One of the most important and costliest aspect of modern smartphone is its cameras. In the past 4 years, smartphone cameras have gotten so good that even some budget phones can take great photos in the dark, Redmi Note 5 for example.
But with cameras becoming so crucial, only a handful of manufacturers are producing non-camera phones. If you are working somewhere where cameras are prohibited, should you remove your phone’s camera or get a non-camera phone?
In this article, we will be taking a look at iNO’s latest non-camera smartphone, the SGiNO 6, available for preorder right now on iNO’s website for S$358. Is it any good? Let’s find out. Thanks to iNO for providing me with the device to review.
Summary – Not for the Masses
SGiNO 6 isn’t a very good device, so are most other non-camera phones out there. Get it only if you need one.
- Great looking glass back design
- Doesn’t have a camera (great for Red Zones)
- Supports wireless charging
- Not very value-for-money
- Severe overheating issues
- Poor gaming performance
- Many small issues with internal design
- Outdated UI
- Decent battery life, slow charging
- Close to stock Android
Design – Not Too Bad
Not the best glass back design I have seen. But on a phone where design doesn’t matter, having it is a bonus.
If you are getting a non-camera phone for work, you probably already have a fanciful smartphone you use outside of work, so the design of the non-camera phone shouldn’t really matter. That said, iNO went for a glass back design anyways.
Compared to modern smartphones, the SGiNO 6 is thick and heavy, but the extra weight makes it feel well built. The design is very basic and it certainly isn’t the nicest looking or feeling glass smartphone, but it could have been much worse.
About as thick as 5 twenty cent coins
A headphone jack is located at the top and on the bottom we have two speaker grills, though only the right one houses the speaker. On the right, we have the power button indicated by a shiny red marking, as well as the volume buttons.
On the right is the SIM tray. On my pre-production unit, the SIM tray ejector mechanism is located too deep inside, so SIM ejector tools cannot be used, but iNO says that it might be changed in the actual units that are going on sale. We shall see.
On the front, we have a 5.2″ 16:9 FHD display, with a speaker grill on the top and a fingerprint scanner on the bottom. For a device coming out in 2018, the top and bottom chins are very wide, but it is something I can definitely live with.
As expected from a non-camera phone, there is not a single camera to be found on the SGiNO 6, though iNO kept the flashlight on the rear so you can still look for your stuff in the dark.
Overall, the SGiNO 6’s design isn’t bad, but also isn’t very impressive for a 2018 smartphone. Considering that it is built for a niche market where looks doesn’t really matter in the first place, I can’t really complain about the design of the SGiNO 6.
Performance – Not for the Gamers
Sketchy benchmarks. Severe overheating. Poor real-life performance. Not for gamers.
Powered by a MediaTek 6750T, keep your expectations low if you want to game on the SGiNO 6. I was unable to get Geekbench 4 running and AnTuTu produced very sketchy results. Off to a bad start. Will the SGiNO 6 do any better in actual usage?
Even under light usage, the SGiNO 6 heats up quite a bit near its volume buttons. It gets worst when you play games on it, which is a little concerning. But you wouldn’t be gaming on the SGiNO 6 very often. It isn’t very good at it to be honest.
The SGiNO lags at the most unexpected times. Brawl Stars runs decently during gameplay as long as you have a stable connection to the internet, but struggles to load the animation of unlocking a new character. Huh? What is happening?
Something similar can be seen when you play Alto’s Odyssey. The game runs at a playable frame rate until your character hits a rock, then the phone will lag and you will see him falling in slow motion. Really strange indeed.
Heavier games like ROS can still run, but is very choppy. With some skill, it is playable, but the experience isn’t enjoyable. The overheating also gets to a point that I would consider uncomfortable. This device is just not for heavy gaming.
Camera – There is None!
The absence of camera on the SGiNO 6 is the only reason you should pay so much for it.
If it isn’t very clear already, the SGiNO 6 does not have a camera and it is selling it as one of its key feature. But can we actually call not having cameras a feature? It seems kind of silly to pay more to not have one of the costliest parts of a phone.
But if you are the intended audience for the device, you probably do not have a choice. There isn’t a lot of alternatives out there due to low demand for non-camera phones, so if your work strictly requires one, this is one of your only options.
From my understanding, it is not that iNO is purposefully overpricing their phones, but that there is just not enough customers for them to produce them at a scale that would lower the cost. If only there was more demand for non-camera phones…
As you can see, we are stuck in a loop here. Without enough people buying them, there isn’t a way we can drive down the cost non-camera phones. But when the phone is priced so much higher than its camera counterparts, few are willing to pay for it.
Software – Outdated Design, Unrefined Experience
Close to stock Android, but design of certain apps are ancient and some features do not work very well.
SGiNO 6 may be running Android Oreo out of the box, but there are some aspects of the software that just feels so dated. The music app has this pre-Lollipop design and that compass app feels prehistoric. Also, some of those app icons are just bad…
There are many aspects of the software that are not very well implemented. For example, the “device usage” list in the settings app will only show battery consumed by certain apps, which is actually a problem for my battery tests below.
When connected to a WiFi network, the mobile data icon appears the same regardless if it is on or off, which can lead to a disaster: If you unknowingly left it on while downloading a huge file and WiFi disconnects, be prepared to burst your data limit.
The rest is pretty much what you would expect from stock Android. Features that you love about Android are all here: split screen, app drawer, minimal bloatware, etc… There is even a Pedometer app to keep track of your daily step count.
Battery & Charging – Not Up to Expectations
Battery is huge, but actual battery life isn’t very impressive. Also, due to size of the battery, charging takes really long.
Powering the SGiNO 6 is a 4040mAh battery, which is still pretty big by today’s standards. But perhaps due to the inefficient processor that results in overheating, it doesn’t really perform up to par with other phones of similar battery capacity.
With light usage, which includes surfing the web, browsing social media and playing light games like Brawl Stars and Soul Knight, I was able to drain the battery to 18% by 11PM, with a screen-on time of only 3h 19min after over 15.5h of usage.
Under heavier usage where I try to drain its battery as quickly as possible, the phone had 10% battery remaining after playing 2h 5min of ROS and watching 30min of YouTube. With a total screen-on time of 3h 12min, its battery life is just so so.
Using the included charger rated at 5V 2.0A, the SGiNO took 4h to charge from 5% to 55%. Even considering its battery size, the charging speed of the SGiNO 6 is pretty slow. For a full charge, expect to wait for 8h or even more.
The device can also be charged wirelessly, but considering that even wired charging takes a long time, you will probably want to only use this to charge the phone overnight.
Others – More Problems!
Fingerprint scanner is accurate but always get disabled in the pocket. Headphone jack is poorly designed, connection loose for most headphones I tested.
Fingerprint scanner on the SGiNO may not be the fastest, but it is accurate when clean. However, it keeps “reading fingerprints” in my pocket, so when I take the device out, it would often be disabled and I have to type in the password instead.
On my pre-production device, the headphone jack is very loose (for most headphones I tested) and the device often fails to detect my 1MORE 1M301 whenever I plug it in. This might be fixed on by the time you receive the SGiNO 6 though.
Also, Tmall and Taobao apps on the Play Store are not compatible with the SGiNO 6. It doesn’t matter for most people, but for someone like me who shops on these apps frequently, this is a deal breaker. Hope iNO will get this fixed soon.
Conclusion – Should You Get One?
Get it or remove your old phone’s camera? Depends on the condition of your old phone.
In almost all aspects, the SGiNO 6 is just average or below average compared to regular camera smartphones, which makes it unappealing for the masses. But so are most non-camera smartphones available today, so I can’t really fault iNO for that.
So should you get a camera phone like the SGiNO 6 or remove the camera on your old phone? It depends on what device you are planning to use: Is it still performing well? Is the battery life worsening? Is the phone physically damaged?
If your soon-to-be non-camera smartphone is a mid-range or flagship device that is not too old, remove its camera. But if it is a >3 year old budget phone though, the SGiNO 6 will probably provide better experience, so you might want to consider it.