JiaYu S3 Review: JiaYu’s 2015 Mediatek flagship

jiayu s3 review

After a week of testing the highly anticipated JiaYu S3 we have got everything together to let you know how we feel about this flagship Mediatek phone. Keep reading for the full JiaYu S3 review.

The start of 2015 has been exciting for so many reasons, but the main reason is thanks to Mediatek. Each year we get excited about the upcoming Mediatek processors and what those new chips and features could mean for the coming years phones, but this year has been very different. Rather than simple gaining additional cores and boosting clock speeds, Mediatek have created processors which laugh in the face of Qualcomm’s offerings, and for us that means amazing Chinese phones with awesome power, hardware and features!

2015 the year of the Mediatek Flagship

2015 is very much the year of Mediatek. They have started off strong and have gained a lot of ground. So far each of their new 64bit processors out perform the equivalent Snapdragon chip, and improvements in GPS and graphics haven’t gone unnoticed either. So far we have seen Mediatek flagship from Meizu, iOcean, Elephone and JiaYu, so how does the JiaYu S3 perform as a complete package?

JiaYu S3 Review Unboxing and Hands on Video

JiaYu S3 Review Design and build

JiaYu have moved away from their comfort zone with the JiaYu S3. While most manufacturers have moved from plastc > steel > alloy, JiaYu have moved from steel to plastic and alloy. Look back as JiaYu’s previous phones and you will see stainless steel bodies which looked stunning but also took a long time to produce. Time has always been an issue for JiaYu and with the S3 we are finally seeing the Chinese phone maker get up to speed.

jiayu s3 review

A new plastic body should be a lot faster to produce than the other steel models, and with an alloy chassis we have a lightweight phone that is sturdy in your hand and wicks away heat very efficiently. In fact of all the Mediatek phones I have tried over the past few months the JiaYu S3 is one of the coolest running I have come across.

jiayu s3 review

From a design point of few the JiaYu S3 looks similar the the Oppo Find 7 in that it has a similar silhouette, curved rear and the camera and dual LED flash are in the same positions. The screen is also a 5.5-inch panel, the same as the Find 7, but this is standard for most flagship phones these days.

In the hand the JiaYu S3 is a comfortable and well balance phone, the narrowish bezels helping to keep the overall width down, and the curved rear shell rests easily in the palm of you hand. Still one-handed operation is a struggle (unless you have lengthy thumbs) especially notable due to the rather long chin area. Believe it or not by a few mm chopped off here and a small diameter curve would improve handling (ala the Huawei Honor 6+), but this is a minor niggle rather than a major let down.

jiayu s3 review

That lengthy lower chin is there to house your standard capacitive touch buttons to move around the Android 4.4.4 OS, and removing the rear shell reveals this is also where JiaYu have placed the dual speakers and the LTE antenna along with the USB plug.

Above the 5.5-inch 1080p display is the usual receiver location, LED notification light (to the left) and a front facing 5 mega-pixel Samsung camera for selfies.

jiayu s3 review

The rear shell of our JiaYu S3 is made of a very flexible white plastic with textured finish. Picking the phone up for the first time without the battery installed and the rear panel can bend and creek, but once the battery is in place the rear firms up and there is no aching or complaining from the chassis while in use.

The rear shell has a large speaker cut out with speakers left and right, there is also the JiaYu logo and spaces cut out in the panel for the 13 mega-pixel Sony IMX214 F2.0 sensor and dual LED flash.

jiayu s3 review

Removing the rear and you get to see the 3D printed antennas for the Bluetooth, GPS, WIFI etc, dual SIM trays and space for a micro SD card. The removable battery is a 3100mAh, and as you can see this version of the S3 (the 2GB RAM model) does not come with NFC.

Other notable points are the 3.5mm headphone jack in the top of the phone, and power and volume rockers on the right side. These physical buttons fit well, but are a little on the thin side, again not a major issue.

Overall the JiaYu S3 looks good and is put together pretty well. We are not looking at the same sort of build as the OnePlus One here, but for an affordable flagship Chinese phone with the hardware the S3 has to offer, build quality is good.

JiaYu S3 Review Components and Performance

JiaYu have really taken time in their design and specification of the JiaYu S3 and it shows in just how well the device looks on paper, but also performs in real life. JiaYu have opted to go for the simple, tried and tested recipe for their flagship, and while that doesn’t set the world alight does mean you have a solid, dependable and well made phone for your money.

jiayu s3 review

The display on the S3 is a 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 unit, not a full 2K or 2k+ panel, and personally that is fine by me. 1080p might have been around for a long time now, but there is nothing wrong with a decent FHD panel, and that is exactly what the JiaYu S3 has.

jiayu s3 review

Running the show on the S3 is a 64bit Mediatek processor. The model on this device is the octacore MT6752 running a 1.7Ghz with 2GB RAM. JiaYu will also offer a 3GB RAM model too (which also has NFC), but even with 2GB RAM performance from the MT6752 is stunning. Even compared to the Snapdragon 615 (also a 64bit octacore) the Mediatek hold’s its own and even surpasses the Qualcomm processor!

In early tests we found the JiaYu S3 to offer pretty good performance, but that was with an earlier ROM and JiaYu have been working hard on improving things and keep releasing updates. Unfortunately we didn’t have access to a Windows computer for the review and were unable to update the phone, if we can update before we send the S3 back I will add new benchmarks.

So not only have JiaYu made a switch to a material which will help them produce phones faster, but they have built it with top end hardware and are even working to keep on top of ROM updates! Great changes from JiaYu.

JiaYu S3 Benchmarks

  • 3D Mark Ice Storm Extreme: 6,508
  • Vellamo Metal: 1,111
  • Vellamo Multicore: 1,822
  • Vellamo Browser: 2,433
  • Quadrant: 19,288
  • GFXBench Manhattan: 358.7
  • GFXBench Manhattan Offscreen: 357.1
  • GFXBench T-Rex: 858.4
  • GFXBench T-Rex Offscreen: 866.2
  • Geekbench Single Core Score: 810
  • Geekbench Multi-core Score: 3948
  • Antutu X: 38,203
  • Antutu: 40,097

Performance really is not an issue for the JiaYu S3, it runs applications smoothly and is notably smoother than the Huawei Honor 6 Plus I have been testing along side it when it comes to browsing the web, scrolling through galleries and use in general.

With a Mediatek processor one issue which we have often faced is poor GPS performance, but this seems to be a thing of the past. Even in tests with phones running the MT6732 the GPS has been faster and more accurate than before. The S3 initially took 1 minute to lock on to a GPS signal that sped up greatly with 30 second lock on while walking around the city and a similar speed while driving.

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jiayu s3 review

JiaYu have again remained sensible when it comes to the size of the battery in the JiaYu S3, a 3100mAh removable battery is a good size for a phone of this size and specification. Although the size is good, I do feel there is some additional optimisation which needs to go on in the power management department. In use the S3 battery lasts as well as phones with similar devices, but it is when it is in standby that the power consumption is a disappointment. JiaYu really need to sort out the power management in standby as I would often wake to find the battery in the red when in previous experience I should be able to get through the morning at least without a charge.

Another issues is charging which is dreadfully slow. At first I thought that perhaps I have been spoilt with fast chargers and VOOC, but I also see that Chinese testers have similar complaints.  While looking at Chinese reviews I also noticed some people had issues with their receiver while making calls, not an issue I had experienced but something to watch out for.

Although the battery and charging speed are issues, I do believe that with JiaYu’s new-found speed and commitment to bringing updates to their phones we are going to see at least the battery drain issue addressed.

JiaYu S3 Review Camera

I will be honest when I say that I have never reviewed a JiaYu phone that I haven’t liked, but I will also honestly say that the camera’s have always let them down.

jiayu s3 review

The 13 mega-pixel Sony IMX214 F2.0 sensor was a big worry to me when I received the JiaYu S3, it is a similar sensor to what JiaYu chose to use in the past and so far they haven’t really had much luck with it, so has this changed?

jiayu s3 review camera sample

Yes! Photo quality is much improved on the JiaYu S3, not only are the quality of the images better now, but the speed of focus, capture and saving is lightning fast! As the camera application doesn’t have a shutter animation, I found myself waiting for photos to be captured to begin with, but I soon realised that images were being snapped and safely stored faster than I could have imagined.

Low light images do tend to upset the sensor on the S3, so JiaYu have provided a powerful dual tone flash. Personally I am not a fan of flash photography, but did find that for most situations the flash on the JiaY S3 to improve image quality, although the timing of the flash could be improved upon and there is still notably more noise than on some other phones.

Like the overall build, we are not talking about camera quality that will rival the Oppo N3 or the Vivo Xshot, but it is a huge improvement over previous JiaYu phones, and the speed and quality of images makes it enjoyable to use, just watch the light level and you should capture some great photos.

The camera application on the JiaYu S3 ROM is rather basic with options for tracking, HDR, flash, panoramic etc, and they all work well, however I am not a fan of JiaYu’s HDR and found photos taken in the automatic setting to be good enough.

jiayu s3 review

An interesting PIP option in the camera app allows you to add a little selfie of yourself in to photos. So no mattery what you are shooting you can add your own little duckface in their too.

JiaYu S3 Review ROM

The Android ROM on the JiaYu S3 is a pleasant surprise, not only for the updates, but for the look and features too. The ROM seems to be based on ColorOS by Oppo and features similar widgets and the same menu layout with green switches too.

jiayu s3 review

The ROM is great to look at and has some nice features to which add value to the S3 as a whole. From the General Settings menu you have access to the usual settings along with gesture sensing, smart wake etc.

jiayu s3 review

Gesture Sensing allows you to create a hand wave action to open a supported application or function. First you must teach the S3 the gesture you want to use then choose the option you want to activate.

jiayu s3 review

Smart Wake is where you find that all important double tap to unlock, along with on screen gestures. The settings in the system are pre defined so similar to Funtocuch on Vivo, we hope in the future we will be able to create our own gestures to access the apps of our choice.

jiayu s3 review

Venture in to Audio profiles and you will find settings for Sound Enhancement to boost overall sound quality when using earphones, plus an option for lossless Bluetooth and best audio surround sound.

Something to be aware of is that the JiaYu S3 doesn’t come with the Google Play store installed. Our version of the S3 came from JiaYu.es and all that was needed was to install the Google Play .apk and log in to gain access to my account. I have received messages from users who bought the S3 from Chinese resellers and are having issues with Google. I assume that JiaYu.es have a slightly different ROM with Google Services integrated, than the Chinese model of the phone. Rooting and installing GAPPS should solve the issue for all users.

If you are not sure how to ROOT or install GAPPS never fear as there are ROMS available over on Needrom which already have them included. Just be sure to update your phone with the correct ROM as different ROMS are listed for the 2GB RAM and 3GB RAM models.

JiaYu S3 Review Conclusion

The design of the JiaYu S3 isn’t anything extraordinary, but simple and functional. The whole phone follows this recipe and it is one that when served up creates a device that is throughly enjoyable to own and use.

jiayu s3 review

Performance is top notch, screen quality is on par with the best 1080 screens, and the fast camera and GPS make it an actual useable device you can take out of the box and enjoy from the get go. I’m impressed to see that JiaYu are updating and supporting the ROM on the S3, and hope this continues with fixes to the power management and also a Lollipop update in the near future.

I believe JiaYu have created a solid flagship phone that can easily carry them in to the later quarter of this year.

JiaYu S3 vs the rivals Specifications

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Thanks to JiaYu.es for supplying us with this review model of the JiaYu S3. 2GB RAM versions of the S3 should be on sale now, with 3GB RAM models hitting stores very soon.

JiaYu.es are offering GizChina.com readers a 17 Euro discount on purchases of the JiaYu S3 using the following code: 17gizs3


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