The Quick-Read Review: Gionee Elife S5.5

The sum of parts is better than the quality of the parts alone, and that’s what the Gionee Elife S5.5 brings to the table.

Written by Mihir Patkar | New Delhi | Updated: July 21, 2014 5:14:02 pm
An overall feel that makes you think you have got a great deal for your Rs. 22,000 An overall feel that makes you think you have got a great deal for your Rs. 22,000.

Usually, it’s the brand that inspires trust in a product. It’s why a Samsung or Nokia phone is preferred by so many, irrespective of its merits as a good phone. But that trust was built on delivering great products over the years. With the Elife S5.5, Gionee is hoping the product is good enough to inspire trust in their brand.

Specs: 5-inch Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen (1920×1080 pixels, 441ppi) | 1.7GHz octa-core Mediatek MT6592 processor | 2GB RAM | 16GB internal memory, no microSD card | 13MP camera, 5MP front camera, FullHD video recording | 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4, GPS, microUSB | Single micro SIM | 2300mAh Li-po battery
Price: MRP – Rs. 22,900 | MOP – Rs. 22,000

Design: The Elife S5.5 claims to be the slimmest smartphone in the world—the “5.5” in the name indicates the width of the device: just 5.5mm. Almost everyone who saw this sleek handset asked how much it cost and were surprised by the price. Its slim profile and magnesium alloy construction makes the S5.5 great to hold and use.

Not everything is perfect, of course. The glass back looks good at first, but gets scratched easily and will soon turn into an eyesore. The front is also prone to attract fingerprints easily. But perhaps most importantly, it heats up quickly and can get uncomfortable to hold while travelling.

Screen: The 5-inch screen of the S5.5 is is sharp, the colours are accurate, and the viewing angles are good. In direct sunlight, it’s fine on full brightness. The only issue with the screen is the auto brightness mode, which isn’t smart enough to always adjust to the best setting for your environment. You’re better off leaving it at 60% brightness manually.

Performance: An octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM takes care of most needs. The phone doesn’t lag or hang, but it does have one problem. When you play games that require lots of swipes, the screen will often freeze for half a second — and that’s often the difference between winning and losing!.

Camera: The S5.5 excels at taking photos while in motion. The shutter is quick and the auto-focus is good enough to capture at least the centre of the image in good detail. The fringes, naturally, are a bit blurred—but not as much as what you’d expect from most other phones. Apart from shots taken while moving, the S5.5 is also good for still photography and videos, although it’s not the best we have seen. Low-light shots naturally suffer with auto-focus, but they also have noise and lack details. You’ll need to apply an Instagram filter to be able to use them. The front camera is weak in dimly lit environments, so selfies in the club are going to be full of noise.

Memory: The S5.5 has 16GB of internal memory of which only 10.9GB is available to the user. Depending on how you use a smartphone, that might be too little. If you load up your phone with a lot of media (music or movies especially) or install many games, you will run out of storage quickly. But if you use streaming videos and are willing to swap old games for new ones, you’ll be able to manage the memory. In a nutshell, power users should stay away while most regular users will be happy with this.

Interface: Gionee has customised the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system with its Amigo OS user interface. While it’s not an eyesore, it is unnecessary and takes away some of the best parts of Android. For starters, it does away with an app drawer and puts all your apps in an endless home screen, like the iPhone. There are also no widgets, which is terribly disappointing. And finally, searching for apps is hidden away in the menu settings. If you do get this phone, the first thing you should do is install something like Nova Launcher to get rid of unnecessary Android customisations.

Connectivity: In most cases, the Elife S5.5 just works. Its antenna isn’t the best we have seen, but it’s not bad either. At worst, you might get downgraded to EDGE when others are on 3G, but you won’t lose connectivity altogether.

Battery: The built-in power saving mode should help control the battery life but even without that, the S5.5 lasts a long time. It gave us 5.5 hours of pure video playback and will last about 13 hours on average usage. With power-saving mode activated, that hikes up to about 16 hours of average usage.

Special Mention: The price of making the Elife S5.5 so slim is that the speaker is on the back and flush with the body, which means that if your phone is face-up on your bed, you aren’t going to hear it ring. In fact, you will face this problem on any surface that isn’t completely flat.

Verdict: Sometimes, the sum of parts is better than the quality of the parts alone, and that’s what the Gionee Elife S5.5 brings to the table. It’s a refined phone with great looks, good performance, and an overall feel that makes you think you have got a great deal for your Rs. 22,000. The internal memory is the only issue at the moment.

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