Beautiful body teasing Gionee Elife S5.5 offers one of the best displays, pleasing imaging experience and is an overall great package.
Almost three months ago, Gionee had formally announced the world's slimmest octa-core smartphone - Elife S5.5 at a special event in Goa, India. The Gionee Elife S5.5 was yet another marvel from the company and also an obvious reminder of how serious Gionee is about Indian market. Gionee Elife S5.5 measuring mere 5.55 mm slim, packs a powerful octa-core MediaTek chipset inside. Gionee made the Elife S5.5 available for Rs 22,999 from April 27 onwards in India.
Gambling on the design and exterior is the best tactic the fairly new handset makers can employ to compete with existing giants. After the rotating camera clad Elife E7 mini, the company has placed its bets on a smartphone design again the new Gionee Elife S5.5 smartphone. To be noted that the three to four year old handset makers are trying to use best of the materials to make equally competitive products compared to premium like product makers such as HTC.
Bearing the slim profile, the Gionee Elife S5.5 aims to deliver the best possible performance by packing one of the most interesting combinations of hardware inside. Let us take a closer look at each aspect of the Gionee Elife S5.5 smartphone.
Gionee's Elife S5.5 indeed is the best slim looking device in the sub Rs 25,000 price segment. Coming close to the Sony's Omnibalance design, the Elife S5.5 will indeed dazzle anyone with its slender and slim profile. Gionee has used two Corning Gorilla Glass technology powered glass sheets smartly adjusted in the front and the back. These glass sheets are fit on magnesium alloy unibody chassis. Despite of two glass sheet layers and the body, the Elife S5.5 still measures up to 5.55 mm thick.
Even when switched off, the Elife S5.5 does appear quite appealing. With the Super AMOLED display in the front, the Elife S5.5 also offers three capacitive buttons in the front. These capacitive buttons will go unnoticed most of the times due to lack of proper backlight support. While the phone screen is on, those capacitive buttons are completely invisible to anyone. There is no setting to control the backlight either.
The magnesium alloy bearing phone offers flat side with chamfered edges. The physical buttons are located on the left side of the phone compared to the usual right side configuration. The metallic feel offering Power and Volume control buttons are located on the left side while the audio port rests at the bottom. Charging micro USB port is located on the top. The speaker mesh is located at the bottom of the back side. The camera modules are placed at the top left corner of the back side with LED Flash below the lens. There is a microphone at the back to help while video recording.
Gionee Elife S5.5 indeed is very slim and offers comfortable grip to the hand. However, both front and back are fingerprint magnets. The phone is very comfortable for single-hand operations. The Elife S5.5 looks very beautiful and elegant in the black colour profile with well-placed camera at the rear and small Gionee logo at the back.
Gionee Elife S5.5 box also bundles USB OTG cable, pair of earphones and charger along with a cover as well as screen guard.
Rating for Design: 7.5 out of 10
Without a doubt, the first thing that caught our attention was the gorgeous 5-inch Super AMOLED display that makes every icon and text look like a treat to eyes. The Super AMOLED display supports 1080x1920 pixel resolution natively and pushes pixel density of 441 pixels per inch. Thereby making it one of the crisp text and images delivering smartphone in the sub Rs 25,000 price segment.
Gionee has used the True Octa-core 1.7 GHz MediaTek MTK6592 mobile system-on-chip solution and married with the Mali-450 MP4 GPU for graphics support. The Octa-core boasts of the heterogeneous computing with scalability at the theoretical level but we are yet to see any handset marker making the best out of it. The MediaTek MTK6592 comprises of eight ARM Cortex-A7 processor cores clocked at 1.7 Ghz for this smartphone. To back up this massive hardware, Gionee has packed 2 GB RAM to support it. The Mali-450 MP4 GPU has four graphics cores clocked just under 700 MHz to deliver best possible graphics experience.
The octa-core configuration of the Gionee Elife S5.5 is quite similar to that in the Micromax Canvas Knight. There might be close fight for the synthetic benchmarks between all four devices. However, out of all four, Micromax Canvas Knight has a marginally better chance of winning the battle for it as the MTK6592T, a slightly overclocked mobile chipset and of course, the price advantage.
Rating for Hardware: 7 out of 10
Gionee has carried the same custom user interface dubbed as Amigo OS on the Elife S5.5 just like its previous smartphones. The Amigo OS 2.0 basically runs the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update at heart and frankly is bit outdated since half of the year is over and Android "L” has been teased formally. The Amigo OS brings in something different than other custom user interfaces. There are no app drawers since all the home screens carry icons of the apps that are installed on the phone.
Nevertheless, one can always create folders of similar themed apps such as Imaging, Social Networks, and more. The user interface basically intends to offer the user everything on the home screens itself instead of tapping to open the app drawer and then going for folders/scrolling for apps.
Lockscreen offers two panes which cannot be customized. One is the regular swipe-up pane that unlocks the phone. Other grayed out pane gives access to four widget shortcuts - Voice Recorder, Camera Torch and Fake call. The home screens do not offer widget support so if you had bought Beautiful Widgets pack on your previous Android phone, it would be useless on Elife S5.5 phone. One can have up to nine home screens and each filled with twelve apps. Once that limit is crossed, the users can create folders to add similar themed apps in order to accommodate more apps.
Notification drawer offers maximum usage area to accumulate the notifications and has two tabs at the bottom - Notifications and Settings. While both are self-explanatory, a single swipe from right to left on notification pane reveals Settings - basically customized Quick Settings menu.
Several popular applications have been integrated as individual apps such as Cleaner app has been added as Phone Accelerate to speed up the boot time by banning apps, kill running app processes, and clean the caches of the individual apps at once.
Similar app dubbed as App Manager exists that basically enables organizing the apps like giving them permissions or quickly uninstalling them from the phone. Another quick way to uninstall app is the tap and hold the app icon and then the x mark appears on top left corner of the downloaded app. The user interface also offers custom theme and skin to choose the feel as well as look of the user interface. Depending on the theme, the menu options appear in white background and orange accents.
Not only the native Android version is old, the Amigo OS does not make up for it. The user interface appears sluggish and lags several time. However, the animations and transitions do manage to provide the eye candy factor.
Rating for Software and Apps: 6.5
Gionee offers the Elife S5.5 smartphone version with 16 GB on-board storage only. There is no memory card slot offered to expand the storage. Out of the 16 GB, the portion of storage allotted for user is only 9.5 GB. For those who love to keep their smartphones loaded with multimedia files might find the lack of storage expansion quite cumbersome.
Supporting one Micro-SIM module, the Gionee Elife S5.5 can offer up to 21 Mbps download speed theoretically. Apart from that, the smartphone supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n standards to ensure faster downloads and mobile internet. The phone also offers Wi-Fi Direct support to connect and share files with supporting devices quickly. Gionee has packed Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP and EDR support. Location based services are powered with a GPS chip also supporting A-GPS specifications. There is no Near Field Communication or Infrared port support.
Rating for Connectivity: 7 out of 10
By default, the Camera app offers easy to use and understand options in the Normal View. When tapped on the tiny camera icon in Normal mode, it switches to a professional looking mode that offers more control on White Balance, Exposure Value and ISO settings.
Capturing images where the subject is closer will result into some of the best images in terms of results. The details achieved through the 13 megapixel camera are quite impressive compared to the similar specification camera sensor loaded smartphones. The images promise a much better control on the noise, great colours and contrast. Of course, there is a little loss of detail appearing obvious when zoomed in but the full HD version of the images are quite easily acceptable.
With good indoor lighting, the camera is capable of delivering great details, close to real colours and keeping the noise levels at the bay. However, in the low light conditions the flash does more harm than actually help. The resultant images with flash do appear bright but the details go for a toss.
The front facing 5 megapixel camera also offers a fairly better details than that of any other smartphone offering 5 MP front camera. Obviously the lack of flash in the front is missed but image quality achieved in day time is bit surprising. The built-in HDR does make the dull appearing environment look much better in the images by offering decent balance of colours, contrast and details, out of which the last one is the most compromised.
The camera app's auto-focus function was bit slow to fixate on the subject but does a fairly good job compared to that in other smartphones. When it comes to video recording, the phone delivers 1080p HD videos with decent contrast and colours but surprisingly packs it in 3GP container.
MediaTek has boasted of the True Octa-core mobile chipset delivering heterogeneous computing and also consumes less power. While scalability of the processor cores still remains an barely visited area, the phone does manage to surprise us with benchmarks. With the famous AnTuTu Benchmark, the phone managed to score 28, 689 and gets slotted just below the LG G2 and above the Samsung Galaxy S4.
While in the comprehensive GFXBench tests, the Elife S5.5 manages to stay a step ahead of Micromax Canvas Knight A350 in couple of areas except Render Quality and the one with high precision. On the Vellamo Metal benchmark, the phone barely managed to score 966. In the gaming specific Nenamark2 test, the phone managed to cough up 57.2 frames per second.
Keeping the cosmetic benchmarks aside, the phone does deliver when it comes to processor intensive tasks or gaming. Of course there are some hiccups but we are not sure if it is due to Amigo OS or the Android version.
Voice call quality is clear and acceptable. The phone boasts of DTS Surround Sound enhancement and it really comes hand when watching HD quality movies and videos. While the back speaker delivers clear sound, many would not be happy with the level of loudness - it is not loud.
Gionee has packed a non-removable 2300 mAh capacity bearing Li-Ion battery and promise of up to 11 hours of 3G talk time. We manage to run the smartphone for just about two days from a full single charge. The activities performed included watching a TV Show episode of 45 minutes, voice calls averaging about 2 hours, listening to music, web browsing, sending SMS and gaming for about 30 mins. This is quite a moderate usage and often light for several users. On a heavy usage, the battery may just last for a day at least.
We noticed that the battery gets consumed relative faster when watching video on the Super AMOLED display, while web browsing and while gaming. Still, if the smartphone can go for just more than a day, it should not be a problem. Nevertheless, we believe that adding at least 2600 mAh battery would have made a significant battery life difference. Then again, Gionee wanted to make a super slim device.
Images by Sushil Kumar
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