Aug 21 2013

Review: Jiayu G3

Jiayu G3

Priced at $160/120 € (summer 2013), the Jiayu G3 seems a luring budget Android smartphone. This review tells how it survived a two-month test period and how it compares to other more expensive Android phones.

What is Jiayu?

Jiayu logo
Jiayu, formally Baoji Jiayuyutong Electronic Co, is a relatively new technology company being established in 2009. It manufactures Android phones and its headquarter is located in the city of Baoji, in central China. Jiayu has its manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, a special economy zone located immediately north of Hong Kong. Up to year 2013 it has released mobile phones G1, G2, G3 and G4 in the moderate G-series and S1 in the high-end S-series.1

Jiayu Stand

Specs

Jiayu G3

Priced at $160/120 € (summer 2013) Jiayu G3 offers pretty impressive specifications:

  • 4.5″ 1280×720 display
  • MediaTek MTK6577 chipset
  • 1 GB RAM + 4 GB ROM
  • 1 GHz dual core Cortex™-A9 processor
  • PowerVR Series5 SGX GPU
  • Dual SIM
  • 8 MP back camera + 2 MP front camera
  • 2750 mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 135 x 65 x 10.8mm
  • Weight: 154 g (with battery)

Unboxing

Unboxing Jiayu G3

Chassis

Jiayu G3 backside

Jiayu G3 open

Jiayu G3 weight

The brushed aluminum look gives the G3 a more exquisite and premium look than its price would suggest. It seems very well designed, however I have read reports that tell that the back cover is fragile and can be shattered. The phone does not feel as sturdy as it could.

Jiayu G3 features two physical buttons: power button on top of the device and a volume rocker on the upper right corner. I found the power button to be hard to reach. I am accustomed to activating the screen with the power button and then swiping the screen open. Luckily the volume rocker can be used in the same manner. There are three familiar touch buttons at the bottom of the display, from left to right: “options”, “home” and “back”. Like in many other phones these bottom buttons are not physical but rather special zones, extending the display so they don’t give any physical response whether being pressed or not.

During the two-month test period the proximity sensor did not always work so the display remained lit while making a phone call and placing the phone next to ear/cheek. The proximity sensor normally shuts down the display while calling and thus disabling the touch functionality preventing accidental presses. The display will shut down after some time but when I would need to end the call, I would have to activate the screen and then hang up.

Display

The 4.5″ display has HD resolution (1280×720) and it has really vivid colors, it is sharp and bright compared to many other smart phones. The touch functionality works well and it is sensitive. The display has really wide viewing angle and it preserves the colors well in all angles. Like other displays with a high glossy cover glass, the G3 display can be difficult to read when outside in bright sunlight. Jiayu G3 uses Corning Gorilla Glass to protect the display. Gorilla Glass was first introduced with the original iPhone and has since been used in over 1 billion devices (mobile phones and tablets).

Android OS

The preinstalled Android version is 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich). It feels quick enough, however there are some glitches to be seen every now and then. For example launching menu sometimes jerks a bit.

During the two-month testing period the phone got jammed about once a week and the battery had to be removed. This was not a pleasant surprise and lead me to considering rooting the device and installing a custom ROM to improve its stability.

*** UPDATE Sep 19 2013 *** Jelly Bean can be installed unofficially. I have written a blog post how to do it.

Languages/Locale

Jelly Bean keyboard

The stock OS supports the following languages: Japanese, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, English (US), Polish, Portuguese (Portugal & Brazil), German, Bahasa (Indonesia & Melayu), French, Italian, Turkish, Arabian (Egypt), Farsi (Iran), Urdu (Pakistan), Korean, Malaiji (Malesia), Chinese (Taiwan & Mainland China), Bengali (India), Thai (Thailand), Hindi (India) and Vietnamese. The default keyboard does not support any characters that are not part of the supported languages charsets but luckily it is easy to add support for your own language characters by installing Jelly Bean Keyboard from Play Store.

Unfortunately I was not able to install custom language packs. Also Set Locale & Language does not work because the ROM provided by Jiayu does not support any other language than listed in the system dialog.

Benchmarks

Jiayu G3 AnTuTu score

Jiayu G3 GFXBench score

With AnTuTu Benchmark v. 3.4 I scored 5790 points placing it between Samsung Galaxy S (1 GHz single core ARM Cortex A8, 200 MHz PowerVR SGX 540 GPU and 256-512 MB RAM) and Amazon Kindle Fire (1-1.2 GHz Texas Instruments Dual Core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, 304 MHz PowerVR SGX540 GPU, 512-1024 MB RAM). According to the benchmark the G3 is way slower than Samsung Galaxy SII. The early Galaxy SII phones had 1.2 GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9, PowerVR SGX540 GPU and 1 GB RAM but Samsung changed the hardware configurations later to 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Scorpion and Qualcomm Adreno 220 GPU giving it more power and making it faster. It is impossible to tell which hardware configurations have given the AnTuTu score average of about 9000 points. Regardless of the Galaxy SII configurations the Jiayu G3 score is a disappointment, I thought it would have been closer to the Galaxy SII level.

With the stock OS without any modifications the device does a cold boot in 24 seconds (from pressing the power button to a fully ready and operable state).

Camera

With the hardware specifications almost equivalent of Samsung Galaxy SII and the 8 MP camera sensor, I had high hopes that Jiayu G3 camera could be high quality. Unfortunately it is not as you can see in the samples and comparisons below.

Photography

For comparison, I took some photos with Jiayu G3, Xiaomi Mi-2 and Samsung Galaxy SIII.

Jiayu G3 Macro

Jiayu G3 Macro

Xiaomi Mi-2 Macro

Xiaomi Mi-2 Macro

Samsung Galaxy S3 Macro

Samsung Galaxy S3 Macro

Surprisingly the Jiayu G3 macro photo seems to be the best among the three devices. However, when I took more photos, the colors were strangely warped:

Jiayu G3 Macro

Jiayu G3 Macro

I took some photos in challenging lighting because most cameras do well in the optimal lighting. Below are the photos in high contrast scene:

Jiayu G3 high contrast

Jiayu G3 high contrast

Xiaomi Mi-2 high contrast

Xiaomi Mi-2 high contrast

Samsung Galaxy S3 high contrast

Samsung Galaxy S3 high contrast

This is really bad quality. Also notice that Jiayu G3 can only shoot antiquated 4:3 (“full-frame”) aspect ratio. Xiaomi Mi-2 and Samsung Galaxy S3 can do much better, although even they cannot fully compensate the challenging lighting.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode can take several (usually three) photos with different settings and programmatically combine the best bits from separate photos into one result photo. All modern smartphones have HDR mode and so does Jiayu G3. Here is how it compares to the other phones:

Jiayu G3 HDR

Jiayu G3 HDR

Xiaomi Mi-2 HDR

Xiaomi Mi-2 HDR

Samsung Galaxy S3 HDR

Samsung Galaxy S3 HDR

HDR mode does quite well but notice how blurry the photo is at the top. Here other samples of high contrast macro:

Jiayu G3 high contrast macro

Jiayu G3 high contrast macro

Xiaomi Mi-2 high contrast macro

Xiaomi Mi-2 high contrast macro

Notice how the colors are all wrong again. Now the same comparison with HDR:

Jiayu G3 high contrast macro HDR

Jiayu G3 high contrast macro HDR

Xiaomi Mi-2 high contrast macro HDR

Xiaomi Mi-2 high contrast macro HDR

This is much, much better. Xiaomi Mi-2 high contrast macro HDR is even too yellow. Now some random samples:

Jiayu G3 portraitJiayu G3 portraitJiayu G3

Jiayu G3 panorama

Jiayu G3 panorama

Panorama mode works well, it has a good on-screen guidance, and it computes the resulting photo fast. Only complaint is that the panorama ending “shutter” button is awkwardly located in the left side of the screen and it is not the normal shutter button that you fire the camera.

Video

*** UPDATE Sep 12th 2013 *** As André kindly noted in the comments Jiayu G3 actually does capture 720p HD video! You need to select “Video quality → Fine”. I could not find this option myself. Unfortunately this was a test device that I had to return so I could not record my test videos again.

The video quality is really terrible. The hardware is almost equivalent of Samsung Galaxy SII and this phone does not record HD (even 720p) but rather really antiquated 4:3 (“full-frame”) with a miserable 640×480 resolution. Also the colors are warped and even in some fast moving scenes the geometry is skewed. This is ridiculous and an insult!

Battery Life

The battery can manage a normal full day usage without problems. There was on average 30% battery left after a full day when it was time to go to bed.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Really great, fast, sharp and bright display with vivid colors
  • Moderately priced ($160/120 €)
  • Premium and exquisite design (this is of course subjective)

Cons:

  • Below average camera with 4:3 aspect ratio and inconsistent color reproduction
  • Buggy Android version (4.0.4) that can stall the phone weekly and can produce some noticeable glitches in the UI. No official Jelly Bean upgrade available but it can be updated unofficially.
  • A relatively small subset of languages that other manufacturers (Samsung, HTC, etc) support

Where to Buy?

Jiayu G3 can be bought from various Chinese brokers such as Merimobiles and Fastcardtech but Jiayu has also opened their own online stores in Belgium (www.jiayumobile.be), Germany (www.ejiayu.de), Israel (www.jiayu.co.il), Russia (www.jiayu-market.ru), Vietnam (www.jiayuvietnam.vn), Ukraine (www.ejiayu.com.ua), Spain (www.jiayu.es) and India (www.jiayumobiles.com). There are also several “official” online stores (www.jiayumobileshop.com, www.jiayu-store.com, www.jiayuofficial.com) that seem to legit but I have not confirmed them with Jiayu.

I bought my Jiayu G3 from Fastcardtech.

Summary

If you are looking for a budget Android smartphone ($160/120 €) with a large and great display but you don’t value the camera, this could be the phone for you. However if you want a phone with a modern camera, buy some other phone instead of Jiayu G3.

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