Continuing its foray into the premium segment of the mid-range market, Ninetology is quickly carving a niche for itself with some affordable, feature-packed products. The ASEAN mobile device company recently introduced the U9 Premium Smartphone Series spearheaded by the U9X1, U9Z1 and U9Z1+. Latest to join the family is the U9R1, a 4.3-inch, Snapdragon-powered smartphone. I’ve been using the device for several weeks. Read on for the full review.
Design and build
The U9R1 is a decent if generic-looking phone and quite well put together. Ninetology positions the UR91 as a ‘sporty phone’ although I’m hard-pressed to find any particular sporty feature aside from its vibrant red exterior. I personally find the plastics and build quality better than the U9X1 I reviewed previously, strange as that may sound. The back plate is also quite solid, coloured in bright red. The glossy finish does tend to attract plenty of fingerprints though. Removing the backplate to access the microSD slot and dual-SIM slots is easy. Note that the UR91 has a non-removable battery.
The U9R1 measures 62.9 x 126.3 x 7.8mm and weighs just 107.5g, so it’s slim and light and feels snug in the hand.
For more photos of the Ninetology U9R1, visit Flickr.
On the right is the power button, with the opposite housing volume rocker buttons. Up top is a 3.5mm audio jack. Down at the bottom is the microUSB charge port.
There are no other physical buttons, only soft touch keys on the front panel. Ninetology has taken a minimalist approach to the soft keys so if you’re expecting icons to denote ‘Back’, ‘Home’ and ‘Menu’, you’re not going to find them. Users will need to figure them out and remember what the left and right dots represent as they continue to use the device.
Unlike its bigger siblings, the U9R1 uses a 1.2Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 quad-core CPU with Adreno 203 graphics. Why the differing choice of architecture is not detailed, but to the layman it makes little or no difference in performance or usability. Overall, this isn’t a slouch.
The device packs 1GB RAM, which is an adequate amount of memory for a mid-range smartphone, and 4GB of internal storage. Storage can of course be expanded to 32GB via the microSD slot.
The U9R1 sports a 4.3-inch (960 x 540 pixel) IPS HD display, overlaid by One Glass Solution (OGS) and Optical Clear Adhesive (OCA) which supposedly gives protection, thinness and clearer projection.
As with many devices in the mid-range, the U9R1 is dual-SIM capable with SIM 1 supporting GSM/WCDMA/HSDPA+ (7.5Mbps DL/5.76Mbps UL) and SIM 2 just GSM.
The U9R1 also comes with Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and GPS/A-GPS.
Ninetology has generously integrated a 8MP main camera with autofocus and LED flash, and a 2MP front camera into the U9R1. I found the camera generally quick in normal circumstances, and even in low light. In terms of sheer quality, it will not rival other cameras higher up the smartphone chain, but overall a very decent shooter as it captures details and reproduces colour relatively well. Check out some sample shots below. Shots are unedited, only watermarked.
The review continues in Part 2 where we cover Software, Performance, Battery life and the final verdict.