MyPhone A919i Review
Adam Parnala | On 14, May 2013
It’s been a long time since MyPhone launched a new android phone but that doesn’t seem to hinder them from taking over the smartphone market. MyPhone A919i Duo, the follow-up to the highly successful A919 Duo, is now here and it got a very warm treatment on its first day sale.
Last year, we’ve seen the enormous growth of the affordable dual-core android phones that were released in the PH market and that trend obviously continued until the early part of 2013. But that didn’t stopped there. There were incremental improvements here and there in terms of resolution, processing power, RAM, and OS.
However, they aren’t really that huge to go gaga for. MyPhone decided to take a couple months of break in releasing new devices as they work in bringing more powerful smartphones in the market.
Fast forward to May 2013, after 5 grueling months of waiting, MyPhone launched the first ever android phone with a HD IPS display and quad-core processor of a local brand. Arguably the best local android phone out in the market, other android phones were left out in the speed category. But how good of a deal is the MyPhone A919i Duo? What are the pros and cons that you need to consider? To help you decide on your purchase, read our full review below.
What’s in the box?
The packaging of the MyPhone A919i isn’t premium and it’s the typical MyPhone box that other phones also come with. It’s not an issue though they could have at least tried to give a special treatment since it’s their new flagship device.
The typical contents are present such as the unit, microUSB cable, charger, earphones, manuals, and warranty card. It comes with the standard accessories but it doesn’t have a free microSD card which we wished to be included as it is used to store the Pinoy app contents. So in case you’re wondering why the Pinoy app is empty, that’s because it should be placed on your microSD card first so that it would work.
One thing I liked about MyPhone is that their accessories are very durable. The microUSB cable is very solid and it’s on par from other international brands’ version. In an android phone, having a reliable microUSB cable is very important as it’s often used in flashing custom ROMs and transferring files and of course, in charging.
The black and white
MyPhone A919i Duo comes in white and black and to help you decide which looks better, check out the photo below. The black variant has a glossy back case while the white one comes with matte finish. The display looks gorgeous in both colors though I have to admit that it looks a bit better on the black due to the black bezel. However, despite all that, I chose the white version as I liked the matte finish more. Here are two photos of the two variants in their front and back view.
Hardware and Design
The MyPhone A919i Duo is mostly made up of plastic and it sports the typical design that could make people ask you “Is that a Galaxy S3/4?”. We can’t really do anything about that as it’s the common nature of people who are not much into tech. But it’s actually not a bad thing, as that only mean that the phone looks good enough to achieve that kind of complement.
The MyPhone A919i Duo measures 144 x 74 x 10.7 mm and it’s just right for a 5-inch device though we hoped that it would be a couple of mm slimmer. As compared to the Galaxy S4’s 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, it’s clear that it’s thicker but again, it’s not disappointing. It weighs 156 g which I think is quite a turn off since it’s not proportion to its body. It lacks some heft that would help it feel more sturdy.
The front of MyPhone A919i are dominated by the 5-inch HD IPS display, 2-megapixel front camera, capacitive buttons, and sensors. Fortunately, the bezels are thinner than the original MyPhone A919 Duo which critics pointed out as a flaw. It’s just average which still makes it beautiful to look at. The menu, home, and back buttons are positioned just under the screen while the front facing camera, light sensor, and proximity sensor are on the top right corner of the phone.
At the back, we can find the 8-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash. The Philippine map is still on the middle of the back case with the MyPhone branding on top of it. The speakers are located down below which I think isn’t positioned correctly because it will easily be covered when watching videos on portrait mode. The back cover has a matte finish so it’s not a fingerprint magnet unlike the black variant. I would still recommend wiping it regularly though.
The wider display makes it harder to use single handedly, but that’s already given if you’ll switch to a device this large. To be honest, I’m also using my 5-inch android phones with two hands most of the time as it’s more ideal and it’ll result in better productivity. At first you’ll be scared by the fact that you’ll be carrying a 5-inch smartphone on your pocket but you’ll eventually get used to it – trust me.
Overall, the build quality is just adequate for the price and it’s more than what we paid for. There are point of improvements to be considered but it’s actually more of a personal opinion. The design and build isn’t exactly the best asset (the performance is!) of the MyPhone A919i but it did quite well in this category.
Display: Beautiful and vibrant 5-inch HD IPS screen
MyPhone A919i Duo isn’t the first handset to sport a high definition IPS display among other local brands but it’s still a great addition nonetheless. Unfortunately, it’s not scratch resistant so buying a screen protector right after acquiring it is a must so you won’t risk it in having scratches – unless you’re adventurous.
It’s one of the brightest displays among all the smartphones we’ve reviewed in this site so far.
The 5-inch screen gives a high pixel density of 294ppi and in real life it translates to a clear and bright display. Oh, I mean very bright. Viewing angles are wide and it’s appropriate for a 5-inch device as you’ll be sharing it with your friends most of the time when watching videos and playing games. In direct sunlight, the display is still clear and I’m not having visibility problems especially when the brightness is maxed out unlike on other handsets without IPS panel and with mediocre displays. In extreme cases, I’m having troubles if I’m not on a bright background.
The screen size puts it against other android phones like the Galaxy S3, but it’s slightly larger making its way to the phablet category. The larger screen estate enables you to do more as there will be more content on the screen. Viewing webpages, for one, is very good thanks to its HD display as small text is still very recognizable.
Apart from the quad-core processor, this is probably the MyPhone A919i’s selling point as it’s incredibly vibrant and sharp.
Tip: If you’ll buy a screen protector, choose a clear type. Having a matte protector will blur your screen a bit and you won’t feel the HD display that much. However, if you’re more comfortable with a matte screen protector as it gives you more protection, then go for it.
OS, UI: Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
We’re now moving on and we’re about ready to take Jelly Bean even on the affordable segment. Lots of android phones have recently been upgraded to Jelly Bean and it’s a good thing that our local market are now building up its adaptation of the said OS.
MyPhone A919i Duo comes with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean which is one of the latest among local android phones. Of course, it comes with all the Jelly Bean goodness and Project Butter. The experience is very fluid and smooth and I haven’t experienced any significant lags or slow downs.
The UI is not that customized and it’s more of stock android. There are some changed icons like the Gallery, Camera, Messaging, and other apps but the apps are all stock too. The additional MyPhone wallpapers and flavor were also included in but that didn’t ruined the environment.
The stock launcher is very basic, and it’s something I would love to replace with something like Apex and Nova. The most used functions are there, but for those who want more, and to fully take advantage of what android customizations offer, you’ve got to find something elsewhere.
Aside from the customized icons, there are also some apps which MyPhone decided to include. It comes with ChatBeat Karaoke, MyPhone Live, and Pinoy app which contains the Pinoy quotes, jokes, riddles, and history. Unfortunately, there is no free microSD card included so you would need to go to MyPhone to download the contents to your sd card separately as you won’t have it right after purchase. Or if you already have one with you, you can directly go to their service center and ask them to have it placed on your portable storage.
For geeks who like to have one of the latest iteration of Android, this device will be updated to Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean in the future.
Entertainment: A Powerhouse
Being a 5-inch android phone means that you’ll eventually pour tons of multimedia content to help kill some time when you have less busy days, or when you’re just plainly lazy.
Watching a movie together or by group is doable, especially because of the wide-viewing angles given by the IPS display. The MyPhone A919i can play 720p videos and as well as 1080p clips so you can take full advantage of the clarity it can give you. The sound produced by the speakers are adequate enough for a small group consumption but when you have a bigger crowd, I will suggest that you connect it to an external speaker.
As a music player, it’s just like any other android phone. It has the stock android music player installed so expect the typical options such as the sound effects which enables you to fiddle with the equalizer to your heart’s desire. Other than that, you can navigate through all your songs by artists, albums, or all of the music. If you have time, you can also create your own playlist so that you can make one which you can use for each time of the day, or depending on your mood.
In case you’ve owned a locally branded android phone before, you might know that it’s not always compatible to all earphones out there. Particularly, it’s not working with high end earphones such as JAYS and Sennheisers. Upon further observation, the jack of the included headset in the package is noticeably shorter than most standard 3.5mm jacks which explains the incompatibility.
Well, it will not only let you watch awesome videos, it will also let you create your own masterpiece or memorable moment through its almost impeccable camera.
Camera: Almost as good as a point and shoot camera
The camera of MyPhone A919i is very good though I don’t really like the camera app they bundled with the phone. It’s not the stock Jelly Bean app which I liked better.
The camera button and video recording are placed beside each other which I’m not used to. If it will be used to take high quality selfies through its 8-megapixel rear camera, it’ll be hard to tap the correct button. It takes a little getting used to but for me I’ll be more comfortable if they are separated. At first I find it useful but the more I use it the more I realized that they shouldn’t be side by side.
Moving on, the imaging quality of the MyPhone A919i is really nice especially on good lighting conditions. The autofocus locks fast enough for a quick stolen shot that you might want to pull off. The shutter is speedy and is almost instant with no lag. However, taking multiple shots is not that good because there is a half a second used for saving images. But fortunately, you can opt to use the burst shot feature so you can take 4-16 photos quickly.
One great addition that MyPhone put on their camera app is the feature which can alter the image and make a face smoother, removing the pimples and whatnot. You see, it’s helpful for those who want to smoothen some rough places on their face. Unfortunately, one key highlight is missing – Panorama.
But on the good side, all these software limitations can easily be solved by installing an app like Camera 360 which gives a wide range of filters, effects, and scenes which you can choose from to glorify any image you have.
The handset also lacks a dedicated camera button, but the volume buttons can be used to take photos. Yes, pressing either of the two will take a shot. My frustration from the position of camera and video recording button was finally solved. Check out some of the photos we took using the MyPhone A919i.
As for the video recording, it can record up to 1080p of full HD pixel resolution. However, it doesn’t fully use the sensor and only a small part of it was used. The video looks like it zooms in when it starts to record which often leads to a cropped version of the whole scene you’re trying to capture. Apparently, due to a different processing in the backend like on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 which makes the FOV narrower, it works that way. So in case you’re bothered by it, don’t worry as it’s a feature. Thanks Kyle!
It can sometimes replace your handy point and shoot camera.
Summing it up, the camera of the MyPhone A919i Duo is very satisfying and it’s more than what we could expect for its price. It can sometimes replace your handy point and shoot camera but it’s best to still keep it since this has just average low light performance as opposed to strong the flash equipped with digital cameras.
Hardware upgrade on CPU, GPU, and RAM
MyPhone A919i Duo is the very first local android phone to sport Mediatek’s MT6589 Cortex A7 processor which is one of the most formidable budget quad-cores SoC in the market. The said processor is often used in mid-range to high-end smartphones because of its relatively good performance.
MT6589 is an ARM Cortex A7 which is one of the most power-efficient processor from ARM. It is also the successor of the popular MT6577 which we saw in the MyPhone A919 Duo and MyPhone A888 Duo and a large pool of other android phones. Being an Cortext A7 doesn’t mean that it’s slow, but rather more of being battery friendly while still keeping sufficient power. If you can recall, the Exynos 54410 Octa of the Galaxy S4 uses two quad-core processors: 4 Cortex A-15 and 4 Cortex A-7. The more demanding tasks were shouldered by the faster processor and when the overwhelming power is not needed the system will resort to the power efficient processors.
To give you an idea, the benchmarks of MT6589 is way above the performance of the dual-core Cortex A9 MT6577. In fact, it’s almost double based on the AnTuTu benchmarks.
MT6577 used to work great on affordable devices but it’s already showing signs of slow down especially on HD displays. That’s probably because it’s not made to power that much pixels as it’s too demanding for its capabilities. It’s more optimized for lower resolutions such as WVGA and FWVGA that’s why they are smoother than devices with the same configuration but different resolution.
MyPhone A919i has a PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU and we did quite a research to have more information. Based on our findings, the GPU of the MP A919i is a single core but that doesn’t mean that it’s slow. In fact, it’s still fast enough to handle graphics extensive games which we’ll explain later on. The sources for this GPU is very scarce and some claim that it’s a dual-core so we’ll update this part when something comes up. If you have a solid information about this, kindly tip us about it.
Messaging / Telephony
Texting is obviously comfortable with the MyPhone A919i Duo as it has a big real estate that your fingers can roam around to. Unlike 4-inchers, I haven’t experienced troubles with the keyboard as it’s large enough for me to accurately hit each key with few minor mistakes.
What I like most is the message ring right in the lockscreen that enables you to go to your new message directly by swiping the message icon down to the center.
The messaging app is heavily customized as MyPhone decided to include a built-in emoji support. In the settings, you can also change the wallpaper of the chat area so that you can customize it to your liking. Another addition is the pop up message notification so that you could instantly see your text message. But if you’re uncomfortable with it for privacy reasons, you can switch it off in the settings. What I like most is the message ring right in the lockscreen that enables you to go to your new message directly by swiping the message icon down to the center. It’s very useful and convenient especially when you’re busy. However, this change also removed the quick toggle to Google Now by swiping up from the lockscreen.
Voice calls are very good though sometimes I feel like its volume is kinda low. But other than that, the voice come out crisp and clear so I haven’t faced dropped calls. Everything is working fine as usual. The color of the dialer was slightly modified and they’ve included some shades of green.
Connectivity: HSPA+, WiFi, Bluetooth
In terms of internet connectivity, I’m very much impressed because it packs HSPA+ so that means you’ll get access to high-speed internet connection whenever it’s available. Or in case you’re more of a WiFi guy or gal, then I’ll assure you that it locks in very fast and the range is wide enough for a large to medium house or room. Even if I’m far and a thick wall is in the middle, the handset still get a good signal.
When browsing our favorite social networks, I’ve enjoyed most of it due to the number of content which is easily accessible in the screen. The text and images are crisp too and it’s ideal for day and night time Facebook and Twitter surfing. When you find yourself in the middle of the night scouring the web on this phone, you should use the Screen Filter app so you could protect your eyes from excessive light.
I’ve used mobile internet a couple of times too and as I’ve said in my past reviews, I usually check my email and social networking accounts for any important updates even if I’m out and on the road. The access point names were automatically there like any other android phones so all I needed was a regular load or a mobile data subscription. I can switch to GSM and WCDMA or turn to WCDMA only if I really need a fast connection. Only SIM 1 has access to HSPA+ while the SIM 2 is limited to EDGE.
The mobile internet speed was fast but that’s mainly because my connection on the network I’m using is fast on our area. But we still have to give credit to the MyPhone A919i for being snappy and it’s ability to multitask several apps is really relieving if you’re going from an android phone with lower RAM which I assume is a headache at times.
General Performance: It’s Fast!
During our tests, we experienced 1 second to zero lag. Meaning, the quad-core processor lived up to the expectation of being one. Navigating on the UI and launching apps were quick and there’s no stutters that could possibly bother you on your tasks. There are some occasions though that it will take 1 second to do or open something which isn’t bad at all.
Multitasking is extremely awesome as you can run multiple apps easily and it won’t slow down. You can browse the web, use Twitter, and play a game all at once and you can still access each of them without needing to start over thanks to its 1GB of RAM. For students doing research and homeworks, it can handle a floating browser and your favorite office editing app simultaneously.
Overall, the MyPhone A919i gives top-notch performance and it can handle almost anything you throw at it. But if in case you’re a gamer, read on our thoughts about it below.
Gaming: Almost Perfect, But not quite
The MyPhone A919i is really a good companion for people who loves playing games on their smartphones. But as the title suggests, there is one major problem that you have to face. Of course, there is always a workaround, but typical users don’t bother doing it in fear of damaging their handset. Before going to that part, let’s first discuss how well it handles high-end games.
MyPhone A919i Duo is probably the best local android phone for gaming. With the help of its powerful 1.2GHz quad-core processor and PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU, the handset was able to play our favorite games used for testing the gaming prowess of a particular android device.
I first tested NBA 2k13 and I found myself playing a whole game because the gameplay was very smooth and I haven’t experienced lags or frame skips. The experience I had was more than satisfying considering first generation pinoy android phones were sort of laggy on this game when their configuration is by default.
Okay, who wouldn’t try Temple Run 2? I know a lot of people who buy phones when they can play Temple Run with it. As expected, it was smooth as dual-core android phones never had any difficulty running it.
Next is Dead Trigger. It’s actually not one of the most resource intensive games out there, but it’s still quite a capable game for good measurement of the gaming capabilities of a smartphone. The controls are quite comfortable to use as the 5-inch display is ample enough to move around my finger back and forth.
For a racing game, I picked Beach Buggy Blitz. The game is unsurprisingly fluid as well and the graphics doesn’t suffer from glitches. The sensor used for turning the vehicle from left to right is accurate and in case you prefer to touch the screen for your controls, you can tweak that in the options of the game.
All these games run nicely on MyPhone A919i but there is one major flaw that could restrain you from enjoying gaming on this phone. It cannot save an app or game directly to the microSD card.
I’ve tried downloading huge games such as Blitz Brigade and GTA Vice City to no avail. This is partly due to the limited internal storage of the handset and as well as the inability to move apps to the external storage. Instead, it can only be saved on the ‘phone storage’ which is relatively part of the internal as well.
The internal storage which is often used for apps has a size of 980MB while the phone storage the can store your files and other multimedia contents (and apps, too) has a total of 1.77GB. By just looking at the numbers, you’ll probably expect that you can only store 2-3 HD games at most. It cannot store apps and games to the memory card. As what I’ve said a while ago, there is a workaround by pushing the files through our microSD card or by swapping or repartition our storage but that’s too complicated for typical users. These solutions require rooting the device which can possibly harm the handset if not done properly. But if you’ll go for it, you can fully enjoy gaming on this handset. Beware though, as rooting voids your warranty.
Benchmarks Results: Soaring high
I’m never really fond of relying on benchmark results but since most of our readers ask us about it, we have to test it. Just like on our previous reviews, we’ll just use the top benchmarking apps on Android.
Our first test was made on AnTuTu and it scored 12,630 which is fairly high for its configuration. It was just under the Google Nexus 7 which is considered as a beast already.
On Quadrant Standard, it scored 3708 which is slightly lower than the score of the ASUS Transformer Prime and above the Atrix 4G.
Lastly, we tested the A919i Duo on NenaMark v2. We ran it 3 times and we got a result of 37.2 which tops the LG Optimus 2x and was behind by 8 points on the Galaxy S2.
As you can see, the results we got were really convincing and I must say that these numbers are also seen in real world usage. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this badboy is fast.
4GB Internal Storage: Why you have less space?
I have decided to insert this little section as I assume most of you could possibly miss the storage talk I did earlier. Well, one of the common complaints about smartphones is that they don’t come with the advertised internal storage. Little did consumers know that the other ‘missing’ memory is used by the system. It has a total of 4GB but the inaccessible amount is reserved for the system.
In MyPhone A919i Duo’s case, the 4GB internal memory totals to only 2.75GB. The internal storage which is used to store apps and games has 0.98GB while the phone storage was given 1.77GB. If you’re still asking why you don’t have ‘4GB’ of storage, read the first paragraph again.
Battery life: Just enough for a day
Battery life is one of the common issues on most android phones and while the 2000mAh of the MyPhone A919i Duo seems too small for an android phone of its caliber, I’m glad that it did surprised us on how well it handled it.
As explained earlier, the quad-core processor of the A919i is power-efficient so that means it’s not a battery hog despite having four cores. It didn’t disappoint me though they could have lowered the minimum CPU frequency so that it can preserve more. Currently, it’s clocked at 497.25MHz as per Quadrant Standard and AnTuTu. Anyway, I think this move was relevant in keeping the device fast.
Before moving to this unit, I was handling an android phone with a shorter battery life and another with an awesome uptime. The MyPhone A919i Duo stands in between, but sometimes leans more to the better battery life.
As for my usage, I used WiFi for around 5 hours, played several games for a total of 1 hour, tons of texts and calls, and alternating minimum to maximum brightness – I was able to squeeze in one full day. The image above shows how my battery usage was for the past few days courtesy of battery drain analyzer. During the last three days, I played more that’s why it got shorter uptime. The average battery life we got is 18 hours and 10 minutes.
For the record, the battery life is above standard and unless you’re very picky about it, you won’t find it as a shortcoming. But for me, the uptime was more than enough and as you can see on the screenshot above, I was able to get 11 hours on heavy usage and the majority of it I was even playing almost non stop with WiFi turned on.
Verdict: A Superphone of its own
MyPhone A919i is the best android phone in the local scene right now in terms of performance and no one can argue with that. Even with the recent announcement of the Cherry Mobile Skyfire 2.0, the A919i definitely tops it by a mile as the Snapdragon processor used in that device is rather slow as compared to the MT6589.
MyPhone A919i Duo Specs
Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
5-inch HD (1280×720) IPS Display, 16M colors, ~294 ppi pixel density
MTK MT6589 1.2GHz quad-core processor, Cortex-A7
4GB internal memory
microSD support up to 32GB
8-megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash
720p HD video recording at 30fps
2-megapixel front camera
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 11 Mbps
Sensors: Accelerometer, gyro, proximity
Dimensions: 144 x 74 x 10.7 mm (5.67 x 2.91 x 0.42 in)
Weight: 156 g
Li-Ion 2000 mAh battery
The build was just right on its price tag but we would have wished something better. I’ve found a solution on this and it’s a simple hard case. Putting it on the handset gives a more sturdy feel which it lacked in our first meeting. But, the boost in performance and HD display are the main assets that would hook you up on this device anyway.
One contender that can possibly go head to head with MyPhone A919i is the O+ 8.15 which was launched last Saturday but it costs Php3,000 more. It has the same processor and GPU so if you’re just after a fast and fluid performance and with a limited budget, I’d say no look further than the MyPhone A919i Duo.
The MyPhone A919i Duo sure has its own shortcomings like any other android phone but it’s easy to shrugged off when you get the hang of it. After all, this baby costs less than Php10k and some even got it for only Php7,900 during the launch sale.
All things considered, I wouldn’t really think twice on recommending the MyPhone A919i to anyone as it’s really very competitive for its price point. You get an acceptable build, beautiful HD IPS display, mighty quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, and Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean out of the box for only Php9,590. For now, you can’t find a better deal than that.
PRICE UPDATE: Now only ~Php6,500!