Monday, February 25, 2013

Freelander I20/Newman N2 Review

Freelander I20/Newman N2 Review


I sold my M1S and wanted to buy a quad core phone. This was among the cheapest quad core phone available and it also have a 13MP camera! Camera, speed and sound quality. If you offer me something exciting in any of those three category then you can be sure I will be wasting my money to try it out!


SOC: Samsung Exynos 4412 1.5GHz quad core
GPU: ARM Mali-400 MP4
OS: Android 4.0.3
Internal Memory: 2GB Apps, 5GB internal.
Screen Size: 4.7" IPS
Screen Resolution: 1280*720
Webcam: 13.0MP Rear and 2MP Front.
Battery: 2500 mAH Li-Ion.


I bought it off for about USD 300.


The accessories included were an additional back cover (an ugly orange one), USB cable and charger and a fake Beats headphone (at least I assumed it was fake. Not that it matters though. Not into overly bassy headphones anyway. ).

Build Quality

Overall, the build quality is just alright. Not excellent but not too bad either. The front consists of the huge screen, the front camera and the 4 capacitive buttons which I hate.

The back cover is removable and is made entirely from plastic. The cover has a textured finish to help users grip the phone easier. In practice, the texture does not bother me but it doesn't improve the grip either when used one handed. 

Also at the back, you have the 13.0MP camera, a single LED flash and the loudspeaker. 

At one side you have the microUSB port and a space for you to insert your nail to open the back cover.

On the other side, you have the power/unlock button, volume buttons and the camera button. The volume buttons feel rather mushy but still workable. The camera button is a 2-stage button where you half-press to focus and full press to take a shot. The power button also feels good.


The IPS screen is huge (compared to my M1S) and since its an IPS screen, the viewing angle and colour reproduction look subjectively good. Here are the pictures comparing it to my Pipo M3.

The brightness is plenty although the screen will still not be visible under direct sunlight. What I like about the brightness is that the minimum brightness setting is just perfect for using the phone in the dark (in your bedroom before you sleep). There is no obvious light bleeding from the screen itself but....

There are obvious light bleeding from the lights of the capacitive buttons. In general use, it won't be very noticable but when you start watching movies with dark screen then it will be quite obvious. Good thing is it turns off after some time so it won't be that disruptive during long movie sessions. Why can't the manufacturer just go for the onscreen button!


Now for the main selling point of the phone, I present to you the 13.0MP camera! But before that, I would have to talk about the snapping experience. The camera is noticably slower at taking a picture (compared to the M1S) and as a result, you would have to hold still for a little bit longer than usual or you will get a blurry picture. The flash performance is also sub-optimal. There has been a firmware update file for the camera but I have yet to try it.

Rear Camera
Indoors Performance

Normal mode with adequate lighting.

100% crop. Click for bigger image.

No flash in low light.

100% crop. Click for bigger image.

Low light with flash.

100% crop. Click for bigger image.

Night mode in low light.

100% crop. Click for bigger image.

Outdoors Performance

Outdoor 1. Window view.

Outdoor 1 100% crop.

Outdoor 2. Stairs.

Outdoor 2 100% crop.

Outdoor 3. Local train station.

Outdoor 3 100% crop.

Outdoor 4.Train station 2.

Outdoor 4 100% crop.

Overall, I find images in well lit environment to be very detailed thanks to the overkill amount of pixels. The images look clean with noises only visible at native resolution. The colours are very true to life, which is a surprise considering the recent trend towards over saturating images in other devices. However, as it usual is with camera phones with small sensors, it falters in low light condition and the untimely flash did not help either. If you do want to take a photo in the dark, I would suggest using the flash light instead of relying on the night mode as it introduces too much noise and very little detail, if any.

Front Camera
Front camera is the usual stuff. Fixed focus = always blurry. I think it's good enough for skype considering most of the built-in webcam in notebooks are just as horrible.

Speakers and Headphone jack

The loud speaker is pretty boring, to be honest. The sound output level is very limited (you can barely hear it at full volume if you use it while in the shower). Its definitely on the quiet side compared to most of the other smartphones I have used before. The sound is clean so would be okay if you mainly use it to watch youtube videos but music does not sound pleasant at all due to the tinny quality.

Thankfully, the headphone port works alright and the sound output is sufficiently loud and have no obvious coloration which is nice. Bass in particular does sound a little soft to me but overall is still usable and would be an alright source to use with your low-impedence headphones although it does sound a little dull to me. A brief search on the Google Play would easily fix that though :).

Battery Life

The phone regularly lasts 3 days although on average I have to charge it every 2 days under my typical usage which is pretty much a typical user's usage. I make calls/SMS/browse the internet/play games using my phone everyday and sometimes use it to listen to musics either through my headphones or through the bluetooth speaker. I am still not used to not charging my phone every day but hey, this is definitely something I look forward to getting used to :))). However, if you do some google searches on this topic, some users are reporting that their battery quickly drains from 100% to 80% for no reason and then last for days. I have not personally experienced it but just thought it would be good to let you guys know that YMMV. I think even the heaviest power user would get at least a day out of this phone.

Wireless Performance

One word; mediocre  The wireless module performs alright but its range is much less than most of the other phones (from Sony, Nokia, Samsung and even ThL) that I have used before. If you are close to the router then it will perform fine and speedwise, it can utilize all the bandwidth I have (30Mbps) so cannot comment more on that.

Now, my room is about 10m away from the router but is separated by 2 thick brick walls and understandably some devices have difficulty staying connected which is why I am not totally blaming the phone for this for the boring performance. However, after using it for about one month, I found out that it definitely disconnects more often than any of my previous devices.

Just to put offer some objective information here, my notebook (of course will perform better since it has multiple antennas and uses way more power for the wireless module) reports the wireless signal strength at -59dBm whereas the phone reports -82dBm. Keep in mind that the unit (dBm) does not scale linearly (its logarithmic) so you can see just how much worst the performance is. As another reference, my Pipo M3 tablet reports the signal strength as -71dBm at about the same spot.


I don't actually use this feature a lot but during the few times when I did actually use the GPS, it worked although it does take longer than usual to get a location fix. Will update this when I have some concrete numbers (how long does it take to get a fix outside etc).

Signal Quality

My unit performs fine with it managing to stick to my network almost at all times (O2) and the 3.5G connection was fine too. However, a quick google search online reveals many users reporting lost signal and having to restart their unit to resume operation. So your mileage may(will) vary.

Exynos 4412

Sunspider 0.9.1



Rightware Browsermark


GLBenchmark 2.1.4

Basemark Taiji



Epic Citadel

Call Quality

The phone performs fine during calls although it could be more sensitive as people would sometimes ask me to repeat myself. Not perfect but bearable and usable most of the times.


As usual, buyers of new Chinese gadgets are often used as guinea pigs by the manufacturers to test their hardware, or in the case of the Newman N2, their software. Throughout my testing period, I have no major complain about the hardware of the phone except the capacitive button light bleed and the horrible loud speaker.

*Before continuing, I must remind you that I am running the stock version of the phone's firmware which came with the phone. Clicking on the check for updates did not find anything. I planned to update the software once I finished writing this review because I think it would make an interesting follow up post.

My main issue with the phone lies in the software, it is really unoptimized at best and just horrible at worst. The performance wildly varies, take for example, the Antutu score will wildly varies from one run to another with no clear indicator as to what might have caused it. At first I thought it might have been overheating so I took it outside (0 degree Celsius) and re-ran the benchmarks and guess what? Its still as wild as as hookworm. If you run it after restarting the phone then it starts to get a little more consistent.

Sometimes, my unit would slows down for no reason taking ages to load up apps. 3D games would lag so bad that I can't believe the phone is running on a quad core. The only solution I found which worked was again to restart. Also, although my unit comes with Play Store installed, it cannot sync with the Google servers so for example your calendar events won't be synced into your phone. Of course that can be fixed manually but if you are expecting a more pleasant experience then this is not the phone for you. From what I have read, Newman is not the only one to blame here as many other Chinese manufacturers are doing the same due to some weird Google/Chinese government licensing terms.

The camera also have many issues with the software version loaded on my unit from factory. One of it is that if you use flash to capture, you will get this blueish image as it snapped the photo at the wrong time (not synchronised with the flash). Annoying. Oh and the focus is also a hit and miss most of the times. Newman has released an update file to update the camera firmware but I have yet to test it. Will post a follow up post regarding the performance after update in the future.

Just to emphasize just how unfinished the software is, Newman has released more than 5 software updates since the introduction of this phone. Well, you can look at this situation from 2 different angles. First, you could say that Newman after sales support exists and is actively supporting the device. From my perspective, it just shows how many bugs are there in the current software and from the feedbacks on the forum, it is apparent that they are not efficiently addressing them either.


This is the easiest conclusion I ever have to write so far. The phone is an unfinished product and hence is not fit to be sold to the general public in its current software status. Fortunately, the guys at the Vondroid forum are working on multiple ROMs to try and compensate for this but make no mistake, I am not endorsing manufacturers that sell products that are still in their Alpha stage. If you want a good, tested and cheap phone, I still would recommend any Xiaomi phones. Heck, even the ThL phone I tested before performed better and more consistent overall. On the bright side, it was still fun experience reviewing this product.
Newman N2 Quad Core 1.4 GHZ CPU android4.0 4.7inch IPS Touchscreen 1GB/8GB 13MP Camera

Newman N2 Quad Core 1.4 GHZ CPU android4.0 4.7inch IPS Touchscreen 1GB/8GB 13MP Camera

Newman N2 Quad Core 1.4 GHZ CPU android4.0 4.7" 8GB ROM + 1GB RAM 13MP Camera with Wifi


  1. Thanks for this extensive review! Also tried video capture? Maybe it is good to add which firmware you were running while performing the review?

  2. My friend, you completly miss the point. Unfinished product? You bought a Freelander phone what isn't original Newman one, I can say, you bought an OEM Newman. With the latest firmware the phone works like a charm, I found one major issue and thi is the high heat of the accu under working.