A handset loaded with high end specs wrapped with a cheap price tag.
Pros: A $330 handset, which offers top tier features with a smart design, performing internals and a 5MP front camera which is perfect for front facing calls.
Cons: The software is outdated. Also software stability issues and heavily skinned company’s own custom UI destroys the user experience. The battery is questionable too.
A smartphone is truly smart when it has a powerful processing unit packed inside a smart body with a clear display to enhance the experience and a battery to last long, all in a smart price can be a real deal. But noting the market nowadays, the high tier smartphones pack a Full HD display with most updated hardware which cost obviously, a lot. This is the where Qmobile has done so much. The latest Qmobile Noir Z4 is one capable smartphone which boosts a Full HD display paired with a quad core CPU to enlist itself in a true smartphone category. Let’s find out how it goes but first, here are the basic specs:
- 142 x 69.4 x 7.7 mm dimensions, 128 grams weight
- 5.0 inches with 1080 x 1920 pixels, 441 ppi pixel density
- 1.5GHz Quad Core Cortex A7 CPU MediaTek MT6589T
- 2GB RAM, 32GB internal memory, no Micro SD card slot
- 13MP rear camera with LED flash, 5MP front camera
- Bluetooth v4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot
- Non-removable Li-Ion 2020 mAh battery
- Official product page
To start with the body, we must say the handset is impressive in build. It very thin, not as compared to the competition but still, it is a slim profiled device. It is only 7.7 mm thick, thanks to the uni-body construction strategy (much like the korean LG G2) and weighs just 131 grams. The handset dimensions are 144 x 69 x 7.7mm with an impressively narrow bezel of only 2.43 mm. The construction is solid and feels very firm in hands.
On front there are three touch-sensitive buttons which dont have markings so are surprisingly giving neat appearance to handset. Front of screen is accompanied by the usual proximity sensor, an indicator LED and an earpiece, much inspired from the Apple iPhone 5. On top is the 3.5-mm headphone jack and the screen lock key. On the left side is microSIM tray, the right holds the volume control button. On the bottom, two stereo speakers flank around the microUSB connector. There is no access to the internals because of the fact that the device has a unibody construction, which will not let you remove back cover or swap batteries. The only access here is microSIM-card slot on the side. There isn’t any microSD card slot too.
The Z4 is a nice phone to hold. When screen switched off, it’s screen color perfectly matches with it’s body and because of the markings on capacitive buttons being absent, the whole device looks just like a single slab with black color all over it. It looks neat.
Sure, if you are not a fan of angular designed devices, you might not move on but if you are fan of devices like Sony xperia Z or Galaxy Note 3 which feature more rectangular design, you will definitely consider this device. The handset can be handled in one hand which is nice but that doesn’t mean you can use it with one hand. It is still essentially a two handed device.
Update: The company is now offering white model too which is more glossy and slippery in hands as compared to the original black one.
The Z4 is the company’s first Full HD handset and packs 1080p IPS display with 440 PPI, measuring 5 inches diagonally. The screen screams with quality. The images look absolutely stunning with extremely sharp and accurate colours, wide viewing angles and comfortably stands with the other high quality displays we reviewed before. It features one-glass solution (OGS) technology which removes air gap in between the display layers and helps the screen to deliver more accurate colours. The screen is quite responsive too (because of the IPS-matrix capacitive sensor as claimed by the company).
But the Z4 suffers in daylight. The screen brightness isn’t enough if you are using it in strong daylight. Even with full brightness on, the screen remains very difficult to use specially if you are using a dark background on your phone. Aside from the outdoors, the screen delivers.
The Z4 comes with core internals from the Taiwanese Semiconductor manufacturer, mediatek. It packs a MTK6589 Turbo processor clocked at 1.5 GHz (based on 28nm process technology) and paired with 2GB (LPDDR2 533MHz) of RAM. The MTK6589-T chip is same as the MTK6589 but clocked at a higher frequency.
Anyway, the MTK6589T combines a power-efficient Cortex A7 CPU from ARM, a SGX544 GPU and a wireless modem chip. The GPU is clocked at 357MHz as compared to 286 Mhz of MTK6589 and is ample enough to support 3D games, including real-time 2D to 3D conversion and support for 3D displays. The above package supports 13MP camera sensor with integrated ISP, 1080p playback, recording at 30fps and full HD LCD display support, which all comes in competitive price and this is exactly what Z4 is doing here.
Enough from the specsheet, the handset gave a score of 15,301, then 15,389 and a third time score of 15,355 on antutu. The lowered results were expected due to bumped up high resolution screen meaning more pixels to be processed by processor. Overall, the experience on the Z4 is nice. It surely feels like a powerful device and works with no speed problems whatsoever. The apps load quickly with smooth switching and scrolling.
Though, things began to lag a bit when resource hungry apps start to pile up in back ground or if the default heavily skinned launcher is used. Also the phone shows some software hiccups during Full HD playback which is disappointing but most of the file formats of HD videos including mkv and mp4 are supported. The speaker aren’t very loud too, same is the case with the headphones sound.
The gesture controls are a welcome addition too and are features just like we saw in the Samsung Galaxy S4 but most of them are just a gimmick. They work just fine but most of the time, it was just a hit and miss experience, specially adjusting volume with sweep motion is creepy. Taking calls by just raising your Z4 to the ears was quite useful, specially during driving. The wireless streaming suffers significant drops, specially with 1080p videos but works.
In the camera department, the Z4 uses a 13-megapixel camera sensor, which is essentially Sony’s Exmor RS camera module. The Exmo RS debuted last year and is the company’s first CMOS image sensor that adopts a unique ‘stacked structure. It was used in Sony’s previous flagship, the Xperia Z. Anyway, with a 13-megapixel sensor and resolution options starting at VGA and topping out at 13 megapixels, the Z4 camera shoots images of superb quality for a smartphone.
Once camera app open, you will really notice the richness of those colours and the refresh rate as you move the phone around is nothing short of astonishing. The images are clear with accurate colors and deep details with a resolution at 4128 x 3096 pixels. It records Full HD 1080p video which showed minor lags in light adjustments. Just like the Quatro Z3, the front facing camera is 5MP sensor which is sufficient enough for clear video calling and for your selfies. You will also get Multi Shot (much like a burst mode) and Beauty effects (the treatment we saw in Huawei Ascend P6) with the camera software.
There are some odds with the camera too. There is no physical camera shutter button which can be a problem for many. Also frustrating is the camera’s slow shot-to-shot time, which makes grabbing photos of energetic and unpredictable subjects (like kids and pets) a challenge.
The handset runs on Android v 4.2.1 with QMobile’s own custom designed UI. We have said this before again and again that the company is really pushing things hard to customize the operating system, just to make it more eye-candy but is failing badly.
The icon set used in the launcher is highly confusing and app animations are clunky. When we used android stock launcher on the same phone, the lag was significantly removed. Among the pre-installed apps, music player is the only app we loved. It has a clean interface which comes with DTS 3D surround support and is joy to use.
There are some productivity apps here too but you can always download variety of better polished productivity apps from Playstore. We would love to see a stock android ROM installed with these devices rather than going for a useless eye-candy attempt. Also is our concern for Z4 that the software redesign is making the system laggy.
The Z4 sports a 2020 mAh battery which already gave a first impression to be very low for a smartphone sporting a 5″ screen and the results supported this argument. The handset gave a disappointingly brief battery backup of only 5 hours and 41 minutes of continuous HD video playback (720p), which is far behind the high tier.
Qmobile has finally stepped in the Full HD smartphone territory and we must say, the handset is a good attempt. One should also consider the fact that the market price for smartphones with 1080p screens are very high as compared to Quatro Z4 which will cost you around in half price of a popular Full HD handset available now a days.
Overall, the Z4 is quite a capable smartphone but not for the enthusiasts. This is great disappointment because the handset is overpriced as compared to other affordable yet decent performing handsets from the company. We aren’t saying that the Z4 is not a good device. It’s just the immature software and choice of already more competitive priced handsets is making a hard sell for Z4. Below is what we have summarized in our review:
From processing to camera and external hardware to screen, everything in the checklist of Quatro Z4 is updated with high end components but there is a catch here. The handset is an year late when compared with the current competition. The hardware is sure well crafted and feels solid in hands but the battery suffers alot and can’t be ignored here. The ageing processor won’t keep up with the latest apps and games which again can be a problem in near future.
Qmobile has made its first attempt quite impressive but at the same time, introduction of more affordable Quatro Z3 can fail this handset, which packs a similar look and specs that are also good to go.
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