iNO Magic review: good package with a small price, but is it cheap enough?

The iNO Magic is iNO Mobile’s first attempt at a full fledged camera phone. Equipped with a quad core processor, a 8 megapixel camera, a 5 inch display, the iNO Magic tries to bring a complete phone package at a cheap price to the consumer. In addition, the phone includes a new rear “magic” sensor, (hence the name) . iNO Mobile was kind enough to loan us a set for review, and we hope to find out if this phone is worth coughing out S$299 at its retail price.

ino magic

Hardware

The phone actually looks quite well built, although it uses plastic type of materials. The side has a “metallic” band, making it easy to grip, and providing a premium feel. The rear cover feels quite nice though. Similar to that of the the nexus 7 (2013).

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metallic band on the sides, around the whole phone

The display is very good, with a resolution of 960 x 540. Visibiliy is clear both indoors and outdoors, and at different viewing angles. I thought the colours were calibrated quite nicely too. Adds to the “wow” factor when you first use the phone.

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The power button is below the volume buttons on the right. Which makes it a lot user friendly when turning the screen on/off. It’s positioned just right for the thumb when you’re holding the phone with one hand. Volume control is much harder now though, as you’ve probably got to use both hands. The buttons all feel solidly built though.

There are dedicate home, back and menu buttons. Great as it doesn’t eat into your screen estate. Unfortunately, the order from left to right is the direct opposite from that of the default android. Might cause some confusion when you first use it.

Weirdly, the usb port is at the top, which makes it awkward  especially when mounted in the car with the charging cable.

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Comes with a 1900mAH battery, and allows for two sims. No LTE though. Memory is at a scant 4GB, out of which you have 1GB for installation of applications, and 2 GB left for data storage. Luckily there is a slot for a micro sd card, and for every day usage, the micro sd card is probably compulsory.

Note: There’s no gyro sensors. *surprise surprise* These will affect some games that uses the gyro.

Specifications

  1. 2G Network. GSM 850/900/1800/1900 Mhz. 3G network 900, 2100 Mhz
  2. Dimension 142″ 72″ 85mm
  3. 5″ IPS Touch Panel 960 x 540
  4. Quad-Core 1.3Ghz MTK6582M CPU
  5. 1 GB RAM, 4GB ROM
  6. Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS
  7. 8MP rear camera,
  8. 2MP front camera
  9. Bluetooth 3.0, WIFI 802.11 b/g/n
  10. Li-ion 1900mAh

Software

Software is your standard Android 4.2.2.  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.

There are some simple additions that you’ll appreciate. Connecting to USB will give you multiple connection options (MTP mode, USB mode, Camera mode). Screenshot button when you long-press the power button.

Didn’t notice any significant bugs while I was using it that was typical of the ino one.  No weird wake alerts or anything. Phone barely consumed any battery when nothing was going on.

Camera

The iNo Magic is using it’s own camera software user interface, and not that of the basic Android 4.2.2

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Comes with HDR, image stabilization, facial recognition, and instant shuttle. And the phone hardware was powerful enough: no lag. I quite liked using the camera.

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without image stabilization
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with image stabilization

More photo Examples:

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Performance and Battery Life

The phone comes with the MTK6582M CPU, which is one of Mediatek’s latest quad core chips. Although it is only clocked at a frequency of 1.3 Ghz, it’s able to take most of the tasks that you throw at it. Generic benchmark scores also reflect this. As a comparison, this score is similar to the Samsung S3 and Nexus 4.

Benchmark scores

Antutu (v 4.1.6): 17211

Screenshot_2014-01-07-15-46-21 Screenshot_2014-01-07-15-46-34

Quantcast: 5775 (CPU 17840 Mem 2796 I/O 5237 2D 513 3D 2488)

Call quality was clear, However it is unable to detect GLONASS signals like some of the later phones. Thus while acceptable, GPS lock on time is slower that some of the latest phones.

The phone comes with a 1900mAh 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 40 minutes. No comparison with other phones yet, will add in once I’ve performed this test on other phones.

Magic Sensor

The iNo Magic comes with a sensor at the back of the phone, which covers approximately 1/4 of the back of the phone. It lets you wake the phone up by double tapping, and during normal usage, to scroll the phone when you’re surfing/reading an ebook.

It’s actually quite useful when you’re surfing the net, or reading an ebook for a long time. (see picture) the sensor actually sits nicely for where your finger will rest.ino magic2

But for day to day use, I’ll actually turn the sensor off. It’s hard to control stuff precisely enough, and I kept getting the phone accidentally turned on/unlock when it was in my pocket. Also during normal usage, i kept touching the sensor and the screen kept moving when I didn’t want it to. Luckily it’s just a easy press of a switch in the quick settings pull down menu.

Conclusion

I had a tough time looking for a phone at the price of S$299. A phone at this comparable price would be the HTC Desire, a dual core phone. The Samsung S3 with similar performance (based off AnTUTU scores) comes to S$500. I think for this price, you can’t find a better performance phone.

However, with Xiaomi entering the Singapore market, and phones like Moto G coming to Singapore, we’ll have to see how those phones are priced like before coming to a final conclusion on whether the iNo Magic is worth it. There are also other generic China phones which you can buy which are potentially slightly cheaper too.

If you were scared that for such a cheap price, you’re getting a lousy and laggy phone, rest assured that is not the case. In fact it should be able to run all your apps with relative ease. The only down side is no LTE.

iNO mobile is offering a trade in programme for the iNo One and One Plus. So this could be a value for money option, if your work place is now a green zone (camera phone allowed), and you need to get rid of your old non-camera phone as well.

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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