CREO Mark 1 Review

CREO Mark 1 -9

The fiercely competitive smartphone market of India has attracted its fair share of players. It’s not just the global technology giants or the enterprising Chinese upstarts, increasingly we have seen our very own indigenous start-ups work towards making their presence felt. One of these is Creo, a company that was erstwhile famous as the makers of the Teewe streaming stick. Launched a couple of weeks back, the Creo Mark 1 is the Bangalore based start-up’s first smartphone. The USP? Monthly updates that bring a whole host of fresh new features. Does the phone deliver on that? More importantly, is the base smartphone good enough to be worth considering on its own? Read on our review to find out.


For a phone that has a run of the mill 5.5 inch display, the Mark 1 is a pretty large device. The size of a device is rarely our first comment when it comes to design but we really had to make an exception for the Mark 1. The phone measures 155.4 x 76.1 x 8.7mm but what stands out for us is the weight. At 190 grams, the Creo Mark 1 will certainly make its presence felt in your hand or pocket.

CREO Mark 1 -3

The front of the phone has a 5.5 inch Quad HD display with 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The glass front stretches corner to corner with holes for the speaker grille and a front facing camera next to it. Three capacitive buttons are placed below the screen and they manifest themselves as three circles when the display lights up.

The circular design elements continue on to the side of the phone where the volume and power button are placed right next to each other. The dome like elements offer good tactile feedback though the button layout might be slightly confusing at the beginning. The left side includes two SIM slots, the second of these acts as a hybrid slot allowing you to add a microSD card if you chose. Moving over to the back, the same all glass build can be seen here. There’s a Creo logo in the center while the top left corner hosts the camera module and the dual LED flash.

CREO Mark 1 -7

On first glance, the Creo Mark 1 seems to have a remarkable design. Indeed that seems to be the public perception too. Having spent a fair amount of time with the phone though makes us feel that the all glass build is more of a compromise than design flourish. Despite using Gorilla Glass 3, the phone is extremely prone to scratches and fingerprints. There’s really no way that you can use the phone AND keep it smudge free for any duration of time. And once the scratches start showing up, the aesthetics aren’t really all that appealing.

While hardware and design are important, the Creo Mark 1 is being sold on the basis of its software package and more importantly, the prospect of the software capabilities. The phone runs on Android 5.1 with what they refer to as Fuel OS onboard. Creo’s take on Android borrows liberally from a lot of other Android ROMs to increase the feature set and plans to keep adding more via the planned monthly updates.

From a usability perspective, the phone adopts a three-step hierarchy. The lockscreen displays a clock with the usual notifications. There’s a dialer and camera shortcut at the bottom. Swipe up and you’ll be dropped into the homescreen. Here you’ll be presented with the applications onboard. A sub-menu shortcut at the bottom drawer will drop you into the full list of apps. So far, so good. Where things get a little different are in the customizations brought upon by Fuel OS. Let’s walk through some of the more exciting additions made to the operating system by Creo.

Sense is Creo’s take on Spotlight search. Pulling down on the homescreen or double tapping the home button activates Sense which allows for full phone search. Be it contacts, emails or specific toggles, apps; you can simply type it out and it’ll bring up the option. What’s even more cool is that with the latest update, you can perform basic calculations right there in the Sense app without having to search for the Calculator. The solution works well in practice and we could get used to this being standard across Android devices.

Up next is Echo, a smart answering machine that has been beefed up a bit to offer context based functionality. Using triggers, you can send calls to the answering machine if your phone is on silent mode or even when you have marked yourself as busy in Google Calendar. You can also set up specific messages for individual contacts which makes it even more interesting.

There’s a whole host of tweaks onboard but some of the more interesting ones include the data manager, selfie flash using screen illumination, better notifications, gestures and an enhance mode integrated in the photo gallery, camera. While the base feature set is run of the mill, the USP here is the monthly update program or at least the promise of it. With the first update already out just a few days earlier, we’ve seen improvements and additions all around. Whatever said and done about the rest of the device, this consistent software upgrade path alone might be a selling point for a fair few users provided Creo sticks to their promises.

The Creo Mark 1 is powered by a 1.9GHz Octa-Core MediaTek Helio X10 processor paired with a PowerVR G6200GPU. There’s 3GB of RAM onboard as well as 32GB of storage of which just under 24GB is available. Purely on paper, the specs are quite average. Given that the device has to power a Quad HD display, it just seems a bit underpowered. While basic UI navigation remains smooth and slick, that’s a given on any modern device. Extended usage often shows the device lagging behind just a tiny bit. Not a deal breaker but noticeable indeed. Switching apps can occasionally lead to a stutter or two. For what its worth, the latest update does seem to have improved performance to a degree so we’re hopeful that future updates will fix both the performance niggles as well as the overheating observed under certain task loads but for now, the performance isn’t really the strong point of the handset. Looking for benchmarks? We’ve got you covered below.

CREO Mark 1 AnTuTu 5

In the AnTuTu benchmark, the Mark 1 scored just 39135 points which places it well behind even many phones in its category.

CREO Mark 1 Basemark OS II

The Basemark OS II benchmarks also don’t show much promise with a score of 720 points, half that of the Redmi Note 3 Pro.

CREO Mark 1 GFXBench 2.7 T-Rex OnScreen

In the GFXBench 2.7 Benchmark, the CREO Mark 1 ranked the lowest with a score of 411 Frames. Do keep in mind that benchmarks are only one interpretation of performance. Real life usability may differ drastically for the better or worse despite how bad or good the benchmark scores might have been.


As we mentioned earlier, there’s a 5.5 inch Quad HD display on offer here with a pixel density of 534ppi. While it’s nice to have a 2K display on offer, the benefits aren’t very visible. More so keeping in mind that the screen quality is strictly average.While the viewing angles are above average, we found black levels to be disappointing. In fact the deepest shades of black are really just dark greys. Despite being something that we often observe on LCD display, the issue was noticeable enough to be called out. The color palate in general is somewhat muted but looks natural enough. Brightness levels are good enough indoors and just enough to facilitate visibility in bright sunlight.


A 21MP camera with a Sony IMX230 sensor can be seen at the back of the phone. We’ve seen many implementations of the hardware, both good and bad. In the case of the Creo Mark 1, the camera is more good than bad. Let’s take a look at some image samples to better understand this though.

Creo 3

As you’ll notice in the shot above, the dynamic range is pretty decent. The camera however was a tendency to overblow the highlights resulting in some burnt out corners around the leaves as well as in the skies.

Creo 5

Similarly in the image above, you’ll notice that noise is under control, the shadow region too displays good level of detail but around the rose itself, the image is overexposed and the colors have bled into each other to a degree resulting in loss of detail. All in all, the camera on the Creo Mark 1 is certainly above average and can even be called good but it isn’t exceptional by far and Creo would do well by focusing some R&D strength on tweaking the camera module. Here are some more image samples, click-through to get to the larger versions.

Communication & Battery Life
The Creo Mark 1 comes with just the standard equipment when it comes to communications capabilities. You’ll find 4G LTE, dual-band WiFi 802.11ac (Dual Band), Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS onboard. The phone is 4G capable and has Dual SIM slots too though one of them doubles up as an SD slot too so you’ll have to choose between the functionalities. There’s 32GB of built-in storage but you’ll get about 24 of that at first boot. In terms of battery life, the phone is equipped with a 3100 mAh battery as well as fast charging capabilities. The battery is just about sufficient to push through a work day with careful usage. Heavy usage would require you to charge up your handset in the middle of the day making use of the fast charging capabilities.


CREO Mark 1 -1

The CREO Mark 1 is a strange beast. The design, despite its flaws, is one that is mostly liked by users. Yes, the weight is on the higher side but not extraordinarily so. Performance on the handset is also strictly middle of the line and as you’ve already seen, this phone doesn’t set any benchmark records. So who exactly is this phone for? Well, for one if you are looking for a decent camera phone, you might want to give the CREO Mark 1 a look. But again, it’s not the camera that maketh the Mark 1 but the promise of a new phone every month. It is the promise that the CREO will be getting fresh software updates every month that is unique and that offers a compelling reason to give the handset a shot. Given that the company has already announced and pushed its first such update successfully, we’re hopeful that CREO might be able to deliver something new on the software stack end. The CREO Mark 1 has been priced at Rs. 19,999.


  • Design (Debatable)
  • Fresh take on Software Updates
  • Camera


  • Build Quality
  • Performance
  • Weight

Author: Dhruv Bhutani

Your friendly neighborhood techie. Currently using a Pixel 2 XL. Catch him on Twitter (@DhruvBhutani) / Facebook .