QMobile A1, the very first Android One phone in Pakistan, was launched earlier this month. We have had the phone for almost 2 weeks and have used it extensively with high and low usage. We used it to take pictures around, play games, make phone calls and install tons of Android apps that are available on the Google Play Store. QMobile is one of the most selling brands in Pakistan, with devices from price range of $30 – $300, but my only concern with their devices has always been about regular Android software updates — not the case anymore, thanks to Android One.
For those who are not aware, Google’s Android One project brings the latest Android software to budget-friendly smartphones. QMobile A1 is currently on Android 5.1 Lollipop and will be getting future Android updates for up to 2 years. This project was first announced last year at Google I/O 2014. Google works closely with local manufacturers to launch a low-cost smartphone that functions very similar to a Nexus device with pure Android experience without any OEM bloatware. As a result, these devices are pretty fast and smooth, considering the low specifications they come with.
QMobile A1 is currently available for just Rs. 11,500 (about $110) in the Pakistani markets. It comes in two colours: white and black. We have had this phone with a white back, and have absolutely loved it. QMobile has packed in some great specs, considering the low price of this phone. Just for information, QMobile A1 does not support NFC. You can also read our initial hands-on preview of QMobile A1. Let’s look at some of the technical specifications below:
- Display: 4.5-inch IPS FWVGA display (480 x 854 pixels), light sensor, proximity sensor
- Processor: Mediatek MT6582 1.3 GHz Quadcore CPU, Mali-400 MP GPU
- Camera: 5 megapixels rear camera with autofocus, geo-tagging, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR) — 2 megapixels front camera for those gorgeous selfies
- Video: 1080p HD video recording
- Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage and a SD Card slot for expansion
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, microUSB
- Other: A-GPS, 3.5 mm jack, accelerometer, dual-SIM support, no NFC supported
- Battery: A single day of normal usage, 1700 mAh Li-Ion battery
- OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop
QMobile A1: Hardware and Display
We didn’t think the QMobile A1 would be any different from the other QMobile phones available in the market. And by that, we mean the low quality plastic phones. But this is where we got them complete wrong. The new QMobile A1 has a hard plastic body with matte finish at the back. It feels great to hold the phone in your hands, and does not feel ‘cheap’ or ‘low-quality’ at all.
The front of the phone panel only has the speaker, and the front camera. Similar to Nexus phones, QMobile A1 also has on-screen buttons for Back, Home and Multitasking. On the back side, you can find the 5 megapixels camera, the QMobile logo and the Android One branding just above the loud speaker.
The volume and power buttons are on the right side of the phone, leaving the left side all blank. There is a headset slot on the top, and a mciroUSB slot at the bottom.
Display screen is a bit on the down side with just 480 x 854 pixels on a 4.5-inch screen and we feel there could have been some improvement here as the Infinix Hot Note has a 720p display screen in around the same price range. Everything else look and work great. People with fat fingers might have a problem typing on the Google Keyboard because of the screen size. Screen quality is decent enough in direct sunlight and low resolution helped the battery timing a lot, which was another important concern by us and our readers.
QMobile A1: Performance and Battery
Performance wise, most of our readers asked if the 1GB RAM feels less and there are lag issues with the phone. Our answer: not at all. The animations and fluid and buttery smooth, switching between apps is fast and we never felt any major lockdowns or lag while general browsing throughout the phone. You can watch a screencast below of the QMobile A1 during a normal usage:
QMobile A1 has a 1700 mAh battery. If you compare it with other similar new Android phones, this feels way less. But it seems this is where the new Android Lollipop software really shines.
Google has been making battery improvements and optimizations in every major Android release. We were able to pull out more than 10 hours on this phone with normal usage because of the highly optimized OS. This is with WiFi, 3G, browsing the web and using messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger) — and we even played games (big fans of Boom Beach and Earn to Die 2 here!). Video screencast attached below.
QMobile A1: Camera
This phone comes with a 5 megapixels rare camera and a 2 megapixels front camera for your selfies. The rear camera has autofocus, LED flash and can take slightly enhanced HDR shots as well.
Camera quality is pretty average, with much better options available by other manufacturers in this price range. You can see below some of the sample camera shots we took with the QMobile A1:
QMobile A1: Software
Thanks to the Android One project, QMobile A1 gets the latest Android 5.1 Lollipop software out of the box. No other Android phone in Pakistan at this price range offer the latest Lollipop update or the performance you just saw in the screencast above. This is the purest form of Android on a device with no OEM skins, bloatware, carrier apps or any kind of modifications done. The only two additions we saw in the phone were of the Facebook and WhatsApp apps out of the box.
One of our concerns were the 8GB of internal storage with the phone. After unboxing, the first thing we did was update all the Google and Google Play apps that came with the phone. After the update was completed, we roughly had 5.5GB of storage left in the QMobile A1. This is enough for a few hundred pictures and installing apps/games on your phone.
There is not much to say about the software side. Google started optimizing Android for lower-end devices starting from KitKat and it is impressive to see how amazingly the QMobile A1 handles Lollipop with its specs.
QMobile A1: Unboxing
Here is an unboxing video of the QMobile A1 — you can see what all is included inside the box of this budget-friendly Android phone:
Our final verdict will be that if you want to have the true Android experience with the latest software, this is the phone to go. You will have to compromise a bit with the camera and screen resolution, but that isn’t that bad either. We hope to see more such Android One devices in Pakistan in the coming months.
QMobile A1: Screenshots
Here are some random screenshots of the software running on the QMobile A1:
QMobile A1: Gallery
A complete gallery of pictures of the phone from all sides. Click on any image to view in full size.