Jiayu S3 2 Gb complete review

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I use the phone for about two weeks now, so today I can already make a detailed review.

Purchase, specifications, and first impressions

The phone was purchased in the popular Chinese online store, Spemall, for only $180. The review is devoted to the standard version of the phone with 2 GB of RAM.

Just a few days ago, an advanced version of the device went to shops, which differs from the standard version by 3 GB of RAM, and NFC support. It is only slightly more expensive.

By the way, you can use my coupon, while buying in Spemall, it is “mykolaspe“. It gives you a 3% discount for any order above $100 (or $60, I don’t remember exactly :)).

Other than that, both versions of Jiayu S3 have the same and very interesting technical specs:

CPUMTK6752, Cortex A53 ARM v8 64-bit, octacore, 1690 (1859) MHz
GPUMali-T760MP2, 700 MHz
RAM2 Gb / 3 Gb
ROM16 Gb
SIM cards2 MicroSIM cards
CommunicationsGSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz, WCDMA 900/1900/2100MHZ + TD-SCDMA, FDD-LTE B3/B7/B20 + TD-LTE
Screen5.5 inches, FullHD 1080x1920, IPS OGS
Touchscreencapacitive, 10 touches
NFCsupported only by Jiayu S3 Advanced version
CamerasFrontal: 5 Mp
Main: 13 Mp, Sony IMX214 image sensor, Autofocus and dual LED flash, Video FullHD 30 fps.
Dimensions152х75.5х8.9 mm
Weight160 g with battery
Battery3000 mAh
OSAndroid 4.4.4, Android 5.0 will be released soon
Language supportFull set of Android interface languages, 60 languages

Certificate and IMEI of the phone are situated not under the battery, as usual, but on the inside of the back cover. However, there is clearly a regular place for these labels, so it is unlikely that this is a sign that we face an engineering version of the device. Rather, it is, so to speak, a version only for China, because all the inscriptions on the box only in Chinese, except for some abbreviations. A box is made of typical for the latest Jiayu phones inexpensive, but very dense recycled cardboard and it is very similar to the boxes of inexpensive Xiaomi phones. However, we buy a phone, not a packaging. I saw also a slightly different box with fully English specifications. Perhaps it is the “European version” of smartphone, originally running S3W firmware without Chinese communication frequencies. But, it is known, that except the firmware, both versions of the phones are identical. They are identical in hardware, firmwares all mutually compatible, and the “Chinese” version of the device supports all the frequencies, both Chinese and international, which is written on its box, by the way, which lists the 2G (GSM), TD -SCDMA, WCDMA, TD-LTE and FDD-LTE. In addition, phone officially supports Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and even ac. Also, box contains the information about the sensor of back camera, and it is a famous Sony Exmor IMX214, and battery with a capacity of 3000 to 3100 mAh. Personally, I do not like such a battery marking. Jiayu should better say it is 3000 mAh, as it is. However, I have no special claims to the battery, considering its capacity, as well as the size of the screen and its resolution, number and frequency of the processor cores. But more on that later.
On February 11 the phone was received from the seller by Singapore Post, and on February 23 it came to my local post office, where I received it on February 25. The box contained a standard set – the phone with the battery, documentation in Chinese, white charging and data transfer cable and white original Jiayu charger 5V and 1A with China (US) plug, as well as an adapter for European sockets. The phone is black, and the accessories are white, a little surprise from Jiayu. You can get somewhat different set. As I have pointed out above, there is English box for this device, and the phone itself, will probably have a different firmware, without Chinese communication frequencies and Chinese programs. In addition, you may receive the charger with different plug, which is suits your sockets.

Standard setStandard setBy the way, two photos above are taken by the back camera of Jiayu S3.

The screen protector is glued to the screen perfectly, so that it all can be seen only near the front speaker and sensors, without a single speck of dust or air bubbles. This indicates a significantly increased culture of assembly of Jiayu phones and increased degree of automation of the process, which is good.

No issues with build quality, everything is fine here. No squeaks, the gaps are small and smooth; the materials are pleasant to the touch and appearance. The buttons seem to be made from metal. The phone is compact enough for 5.5″ screen; it is smaller in all dimensions than Xiaomi Redmi Note with the same screen size. It weighs 159.9 g with battery, Redmi Note is heavier – 199.5 g, the capacity of the batteries in phones is almost equal, Xiaomi is slightly ahead – at least 3100 mAh with typical 3200 mAh, and this is the better way to show the battery capacity, against 3000-3100 mAh for Jiayu.

You can see two speakers here:

You can see two speakers here

Comparison with competitors: Xiaomi Redmi Note, Jiayu S3, ThL 5000:

With the same screen size (and much higher resolution), Jiayu S3 is significantly smaller and lighter than Redmi Note.


Firmware

The firmware from the box was already S3 20150204-16147, this is the latest version of the official “Chinese” firmware to date (there is also “European” firmware from February 5), which confirms the retail, “non-engineering” origin of the device. With Flash Tools (in Windows 8.1 64 bit) the phone was flashed with TWRP Recovery, then NVRAM Backup was made from TWRP, then I flashed the customized version of the same firmware from Needrom. You can download it from here: http://www.needrom.com/download/jy-s3-stock-moded-system/. No special claims to the firmware by now. This firmware is not quite a bare Android, it contains a number of useful features, borrowed from Korean, Taiwanese and Chinese colleagues from Xiaomi, Oppo, Lenovo, Samsung, ASUS, etc. The firmware is rooted out of the box, you just have to enable root in security settings and it works without problems.


Battery

The device is equipped with a battery, which has a typical for modern 5.5” phone capacity, 3000 mAh. The manufacturer indicates its capacity as “3000-3100 mAh.” In S3, I suppose, we have a typical capacity of 3000 mAh and 3100 mAh maximum capacity. Nevertheless, the results of the battery life test in Jiayu S3 are very close to the results of Xiaomi Redmi Note, despite the fact that Xiaomi has a bit bigger battery, lower screen resolution (720×1280 VS 1080×1920), and less powerful processor MTK6592 1.67 GHz against MTK6752 1.69 GHz for our today’s hero. ThL 5000 in the battery life test shows somewhat better results than Jiayu S3, but it has a non-removable battery with a huge for cell phone capacity of 5000 mAh and a smaller screen (5 inches, but the same resolution as that of the Jiayu S3). Processor in ThL 5000 – MT6592T. It is an overclocked to 2,0 GHz version of the standard MT6592. Despite a higher maximum operating frequency of MT6592T, MT6752 performs much better, which is confirmed by the test results. With Jiayu S3, you can count on 4-5 hours of heavy games, 6-7 hours of simple games, 8-10 hours of video and about the same 8-10 hours for the Internet via WiFi. The book may be read up to 15 hours. Maximum charge current – up to 1A according to a fairly accurate Charger Doctor with a good cable, but can be lower on the warm device (if you actively use it during charging) to protect the battery. Redmi Note and ThL 5000 charged a little faster – up to 1.25 A and 1.3 A, respectively, so here Jiayu lagging behind. Full battery charge can take up to 3.5 hours. Note, that the result will vary depending on the brightness of the large and high-resolution screen. To improve the results you should lower the brightness to the lowest comfortable level. In addition, we can expect the further improvement of the results of battery life with the release of firmware updates, including the previously promised Android 5.0. In general, we can state the fact that Mediatek MTK6752 turned to be a very energy-efficient processor, despite the fact that its performance is increased significantly compared with MTK6592.


Touch screen

Jiayu S3 has a very nice and responsive capacitive touch screen supporting 10 simultaneous touches. Accuracy and speed of touches definitions is at the highest level. However, the sensor does not like low-quality chargers. Unlike some other manufacturers, Jiayu does not add filters that allow you to avoid false touches or their losses, when charging your phone with low-cost universal USB charger. There are no problems when charging with the original charger, computer USB port and charger from Xiaomi Redmi Note, but when charging with no-name, but normal quality charger, tested with dozens of different devices, touch sensor starts to react a bit inadequately. Nothing like what we have seen on some devices 2 or 3 years ago, but still. So be warned.


Miscellanea
Next, all sorts of stuff from what I noticed during these two weeks of using Jiayu S3. Touch buttons under the screen have a backlight, but it is rather weak and uneven. The buttons visibility under normal illumination conditions is bad, because they are indicated in gray on black. Under the sun the visibility is much better. Apparently, the paint reflects light. Two microphones are located at the bottom (primary) and upper (noise reduction) edges, but not symmetrical. Lower left, upper right. The sound in the video should be written in stereo, but there may be a slight distortion due to asymmetric arrangement of microphones. In Redmi Note both microphones are arranged symmetrically. ThL 5000 has only one microphone, located on the front panel of the phone, which, from my point of view, spoils the design, but it is likely to have a positive impact on the quality of sound during a telephone conversation.
The distance to the screen from the upper and lower edges is the same. This has a positive effect on the perception of the design, and probably be liked by the gamers – the phone can be rotated, which is especially important when it is charging. On the other hand, the use of touch buttons under the screen is slightly less convenient in normal phone orientation, because it is more difficult to reach them.


Sensors

Jiayu S3 has quite a lot of sensors: accelerometer, gravity sensor, linear acceleration sensor, gyroscope, light sensor, magnetic field sensor (also known as electronic compass), orientation and proximity sensors. All sensors are working. I have some claims to compass and light sensor. In general, compass works, but sometimes north jumps from its rightful place for a second. However, this is typical of most phones with a magnetic sensor. Better it works only in Xiaomi phones, which also have no problems with GPS, even those based on Mediatek processor (checked with Redmi and Redmi Note). Light sensor operating in the range of from 10 to 9000 lux, maybe more under direct sunlight. However, the lower value sometimes “sticks”. Usually at 100 or 200 lux, but it can get stuck even at 8000. In practice, this would mean that at the entrance from the bright sun into the dimly lit room, for example, the sensor will “forget” to reduce the brightness of the display. However, the sensor does not stop working completely, and if the illumination conditions changes it starts reacting again. Again, this behavior is typical for many phones. I rarely come across the phones, which have acceptable light sensor, and never saw the perfect light sensor. Even the magnificent Redmi Note has the crippled light sensor, which was not cured with any firmware, so it is better not to use it. However, hopes for the future firmware is still there. Jiayu is expected to release at least several updates, and Jiayu phones are almost as liked by rom-makers, as Xiaomi, Lenovo, or Meizu, for example.


Sound
Jiayu S3 has two main speakers, both working, but I find it difficult to say in mono or stereo, even after listening to them with “Stereo Test” program. I would say it is rather mono, Ie both speakers are playing the same channel. On the other hand, they are located too close to each other and focused on the vertical using of phone, so it would be difficult to notice stereo anyways. Maybe there is stereo. The quality is decent, but nothing more. Phone speaker also has a good quality, but nothing very special compared to the competitors. There is no background noise from the main speakers, which is very good, because many of the latest phones have this problem (Redmi Note, ThL 5000, Zte V975 and others). I liked the sound in decent headphones (Panasonic RP-HTF890, Coss Porta Pro and Xiaomi Pistons 2 Gold). Volume level is sufficient, no distortions, bass and treble are in their rightful places. Enough for daily use.


Phone and data transfer
The phone supports two SIM cards, both Micro-SIM. The ranges from the engineering menu for SIM1: GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900; UMTS 800, 850, 900, 1900, 2000 (which is also 2100; by the way, Jiayu S3 supports more WCDMA ranges, than any of the previous MTK-based phones); LTE Band 3, 7, 20, 38, 39, 40, 41. SIM 2 only supports GSM, but you may switch SIM 1 and SIM 2 in menu. You can’t get to the Engineering mode from the Mobile Uncle tools, as usual. Easily solved by downloading programs such as “MTK Engeneering Mode” from Google Play. There are more than one such program – I downloaded the first one. And it works.
I disabled the unused frequencies to save the battery. However, the white frequencies are supported, may be switched on, and they work. The grays are not supported.


Screen
The screen is good. In general, I have no claims against it. 5.5 ” 1080×1920, IPS, OGS, 400 dpi, more than 160 thousands pixels per square inch, more than 2 millions pixels in total. It has a moderately rich, natural colors, the uniformity of illumination is almost perfect. No dead or broken pixels. Dimming range is very wide. At maximum brightness you can easily use the phone at the beach. The minimum, especially if using RootDim, allows you to comfortably use the phone even in the darkness without eye strain. At minimum brightness, the black is so black that the screen is almost invisible in the darkness. At maximum brightness, the black is rather gray, but since such brightness will be used only for a very bright ambient light, it is not important. There is a noticeable glow-effect, but it is normal for IPS matrixes. In general, the screen is very good.
Also, the phone supports gestures and smart wake. I like just to tap the screen twice to wake up the phone. And you can paging the gallery with gestures, not even touching the phone (seems like it uses the light and proximity sensors). It will be eating the battery a bit, but it is very convenient, and it will allow to minimize the hardware buttons use, because you can easily turn off the screen with one of the many widgets.


Navigation
First cold start (without Wi-Fi and SIM-card, only by satellites) took about 3 minutes, but the phone was lying at the window on the sixth floor, surrounded by several 10-16 floors buildings. A few minutes later it already saw a dozen of satellites with pretty decent signal level for placing, and all of them were connected. At first, it could not see any of the Glonass satellites, only GPS. However, later the signal from three Glonass satellites has been detected. Generally, in my city there is a signal of 8 (possibly more) Glonass satellites, devices based on Intel and Qualcom processors catch them easily. Perhaps, the second experience with Glonass (the first was MTK6595) is still not so succesfull. However, to say for sure, it is nesessary to test the phone outdoors. Also, the Chinese BeiDou-2 Positioning System is coming. In Kharkiv (Ukraine) I managed to detect satellites #214, and later #210, both with good signal (up to 33 and 36 dB) and the phone even used them to define its coordinates. In general, navigation works without problems, and better than for most of the previously tested devices, not only Mediatek based. Especially, because now it supports three navigation systems, whose satellites are available worldwide.
Connecting to three satellites navigation systems simultaneously. And it is inside the building, near the window:


Cameras

Frontal camera gives a very good picture quality even in low light conditions and is able to recognize faces. It will be sufficient for high quality video through Skype or similar program, and for good selfies. But more interesting is the main camera of Jiayu S3. The manufacturer not only equipped it with a famous and high quality Sony Exmor IMX214 image sensor with F2.0 lences, but also installed two LEDs for flashlight, so you can expect better images in low light conditions. The native camera application does not have a lot of settings, as well as suffers an addiction to incorrect choice of the ISO parameter, so it is best to use a third-party camera program, such as Camera FV-5. The geometric distortions of images are very reasonable, although noticeable. But this disease affects almost all mobile cameras, and most of them – to a much greater extent. The reasons are the small size of the image sensor, and compactness, simplicity and cost-efficiency of the optical system. On the other hand, images have virtually no chromatic aberrations, which is quite rare for phones cameras. I am not inclined to believe that the lens system is so good that it does not give chromatic aberrations, but they are well treated by the software, and, apparently, the manufacturer paid attention to this problem in the camera drivers. That is a good point. Sharpness in the center of photos is excellent, at the edges, especially in the corners, it is much worse, but, again, this is no crime, as we can observe the same situation in 99% of mobile phone cameras. LED lighting is very bright, compared to most other phones. Two LEDs are not only brighter, but also capture a larger area of ​​the space, not only illuminate forwards. However, they have the same color. Still, I haven’t notice any serious problems with the white balance. I think the LEDs of different colors in the iPhone is more a marketing feature than a real need. Like it or not, but one, two and even three LEDs will not replace a real Xenon flash. Even an inexpensive simple hand-held camera will show the better results in the dark at the expense of a larger image sensor and better flash. However, the results when shooting in low light with flash are not bad. Without flash, the image quality in such conditions, as one would expect, leaves much to be desired. In general, the main camera of Jiayu S3 more than fulfills its money. I took a few photos with the standard camera application with default settings, as well as several pictures with Camera FV-5 app with a slightly adjust settings.

Native camera application

Sunny, perfect conditions for shooting, ISO Auto (111). Quite acceptable, especially in the center of the frame. Sharpness in the corners is much worse. I apologize for not so very attractive view from the window. Winter just ended :).

Night, virtually no ambient light, very poor conditions for shooting without a flash (it does not make sense in these conditions), ISO Auto (2837 (!)).

Camera FV-5

Day, cloudy, good conditions for shooting, ISO 100 (Manual)

Inside the building, the ambient light is very weak, flash, ISO 100.

Inside the building, the ambient light is very weak, 32W energy-efficient lamp (approximately 150 W in an equivalent of incandescent lamp)) is on, flash, ISO 100

Night, no flash, ISO 400

Macro, about 10 cm to object, flash, ISO 100


Wireless modules
WiFi works fine, internet download speed is over 4 megabytes per second. Bluetooth also works without problems, the data rate – 100-200 Kb / s.

Next to the router (TP-Link TL-WR1043ND), the signal level – about -23 dBm. This is an excellent result.
1 m from the router, behind a reinforced concrete wall. Signal level about -34 dBm. This is also a great result.

6 m away from the router, behind a reinforced concrete wall. Signal level about -42 dBm. Very good.

About 10 m away from the router, three reinforced concrete walls. Signal level about -54 dBm. It is also a remarkable result, which guarantees a high-speed data transmission.


Performance
Oh, and of course performance. MTK6592 was good in HD screen resolution (720×1280), providing fluent and smooth interface and applications, and MTK6752 can offer the same for FullHD resolution (1080×1920). Indeed, there is no lags and hang-ups, everything works very easy and pleasant. What is interesting, CPU-Z shows that two cores may be overclocked in Jiayu S3 to frequencies higher than the standard max frequency, namely till 1859 MHz versus standard 1690 MHz. Perhaps, this is a program glitch, but rather Mediatek has applied some dynamic overclocking technologies, which with a small number of active cores allow overclocking them to frequencies above the standard maximum.

The test results also did not disappoint, even with Android 4.4.4. With Android 5 we can expect further increase in productivity due to built-in support of 64-bit processors (you DO remember that Mediatek MT6752 is one of the first ARM v8 Cortex A53 processors, supporting 64-bit instructions, do you?). However, the process of Android migration to 64-bit will obviously take years. On Windows, this process has not been completed even today, many popular applications to date support only 32-bit instructions, although the 64-bit processors appeared more than 10 years ago. But take a look at the screenshots. For AnTuTu Benchmark in addition to Jiayu S3, I gave the results of competitors with similar specifications, ThL 5000 and Xiaomi Redmi Note.

As you can see, the performance substantially increased in all key tests. Both processor and graphics performance increased compared to the previous generation of Mediatek processors by more than 50%. Jiayu S3 in the test 3D graphics shows the better results than Xiaomi Redmi Note, with more than 2 times higher screen resolution, 2,073,600 pixels on the screen against 921600. MTK6752 is much faster than MTK6592T with equal number of cores and higher clock speed (but older and slower architecture ARM v.7 Cortex A7 in MTK6592 against ARM v.8 Cortex A53 in MTK6752) with equal screen resolution, and with much higher screen resolution clearly leave behind the standard version of MTK6592 with roughly equal frequency of the CPU. I.e., MTK6752 in FullHD is noticeably faster than MTK6592 in HD. And it brings me a joy :).
The results of the other tests are also very good.

Epic Citadel. MTK6592 could not even run this test in Ultra High Quality mode, because of incompatibility issue. MTK6752 shows almost 40 fps in FullHD resolution.

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, always performed in the same resolution 720p (1280×720), so the results may be compared directly:

And let’s compare the results with standard and overclocked version of the powerful 8-core MTK6592. Results of Xiaomi Redmi Note (MTK6592 1,67 GHz) and ThL 5000 (MTK6592T 2,0 GHz). Clearly, MTK6592T has higher GPU frequencies than ordinary MTK6592.

As we can see, in graphic terms MTK6752 is more than 50% ahead of even MTK6592T 2,0 GHz. The standard version of the same MTK6592 is almost two times slower than our today’s hero! This is an excellent result in the competition of ARM Mali-T760MP2 700 MHz versus ARM Mali-450MP4 600-700 MHz.

In most cases, Jiayu S3 is close to or even exceeds the Samsung Galaxy S5. Isn’t it nice, considering Galaxy S5 is about 3 times as expensive?

The phone is not particularly hot, staying cooler than the slower ThL 5000. So, the new ARM Cortex A53 architecture, coupled with the new ARM Mali-T760 MP2 GPU show themselves from the best side, demonstrating performance, increased by about 60% at equal clock frequencies in key tests compared with Cortex A7 and Mali-450MP4. In various tests, performance increased from 20 to 100%. And the platform is still energy-efficient, despite the large number of high-frequency CPU cores, powerful GPU and a large high-resolution screen.


Conclusions
The phone has some minor flaws. For example, imperfect work of light sensors and an electronic compass, the potential of Sony IMX214 sensor in the main camera has not yet been fully disclosed (for example, it does not support FullHD/60 fps video recording), a box is modest and the standard set is poor, some users complain about the incorrect work of built-in noise reduction system, the manufacturer failed to mark the battery capacity correctly (although the battery itself performs well), the charging is relatively slow (charge current is no more than 1A, so charging from scratch will take up to 3.5-4 hours), with poor quality chargers the incorrect work of touch screen may be observed. But I couldn’t find any significant disadvantages. Even now, with one of the first versions of the firmware (already slightly modified by rommakers, though), it looks more than good. This is my favorite size after Redmi Note. Even 5 “ThL 5000 seems to be a little too small. At the same time, Jiayu S3 is smaller and significantly lighter than Redmi Note, which is important in this segment of rather big, even by modern standards, devices; and its screen, with equal size, has a much higher resolution. The other parameters also did not disappoint. I like the large, high quality 5.5 inch IPS OGS FullHD screen, high performance (over 40,000 points in AnTuTu), a considerable amount of internal memory (16 GB) and support for memory cards up to 64GB, support for many 3G and LTE bands out of the box , pleasant and comfortable design, high build quality and good materials, decent battery life, a large amount of RAM (2 GB in the standard version and 3 GB in the advanced version of the phone), big number of sensors, good navigation, fast and hassle-free WiFi and Bluetooth. In addition, the manufacturer promises to release Android 5.0 for this device, which should additionally improve the performance. Last but not least factor of undoubted popularity of Jiayu S3 is its affordable price – just $180, including shipping, for 2 GB version, and only slightly more – for 3 GB NFC version.

Also, I’m waiting for another more than an interesting phone, Elephone P7000, which will be a worthy rival to the advanced version of Jiayu S3, with the metal casing, NFC, 3 GB of RAM and a fingerprint scanner. P7000 is even more powerful, but also more expensive device. In the meantime, Jiayu S3 2GB looks like very interesting purchase for the money, and the same is true for 3Gb advanced version, especially if you are interested in NFC.

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