The Gretel GT6000 unassumingly performs its tasks surprisingly well
Gretel isn't a very well-known brand in the U.S. when it comes to smartphones, or any technology for that matter, but they are one of the many different brands available in China and you can use these unlocked devices almost anywhere. As such, we've been able to spend some time with one of Gretel's latest devices, the GT6000 – a device with some decent hardware without the high price. That being said, even with the low cost the GT6000 is noticeably better than the Gretel A9 we reviewed earlier this year. It isn't all about what's on the inside though, as the outside of the device can be important too, and while this phone may not be the sleekest looking device on the market it does look decent and that is helped in no small part by the use of the color on the device which adds a certain level of style to it. That might be a little bit of a subjective statement, but nonetheless the Gretel GT6000 will surely satisfy some consumers when it comes to looks. With that said, let's take a closer look at what the GT6000 offers and how it performs as an everyday device.
When it comes to specifications the Gretel GT6000 isn't shy about what's inside. It comes equipped with a 5.5-inch HD IPS display, is powered by a MediaTek 6737 1.3GHz Quad-Core processor, which is paired with a Mali-T720 GPU for graphics, 2GB of RAM, and for storage it's working with 16GB, though it does support expandable storage up to 32GB microSD cards.
When it comes to the cameras, the Gretel GT6000 is working with three sensors altogether, and this includes the 5-megapixel camera sensor on the front, as well as a 13-megapixel sensor and a 1.3-megapixel sensor on the back as the GT6000 follows the growing trend of devices these days of using a dual rear camera setup. There's a 6,000mAh battery inside and for some this is going to be the main point of interest as the device promises to provide a large amount of battery life throughout the day and then some, and in our personal experience it certainly went above and beyond in this particular area, but more on that later. The GT6000 supports Bluetooth 4.0 as well as Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, it's using a micro USB port for charging and data transfer, and it comes running on Android 7.0 Nougat software. So all around it's a decent device with respectable specs on paper, especially at this tier of device.
In The Box
It's pretty common for most phones these days to come with just the basics – the phone itself, the charging cable, the wall adapter, and a quick start guide/manual. The Gretel GT6000 though, is like many of the phones that come from Chinese brands and packs in a couple of extras. For starters there is already a screen protector applied to the display, plus there's an additional screen protector once you need to replace the first one and it comes with a clear silicone case.
Hardware & Design
There's nothing super flashy about the design of the Gretel GT6000, but that doesn't make it an ugly device by any means. It is a bit thick but that comes with the territory when you have a phone that carries a 6,000mAh battery, and for its part the phone hides it pretty well. The body is made completely of metal which gives it a premium look and feel, and it's smooth to the touch which makes it feel good in the hand when holding it although it can, like any smartphone made of metal, feel a bit slippery most of the time.
On the front of the device there are fairly minimal bezels on the sides but mostly standard on the top and bottom so as to make room for the front-facing camera at the top, along with the LED flash and earpiece, while the bottom bezel holds room for the home button/fingerprint sensor as well as the two capacitive keys – the recents button and the back button. On the right side of the device are your power button and volume up and down button, and on the left side is your SIM tray. On the Bottom of the device you have one single speaker and the charging port, and on the top there's a 3.5mm audio port for plugging in headphones or connecting the phone directly to an external speaker. Flipping things over to the back you have the Dual LED flash and the Dual Camera sensors. The body of the device also has this nice metallic Blue color that kind looks almost like a cobalt blue, and there are chamferred edges on the left and right sides of the frame. Overall the Gretel GT6000 has a nice well-rounded style that most should be able to appreciate, even if it isn't winning any awards in the design department.
For only an HD display the screen on the Gretel GT6000 isn't bad. It's a bit under the standard quality we're used to seeing on phones with a 5.5-inch display, but all things considered it doesn't look too bad in most cases. It's bright without feeling like an overwhelming light source, and colors didn't have too much trouble popping off the screen. There aren't any options for changing the color temperature of the screen like there are on some other devices, which is a bit of a letdown if you're not entirely fond of the color temperature that's used by default, but it's not the end of the world and it likely won't be something that most users are concerned with. What's most important is that the display has decent enough clarity and that it does have.
The screen response was also pretty decent and we never seemed to have any issues with the digitizer that sits beneath the display so that's always a good thing especially when you consider that a lot of devices in the low cost range don't always use the best parts for the device makeup. Luckily for us the digitizer used here seems like a nice piece of hardware and that means users shouldn't have problems with it recognizing their presses and interactions. Viewing angles generally seemed pretty good and there weren't too many times where the display was hard to see in direct sunlight, so all around the screen is a pretty good experience.
How a device performs is a make or break situation in many cases, and no matter how good the device looks or how well it's priced, it all means nothing if the device doesn't perform very well. During our initial use the first day or two the device seemed just fine for performance as it effortlessly flew through the menus with ease and didn't seem to display any stuttering or lag. Now with only 2GB of RAM at its disposal the GT6000 isn't the most well-equipped to handle extreme multitasking but for the average user it should be more than fine, and during our time with it it actually performed better than expected when it came to opening and running multiple apps in the background.
This is all well and good, but for some the performance doesn't just stop at how well it handles daily tasks like email, messages, web browsing and streaming music and/or videos. For people like myself, the gaming performance on the device is also an important factor as playing mobile games can not only be a graphics intensive task, but it can also put a huge strain on the CPU and the device can get warm or hot to the touch. Not necessarily in an unbearable nature entirely, but to the point where it can get uncomfortable if held for long periods of time during a gaming session. In our experience, because the phone is made of metal it can get a bit warm during a longer gaming session and more so if the game is one of high quality with better than average visuals and special effects. For this purpose we tested out Need for Speed No Limits which is a decent benchmark in real world use for the graphics and performance, and the game played great without any noticeable issues with lag. Gameplay was smooth and enjoyable though the graphics weren't the sharpest, but most importantly the phone didn't get overly hot to the touch even after an hour or two of gaming. When it comes down to it, the GT6000 is decent enough for most mobile gaming and multitasking though you'll certainly get a better graphical experience with other devices.
There is only one speaker here with the GT6000 so you shouldn't expect studio quality sound nor should you expect the best sound of any smartphone on the market. It's tough to get exceptional audio out of a smartphone with one speaker in general, let alone when the device is an entry-level phone. In our experience though the sound quality was better than expected when compared to a lot of the other Chinese phones that are similar to this one. When holding the phone in landscape mode with the home button and charging port facing to the right, the bottom-facing speaker sits on the top edge of the bottom part of the frame so it's mostly unobstructed, and this makes the sound a little easier to hear without having to turn up the volume. For games and videos the sound quality was pretty good and I never once found myself wishing it was better. For music streaming this was a bit of a different story as I found myself wanting audio that's a bit more clear. The speakers didn't really sound muffled or blown out at higher volumes, but it is obvious that this is a low-end budget device and for the best possible music quality when using this phone, headphones or an external speaker are recommended.
Phone Calls & Network
Like most Chinese smartphones the Gretel GT6000 does come unlocked and it uses GSM networks which means it can work mostly anywhere and with just about any GSM carrier, but there are going to be limitations. I for example use Project Fi, which is GSM, but I couldn't get the phone to recognize my SIM card, so you'll be limited to other GSM carriers in the US like T-Mobile, AT&T, and others. That said you can view the supported network frequencies below.
4G FDD-LTE: 800/900/1800/2100/2600
It's always hard to gauge a phone entirely off of benchmarks as it can look one way on paper and perform another way in real-world situations, and that's what we're seeing here with the Gretel GT6000. The scores are as expected, pretty low on the rankings when compared to devices in the mid-range and high-end tiers, but that's nothing surprising and when compared to other devices in the same range it scores about the same. During real-world use it still performed ok. If you're interested in seeing the benchmark results you can view them in the gallery below.
With a 6,000mAh battery inside you'd expect the device to last quite a long time, and this phone certainly does that. After using it for a couple of days the phone still had a little bit of a charge left which means that during normal use you should be able to get at least two days out of it, more if you use the device hardly at all during those days. For screen on time we got about 10-11 hours of use, and this was a bit lower than what was scored during the battery benchmark test we put it through where it resulted in 12 hours and 18 minutes of screen on time before it dropped to around 20 percent battery life left. This is an exceptionally long time for any smartphone battery but that is to be expected due to the high capacity. The short of it – the battery is a major strength of this device and you won't be disappointed.
Unfortunately, there's no NFC so the fingerprint sensor can't be used for authorizing mobile payments, but it can be used for unlocking the device which is its main function. It's also a function that it completes quite well albeit a little bit more slowly. For accuracy, the fingerprint sensor that Gretel used with the GT6000 was spot on. It only missed recognition of my thumb print once out of all the times using it which should be great relief for anyone that relies heavily on the fingerprint sensor for the unlock method. The downside is that this isn't the fastest fingerprint sensor on the market and that can be an issue if you're unlocking the phone for an important task, like launching the camera to take a snapshot of something you might miss if you don't get to it quick enough. So while the unlocking is a bit slower than we'd hoped, it generally worked all of the time and there's something to be said for that.
I quite honestly never know what to expect in the software department with some of the lesser known Chinese brands as even devices from the same brand can come with slightly different software and features. With the Gretel GT6000 the software is mostly stock with a few noticeable differences. The icons used are not stock Android, and in the notification shade there's an Auto button for enabling and disabling the auto brightness that you won't generally find on most other Android phones. Everything else in the notification shade looks the same though.
There are no on-screen navigation keys as the GT6000 uses two capacitive keys, one for recents and one for the back button, and the home button sits in between these two. This won't be an issue for all users but having the on screen keys is a little more standard and it may bother some people. Going into the settings is where you'll see a little bit of a different look as it seems Gretel themed the settings menu UI, as do a lot of the similar Chinese brands, and this is where you'll find some of the more unique software options that the phone offers. Things like the gesture motion, gesture unlock, and one-handed mode are features you won't find on a lot of devices out there but they are starting to become a little more common. These gestures also make it a lot more efficient to use certain things on the phone or unlock right to the apps you want, which is something that more phones should have included with their software experience. There's also an option to schedule the device power on and off, so if you want predefined times where your device will power down when you want to break away from it for a little bit, and then turn on when you need it again, this is a great feature to have. I never personally used it but it's something you won't find on every Android device out there, and it will surely be useful for some users.
Smartphone cameras are getting increasingly better these days and this sort of quality is trickling down to phones in the lower budget tier too. While the camera on the Gretel GT6000 isn't the best smartphone camera out there, it's decent enough for the average user and I actually was able to take some pretty decent shots. Quality-wise the phone is more than capable of putting out a decent image in most situations, and it offers a few extras to make your pictures a little more interesting if this is something you prefer. For example, beyond the standard photo and video modes, you'll also find panorama and bokeh modes for some added effects. The bokeh mode can put out some impressive shots if you're trying to focus a little more on certain subjects though the results will certainly vary depending on what it is you're taking a picture of. The focus is pretty quick though nothing to write home about, and the actual act of taking the image happens quick enough, though it could be sped up a little bit.
If you're use to using it you can enable the HDR feature which you'll find on the left side of the camera UI when in standard photo mode, and although the camera doesn't have Optical Image Stabilization it does have Electronic Image Stabilization which helps a bit in situations like this one. Color reproduction on images is mostly good though not by any means the top of its class. Overall the camera experience is a nice one and one that won't disappoint the average user, but it might not be suitable for those who want a little more out of their camera experience.
Decent build and design
Performance was decent, didn't get hot during gameplay sessions and almost no lag or stutter with multitasking
Excellent battery life
Accurate fingerprint sensor
Front camera flash
Fingerprint sensor was a tad slow
Sound quality could have been better
It's a bit heavy due to the larger battery
The HD screen made for a bit less clarity on the 5.5-inch display size
No NFC for mobile payments
It can be tough to look at devices in this range and see all the good that comes from them if you're not familiar with the brand, but decent specs, build quality, and overall performance are becoming increasingly easy to come by at lower prices, meaning you don't have to break the bank to get into a good phone, and that's what we found here with the Gretel GT6000.
Should you buy the Gretel GT6000?
If you're not in the market for the high-end top performing devices, you really can't go wrong with something like the GT6000 even if you're just considering it. It unassumingly performs its tasks surprisingly well and at a fraction of the cost of more well-known brands. Provided the phone works on your network, you should definitely give the Gretel GT6000 a look if your aim is to find a device that works and works well without spending a whole lot of money, and without giving up too much in the features department.