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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.

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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

do tell us how you find it :)

Hopefully it'll just be there in the box!! :D

Of course I'll report on what I think if when it arrives.
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Is the Mediatek CPU the same as ARMv7? Mine says this when I use the hardware info app.

I used the GPS Status app, and after resetting and downloading A-GPS data my GPS seems to work now, albeit at only a maximum accuracy of only about 10m or so. My Blade had a better GPS lock on time and accuracy I think.

I wonder if this is a hardware or software issue. Do we know if the quality of the GPS unit inside the phone can vary signifcantly? Is this the price to be paid for a cheaper phone?
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From the MediaTek website:

The MediaTek MT6577 features a dual 1GHz Cortex™-A9 application processor from ARM, a PowerVR™ Series5 SGX GPU from Imagination Technologies

The MT6575 platform offers a 1GHz ARM® CortexTM-A9 processer

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Interesting. This particular GPU - the PowerVR SGX 531. Medium range I think.
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Settings > Language and Input > Pointer Speed.
Max that out, or close to it. It's a strange setting!


Made no difference :(
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Aaarg, waiting is not a strong point of mine, paid for DHL (and glad I did), tracking is (more or less) excellent but its STLL NOT HERE!!!:

How much longer must I wait?
:P

Saturday, November 10, 2012 Location Time Friday, November 09, 2012 Location Time Thursday, November 08, 2012 Location Time 11 Departed Facility in LEIPZIG - GERMANY LEIPZIG - GERMANY 03:11


10 Transferred through LEIPZIG - GERMANY LEIPZIG - GERMANY 03:08


9 Departed Facility in HONG KONG - HONG KONG HONG KONG - HONG KONG 11:34


8 Processed at HONG KONG - HONG KONG HONG KONG - HONG KONG 11:31


7 Clearance processing complete at HONG KONG - HONG KONG HONG KONG - HONG KONG 21:40


6 Processed at HONG KONG - HONG KONG HONG KONG - HONG KONG 21:40


5 Arrived at Sort Facility HONG KONG - HONG KONG HONG KONG - HONG KONG 21:34


4 Departed Facility in SHENZHEN - CHINA, PEOPLES REPUBLIC SHENZHEN - CHINA, PEOPLES REPUBLIC 17:21


3 Processed at SHENZHEN - CHINA, PEOPLES REPUBLIC SHENZHEN - CHINA, PEOPLES REPUBLIC 17:16


2 Arrived at Sort Facility SHENZHEN - CHINA, PEOPLES REPUBLIC SHENZHEN - CHINA, PEOPLES REPUBLIC 16:31


1 Shipment picked up SHENZHEN - CHINA, PEOPLES REPUBLIC 10:15

[Eit]
Well, hit me with a relatively blunt instrument,
12 Arrived at Sort Facility EAST MIDLANDS - UK EAST MIDLANDS - UK 03:58


11 Departed Facility in LEIPZIG - GERMANY LEIPZIG - GERMANY 03:11
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Ha! I struggled through the wait too.

I took the free shipping route. What should have arrived in 6 days took about 3 weeks. And tracking was not so good so there were periods where my package appeared to be lost to the world.
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I am so sad, I received the mobile phone on wednesday but had no time to play around with it, so I just opened the package and powered the phone up. After that I decided to charge the battery and I did that. Unit was off until today, when I set up the mobile phone, put in the sim card and it worked fine...Until I installed navfree and when I statred up navfree, the device started to show GPS icon top left, after that the screen went black and the phone does not power up any more. Battery was at 84% at the time. I do not know what to do. I took out the battery and left it out for an hour, than reinserted it and tried to power up the mobile. Nothing. I tried to put it on the charger...without battery, the phone does not power up. Also it does not charge or show the charging light neither green led or yellow led on the mobile phone.Any ideas would be much appriciated. Is there another way to charge the battery? Perhaps the battery died? Would the phone start up pluged to the charger, can someone confirm/test that? Kind regards
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Would the phone start up pluged to the charger, can someone confirm/test that? Kind regards


Nope. I tested it for you, but the phone does not start if the battery is out/dead.
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Btw, My only way to get to ROOT the phone was following this guide: http://www.modaco.co...lickroot-guide/

I've edited the first two parts for convenience:
  • If you don't have the correct drivers, download the Android SDK kit and follow the instructions to install the driver. It should be Android ADB Device after installation.
  • Download this package, extract it somewhere
  • Ensure you enabled USB Debugging (Settings -> Developer Options) as well as Installation of Unknown Sources (Settings -> Security -> Unknown Sources is checked)
  • Connect your device (turned on) to the computer.
  • Run the RunMe.bat (to be found in the JYG2.7z file), follow the instructions, I picked "Normal" (1) in the first step.
  • It'll now show a message informing that if it's working it'll tell you, if it's not, it'll run forever, at this point look at the phone. It should be at a "Restore My Data" screen. According to the chinese site, DON'T SET ANY PASSWORD. Just press "restore my data".
  • Your phone will reboot after this.
  • Once rebooted. You have root.
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thank you very much for testing it
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I am so sad, I received the mobile phone on wednesday but had no time to play around with it, so I just opened the package and powered the phone up. After that I decided to charge the battery and I did that. Unit was off until today, when I set up the mobile phone, put in the sim card and it worked fine...Until I installed navfree and when I statred up navfree, the device started to show GPS icon top left, after that the screen went black and the phone does not power up any more. Battery was at 84% at the time. I do not know what to do. I took out the battery and left it out for an hour, than reinserted it and tried to power up the mobile. Nothing. I tried to put it on the charger...without battery, the phone does not power up. Also it does not charge or show the charging light neither green led or yellow led on the mobile phone.Any ideas would be much appriciated. Is there another way to charge the battery? Perhaps the battery died? Would the phone start up pluged to the charger, can someone confirm/test that? Kind regards


What a shame mate. May I know which company you bought from? Will you lodge in a complaint? Ask for a replacement/refund?
I'm still undecided what to do about my scratched button problem. The phone works fine but the button seems to imply that the part is second hand and has been reused.

It seems that there are some reports of this phone having QC issues.

The reviewer here says that the microphone died on his single core G2:
http://forums.whirlp...archive/1953669
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I tried installing NoFrills CPU on the phone, and applying a governor.

It says "Success" but I notice that the frequency does not seem to respond according to governor.

Am I right in assuming that CPU scaling is not enabled in the kernel, and hence NoFrills can change nothing?
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It arrived today. Looks great, seems to work fine, screen looks good, touch responsive, performance seems good, no problems so far. :)
Well packaged, quite a few extras (2 batteries, screen protector, plastic ('silicone') case, desk charger, sd card reader, earphones, usb lead, mains charger (not UK plug but I have plenty of mains chargers)).
Can recommend this seller based on my experience: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/404310
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Does it really has Gorilla Glass?
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Does it really has Gorilla Glass?

Don't know how to tell, to be honest!
It smudges a lot just like my Huawei G300 - seems similar 'glass'.
Performance-wise, definitely a lot smoother than the G300 (as expected)
Connects to my 'n' router at 150Mb/s unlike the G300, my daughter's Blackberry & wife's Sony Xperia Mini Pro (all 65Mb/s max - 'n-lite').

Additional: Can now confirm it works perfectly with my Parrot Bluetooth car handsfree (my work Samsung tends to disconnect a lot).
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The phone works fine but the button seems to imply that the part is second hand and has been reused.

Can you confirm that you've removed the protective film from the button (mine took a lot of getting off but button underneath is pristine and shiny)?
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how's battery life comparing to g300?
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Can you confirm that you've removed the protective film from the button (mine took a lot of getting off but button underneath is pristine and shiny)?


Thanks for this. I tried harder just now to take out the film and wouldn't you know it, it came off!. That was indeed hard stuck on.

I've just withdrawn my dispute with the seller and given them a top rating.
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how's battery life comparing to g300?

So far battery life looks quite good, currenty at 55% after 24 hours of modest use (wi-fi & bluetooth on, data mostly off), G300 would definitely be lower for me after this time with similar useage. And, of course I have the second battery on standby in the handy little desk charger.

[Edit] 36Hours, 15%
Posted Image
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Thanks for this. I tried harder just now to take out the film and wouldn't you know it, it came off!.

I like your avatar, sweet irony there! :D :P
Really glad you're sorted. :)
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do jiayu release firmware updates to fix bugs and to roll out android 4.0.4 from 4.0.3? What about new android versions like 4.1? The MT6589 chip is out soon which is quadcore cortex a7 and lots of other nice things, hoping they make a new phone with that chip.
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Mine came with 4.0.4.
Jiayu's website (forum): http://bbs.ejiayu.com/forum.php looks promising for firmware but is entirely in Chinese, I managed to register but can't get the login to work via google translate (I can login OK direct in chinese :wacko: ).
Maybe others will mirror useful files eventually.
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judging by those threads they only do bug fix releases not android 4.1, 4.2 updates etc :(
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@ Al_1604

Have you rooted your device? Could you tell me which app you used to get the screenshot that you've posted? I've tried a few and they don't seem to work.

I feel another Double Facepalm coming along!
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