Review of iNew U9 Plus – big but plastic

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iNew U9 Plus, the latest big mobile from iNew, could say that it’s an mixture of both things modern and ancient. I’m sure that the bigger screen lovers will surely like the big icons on the big 6-inch HD resolution display, the budget conscious Harpagons will love this mode and last but not least, Europeans looking for the full LTE band coverage would certainly love it too.

iNew, I’m sure had some very good day back to 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 companies like UMI, Ulefone or Elephone.

Official website , 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.

Packaging

First impression from the iNew U9 Plus packaging was not that good, as we came across a pretty solid box wrapped in the safety of bubble wrap and hidden in another ugly box. Inside the box we found the phone itself with the transport display cover protector, charger with the proper EU plug supporting 1,5A and some cheap Chinese headphones. There where also paper documentation in various languages.

As a bonus, the package contained 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.

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Design and build

iNew U9 Plus, as I said , it’s an mixture of both things modern and ancient. 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 not a good choice for iNew . It feels really very fragile and slippery in hand and the slight rugged texture is not helping at all. 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 it’s a normal battery capacity

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Examining better the mobile, we see that there are no gaps in the seam and the buttons feel solid and non-wobbly. But when everything is from some cheap plastic material, a fall could become very easily the recipe for disaster. Theoretically we could say that due to the materials it feels lighter, but looking at the prime competition Xiaomi Max who weights more or less the same, with a way bigger battery and much better build quality.

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The back cover is removable, something that we don’t see it often nowadays. But the presence of a 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.

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Hardware specifications

  • 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

Performance

iNew U9 Plus is equipped with the quad-core MT6735A so I guess no miracles here. Ascore of 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 basic. Don’t expect heavy games to run  smoothly. Gaming it’s actually pretty decent and on the big screen it can be lot of fun, so games like the legendary Osmos feels very good on the big screen and with quality headphones connected it gets of course even better.

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Display

The display is something one must mention! It looks excellent and is hard to realize it’s just a HD resolution screen. Viewing angles are great and the 72 % display to body ration is something good for mentioning, 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, but don’t forget we don’t have a AMOLED. Sun legibility is also on a good level. Minimal brightness could be lower for the night usage,but overally the display is a pleasant surprise.

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System

iNew U9 Plus is running Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box with the popular UNI launcher. Some don’t like it, and usually is replaced by Nova launcher. There are some bloatware applications preinstalled and especially with the native launcher some ads and news notifications can get annoying very quickly.

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Pulling the notification bar reveals the usual latest notifications, second pull then gets you the panel with the shortcut buttons. 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.

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As for updates, iNew seems to be taking good care, as during the testing i already installed one of them.

Battery life

Well in short not good… Day and a half with every light usage and a day tops with the normal one. Testing showed four hours of SOT, which I think 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.

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Also the battery behavior 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.

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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 2h 15m, so more or less fits the 1,5A charging.

Connectivity

If you are from Europe, like I’m, the full LTE coverage is a godsend and seems like finally even the big players like Xiaomi are starting to understand that. This iNew 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. 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.

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Camera

The images that the mobile can capture could say are almost below average quality of pictures. With good sunny weather you can capture pretty nice photos, but things can become messy when the light conditions worsen. 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 the standard one without any extras. From 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. All the scene modes are hidden in the sub-menu, which can be tricky sometimes

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Just for the record, you must know that the phone is capable of taking a burst of 40 pictures and default selfies are taken without any “beautification”.

Video is roughly on the same level with images.

Sound

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. Rear speaker is absolutely without any bass line and the headphone output can bring a heart attack to any pure audiophile. So just basic here….

The packaged headphones as we said were very cheap, so better find something else, because in a 6 inch mobile, earphones is something that you use a lot when walking around.

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Inew U9 Plus review – Conclusion

I have the feeling that the new iNew U9 Plus won’t be a bestseller hit. But if you are looking for a cheap big phablet it can be an interesting serviceable choice. The plastic cheap design is 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 european customers.

If you are interested in getting the iNew U9 Plus, then they have it in stock on Gearbest for $110.

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