In a galaxy far far away few smart iNew engineers decided to create yet another new phone for their growing portfolio. But never put your ideas on paper with an open window, because a gust of wind can mess up all your plans and mix up the ideas together. Then before you know it you will end up with something you never really intended to create and you won’t find out until the first pieces are already being produced. Then all you can do is just erase all the planned “Killer “ and “Super” prefixes and drastically reduce the price of the new device. And that’s roughly the story i can imagine behind the creation of the iNew U9 Plus, because it’s an mixture of both things modern and ancient.
But despite all the possible controversies the phone surely has something to offer, especially the bigger screen lovers will surely like the big icons on the big 6-inch HD resolution display. Or the budget conscious Harpagons will love this mode. And of course all those pesky Europeans looking for the full LTE band coverage would certainly love it too. We would like to thank the iNew company for providing the review sample for us.
Something about the iNew brand
The iNew company probably already seen better days and especially the success in 2014 with the slim and fancy iNew V3 model with “Sony” design. Since then the glory of the brand diminished a bit under the pressure of other aggressive chinese predators like UMI, Ulefone or Elephone.
Official website located at www.inewphone.com, where we can find the information in english is a bit of a confusing mess with very spartan info without too many pictures, grammar mistakes and tech specs mistakes. But currently we can read something about 16 different phones manufactured by the iNew brand and that the company is active since 2007 and the actual brand seeing the light of the day in 2012. Exporting to more than 30 countries including European ones makes it also pretty international.
First impression from the iNew U9 Plus packaging could feel a bit on the cheaper side, but still pretty solid box came wrapped in the safety bubble wrap and hidden in another ugly box. Inside you can find the phone itself with the transport display cover protector, charger with the proper EU plug supporting 1,5A and cheapest chinese headphones imaginable. For the linguists also paper documentation in various languages.
As a bonus there are also packaged in some extras with spare basic screen protector and plastic transparent case, which is actually not bad, but not a silicone one so a bit slippery in hand and certainly also fragile. It protects the corners pretty well, but surprisingly leaves the chin and upper edge without any protection. Oh and whole package weighs pretty hefty 472g.
Design and build
As i already mentioned in the entry paragraph the device feels like a combination of some prehistoric approaches with modern ones. For example the 2.5D curved display is a trend of the past two years and combined with the slim bezels looks pretty good and the same can be said about fancy design golden frame.
On the other hand the plastic material used for the back cover is probably the cheapest one available in China, feels very fragile and slippery in hand , the slight rugged texture not helping. The phone looks like a toy with back and side view angles and the 8.7mm thickness is not helping either. INew can’t even use the big battery excuse, because the capacity inside is really nothing to write home about.
Concerning the build quality it gets better, no gaps in the seam and buttons feel solid and non-wobbly. But once again everything is from cheap plastic material, so every possible fall is just a recipe for disaster. Theoretically we could say that thanks the materials it feels lighter, but looking at the prime competition the Xiaomi Max weights more or less the same with way bigger battery and much better build quality.
The back cover is removable and same goes for the battery, but another trip to the distant past is the one miniSIM slot from the two available, feels like a dinosaur for real. Another disappointing part is the absence of the notification LED and the backlight of the the sensor buttons.
- Mediatek MT6735A processor clocked at 1,3 GHz
- 2 GB RAM
- 16 GB of storage
- 3000 mAh battery capacity
- 13 Mpix rear camera with LED flash
- 5 Mpix front selfie camera
- Dual SIM (microSIM + miniSIM)
- LTE support on bands 1/3/7/8/20
- Bluetooth 4.0, OTG
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- Color variants : black, white, gold (review one), pink
- Dimensions : 162,5 x 83,2 x 8,7 mm
- Weight : 202 g
Nothing special, but also nothing too bad. You can’t expect miracles from the quad-core MT6735A but with almost 30.000 points in Antutu it’s quite alright for the normal usage. Same goes for the 2 GB RAM, sure it could be bigger, but if you won’t plague the phone with tons of junk the multitasking feels just fine and not sluggish.
Everything feels more or less fluid and for some basic gaming it’s actually pretty decent and on the big screen it can be lot of fun. Especially stuff like the legendary Osmos feels very good on the big screen and with quality headphones connected it gets of course even better. But if you would be planning some graphically demanding titles, then you can forget it right away, because the sheer graphical horsepower just isn’t there.
Finally some time for a real praise ! The display is excellent and if you are not an eagle eyed nitpicker you won’t even realize it’s just a HD resolution screen. Viewing angles are great and I would like to also praise the 72 % display to body ration, while it’s not even tainted by the annoying software buttons like for example with Leagoo Shark 1.
Colors are a bit on the colder side, don’t expect anything vivid like AMOLED, but personally I prefer that to the Samsung’s way too colorful attitude. Sun legibility is also on a good level, but I have to add I hate using the display protectors so it’s a question how would it looks with some cheap one on. Minimal brightness could be lower for the night usage,but overally the display is a pleasant surprise.
Android is present in the 5.1 Lollipop version so once again a bit obsolete, but well you can learn to live with that, iNew decided to use the popular UNI launcher, which is personally not my taste due to stacking all the icons on the screens and not in the dock. Also it adds two extra screens for the gallery entry/media players and iNew managed to provide yet another one with annoying most used contacts and chinese newsfeed. Another reason to get rid of it and replace it with something like Nova launcher.
There are some bloatware applications preinstalled and especially with the native launcher some ads and news notifications can get annoying very quickly. I managed to uninstall or disable more or less everything unnecessary, but can’t shake a feeling there is still something else eating the system means in the background.
Pulling the notification bar reveals the usual latest notifications, second pull then gets you the panel with the shortcut buttons. But no matter what i did i could’t rearrange it exactly to my liking, even the hidden tweaks and tricks didn’t work.
The phone also supports the gestures so double tap to wake, direct entry to a particular application or something else is not a problem. What’s handy with the U9 Plus is the ability to schedule the turning off/on times and the alarms will be fully working even during this “off” state. But of course it can’t enter the PIN for you in case you have this type of security upon the phone start.
So far it seems iNew are taking good care about the updates, during the testing i already installed one of them.
Well in short pretty disappointing… You can expect roughly one and half day with very light usage and a day tops with the normal one. My testing revealed more or less four hours of SOT, which is surely below the average result and we can blame it on the 3000 mAh battery, which is apparently insufficient to power the 6-inch display, even though only with HD resolution.
Also the battery behaviour can be pretty unpredictable with especially the lower numbers jumping drastically like 10 % to 5 % in just one minute. But maybe it will get better with more charging cycles, I’m still only in the third one.
Speaking about the charging cycles, the very first charging resulted in a pretty awkward situation with the battery level number being stuck for like 4 hours and then magically jumping right to 100 percent. At least the next cycles happened normally, after 30 minutes of charging roughly 20 % in and full charge done in about 2h15m, so more or less fits the 1,5A charging.
For us Europeans the full LTE coverage is a godsend and seems like finally even the big players like Xiaomi are starting to understand that. This iNew lowend model supports even the 800 and 900 Mhz so all is good and nothing stands in the way of comfy surfing on the big display.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections work just fine, phone had no problems pairing with a car handsfree or Pebble smartwatch and the Wi-Fi sensitivity and signal strength seems very good too. GPS has no problems too, first fix took about 40 seconds, but all the next ones within 5 seconds. The GPS precision seems alright and i wouldn’t be afraid using it as a main navigational devices for the holiday car trip.
Overally slightly below average quality of pictures, with good sunny weather you can capture pretty nice photos, but the unknown 13 Mpix can mess things pretty badly when the light conditions worsen. Photos will become full of noise and some weird shady shapes. You can see it clearly on the picture samples below. Focus is also on the very slow side and the exposition just jumps from one extreme to the other. You need to take more pictures and choose the best result one in case you want something at least partially representative.
The photo application is just a standard one without any extras, not much to see there. On the left side you choose the modes, up top you have the toggles for HDR, flash, front/rear cam and on the bottom the filter choices. You sadly can’t turn off in the menu the very annoying focus sound simulating the shutter and all you can do is only manually silencing the phone fully to get rid of it. And all the scene modes are hidden in the sub-menu so not so easily reachable.
Let me just add that the phone is capable of taking a burst of 40 pictures and default selfies are taken without the annoying “beautification”, which i hate for example with Samsung phones, if you have some wrinkles already just let it show…
Video is roughly on the same below par level, the captured movie is stuttery quite a lot. The phone is capable of capturing even time-lapse videos. Exposition is handles quite alright, but you have to manually help the camera with focus by tapping on the desired object, no automatic focus in the settings.
Make sure you turn on all the volume enhancement options in the menu like BesAudEnh and BesLoudness, because the loudness is barely average. Manufacturer is not listing any special audio enhancements used so we are probably stuck with the bare basics. Rear speaker is absolutely without any bass line and the headphone output can bring a heart attack to any pure audiophile.
The packaged headphones are just brutal, which is not a surprise with estimated price hovering roughly around a dollar i think. But for basic handsfree functions it’s okay to use them and trust me with 6-inch phone you will be thinking about handsfree a lot.
The native music application has some built-in equaliser so you can try to tweak the sound quality a tiny bit more if you are up for the challenge.
Inew U9 Plus review – Conclusion
The new iNew U9 Plus is probably not going to be any bestseller hit, but if you are looking for a cheap big phablet it can be an interesting serviceable choice. What brings the phone down the most in my eyes is the unsatisfactory battery life and in this area it just loses to the similar devices like Leagoo Shark 1 or Xiaomi Mi Max. The plastic cheap design is also a little bit of a letdown and the U9 Plus is certainly not a great looking design phone by any means. On the other hand the full LTE bands support could be appealing to (mostly european) customers.
We would like to thank the iNew company for providing the review sample for us. And if you would be interested in getting the iNew U9 Plus, then they have it in stock on Gearbest for $110.