I’ve been putting the latest JiaYu phone through its paces over the past few weeks, and have finally been able to put hands to keyboard to write up the full JiaYu G4 review!
Buy the Jiayu G4 here.
If you have spent any amount of time on Gizchina in the pat 12 months, the chances are that you have heard of the JiaYu phone brand by now. This Chinese phone manufacturer from Shenzhen has been making phone for a couple of years, but only really grabbed our attention with last years JiaYu G3.
A year has passed and it looks like JiaYu have learned a lot from the G3 (although not from a marketing or speed of development sense) and are finally (finally,finally,finally) readying to replace the older flagship phone with the all new JiaYu G4!
About the JiaYu G4
The JiaYu G4 is a total redesign, nothing from the last generation G3 has been carried over to the new phone. That’s a pretty bold move for a small Chinese manufacturer! We already know now that JiaYu have a quad-core G3 ready to launch, and they could have easily launched that as their new range topper, but instead they decided to bring their loyal fans and customers an all new model! Pretty ambitious!
JiaYu’s G4 will eventually be available in a number of variants ranging from the 1GB RAM MT6589 model we have on test here, a 2GB RAM version, a Turbo model and even a thinner variant with smaller 1850mAh battery.
JiaYu’s intended market for the JiaYu G4 is China, where the dual-sim phone starts at a very reasonable 999 Yuan ($160), however they have started to work with international resellers to launch the phone across Europe and India.
For our review JiaYu kindly sent us the 1GB RAM MT6589 quad-core version with 3000mAh batter. Unfortunately as this is officially a launch phone it doesn’t have the added OTG and MHL features later phones are promised to receive.
JiaYu G4 Specifications[komper pid=4,5 compareform=no]
JiaYu G4 Unboxing video
The JiaYu G4 review
Design and quality – this does not feel like a $160 phone!
Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, the JiaYu G4 IS a $160 (999 Yuan) phone. It was designed and developed as a Chinese product first and foremost and JiaYu have remained true to their intended price points. International customers will have to contend with import duties, tax, shipping fees and reseller profits, however the additional cost should be justified with better support and hopefully a larger developer base for the phone (and future models).
As you can all appreciate, I get to handle my fair share of Chinese phones. They range from fake versions of popular brands, obscure no-name models, right through to the larger brands we report on here at Gizchina.
My first thought when getting the JiaYu G4 in my hand for the first time was “Meizu”. I don’t mean that the G4 looks like a Meizu, it doesn’t it looks like a large Xiaomi, but the stealthy all black front, narrow bezels and surprisingly solid feel all remind me of Meizu’s high-quality MX range of phones.
In my hand the G4 feels like a really premium piece of kit, I would say it feels more solid that the Xiaomi Mi2 (possibly due to the extra size and weight) and it certainly feels better made than the UMi X2. However, it’s not that the X2 feels cheap, it’s that the JiaYu G4 feels like a phone that costs easily double the retail price.
So I’m completely over the moon with the G4 right? Well no, I do have a few niggles. The removable shell (white on the review phone here) is a little to easy to remove, if for example I use the phone with a rubber case I often found the back of the phone could be removed by slipping the rubber protector off!
Another issue in terms of the exterior is the lack of illuminated capacitive buttons on the chin of the G4. I’m use to not having a backlight (Xiaomi’s don’t have them) so for me it was a non issue and I enjoy looking at the all black front, but some potential customers won’t like this and I know some of you have already made your displeasure known about this.
My last niggle are the controls for the power switch and volume rocker. They are a little shallow, they don’t protrude from the body as much as I would like. Instead of a satisfying button press, it’s a bit of a vague feeling.
As you can see the “issues” aren’t deal breakers in the slightest, and really you could say I’m being a nit pick, but these are my personal observations with the phone.
Overall though I’m really impressed with the quality of the build and the materials. If you can live with the lack of backlit buttons, and the to easy to remove rear, then you will be rewarded with one of the best feeling smartphones on the market, and one which feels much better than it’s price tag would suggest.
Hardware and display – A top performing MTK phone!
Even if the JiaYu G4 wasn’t a great looking phone, most Android enthusiasts would find it hard to not seriously consider it due to its great hardware.
For the G4 JiaYu have decided to air on the side of caution rather than aim at pie in the sky ‘fantasy’ specs. The screen is a sensible 4.7-inch with a resolution of 1280 x 720, processor is a 1.2 Ghz quad-core Mediatek MT6589 with 1GB RAM (2GB in future models) and the thick body allows enough space for a 3000mAh battery.
The above hardware allows the JiaYu to offer blistering performance without having to much of an ill effect on battery life. In fact with my time with the G4 and with my bad habits (leaving WIFI, GPS, 3G on and the screen on close to it’s brightest) I managed to get well in to a second day of use on a single charge! Obviously your mileage will vary depending on your use (I’m not much of a gamer, but I do have emails pushed constantly and I use the camera a lot!).
It’s comes as no surprise that with a quad-core CPU, 1GB RAM and a 720 display, Anutu benchmarks are impressive. The G4 we have scores 13,224. What does come as a surprise though is that I didn’t feel the G4 lacking in the performance in any way even though my daily phone has a more powerful Snapdragon CPU, double the RAM and almost double the Anutu scores! It just goes to show that benchmarks aren’t everything!
At 4.7-inch the display is smaller than many flagship phones from rival companies, and 720HD is a little “last generation”, but in all honesty I don’t miss 1080 when going from one phone to another, and I prefer a smaller display at the moment anyway. What I can say about the OGS display on the JiaYu is that it is very bright, a far cry from those dull Zopo displays and brighter than the UMi X2.
Connectivity – good calls but slow GPS
Last years dual-core MT6577 phones had issues with the GPS not working, well the new quad-core MT6589 seems to be fine, however it can still take a good few minutes for the GPS to lock on, which is not quite the level some of you coming from Qualcomm and (dare I say) Apple chips, will be us to. Once locked on though GPS worked well and I was able to navigate around town and log my local jogging route without issue.
On the suggestion of a reader here I installed the useful MTK Uncle tool to see what bands the G4 is designed to work on. Strangely the details on from the tool don’t match up with what JiaYu has printed on the inside of the phone…. I can confirm the the G4 we have works fine on China Unicom (if anyone wants to fly me out to their home town to test it on local networks please let me know ) and the specs which JiaYu have given me (which I hope are correct) are GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, WCDMA: 2100Mhz.
Being a smartphone the JiaYu G4 comes with WIFI (820.22 b/g/n) and Bluetooth (2.0 +EDR). Both of which act as you would expect, however I did find that WIFI connection on the G4 isn’t as strong as the UMi X2 or Xiaomi Mi2.
Cameras – Good solid 13 mega-pixel camera.
If you had missed it, we took both the JiaYu G4 and UMi X2 to the Qingdao International Auto Show earlier this month to give the 13 mega-pixel rear cameras a bit of a showdown. The results were the G4 offered better natal colours, where as the X2 offered better focus and seemed a bit faster in use.
In my opinion the cameras we find on smartphones should now be able to happily replace a cheap point and shoot digital camera, and I can happily report that I would be more than happy to use the JiaYu G4 to capture on the spot ‘Kodak’ moments, a picture of the sunrise while sat in a traffic jam or a few photos while out with the mates.
If you are the type of person to take photos with your camera phone and then start zooming in on every pixel to compare focus you are going to be a little disappointed, and you should really go out and by a dedicated DSLR camera!
The G4 takes great useable photos, but there are better options out there. I would say the Newman N2 takes better photos, as does the Xiaomi Mi2 (8 mega-pixel), and the Nexus 4.
So as a still camera the JiaYu G4 is great, but what about capturing video? Well the below video should speak for itself, but if you don’t want to watch it I’ll sum it up like this: “JiaYu the G4 is pretty poor at capturing video! Get it sorted!”
JiaYu G4 Video sample
A 3 mega-pixel camera sits up front and acts fine as a Skype camera or when chatting using Wechat. If you are lucky I might take a photo of myself making a duck face later so that you can check out the quality (depending on the number of beers I consume).
Gaming and Media – Great performance as you would expect!
With a quad-core chip, 1GB RAM and 720p display the JiaYu G4 copes with gaming, web surfing, emails, video and other media very well. I don’t believe I managed to really push the hardware on the phone (again I’m not a huge gamer) and never experienced any lag of slow down.
For an idea of gaming on the JiaYu G4 take a look at the below video which has a little gaming action towards the end.
JiaYu G4 hands on video
JiaYu G4 review – The Conclusion
I’m pretty sure you will all agree that I’m satisfied with the JiaYu G4, actually that’s not quite fair, I’m really very impressed! As a handset it is one of the best made and great feeling Chinese phones I have had the opportunity to review for a long time! I love the design, the all black front and super narrow bezels give a real premium feel to the phone.
Performance is spot on even with just 1GB RAM and the regular 1.2Ghz MT6589 quad-core processor. In fact I believe most users will be happy with this set-up and would suggest you go for this version of the phone now rather than wait the still unknown amount of time for the Turbo model with 2GB RAM (if you still want the updated phone when it comes out you can always sell this one).
Cameras are great for taking photos, just don’t leave home thinking you will be able to capture any useable video with it (unless an update fixes the constant refocusing!).
The only small issues which bother me is the easy to remove rear, weak WIFI and slow GPS, but this hasn’t detracted from the overall performance of the phone, and haven’t upset me while using the phone.
So yes I’m really happy with the phone and I believe that anyone choosing to buy a JiaYu G4 won’t be disappointed. As a final note before I sign off on this, I know many of you have asked “Which is better? JiaYu G4 or UMi X2?” I can’t really answer which is “better” as the X2 is a great phone too, but I can tell you now that the G4 is the phone I pick up in the morning and not the 5-inch UMi, but we’ll save that for the full UMi X2 review!