When Oppo unveiled its 4.85mm-thick R5 smartphone in October last year, it became clear that in an effort of push slim designs, the Chinese manufacturers seemed to have stopped paying attention to functionality and ease of use. The smartphone was missing the 3.5mm audio jack, something which is taken for granted in today’s smartphones.
Another Chinese smartphone vendor Gionee was headed in the same direction with its Elife S5.5 and Elife S5.1 phones, but it seems now that better sense prevailed in the company’s meeting rooms and when the smartphone maker reached the Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona last month, it was talking about slim-phones that didn’t compromise on performance or user experience. It is no longer trying to be the company with world’s slimmest smartphone.
At MWC, Gionee introduced the Elife S7 phone, which although is a part of the company’s slim line-up of smartphones, but doesn’t get the yearly trim in thickness. In fact, the phone is thicker than the last year’s S5.1. The company claims that it is taking the thin phones to a new level with S7, which is slim, but also delivers on usability, design and performance.
The company on April 4 showcased the phone at a press event in India, where I had a chance to play with it. Read on for my initial take on the phone and find out whether Gionee has been able in creating a potent slim smartphone.
Slim design aside, the first thing I noticed about the Elife S7 was its weight. The smartphone feels really lightweight, thanks to the aluminium-magnesium alloy frame used in the smartphone. It not only adds sturdiness to the S7, but also keeps the weight in check.
While the front of the smartphone looks similar to previous S-series phones, Gionee has included a unique design on the sides of the phone, which it claims has been inspired by the U-shape design of railway tracks. As you will see in the images shared at the end of the article, the sides of the phone are dimpled in middle, thus creating two parallel metal lines. The company states that this design will help in the one-hand use of the phone by providing extra grip, which I am not entirely convinced with, but it is certainly better than block-y look that Gionee has gone with in the previous generations.
The Elife S7 also sports scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3 on both front and back, which adds to the durability of the device and makes it look premium. There is however an issue with the glass panels, they make the phone a fingerprint magnet.
The 5.2-inch full HD AMOLED display present in the S7 is vibrant and offer nice colour output. The viewing angles are also decent.
Coming to the performance, Gionee has packed a 64-bit octa-core MediaTek chip in the smartphone along with 2GB of RAM. MediaTek might not have been a popular chipset maker in the past, but the company has been churning out some decent processors in the recent times and the MT6752 is one of the good ones. During my brief usage of the phone, I found it to be snappy and not showing any signs of lag. However, I would only be able to say more on the performance front after a detailed review.
The storage will be an issue for many in the S7 as the phone doesn’t include a microSD card slot and there is just 16GB of on-board memory. Out of this 16GB storage, you will only have access to 10GB.
The smartphone runs on Android 5.0 with the company’s Amigo UI 3.0 and despite the presence of some nice tweaks like Extreme power-saving mode and Chameleon theme maker, the Gionee UX includes a lot of bloat.
On the imaging front, the Elife S7 packs a 13MP rear camera and 8MP front shooter. The imaging performance seemed a little disappointing in my hands on, but I will reserve the judgement until the full review. I wasn’t able test the battery life or the 4G performance during my brief interaction with the phone, however the on-board 2700 mAh battery should last a day in moderate usage.
Overall, Gionee has produced a decent smartphone and the move towards better user experience is a welcome one, but still the Elife S7 is not without issues. Given the increased competition in the sub INR 25,000 smartphone, the company can’t afford to make any mistakes, especially when the companies like Xiaomi are slowly reaching the physical retailers. We will have more in the full review, till then check out these hands on images of the Gionee Elife S7.
Disclosure: Travel and stay of the author for the Gionee Elife S7 launch was sponsored by Gionee.