The element of surprise that used to accompany Chinese entrants in the Indian market has been gradually lessening. Barring a few companies like Oppo and Vivo, the template seems similar – good hardware, a custom UI and available online at a surprisingly low price. And Qiku, the latest entrant from the country of the Great Wall, sticks to that template with pinpoint accuracy.
And STILL manages to stick out from what is rapidly becoming the Chinese Crowd, thanks to a mix of sheer muscle and nuance.
Relatively compact in size
We had mentioned in our first impressions of the Q Terra that while it was an unabashedly large phone, it looked compact for its size. At 157.6 mm long, it is well over the half foot size that most use to place a device in the phablet range, and at 79.8 mm, it is wide enough to stretch most human hands. So yes, at first glance, the impression you get is one of well, largeness. But mention the fact that the device packs in a 6.0-inch display into that space and suddenly it does not seem quite as large – it is in fact shorter (slightly) than the iPhone 6s Plus as well as (significantly so) the Nexus 6P, both of which sport smaller displays. Yes, it is wider than those worthies, but like that other notable 6.0-incher last year, the Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro, it is very compact for what it packs in and its width of 8.6 mm emphasizes this.
To reprise our first impressions, this is a good-looking device, with a metal back (aluminum-magnesium alloy) that features two dual 13.0-megapixel cameras (one a black and white one and another a color one – more on that later) and a fingerprint scanner with a shiny border. The back curves out gently, making the phone seem slimmer than it actually is, and there are chamfered edges on the frame that glitter in the light. And no, the front is not routine either – there are almost no bezels on the side of the display, making it appear to extend from almost end to end on the sides. It won’t stand out in a crowd the way a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge does, but it certainly is a very striking phone in terms of appearance.
Big on specs
But if the design of the Terra makes it seem smaller than it is, its innards certainly are keeping with its size. The display is a full HD one and a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 affair, and powering the device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, similar to the one that rendered sterling service on the LG G4, the Moto X Style and Nexus 5X. RAM stands at 3 GB and onboard storage is 16 GB, expandable using a memory card (up to 128 GB), provided you are ready to sacrifice one of the two SIM card slots available in the device. Connectivity wise, you have 4G LTE, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS. The supremely finicky might bemoan the absence of NFC, but we do not think that is a deal breaker by any means, not at least yet.
But perhaps the most distinct hardware feature of the device is the pair of 13.0-megapixel cameras at its back – one is an IMX 278 color sensor and the other an IMX 214 black and white sensor. In combination, these two cameras are supposed to deliver stunningly clear and detailed photographs, blending the best of both worlds (black and white cameras are supposed to be better at capturing details and outlines than their color counterparts). We have seen dual snappers before, most notably on HTC and Honor devices, but this is the first time we have seen a black and white and color sensors being used in combination. Accompanying them is a dual LED flash, while on the front is a 8.0-megapixel selfie snapper.
Ensuring that all this works for a decent amount of time is a 3700 mAh battery with support for quick charging. Last but not least is the 360 OS based on Android 5.1.1 running on top of all this – an OS that Qiku claims is smoother and more battery friendly than stock Android even. And yes, there is that fingerprint scanner at the back which Qiku claims can unlock a phone in 0.5 seconds. All said and done, the Q Terra ticks most spec sheet boxes.
Occasionally eccentric, but generally a very good performer
And for the most part, the Q Terra delivers a performance that is worthy of that spec sheet. The display is without doubt the star performer here, being great for viewing websites, videos, playing games and reading text – some might express a preference for a quad HD display at this display size, but honestly, a pixel density of 386 ppi (significantly higher than those on the new iPhones) was more than adequate for most of our viewing needs. We must also confess a fondness for the 360 OS, which not only is simple enough to use (no app drawer, but a clean, non-fussy interface without any bells and whistles) and comes with a number of neat touches. For instance, there is the Freezer where you can keep apps that you do not use frequently and do not want to keep running in the background – they will be absolutely inert when in the Freezer and you can take them out and use them again without having the need to download them again. A single tap can cycle through plethora of well made wallpaper apps right from the homescreen. There is also a Speedup mode which frees up RAM in the background, momentarily blurring the display in a special effect bonus. You also have the option to uninstall all the apps on the device – even the ones that come preloaded.
The processor and RAM combination handled pretty much everything we threw at it with a degree of comfort – from high definition games to multi-tasking – and churned out benchmark scores, which were decent if not earth shattering (it is above the LG G4 on the Antutu Benchmark, but below the OnePlus 2). We played FIFA 16 and the Asphalt series without any problems whatsoever – be it in terms of lags or heating. While on the matter of heating, the phone also comes with the ability to set off an alarm if it reaches a certain heat point. Yes, there is the odd eccentricity in interface – sometimes the usually-fast fingerprint scanner took a while to unlock the device and there was the odd occasion when the device seemed to just stutter ever so slightly. But these were aberrations. The Q Terra is for the most part a very smooth performer.
The dual cameras are however a bit of a mixed bag, although this might be because of our expectations from them. We did get some very good shots in daylight and even the odd decent low light shot, but consistency was a bit of an issue overall, with focus being erratic sometimes. In good light conditions, however, this is a contender for being one of the best phones at its price point, and indeed some above it. There are a number of shooting options including a rather oddly named DSLR mode (no, it does not give you DSLR-like controls but just lets you blur the background) as well as the PRO mode with detailed manual controls for those who want to mess around with settings. There are some handy image editing controls in the default gallery app too, complete with filters. Video was very good quality, but selfies were not quite in the same league as those seen from the Xiaomi Mi 4 and the Lenovo Vibe Shot. All said and done, the Q Terra might not get the perfect shot all the time but will give you a very good shot more often than not, which is much more than what you can say of the competition.
Sound quality is very good in terms of volume and clarity on loudspeaker, and quite superb on headphones (mind you, there are none in the box – you will need to get your own). The display and sound are good enough for two to three people to watch a film on this. Last but not least, that 3700 mAh battery is likely to get you through close to a day and a half very easily indeed and with careful nursing could even let you get two days of usage – and gets charged pretty fast too (we were able to fully charge it from zero in about 75-80 minutes).
Worth a buy?
All of which converges to the inevitable question – is the Qiku Q Terra worth investing in? Well, honestly, given its performance and its price tag of Rs 19,999 via the invite system (you can get it for Rs 21,999 without the invite), we think the question needs to be turned around to: why on earth would someone NOT want the Qiku Q Terra? At its price point, it is easily the best performing phone out there by some distance – out speccing and outperforming the likes of the OnePlus One, the ZenFone 2 and the Mi 4, all of which are admittedly a bit long in the tooth. And while some might claim better hardware on the OnePlus 2, the Yutopia, the Moto X Style and the Nexus 6P, the fact is that those devices cost a considerable bit more than the Q Terra. There is also the Honor 7, which sports a very good camera and a more compact form factor (courtesy a smaller display), but the Terra scores over it in terms of battery life and a less cluttered interface.
No, it is not perfect – some might find it a tad too large (it is a big phone, no two ways about it), some might find the absence of headphones and the presence of the invite system irritating, and some will complain about the phone’s little niggles that surface from time to time – but the Q Terra does more than enough to find itself in the sort of rarefied zone that the Xiaomi Mi 3 and OnePlus One found themselves in India in 2014. Of being simply the best in its price segment and maybe even a bit above it on sheer dint of specs and performance.
At the time of writing, we would say that the Qiku Q Terra lays down a new benchmark for devices in the Rs 20,000-22,000 price segment. In terms of sheer value for money, it is simply – pardon the pun – Terra-fic.