Everyone, it seems, wants to know what the deal is with the Innjoo i1s, this “Chinko” smartphone that originates from Dubai.

Why is a smartphone with so many impressive specs so dirt cheap? I was asking myself these same questions before I got the device last week. Now I have some answers

First, the Dubai based OEM has made it clear that they are a “new innovative business model, that is selling mobile at low cost while taking a longer potential revenue stream from software”.

That’s the best explanation for why the Innjoo i1s is so cheap. Innjoo is definitely not the first OEM to employ such a business model, the most prominent being Xiaomi who are currently taking China by storm.

This is clearly a long term strategy for Innjoo that is still shaping up. The Innjoo i1s comes preinstalled with an “Injoo store”. All I can think of it now is as a Google Play store client. Maybe at some point in the future, the store will come to its own.

So now that we understand why it costs so little, how good is it as a device.?

The Wows

Considerably snappy performance

The Innjoo i1s performs impressively well for a smartphone of its class, many thanks to the combined 1GB of RAM and 1.3 GHz processor. Games run fine and switching between apps is very responsive. Of course, the Injoo i1s won’t outclass flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the iPhone 5s. If you’re coming from such devices you would probably think its laggy . But for its class, it more than raises the bar.

In short, I haven’t seen better performance from any sub 15k, and even some 30k, smartphones. Shikena.

Erm… it’s dirt cheap

I can’t think of a better advantage for the Innjoo i1s  than the fact that it gives you so much value for money. That alone should be enough for most consumers. If they’re willing to overlook some of the key tradeoffs…

The Lows

Battery performance is sub par 

The Innjoo i1s will get you through barely half a day of “normal” use. “Normal” here being very subjective. This means that on average, you will have to charge it at least twice a day.

Heavy users might have to recharge as much as thrice a day. I ran a couple of tests on the battery, including my customary endurance test and a few others I didn’t publish. My conclusion is that the best you can get out of the battery from very heavy usage, with 3G mobile internet on. is about 5 hours.

Poor audio output with earphones

If you consume a lot of media via earphones, the Innjoo i1s might disappoint you. It just does not work well with earphones. It’s possible that my experience is isolated, probably a factory error. However, I am tempted to assume otherwise. I have had similar experience with Tecno, specifically the Tecno N9 pad and Phantom A+, where the 3.5mm jacks only work with bundled earphones. If you plugged in third-party earphones, the audio produced is very unbalanced and squeak. And no, it’s not an isolated case.

What’s odd about the Innjoo i1s is that it doesn’t come bundled with its own earphones. And yet it doesn’t work well with other earphones. Again, my experience might be isolated. Please share your experience in the comments section.

“Insufficient memory” horrors abound

So this device has 8GB internal memory, according to the specs sheet. Only about 5.03 GB is available to the user. Of that amount, only a measly 0.89GB has been reserved for apps. Very poor.

I’m not even an app junkie – I only install apps I use – yet it didn’t take me long to start getting “insufficient memory” warnings while installing apps. This is just unacceptable.  Consider this — the Gionee P2 costs just as little as the Innjoo i1s, has less RAM (512MB), processing power (1.2 GHz Dual-core) and Internal memory (4GB), yet allocates almost 2GB for apps.

I’m not privy to the internal considerations that inspired this choice but still, speaking as a consumer, it just is totally unacceptable from Innjoo.

The tolerable

The Injoo i1s is not a perfect device. It has its strengths and weaknesses. It also has a few minor annoyances we probably all can still live with

Call quality on the Innjoo i1s isn’t the best . It is not horrible but it could be better. I often find myself struggling to hear the person on the other side. But it’s not something a slight change in speaker angle couldn’t solve. I personally can live with it.

No proximity sensor inactive? When you are making calls and you bring the phone close to your ear, the display doesn’t go off like it would on most phones. This leads to lots of accidental screen taps during phone calls. While it can be very annoying, it is avoidable if you are conscious enough to place the phone at an appropriate angle to your ears. Yes, it kinda sucks to have to always do that.

The Lumia 630 doesn’t have a proximity sensor but Nokia Microsoft found a way around it. I don’t see why Innjoo couldn’t have implemented a similar fix.

The 5MP camera is okay. Just okay. Of course hobbyists and enthusiasts won’t come away impressed but the average consumer couldn’t care less, especially as images render beautifully on the phone’s display. Some samples:



Don’t bother about low light images.

The display is brilliant … indoors. Really brilliant. So brilliant it gives you high hopes it will appear just as awesome outdoors. And then it doesn’t. As long as you don’t plan to use the device a lot outdoors, you’re good.


So does it  make sense to shell out N 14,000 for this device? Yes

Its shortcomings notwithstanding, I still believe the Innjoo i1s an amazing phone for that price range. The camera is okay (at least for social media updates), performance is impressive and it plays basically all audio and video formats (only with loud speakers though). In short, it is the best sub-15 smartphone you will ever invest in. Heck, it performs better than some 30k devices I have used.

In all, if you are looking for:

  • a decent low budget primary device
  • a great secondary device or;
  • an awesome introduction to smartphones for first timers

The Innjoo i1s is it.

Muyiwa Matuluko Author

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