Gionee, which entered the Indian smartphone market in 2013 with the Dream D1, has made quite a good impression about itself in Indian consumers' mind due to its value for money devices. Its first well sold smartphone was the Gionee Elife E3. It looked nice, performed well and had an attractive price tag. The Gionee Elife E7 is its flagship smartphone. But it is still the lowest priced smartphone in the country with Snapdragon 800 processor.
Gionee launched the Elife S5.5 which is targeted towards fashion conscious crowd. But will people buy a smartphone from Gionee when there are dual SIM alternatives from big brands at the same price? Here are our impressions about the Gionee Elife S5.5.
Design and Build Quality
The Gionee Elife S5.5 is the slimmest smartphone in the world with a 5.5 mm slim waistline. The front features a aluminium shell with the front and back of the device is covered by scratch resistant glass. The power button and volume rockers are made of aluminium as well and are placed on the left side of the device. Its placement felt quite awkward to me at first but they are nice to press. The camera unit is raised a bit from the back surface. If you keep it on the table, the device rests in such a way that neither the camera lens gets scratched nor the back surface.
It feels solid when held in the hand and isn't as slippery as some other devices with aluminium build. This might be due to its large size. Although its edges are quite sharp, its build quality and looks are really worth praising.
Display and Audio Performance
The 5 inch Super AMOLED screen has a resolution of full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 so the surface felt super smooth to slide the finger upon. The multitouch accuracy is very good too. The screen is bright and viewing angles are very wide, a phenomenon of Super AMOLED panels. Its auto-brightness has some issues as the screen doesn't feel as bright as it should. But the colours feel overly saturated, which is my only real concern about the screen. However, I think most of the consumers do like over saturated colourful screens, which are pleasing to the eye.
The Elife S5.5 uses a 13 MP Exmor R camera unit from Sony. They have paired it with a custom 6-element autofocus lens and a single LED flash light. There is also a secondary microphone alongside the camera. The 5 MP front-facing camera uses wide field of view for better selfies. The camera UI is exactly similar to that of Elife E7 and it has professional and normal modes.
The image quality is good in both daylight and low-light conditions. Same goes with the full HD 1080p videos recorded by the camera. The details are good and there are a lot of modes if you want to tinker with the output. Even the front-facing camera gives some great results.
This smartphone is powered by an octa-core processor from MediaTek, clocked at 1.7 GHz. The MediaTek MT6592 consists of eight ARM Cortex A7 CPU cores and Mali-450MP4 GPU. It has 16 GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM means better multitasking performance. But all of this feels great on paper. In real-life scenario, the device stutters. This might be due to software issues as the hardware, as I know it, is adequately powerful. All the games ran smooth but the device got really hot while doing so. Gionee needs to work on heating issues of this device. Sometimes, the device gets hot even during some basic tasks like calling and browsing the web. This might be due to its ultra-thin profile, metal casing and bad software. Also, I would have liked it to feature a microSD card but it doesn't.
Software and UI
The device runs on Amigo OS 2.0 which is a custom rebuild of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. It uses an MIUI like UI, if you know about it. It has no dedicated app launcher. All the apps, widgets, etc are all placed on the home screen. The UI stutters a lot, even though it is a newer version of Amigo. Although there are some features which I did love. There is a 'Guest Mode' which you can activate before handing the device out to others. This hides all your personal data such as call logs, messages, images from the gallery, etc. You can also initiate a fake call, right from the lock screen. You can use it to get out of unwanted conversations. According to my sources, Gionee will seed the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update to Elife S5.5 late this month. If it gets the UI right, a lot of dynamics will change.
The device lasted a day easily with its 2300 mAh battery. Although, it is non-removable, just like many smartphones out there. But if you measure its mAh to battery life ratio, it isn't as good as the Gionee Elife E7.
Overall, the Gionee Elife S5.5 is a really nice smartphone for the ones who want a good looking and stylish smartphone below Rs 25,000. It has beautiful screen, good hardware internals and satisfying camera quality. But it is let down by its terribly designed UI and lack of microSD card slot. Right now, its competitors are Micromax Canvas Knight, Samsung Galaxy Grand 2, Sony Xperia T2 Ultra and HTC Desire 816. If Gionee provides the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update to it and the price falls to Rs 20,000, it is nice smartphone to own.