A few months after the launch of Noir A10 (the Micromax A110 Canvas 2 variant in Pakistan) QMobile has rather quietly launched its upgrade version called the Noir A11. I mentioned quietly because the general QMobile fashion of launching a new cell phone is accompanied with massive advertisement frenzy on almost all Television Networks. However till the drafting of this blog Noir A10 was being aggressively advertised so I am not sure what strategy the company has in place for A11 and its other latest series of smartphones. Along with A11, the Company has also launched two other android smartphones; A9 with 4.5 inch screen to succeed A8 and A12 with 4.3 inch AMOLED screen and 1.2 Ghz Dual Core processor to establish and lead the Company’s high end smartphone tier.
Noir A10 is a very good mobile in terms of price to feature ratio and it is this bargain which tempted me to ignore the products of the reknown OEMs and venture into the unknown Chinese OEM territory by purchasing the A10. Such experience has not been met with any disappointment as of yet. However, I would say that total satisfaction is also not there since in terms of specifications of A10 there is much left to be desired when Chinese branded smartphones with better specs, under the same budget, are brought into consideration. The successor A11 therefore has comfortable room to demonstrate its improvements over A10. Lets start with the basic specifications of A11.
- Display: 5 Inch LCD WVGA (800×480) (187 PPI), Capacitive Multi Touch
- Ram: 512 MB (maybe DDR3)
- Storage: Internal 1GB, Phone Internal SD 2GB, Micro SD Expansion Slot (Supporting up to 32G
- B, 4GB card provided)
- CPU: MTK 6577 based on dual core ARMv7 Processor clocked at 1GHz
- Battery: 2100 mAH Li-Ion
- Sensors: Orientation Sensor, Magnetic Sensor, Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor and Light Sensor
- Camera: 5MP Main, 0.3MP Secondary
- Connectivity: GSM 900/1800/1900, Bluetooth v2.1 (presuming), Wi-Fi 802.11 and GPS/A-GPS.
- OS: Android 4.0.4 ICS (with the A8 resembling launcher).
As it can been seen from the specs that there is no major difference between A10 and A11 on paper. In fact I would go as far as calling them identical. However after having used the two smartphones what I have been able to conclude is that A11 is in fact a bug fix and refined version of the A10. However while A11 improves on almost every aspect of A10 it lacks in one crucial department i.e. the Display.
The Display on A10 is a 5Inch IPS LCD with FWVGA resolution (854 x 480). IPS technology in LCDs offer brighter and crisp display with wide viewing angles. Whereas A11 employs a normal 5 Inch LCD screen panel with WVGA resolution of 800*480 pixels. Therefore difference in display quality between the two smartphones is quite evident. I was actually a little disappointed when I first had a look at the display of A11 and was tempted to swap for an A10 as I was expecting a 720p resolution, as stated on the QMobile facebook fan page, but that unfortunately did not turn out to be true. Immediately the first thing I noticed on the display of A11 were the scan lines, which are a result of stretching low resolution on a big screen. Although the display of A10 adds only 54 pixels, it offers far superior display quality with hardly any visible pixels at viewing range of one and a half feet and above. Further the viewing angles and colour temperature of the A10 display is also better in comparison with A11.
However the dominance of A10 over A11 ends with the display. Even in certain aspects of display and rest of the smartphone specifications, A11 takes the lead.
The Noir A10 although has a better display it lacks the light sensor which means that its screen brightness cannot be set to auto adjust. I found the lack of this feature in A10 quite inconvenient since I had to adjust the screen brightness every time when moving to and fro from outdoors to indoors environment. Leaving the brightness to full was never as option since it drained the battery in few hours and caused strain on the eyes while using the phone in low light envorinments. Even Noir A8 has a light sensor therefore it was baffling as to why the flagship Noir A10 lacked such an essential feature. Further the display screen of A10 has some sort of a mirror coating which resulted in poor outdoor visibility as most of the surrounding light reflects off the screen right into the eyes. A11 on the other hand offers more a practical display screen is less reflective and the light sensor adjusts the brightness according to the environment.
I also found the touch response on A11 to be much more accurate. The problem with the A10 touch response was particularly evident when tying a message or playing a game which require accurate touch movements on the screen. While using A10 I noticed that the frequency of typo’s was significantly higher as its touch system struggled to align the tips of my finger onto the keys of the Android/Swiftkey keyboard. A11 however has offered satisfactory touch response and much more calibrated operation.
A11 has a total of five sensors installed which are 3 more than its predecessor A10. In addition to the proximity sensor and accelerometer found in A10, magnetic, orientation and light sensor are added to A11. The smart tools utility comes pre installed in A11 to let you have a little fun with these sensors. Also with the additional sensors the gaming opportunities also broarden as certain games on Google Playstore do employ these sensors as game controller.
The connectivity of Noir A11 in respect of GSM service is almost the same as Noir A10, which is solid, however Wifi on A11 is slightly better. I have tested the Wifi reception of A11 at quite far off distances from the Wifi Access Point and the signal strength was as good as on my Lumia 920, with very stable data transfer rates.
There is a 5MP camera in Noir A11, which on paper appears to be a downgrade from the predecessor. The comparison of the actual pictures taken from these two mobile phones do reveal a slight difference in quality, with Noir A10 having slightly better sharpness. The colour reproduction and indoor noise levels are almost identical. To be honest I have my doubts on Noir A10 having a 8 megapixel sensor. My guess is that both A10 and A11 have a 5 MP sensor , where A10 performs a software stretch of the picture. I am saying this because when I installed the Mobistel Cynus T2 Jelly Bean rom on Noir A10 it was taking pictures at 12MP resolution and the software stretch was hard to identify in any of the pictures. Both Noir A10 and A11 record videos in VGA 600 x 480 resolution and there is no noticeable difference to be spotted.
Noir A11 comes installed with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich with a lot of pre-installed applications that cannot be uninstalled. The user interface of A11 is almost similar to that of A8, i.e. we have the same android launcher on both phones, which is actually pretty good but I prefer Nova or ADW. The performance of ICS on A11 is flawless with no lags, whereas in Noir A10 the ICS suffered from a few lags. As I mentioned in my earlier blog the lags in A10 has more to do with the software since a jelly bean based custom rom on A10 worked perfectly. I am not sure if Noir A11 would ever see the Jelly Bean update, but the smooth operation of ICS is sufficient to suppress my desperation for an OS upgrade.
The build design of A11 completely differs from A10, which is better, depends on the user preference. While A10 design seems more on the lines of Galaxy S3, A11 has taken its looks from the Galaxy Note series. The phone has been built with very good quality materials and put together with brilliant workmanship. The device in the hand feels premium and solid. The materials blend in beautifully and do not crackle or producer gap when the phone is pressed or twisted. I prefer the design of A10, but the build quality of A11 has won me over. If not looked closely A11 looks just like a Galaxy Note. To make things turn more in the favour of A11, the original packaging also contained a flip cover that makes a perfect match for the phone. Just like the phone itself the flip cover is also made of very good materials.
A11 over A10
- Better Sunlight visibility of the Display.
- More accurate touch screen response.
- Three additional sensors including magnetic sensor, light sensor and orientation sensor.
- Stronger Wifi Connectivity
- Stable and lag free Android 4.0.4 OS, with rumors of a planned upgrade to Jelly Bean.
- Better build quality and design.
- Accessories include a free very high quality flip cover.
- Bigger Battery.
A10 over A11
- Better Display Resolution and Quality (the IPS LCD Display).
- Depending upon your preference you might find A10 better in design. I think its almost 0.5 slimmer than A11.
- Slightly better camera in still pictures.
- Massive community support, especially from Indian Developers on XDA Forum. There is a huge variety of custom roms available based on Jelly Bean 4.1.1 that out perform the ICS on Noir A11 in terms of features and performance.