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* * * * *

Jiayu G2 Review


Introduction
Following the release of the iPhone 5, 4" might become the new sweet spot for phones. Samsung is producing a 4" Galaxy S3 mini with other OEMs sure to follow. The 'phablet' and other larger screen devices might be taking off, but practicality might let the 4-inch market prosper. Among the thriving China based brands there is a range of options. Lenovo, THL and Bedove are all producing 4-inch phones using the latest dual core MT6577, but today we will be taking a look at a relatively new brand - Jiayu. The G2 is only the second mainstream device made by Jiayu, but it has become known for offering a high quality, high spec phone at an exceptional price. Is this reputation warranted, or a myth out of China waiting to be busted?

Review device
This review is based on multiple Jiayu G2 devices purchased by me for personal use and for friends and family. Most hands on time has been with the single core MT6575 model.

Packaging
The phone comes in a clear plastic lunchbox type container with a paper sleeve. Included is the phone, two 2050mah batteries, micro USB cable, earphone headset, clear screen protector, a flat pin 110-240 volt wall charger and a Chinese language manual. The phone rests in a foam mould and comes well packaged. Note that these accessories may vary depending on where your device is purchased.

Posted Image

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Hardware
Like many of it's other kindred China devices, the G2 is powered by a Mediatek processor. There are two configurations available, a single core and dual core CPU option both clocked at 1GHz. Outside of this both models are identical and use the following specifications:
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB ROM
  • Dual SIM with 2G quadband 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz in both SIM slots with 3G 900/2100 limited to one
  • 8MP autofocus rear camera with LED flash
  • 2MP front facing camera
  • 4.0" WVGA display with In-plane Switching.
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • GPS with Assisted GPS
  • FM Radio receiver
  • MicroSDHC card slot, supporting up to 32GB
  • 2050 mAh battery
  • 124 x 63 x 10.6 mm
  • 163g with battery
Fairly standard specifications for this type of device, although it is nice to see 1GB versus the 512MB regularly used with Mediatek CPUs.

Physical Design
The G2 is available in Black or White, with some retailers swapping out the battery cover and offering 'Oreo cookie' half and half options. Physically it is a perfect rectangle with rounded edges. The front has a rather sharp edge to it but the back has a more angled gradient. The bezel around the screen is glossy with the back and sides having a light matte finish. On the back is a light grey print of the Jiayu name and logo with short written blurb the bottom. What exactly this says can vary; Some use Chinese script and others capitalised English. Either way it's a small font and doesn't ruin the look.






Navigation is via a combination of a rounded square physical Home button below the screen in the centre and capacitive Menu and Back keys at either side. These are responsive, but the Home button does rattle and could be fitted a bit more snug. As you'd expect, the speaker, light sensor, proximity sensor and front facing camera are above the screen with the microphone on the bottom. Also on the bottom is the micro USB port. Unfortunately this jack can be rather loose. When using the phone while charging the cable has slipped out more than once, and I'm not the only one to notice this. I suspect this is due to the port being recessed into a deep plastic hole in the battery cover rather than being flush with the edge. There's a standard 3.5mm jack and power button at the top and a volume rocker on the left side.

Under the back cover there is two standard SIM slots and an insertion force microSD slot. Below these is the giant 2050 mAh battery - this is huge and is what makes the phone have more bulk than you think it should. I don't have the tools to accurately weigh the battery but I wouldn't be surprised if it was close to half the weight of the overall device. It doesn't make the phone hugely thick but it is definitely a bit chubby.



Android
The exact version of Android you get can vary out of the box. The single core model will most likely have 4.0.3 running, but there is a quick and easy firmware update to 4.0.4 available. I've only had one dual core model to go by, but that came already loaded with 4.0.4 - it's probably a good bet that this is standard, considering it was released two months ago. Jiayu has said that Jelly Bean should be coming soon, but ultimately I think this would depend on Mediatek. It might become available, but they also might be holding off to give it to their next generation of processors.

The Android implementation is extremely barebones and vanilla. There are only 4 apps preinstalled that you wouldn't find on any other ICS device:
  • A 'Nature scene' Live Wallpaper
  • eJiayu - a shortcut to the official Jiayu site
  • Baidu - Chinese search/social thing
  • System Update - lets you update from zip files on the SD card
All of these apps can be disabled or removed, although I highly recommend keeping the latter one intact. Beyond these it's the bare minimum to get Android up and running. All of the basic stock apps are here, but anything that you get from the Play Store isn't. Don't worry, everything from Maps to YouTube work perfectly once installed - I have not encountered any app incompatibility warnings in the Play Store. This is probably one of the best things about all Jiayu phones. Often China based manufactures like loading devices up to the brim with all kinds of bloatware apps, often making them difficult to remove without root. Having such a minimal footprint by default is one of the highlights of the G2.

When you first boot the device it will be set to Chinese. Anyone familiar with Android should be able to change it to English or another language of choice with ease. The default input method will also need changing - the standard English ICS keyboard is already installed, so its also a simple change.

In Use
Once you've installed your battery, SD card and SIM(s) things are a go. Keep in mind that the batteries will most likely be dead flat (maybe done to keep the International shipping risk down?). The first charge can take a good 6+ hours to reach 100%, but subsequent cycles are generally faster.

On first boot you won't be met with any quick start guide to hold your hand. You'll get a 'New SIM detected' dialog setting the defaults for calls, messages and data and after that you're at a blank home screen. Chances are if you're reading this review you already know your way around Android well enough, and it's not at all difficult to figure out.

The first thing you'll notice is the screen. And it's a looker! The Jiayu G2 has the best display I have ever seen on any China branded device. It's advertised as using In-Plane Switching technology and I have no doubt that this is true. Colours are very accurate and vibrant right down to the deepest blacks with next to no discolouring when viewing from an almost right angle. The 800x480 pixel resolution might be shunned upon for people wanting qHD or greater but I never felt like I was lacking detail. I did find the automatic brightness setting to be a little dull - I ended up setting it manually to about 80% and leaving it. I have held the G2 side by side with an iPhone 4S, Galaxy SII, Galaxy Ace and some lesser Huawei and ZTE phones and it always holds up as comparable. Truly the screen is the star of this phone.

Call quality is standard. The speaker is loud and clear, holding up in noisy environments like on public transport. It only has a single, small hole microphone but I've had no major complaints about the clarity.

One thing that does annoy me in the G2 is the vibration feedback - it's rather loud. Having your phone on silent still means that you'll easily hear when it goes off. If you're a light sleeper it's loud enough to wake you up in the night. It might not be an issue for some, but if you need your phone to vibrate in silence during business meetings it could be a deal breaker.

Dual Sim
Dual SIM is a big feature of nearly every China branded phone and the G2 is no different. The Dual Sim implementation is identical to every other Mediatek phone running ICS. You can set defaults for calls, messages and data and swap these with a toggle that appears in the notifications when using an appropriate app like Dialer. Paul already covered Dual Sim functionality in his Gallant Duo review, so I'd encourage you to check that out for more details. Rest assured that it functions identically. Keep in mind that it is Dual SIM/Dual Standby for calls - you can't receive a phone call from one SIM when you're already in a conversation on the other.

Performance
For comparison, here is Antutu benchmark results comparing the MT6575 single core and MT6577 dual core models of the G2:

Single Core
Total score:3694
CPU Range: 112-1001 mHz
Dual Core
Total score: 5200
CPU Range 250-1001 mHz

The dual core definitely increases performance, but not by as much as you might expect. It's interesting that the single core model has a bigger clock speed range, meaning the CPU can run slower (and theoretically use less power) when at idle.
Both models perform well for day to day tasks. Using Opera Mobile, websites render fast and I didn't notice much scrolling lag even on the most bloated pages. The Dual Core obviously has the advantage when it comes to higher end apps. Bad Piggies HD ran without a hitch, but it really struggled with only the single core.
Both models have a 4GB ROM with about 2.4GB of internal storage available for apps, no annoying partitioning or reserved space here. The glories of cheap memory cards can also be had with the microSD slot supporting full 32GB cards.

Camera
The camera is controlled with the stock ICS app. Interestingly it seems to have some of the same additional features as Acer's Gallant Duo, leading me to think that they're part of the Mediatek Android package rather than something done by OEMs. These include a HDR mode, some colour filters, strange scene changers and a gyro based Panoramic mode.

I was rather impressed with the 8MP camera in the G2. Similar phones that claim to have 8MP cameras sometimes just interpolate from a VGA resolution sensor. It's definitely not the case here with photos retaining detail well in a range of lighting environments. The LED flash isn't something I'd ever recommend using for photos unless you really want to give the impression of being in a 70's neon strobe light disco. Be sure to take a look at some included photos below.





Battery
As I said before, most of the added thickness and weight in the G2 is because of the giant battery. It's 2050 mAh rating is far beyond similar sized devices like Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S3 mini or the iPhone 5. Like all Dual SIM phones, having both active all the time does reduce battery life a bit. For most of my time with the G2 I was only using a single SIM and this always gave me a whole day with upwards of 25% to spare. Using 2 SIMs might cut down on this a bit, but I would expect it to cover a full day for a reasonably heavy user. Unfortunately I haven't had enough hands on time with the dual core G2 to be able to make a definitive claim on the battery life, but people I know using one as their primary phone haven't had any significant complains in this area.

Root
This is probably one of the most simple devices I've come across to root. The included System Update app doesn't seem to run any authentication on what compressed archives are loaded and flashed. There is a modified firmware available that contains SuperSU and is pre-rooted, and loading it is as easy as putting the update.zip on the SD card and running the app. Beware that there is two versions of the single core G2 and they have differences in the firmware used. Always be sure to check you have the right files before applying an update. Failing this you can use Mediatek's Windows program to apply an update by flashing over USB - a very useful failsafe if you should somehow brick your device.

Price
Buying China brand phones can be a challenge. As it stands now the single core Jiayu G2 is a little south of £100 and the dual core a little north. Aliexpress is probably the best place to purchase these from now. They offer an escrow service by default, giving some level of protection for buyers. There is a few big online stores stocking Jiayu phones but I've never had great service with any of them. Keep in mind that Air Mail from China or Hong Kong can take over a month to arrive so it might be worthwhile investing in a faster shipping service.

The device is available from AliExpress, we recommend you use a seller with as much positive feedback as possible.

Conclusion
Among the sea of branded phones out of China, the Jiayu G2 is one to take notice of. The two stars of the show here are the Dual SIM functionality and the screen. Oh yes, that screen is something China as a nation should be proud of.

Keep in mind that Mediatek always has the next generation of processors on the line. The next processor, MT6589, is planned to be a quad-core chip with a 28mn die versus the 40nm in the current chips. It's due out later this year but it will be some time after that before quality, branded devices start showing up. Jiayu also has the G3 planned - a 4.5", 720p phone - but this has had a range of setbacks and many delays since July.

China devices are renowned for their low price and I feel confident in saying that I've never seen a better Android phone available at this price point. Ultra loud rumble and a thick and loose all plastic design are the penalties you get in a device this close to £100, but it still represents some of the best value you can buy.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Absolutely stunning screen
  • Very rootable
  • Lots of storage and storage options
  • Dual SIM
  • Performs well
  • Giant battery
  • Exceptional Price
Cons
  • Deafening vibration motor
  • Chubby size
  • Giant battery
  • All plastic bland design
  • Home button rattles
  • Loose micro USB port

About the author

aaroNiGHTS's Photo
Aaron Davies is a freelance technology writer based out of Wellington, New Zealand.

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160 Comments

Hi, Nice review.
I have seen in other places that Jiayu G2 may only support 3G on 2100, not 900. ¿Can you confirm that it has the 900 band? Usually if you enter engineer mode there is a "Bandmode" section to confirm this, although I do not know the code to enter that, on a rooted phone that should be easier...
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Interesting phone and review.
Is there an LED for missed texts/calls ?
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@ aaroNiGHTs

Thanks very much for the resources mate. I also came across your root guide here.

http://www.modaco.co...-g2-root-guide/

You've really helped get the ball rolling on this phone. Let it keep rolling I say...
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How can you update the firmware when it becomes available ?
Does it have OTA updates available in the settings menu ?

You can use the 'System Update' app to do a system update from Over the Air or a zip file on the SD card. Currently, there is no update available for the dual core model. If one becomes available I'll be sure to post about it here.

Hi, Nice review.
I have seen in other places that Jiayu G2 may only support 3G on 2100, not 900. ¿Can you confirm that it has the 900 band? Usually if you enter engineer mode there is a "Bandmode" section to confirm this, although I do not know the code to enter that, on a rooted phone that should be easier...

Fairly sure it supports 3G over 900mHz. I've had 3G coverage over New Zealand networks on providers that only support 900.

Interesting phone and review.
Is there an LED for missed texts/calls ?

Yep! There is a little LED next to the speaker. Blinks green when you have a new notification.
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Yep! There is a little LED next to the speaker. Blinks green when you have a new notification.


Wow!!! This phone seems to have evertything, except for the kernel sources that is.
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I just got this phone and I'm having trouble trying to connect it to ANY network. Did you have any issues with getting it to find any network? I'm not even looking to get 3g working. I'm in Canada, Bell network: UMTS/HSPA 850MHz and/or 1900MHz.

I'm putting my SIM card into the top slot correct?
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I see this phone is being sold on Aliexpress with gorilla glass now.. not sure about that.
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According to the Chinese forums... 1010 (Oct 10) releases of this phone comes with Gorilla Glass.
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Well after using the G2 for about a week now ,I must say I am dissapointed in the way the phones screen seems to resist scrolling through pages,especially going from the top of a web page to the bottom quickly.
It just does not happen quickly and you need to flick several times to get to the bottom.
It seems to resist doing this,I am use to flicking the screen and it moving lightning fast and fluently to the bottom of a page.
This is annoying enough for me to not use the phone any more.
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Well after using the G2 for about a week now ,I must say I am dissapointed in the way the phones screen seems to resist scrolling through pages,especially going from the top of a web page to the bottom quickly.
It just does not happen quickly and you need to flick several times to get to the bottom.
It seems to resist doing this,I am use to flicking the screen and it moving lightning fast and fluently to the bottom of a page.
This is annoying enough for me to not use the phone any more.


any chance you can do a video of this, wondering if you have a defective unit, whats the build date?
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Well after using the G2 for about a week now ,I must say I am dissapointed in the way the phones screen seems to resist scrolling through pages,especially going from the top of a web page to the bottom quickly.
It just does not happen quickly and you need to flick several times to get to the bottom.
It seems to resist doing this,I am use to flicking the screen and it moving lightning fast and fluently to the bottom of a page.
This is annoying enough for me to not use the phone any more.

Settings > Language and Input > Pointer Speed.
Max that out, or close to it. It's a strange setting!
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I just got this phone and I'm having trouble trying to connect it to ANY network. Did you have any issues with getting it to find any network? I'm not even looking to get 3g working. I'm in Canada, Bell network: UMTS/HSPA 850MHz and/or 1900MHz.

I'm putting my SIM card into the top slot correct?


G2 does not support 3G 850 MHz or 1900 MHz

Dual SIM with 2G quadband 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz in both SIM slots with 3G 900/2100 limited to one

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G2 does not support 3G 850 MHz or 1900 MHz

Very true ;)
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Very true ;)


Any opinion on the rumoured G2S aaroNIGHTS?
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I was under the impression that G2S was just a term for the dual-core model, but it seems to be a completely new design. About the only similarity is the same sized screen. Be interesting to see what its like when it shows up!
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Does anyone know if there are any custom ROMs for the Jiayu G2 or G2S?
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I don't think there is at present. But you can still root the phone, and apparently the existing ROM is almost vanilla. Probably tweak it to the way you want with apps. :)

@ aaroNiGHTS:

Are you able to comment on the sound output quality through a good pair of headphones/earphones? Is the sound output good enough for the phone to be used as a dedicated mp3 player?

Also can you suggest what type of SD cards we should be sourcing out for? Is there an optimal micro SD speed class for this phone?
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The sound quality using headphones is fairly good. I've listened to podcasts using in-ear buds and it performs well, no background static like I've heard on other devices. For SD cards, I'd go with class 6 or higher. A general rule I use for everything!
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The sound quality using headphones is fairly good. I've listened to podcasts using in-ear buds and it performs well, no background static like I've heard on other devices. For SD cards, I'd go with class 6 or higher. A general rule I use for everything!


Thanks very much for the input.
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I'm using the G2 now for a few days. I have experience with several Android phones, ranging from HTC, Sony, Sony-Ericsson to Samsungs. My last one was a Samsung Galaxy S3. I sold the S3 in anticipation of the Nexus 4.
I bought the G2 as a spare, and maybe use it with my personal and work sim in it.

I'm very pleased with the G2. It's relatively fast, the screen is fine, although the colours aren't as vibrant as I'm used to, battery life is excellent and Vanilla Android is a joy to use.
Minor issues are
- the loose button, which resonates when the phone vibrates,
- scrolling through pages isn't as fast as I'm used to, it seems to stop as soon as you take your finger off the screen
- notification lights are a bit too intense for my liking
- colours of the screen aren't as vibrant as I'm used to

Overall I think this phone is a winner:
I love the speed, the weight in my hands, the battery life, dual sim, extendible storage and untouched Android.
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So I've got my G2 now. I purchased the unit from UGood on AliExpress. It took about 3 weeks to arrive.

The centre button appears to be scratched. I think someone skimped on quality control. I shall complain I think.

Physically everything else seems alright. The screen is very nice.

I've managed to root the device and restore my apps using Titanium Backup from my Swedish Snow 7 Orange San Francisco. Rooting was not the easiest thing to do. I followed bas-r's method here:

http://www.modaco.co...-g2-root-guide/
(see post #7 for the slight modification I had to do)

I'm having some trouble getting GPS to lock on. Using the GPS test app the sensor seems to see satellites in range but does not lock on to any. Either that or the GPS notification icon keeps blinking after a lock. It does not lock on using Google Maps either. Anyway, further investigation is needed. I've downloaded the Hardware Info app to check if the sensor is actually present but none of the entries say GPS explicitly. Can anyone comment?
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Also..

My phone language was changed to English when I received it. However when I try the ICS keyboard the phone compares against English spelling of Chinese words. For example if I type "Hi", it suggests "Hin" and "Hien" as alternatives. At all places in the "Languages and Input" section I've tried changing to "English (United States)" but to no avail. I'm not sure how to fix the problem. Will use a third party KB for now.
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Mine arrived today! Just charging up the batteries (got a spare, with charger!) at the moment, but could resist turning it on. All has been in English (US) from the start which makes life a little easier.

Is there an easy way to confirm that mine is the Dual Core version that I ordered?

BTW I dont have any scrolling issues as mentioned above. Mine seems to behave much the same way as my Blade.

Root next I think! .
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In 'About Phone' there should be something (still waiting for mine so can't be specific).
If it mentions the Processor, the MKT6575 is single core and MKT6577 is dual core, otherwise, if the kernel has 'SMP' in the name that should indicate a 'symetrical multi-processor' kernel.

Can't wait for mine to arrive.
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In 'About Phone' there should be something (still waiting for mine so can't be specific).
If it mentions the Processor, the MKT6575 is single core and MKT6577 is dual core, otherwise, if the kernel has 'SMP' in the name that should indicate a 'symetrical multi-processor' kernel.

Can't wait for mine to arrive.

do tell us how you find it :)
Think I'll order a G2S when its available :)
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