In the crowded world of smartphones, it is increasingly becoming hard for the manufacturers to differentiate especially when most of them are using Android. So, the companies either try to strip the entire OS experience by tweaking the hell out of Android or go for things like first Quad-HD phone or lightest Android device. Chinese smartphone maker Gionee is doing something similar with its new Elife S5.5, which it claims is the thinnest smartphone in the world.
Phrases like “World’s thinnest smartphone” sure get the consumers excited but it is just an incentive and cannot replace the key components of the smartphone experience like software or performance. In this review, I will find out whether Gionee Elife S5.5 is a jack of all trades or just a shallow anorexic beauty.
We have come to expect poor or average build-quality in smartphones from Chinese vendors but in the recent years, the perception has started to change with some nice devices from newer players like Xiaomi, Oppo, and Gionee as well as established manufacturers like Huawei.
In its Elife S5.5, Gionee has done an excellent job, the smartphone feels solid and build quality is great. Despite being the thinnest smartphone, you won’t feel that Gionee has cut any corners in the S5.5. The company has included scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass on both front and back of the phone, which although adds more durability but also make it a fingerprint magnet and prone to smudges.
The 5-inch full HD AMOLED display present on the phone looks really nice and offers vivid colours however they are often over-saturated, which you will notice while watching videos on the phone. If you can let go of the over-saturation, you will find the display to be fantastic and the one of the best in its category.
I have been using the S5.5 for the last weeks and thanks to the 2GB of RAM and octa-core MediaTek processor included in the phone, the performance has been decent. There is a slight lag sometimes but I believe that is because of the software. Like its other smartphones, Gionee has included its Amigo interface on the top on Android 4.2.2 in the S5.5 too. While Amigo brings a lot of software enhancements (some of which are more useful than others), it takes a toll on the performance of the phone, like we saw in the Samsung smartphones with Touchwiz UI before this year.
We hope that the company releases KitKat for the phone soon, which should further improve the performance. In terms of the individual tasks, I found the phone to be quite capable, it played 1080p movies without any jitter and games like Dead Trigger 2 or Riptide GP2 worked nicely even with best graphic settings. The phone did heat-up more than normal while doing heavy tasks but if you are using a cover, it will not be a problem. The basic functions like calling, texting, browsing as well as Wi-Fi & Bluetooth connectivity performed as expected.
As I am not a fan of launchers, which don’t support widgets or stuff everything on the home-screen by removing the app drawer, I was slightly disappointed with S5.5, however one can always install a third-party launcher like Nova, Go or ADW to fix the issue.
Camera/ Battery life
The camera and battery are the two components of the S5.5, which offer just average performance and could be a deal-breaker for some consumers. It is not that the camera on S5.5 is a disaster but it is also not extraordinary. I found images taken from the rear camera of the phone lacking in detail during the normal or good lighting conditions and they were grainy in low-light environments. Overall, the rear camera imaging experience on the phone is okay and will do for the occasional requirements.
There is a 5MP front camera as well on the phone, which I found to be decent and will be appreciated by the selfies-lovers.
The camera app offers decent number of tweaking opportunities and image modes.
Coming to the battery, the 2300 mAh non-removable battery present on the Gionee Elife S5.5 provides around 10 hours of backup with moderate to heavy usage. So, the normal users should be able to get through their day without needing to charge their phone, however heavy users will not be so-lucky.
Gionee Elife S5.5 is not without issues. It is a great looking smartphone with good build quality and a nice display, which offers decent performance but lacks on the imaging and battery front. For a price-tag of INR 22,999 (it is selling for as low as INR 21,100 at e-retailers), you have to consider what you want most in your next smartphone purchase, if you looking for phone, which looks good and offers nice performance but you can do with the average camera and battery, go for Gionee, otherwise you might want to consider other smartphones in this budget.