There is no denying the fact that the budget smartphones segment has consistently been the most competitive segment, and for obvious reasons. Sure affordable or rather disruptive prices play important roles, brand presence and awareness are also equally important. Evidently, the sub Rs 10,000 segment is highly-experimented, thanks to brands consist of both newcomers and established ones.
Talking of newcomers, Mumbai-based mobile distribution company Priyanka Telecom launched a smartphone brand Centric earlier this year. The young brand, which is aimed at offering smartphones ranging between Rs 7,000 to Rs 15,000, has four smartphones up its sleeves already: the Centric L1, G1, P1 and P1 Plus.
I have been using the Centric G1 for a couple of weeks or so. So let’s see if it has what it takes to stand out.
Let’s have a quick look at what the Centric G1 is all about.
One of the biggest highlights of the Centric G1 is design. The phone blends in sandstone finish on the removable back cover that feels good in the hand, giving it a stylish look. If you have used previous OnePlus flagships smartphones like OnePlus 1 and OnePlus 2, the Centric G1 will make you feel like home. Although the sandstone back adds sturdiness to the device, what may trouble some users is the fact that it is highly prone to oil and sweat marks.
Weighing in at 165g, the Centric G1 is lightweight and compact in size, making it easy to hold and operate using one hand. Dimensions-wise, the device is on par with major sub-Rs 10K smartphones, measuring 8.95 mm in thickness. The Centric G1 is well-designed with rounded corners and has thick bezels around the display that are prominently visible, which is common in sub-Rs 10K phones.
On the top of Centric G1 sits a Micro-USB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack whereas the bottom houses a primary microphone. What is evident, however, is that two distinct design principles have been employed at both the top as well as the bottom. It essentially is what caused Centric to keep the bottom of the G1 pretty much empty. On the right, there is a standard power button alongside volume rockers. The left side of the phone is empty.
Moving on to the back, the Centric G1 houses a primary camera that bumps out of the unit alongside a LED flash. Besides the rear camera sits a speaker grill. One of the factors where it falls behind is the fingerprint scanner, which is missing. It is surprising because even cheaper phones feature fingerprint scanners these days.
The Centric G1 boasts of a 5.5-inch 720p IPS LCD Dragontrail OGS display with the pixel density of 267 pixels per inch (PPI). Opting for OGS (One Glass Solution) eliminates air gaps between the screen and the protective layer, resulting in good screen visibility and avoiding light refractions. The display quality is decent and on par with phones in this price segment. What’s more, the viewing angles are pretty good as well.
There is an ambient light sensor so that you can opt for automatic brightness. The display is relatively bright under direct sunlight and accurate enough in terms of the colour reproduction. Although the quality of the display is commendable, it is prone to smudges and fingerprints. So I had to keep wiping it all the time. The lack of an oleophobic coating could be the reason for it, though.
Talking about camera experience on the Centric G1, there is an 8-megapixel rear snapper with LED flash. I have nothing much to talk about it. The viewfinder is sluggish that often results in a bad photography experience. The camera struggles to focus. As a result, pictures turn out to be shaky and distorted.
Taking selfies on this phone is hectic especially when you hold the device using right hand. The reason being, you get two on-screen buttons to record videos and click pictures. None of these buttons are centered. The button to click pictures (including selfies) is slightly at the right side of the screen.
As a result, when you try to capture selfies while holding the phone in right hand, your thumb will struggle to reach the button. If you hold the device in your left hand, the experience will be somewhat better. Thankfully, volume rocker and a voice command will come handy to capture selfies. There’s an option for HDR selfies.
Powering the Centric G1 is MediaTek MT6735 processor coupled with Mali-T720 MP2 for graphics. I played a graphic intensive Asphalt 8 game. The gameplay here was very slow and full of stutters on high visual quality settings. However, lowering it down to medium quality turned out to be comparatively better.
The best part, it doesn’t heat up at all. This phone recorded AnTuTu benchmark score of 33144 which is less than last year’s Redmi 3S retailing at Rs 6,999. The Geekbench scores for single core and multi-core performance were 601 and 1705 respectively.
Although no issues were noted in terms of audio and calling performance during my review, the audio wasn’t loud enough. However, the audio experience via 3.5mm headphone jack was commendable.
Coming to the software, the Centric G1 is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system. It runs near stock user interface out of the box, which is great. Few default Centric related apps aside, this phone contains no bloatware.
The overall booting process takes longer than usual. I liked the idea of pattern lock to boot into the device. It’s helpful in case the device lands up in the hands of mischievous people. The LED notification up front shouldn’t blink in red or blink at all for that matter in the case of pending notifications. I couldn’t find a way to switch it off either. Supported connectivity options include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, Micro USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack.
When it comes to battery performance, the Centric G1 performed fairly well. It took me almost three hours to charge the phone up to 100 percent, which is noteworthy given that it packs a 2,900mAh battery. The phone could easily last a full day on a single charge. (Also see: Here is the list of phones with big capacity batteries).
As a brand, Centric has a long way to go, and this smartphone appears to be a perfect start for the company. Although the Centric G1 struggles to stand out due to a poor camera and missing fingerprint scanner, the design and display quality is commendable.
The Centric G1 comes at the MRP of Rs 9,000, which would face tough competition in the market. Amongst others, there is Coolpad Note 5 Lite available out there at Rs 6,999, which is based on similar hardware specifications and yet offers a fingerprint scanner.