Another day, another Chinese smartphone maker enters India. This time, it's a joint venture between Qihoo 360 Technologies and the handset maker Coolpad, who have formed the brand QiKU. Its debut offering, the Q Terra, is yet another "flagship killer", if you will, but comes with a unique set of features which should help it stand on its own feet. Priced similarly to the Moto X Play (Review), let's see if the company's debut offering in India has what it takes to get noticed.Look and feel
Speaking of the display, it's a 6-inch full-HD IPS panel, which produces very good colours and has a high maximum brightness level. Sunlight legibility is good and so are the viewing angles. The chassis is made from a magnesium and aluminium alloy, which feels very durable. However, this makes the sides of the phone slippery, so it's a good thing that QiKU bundles a case. The capacitive navigation buttons are unfortunately not backlit.
The two SIM slots (one micro and one nano) sit on the left while the volume and power buttons are placed on the right. The second SIM slot is a hybrid one and can alternatively accept a microSD card of up to 128GB. The headphones socket sits on the top while at the bottom, we have the mono speaker and Micro-USB port.
Coming to the back of the handset we have two 13-megapixel camera sensors, a dual-tone LED flash unit, and a fingerprint reader. We'll get into more detail about the two camera sensors later on but essentially, they are used for reproducing more accurate colours in pictures. Underneath the hood, we have a non-removable 3700mAh battery that supports fast-charging.
The Q Terra comes in a very interesting box shaped like a book, and is bundled with a modular charger and flat USB cable. You also get a protective case and a screen guard. The quality of the accessories is very good and they feel durable.
QiKU has certainly designed a striking handset, which is possibly one of the best looking phablets. It can be unwieldy for someone with small hands and is also on the heavier side at 185g, but there's little else to complain about.
Specifications and software
Hardware fanatics will instantly fall in love with the Q Terra as it is currently the most affordable smartphone to come with a Snapdragon 808 SoC, bringing 4K video recording and playback support to a new price segment. You also get 3GB of RAM, 16GB of onboard storage and Cat 6 LTE support on both SIM slots. You get Wi-Fi b/g/n, voice over LTE (VoLTE), Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, and USB OTG. NFC and FM radio are sadly missing.
The Q Terra has a highly customised interface called 360 OS, which is based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The single-layered interface is fluid and has a bunch of handy tweaks. Everything other than the system apps can be uninstalled if not needed, though there's very little bloatware to begin with.
The Theme app lets you customise the phone's wallpaper, ringtone and font size; New Wall is a widget that randomly applies a new wallpaper with a single tap; Speedup is a widget that frees up RAM with a very cool animation; 360 Security keeps track of junk files and also includes virus protection; Freezer lets you suspend less frequently used apps so they don't run in the background and eat up resources; 360 Transfer helps you migrate data when you're switching between phones; and QiKU Cloud lets you back up messages and call records to the cloud. Other preloaded apps include SwiftKey and an antitheft app to locate your phone if stolen or misplaced.
Apart from this, more software features can be found in the Settings app. Authority Manager lets you control individual apps' access to features such as location, camera, etc; App Auto-Start lets you force certain apps to run when the phone is booted up; Heat Source will warn you when the phone's temperature breaches a predefined threshold and show you what's causing it; and Privacy Space lets you create private contacts, SMSes, pictures, videos and apps, and can only be accessed with either a fingerprint scan or a pin.
Overall, 360 OS is one of the better custom Android ROMs we've come across. Barring some minor incorrect English translations, it's very functional and easy to use.
Thanks to the 3GB of RAM and 360 OS being very light, app and multitasking performance is very fluid. On average, there's always about 1.8GB of free RAM available for apps, which is plenty, in our books. We're happy to report that the fingerprint sensor is highly sensitive and almost never fails to do its job. 4G works well and call quality is good too. The Q Terra is powerful enough to handle demanding 3D games with ease, though its sheer size might make on-screen controls awkward to use.
A unibody metal chassis is always going to be prone to heating up, and this phone is no exception. However, QiKU has implemented 'liquid cooling', similar to what Microsoft has done with the Lumia 950 XL, so it never gets uncomfortably hot. Heating is only noticeable when playing heavy games, recording 4K video or running benchmarks. The phone in fact did very well in benchmarks: we got a score of 66,605 in AnTuTu and 19,099 points in 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited.
4K video playback is enjoyable thanks to the crisp display. The volume from the speaker can get fairly loud, but it feels off-centre. The audio player is easily one of the worst stock apps we've seen recently and appears to have been taken from Android Gingerbread, for some reason. We hope QiKU fixes this in an update. Thankfully this isn't a big problem as third-party alternatives such as Poweramp can be downloaded from Google Play.
The 3700mAh battery puts on a good show, and lasted 13 hours and 51 minutes in our video loop test. We found that we regularly crossed a day of usage before needing to recharge. Fast charging helps in topping up the battery quickly. We managed to go from zero to 40 percent full in just 30 minutes, and to a full charge in a little over an hour.
The Q Terra's dual 13-megapixel camera implementation is by far its most interesting feature. The phone stacks the capabilities of one Sony IMX 278 colour sensor and one IMX 214 monochrome sensor, in order to capture better pictures. The monochrome sensor supports HDR video and stills at up to 4K resolution. The primary colour sensor has a large f/1.8 aperture, which helps with clearer low-light shots.
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The combination of each one's strengths results in very good daylight images, both in macros and landscapes. Indoor shots aren't as sharp as we would have liked but they aren't too bad. Low-light shots are also relatively well detailed with very little noise creeping in. Video recording quality is good although videos come out a bit shaky, since there's no stabilisation. We also noticed slight artifacting in the left corner of videos when panning, which is visible when viewed on a PC but not on the phone itself.(Tap for full-sized images)
The camera app is easy to use. The various shooting modes include Night, Beauty, Pro, and SLR. The latter tries to mimic the bokeh effect of DSLR prime lenses by adding a blur filter to the background. It works well just as long as the subject in focus stays still for a couple of seconds. In general, focusing and capture speed are satisfactory. Additional shooting modes include Long Exposure, Panorama, GIF, Refocus and AudioImage. The front-facing 8-megapixel camera also manages detailed selfies. The rear flash is not the most powerful but does a decent job at close range.
We said at the beginning of this review the Q Terra's most likely competitor is the Moto X Play, since they are priced more or less the same. However, as it turns out, this phone can easily go toe-to-toe with more expensive offerings as well. QiKU's debut handset scores big because of its build quality, vivid display, strong battery life, and competent cameras. Cat 6 LTE support, fast charging and 4K video are all added bonuses.
One factor that might deter people from buying this phone is its large footprint, which can be inconvenient. We would also have preferred backlit capacitive buttons, NFC, and FM radio. If these factors don't bother you, then the QiKU Q Terra is a solid choice in its price segment.
Disclosure: Gadgets 360 is the exclusive retail partner for QiKU Q Terra.