At a time when competition among smartphone makers is growing stiffer in India, it is becoming rather difficult for the manufacturers to come up with devices that can outshine others. Especially, the Chinese smartphone makers who are trying to strike a chord with Indian consumers should play cautiously regarding pricing. One such famous Chinese manufacturer is Gionee, who have a firm grip on the Chinese market but have been struggling to make the same impact on the Indian smartphone market.
Well, we recently got the chance to lay our hands on Gionee's large battery smartphone, the Marathon M5 Plus. We used the device for a month, and this review digs every aspect of a daily smartphone usage.
Design and Display
The Gionee Marathon M5 Plus is a slimmer and larger version of the Marathon M5. The first thing that you'll feel as soon as you pick the phone is its weight (211 grams), which is heavier than most of the smartphones these days. The weight is due to the 5,020mAh of battery, which is one of the main USP of the device. The design of the M5 Plus is not great, but it manages to look neat.
The power button and volume keys are placed at on the right while the mic, 3.5mm audio jack, and USB Type-C port are placed at the bottom. Regarding display, we get a 6-inch AMOLED Full HD screen on the front. The screen does a good job and shows saturated colors even when used under direct sunlight. The battery and display combo works well, even in the power saving mode. A 2.5D glass on the front gives an elegant outlook to the M5 Plus. The UI does not do justice to the display quality of the phone, and it looks a bit scattered at times - Indeed not pleasing.
Hardware and Software
Under the hood, we get a 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6735 with Cortex A53 cores. Interestingly, the same processor is found on Infocus's entry-level Bingo 50 smartphone, which retails at a much lower pricing that the Gionee M5 Plus. There is a 3GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage, which is expandable up to 128GB via microSD card. The hardware part is pretty disappointing about the M5 Plus.
The chipset does not do justice to a price tag of Rs 26,999. The worst part is that the SoC lacks the ability to run HD media content or games on the 6-inch display. We tried to play Asphalt 8, but the performance was pretty bad, and there was a lot of stuttering. Even multi-tasking was dull on this device. We wish that Gionee should have integrated a Snapdragon 650 SoC at least. Regarding software, there is a ton of additional bloatware on board, which cannot be removed. The Android 5.1 Lollipop- based Amigo OS, which has an old outlook and the UI, fails to impress. Gionee has filled the device with a handful of pre-installed apps, which is pretty annoying too as not every app is useful. Thankfully, these pre-installed apps can be uninstalled.
There is an iOS-inspired control center, which can be accessed by swiping upwards from the bottom of the display. The pre-installed wallpapers are nothing less than a nightmare for a photoshop pro. However, we did like "chameleon" feature that can create a theme from a mix of colors that you can select from your surroundings, for e.g. - If you take a picture of a red and black background, then Chameleon will create a theme with a mix of Red and Black. The call quality was smooth on the M5 Plus, and we did not face any issue.
The camera on the Gionee M5 Plus did an average job. Saturation and White Balance levels were kind of cool. Nothing wow, but the images that we clicked, looked okay. The pricing of the device does not do justice to the 13MP rear and 5MP front camera onboard. At this price point, Xiaomi's Mi 5 and OnePlus 3 do a swell job regarding camera performance. The M5 Plus's autofocus mechanism (integrated with PDAF) was not quick enough as it failed to focus many times, especially in the low-light conditions. Even HDR mode couldn't do enough to hold the fort. Even the front camera is not good. Many of the selfies lacked the flawless clarity that is delivered by other smartphones under the same price range.
Here are a few camera samples:
The battery is where the M5 Plus does a swell job. The 5020mAh of battery lasted up to 1.5 days on heavy usage, which included gaming, watching tons of videos, camera usage, audio usage, 4G, and Wi-Fi. We also did a lot of multi-tasking while browsing on the phone and it managed to stay up for 1.5 days on this usage. The battery life can be further enhanced by using power saving modes under the settings menu. These power saving modes can easily drag the battery life to 2 days on full usage.
Well, the Gionee M5 Plus could be an ideal choice for those who do not worry about other features except the battery. The ones with huge battery needs can just select the M5 Plus as their default phone. While the ones who want a device with an excellent performance regarding hardware, software, display, and gaming, they will not like the M5 Plus. Given competitors such as the OnePlus 3, Le Eco Le Max 2, Xiaomi Mi 5, and others which offer a nearly as big display with better performance, we think that the M5 Plus does not stand a chance. At a pricing of Rs 26,999, this smartphone is asking much more than its worth.