4. It has a metalic band at the side ( similar to the iNO Magic). No more uncomfortable feeling when holding the phone that the iNO One had due to some weird gap.

Comparison of the thickness of the iNO 2
iNO one on top, iNO 2 below

The back of the iNO 2 is the same plastic clamp cover as the iNO One. Dust collecting. But still looks slightly more elegant.

Back Cover of the iNO 2
iNO 2 on the left

The display of the iNO 2  at 4.3 inch is larger than the iNO One, which is always a good thing. The screen this time is an amoled screen, which supposedly lowers battery consumption. Unfortunately, it comes with all the disadvantages of an amoled screen as well. When viewing stuff on a white background, the display looks grainy, even with its 720p resolution. This is due to its amoled pentile arrangement. Effect is not so obvious when viewing things of other colours, or when the phone is held further away. In fact photos actually look quite nice. Colours might be too saturated for some people’s preference, while some would like to strong colours.

Setting the display brightness to auto would usually result in the screen being too dark (again associated to amoled screens), although there are apps available to resolve this. Also the screen seems to have a different tint at different brightness levels, which can be disconcerting when the brightness levels are being adjusted automatically. On the bright side, the colours look amazing.

Specifications

GENERAL 2G Network GSM 850/900/1800/1900
3.5G Network UMTS 2100 HSUPA 21 MBps on downlink
Active Dual Sim SIM1: 3G or GSM SIM2: GSM Only
BODY Dimensions 125 x 65 x 7.9
Weight TBA
DISPLAY Resolution 540 x 960 AMOLED, 257 PPI Capacitive Touch Panel
Size  4.3 inches
MEMORY Card slot MicroSD (T-flash) up to 32GB
Internal 8GB ROM 1GB RAM
FEATURES OS Android OS, 4.2 Jelly Bean
Chipset MTK6582 Processor Quad Core 1.3 GHZ
Graphics Mali 400
OTHERS Features G-sensor Compass Bluetooth v3.0, A2DP Support WIFI 802.11 b/g/n FM Radio
BATTERY Type Standard battery, Li-ion
Capacity 1500mAh
Standby Time up to 240 hours

Dual Sim

The iNO 2 comes with a dual sim slot. Interestingly, one is a normal sim, and one is a micro sim. When there are two sims inserted, you can choose which sim you want to have access to the 3G networks. (buried deep within settings). The other sim will be restricted to just 2G data. You can also set which sim’s data plan you want to be active. When there is only one sim card, you can use either slot and still have access to 3G. Selection of which sim card to use can be auto or manual, and there will be an orange line to indicate which sim card is active when you’re messaging or calling.

Software

Software is your standard Android 4.2.2.  I’ll repeat what I said for the iNO Magic.

Because the phone is based off a mediatek SOC, there’s no way it will get updated to later versions of android. So don’t dream of Android 4.3, let alone 4.4. and later.

Androidpolice has a list of stuff that you’ll be missing from 4.3, You’re not missing out THAT much yet, since the phone’s hardware does not support most of changes. Things you will be missing out on are stuff like OpenGL ES 3.0 and the WiFi scanning mode can be enabled without connecting to a network for better location tracking without using GPS. Also you won’t have the Android 4.3 buttery smoothness, but the iNO Magic is powerful enough that you won’t really notice. At least the phone comes with Android 4.2.2. You can still install the google experience launcher, and various other google programs that came with 4.4. (like the clock) So it’s not that great a loss.

Performance and Battery Life

I expect the performance of the phone to be similar to that of the iNO Magic. Similar to the S4 mini, the only other top end non camera phone you can get hold of. No lag using twitter/instagram/ surfing net etc.

Benchmark scores

Antutu:

iNO 2: 16483 (slightly lower than the iNO Magic) Good rating given for CPU, RAM and Graphics

iNO One: ~5000 (OMG)

S4 Mini: ~18500

LG F5: ~15500

Quantcast: 5825 CPU: 17753, Mem: 3315, I/O: 4944, 2D: 565, 3D: 2549

I had some issues with the GPS of the iNO 2. I’m not sure if it was hardware or software related. Hopefully it’s software and could be fixed in the future. 75% of the time, the GPS worked well and locked on fast. But while using it, 25% of the time, the GPS position will jump around so much that navigation becomes impossible.

Battery performance

The iNO 2comes with a 1500mAh battery. To test out the battery life, I looped a HD video clip, at 50% brightness, with wifi on (but not connected), and 3G data on. Background synchronization was left on with data transferring over 3G network, with apps that I typically run on my phone (i.e. email, google+, whatsapp, google newspaper and more).  Battery went from 100% to 0% after 5 hours and 30 minutes. This is surprising, because the phone has a much smaller battery than the iNO Magic, but lasts almost the same duration.

Ino One (with a new battery) lasts 3 hours and 50 minutes. Pathetic.

For those that are concerned, ino mobile is working on an external battery pack that will double the battery life of the phone. It’ll act like a cover at the same time, and allow for qi wireless charging. The phone is light enough now, that I think it won’t be an issue even with the extra cover

Availability

The INO 2 is readily available in Singapore. There are a number of distributors carrying it, and you can get more details from INO.

They are also available online from Qoo10; which is pretty convenient since delivery is cheap and you can use Qoo10 coupons to further offset.

Also, certain SAF camps do not allow detachable USB cables. The phone comes with the standard detachable USB charger. However, you can purchase the non-detachable USB charger or battery pack for office use. For e.g. the 5600mAh Non Detachable Micro USB Powerbank

Conclusion

Loved the iNO 2, especially after using the iNO One for so long. It’s fast and lag free, so no complaints there. Some people might complain about the battery life. It’s a valid concern, but it applies to many smart phones, and I’ve learnt to keep the phone charging in office.

Screen is a little different from what i’m used to. But still looks great watching shows.

I’m concerned about the price. At S$328, it’s 30 bucks more than the iNo Magic, which is a phone that’s essentially the same specifications. In fact you might say the iNo Magic has more capabilities.

Having said that, there’s arn’t that many options for a non camera phone

A S4 Mini at similar performance specifications retails for $768, while the LG F5 retails for $418. But the LG F5 while smooth, the performance is a level below the iNo 2 as it is only dual core.

Regardless, I think the iNO 2 is a much better quality product then when the iNO One came out, and is a phone worth considering. If you’re upgrading from the iNO One, the iNO 2 is definitely worth it.

tedfox

Zhaolin aka Tedfox owns both Nexus 7 (2012 and 2013), a Nexus 4, iNo Two, and the OnePlus One. He enjoys playing with the latest gadgets as well as software, - like Plex and Waze.

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