Gionee, one of the first Chinese companies to enter India has faded away in the crowded Indian smartphone market. It’s not like Gionee is unable to sell smartphones in India. They do have a terrific track record in the offline market in low-end smartphones but lack significant presence in the mid-range (Rs 20,000-Rs 30,000) market now. We bring you the Gionee Elife S7 review to see if Gionee can change the scenario or not.
Gionee has tried their hand at slim smartphones for a long time. Started off with the Gionee Elife S5.5 and then the Elife S5.1 and finally we have the Elife S7. The S7 is the most polished and refined smartphone from Gionee ever but will it be enough to make it standout in the crowded market, we shall find out.
Gionee Elife S7 Review: Hardware and Build Quality
Lets spare a moment for what you get inside the box of the S7. It comes with a lot of accessories – Earphones, USB OTG cable, USB cable and wall adapter, a flip cover, a back case, screen guards (2 each for rear and front), user guide, warranty card and the S7 itself. The box looks premium but is a little bigger than usual boxes.
When you pick up a Gionee Elife S7, it feels like an engineering marvel. It is made up with precision and the company has put in a lot of attention to detail. It is a beautiful device with Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides. First thing you notice after picking up the phone is its beautiful 5.2-inch display which sits in the middle with relatively narrow bezels on the sides. There is a front-facing camera, speaker grill and proximity sensor above the display. There are no capacitive buttons below as UI navigation is handled by on-screen buttons.
On the right, we find the volume rocker and power button below it whereas on the left side, the SIM card tray is found. The 3.5 mm audio jack sits on the right bottom which is followed by the mono speaker cut out in the middle. Beside that we find the microUSB for charging and data syncing and also the microphone. We find the 13 megapixel rear camera sitting on the top left followed by the LED flash and a secondary noise cancellation microphone beside that. There is a Gionee branding on the upper middle upon the solid Gorilla Glass 3 panel.
The S7 is beautifully designed and feels solid on hand. It just weighs 126 grams and has a 5.5 mm thick body. This phone may not remain the slimmest in the world but surely does feel slim yet sturdy. It is easy to use the phone for longer hours due to the solid weight balance throughout the body and proper grip. A metal chassis is running around the phone made up of aluminium magnesium alloy. Two parallel lines are running around the phone which is called ‘U shaped skeleton design’. It has a chrome paint job with a hint of chamfer and the inside has been coloured black to match up with the body of the phone.
Gionee Elife S7 Review: Display
There is a 5.2-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) AMOLED display which churns out a pixel density of 424 ppi (pixels per inch). The display panel looks wonderful where the colours are bright and vivid and comes with a great contrast ratio. Mostly AMOLED panels are criticised due to over saturated colours but this is not one of them. The blacks look more black and the panel has well saturated colours. We can even tweak the saturation levels with the help of the software (Amigo OS 3.0) between cool and warn presets. Thus, watching a video or scrolling through favourite websites will be a pleasure for the eyes.
Gionee Elife S7 Review: Performance and Gaming
The Elife S7 from Gionee is powered by a 1.7 GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6752 processor which is coupled with 2 GB of RAM. It is a 64-bit chipset which is capable of handling most things that are thrown at it. It is able to handle day-to-day usage without any throttling. We were able to browse sites with heavy graphical content, watch Full HD videos and high-resolution images, play high graphical intensive games without any struggle. In past, we have seen great hardware in Gionee handsets but those did lag and throttle due to lack of software optimization. With Amigo OS 3.0 on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop, things are quite fluid and there is no lag or frame drops in the UI. Multitasking doesn’t take a toll due to 2 GB RAM on board but free RAM is less due to the heavy Amigo OS skin. Around 600-800 MB RAM is available after a fresh boot.
We tried Asphalt 8, Mortal Kombat X, Modern Combat 5, Marvel Future Fight to test out the gaming performance of the S7. It did really well with negligible frame drops. The graphics looked beautiful on the 5.2″ Full HD display. But as we know, MediaTek chipsets has a history of heating issues and this doesn’t escape either. After playing a graphics intensive game for 20-30 minutes, the phone heated up near the rear camera area. It is not too hot to handle but still is a concern for heavy gamers. However, it cools down quickly as well.
Gionee Elife S7 Review: Camera
The Gionee Elife S7 comes with a 13 megapixel rear camera with LED flash and Sony IMX214 sensor. Gionee claims that its image processing system ‘Image+’ enables users to shoot stunningly high quality images with easy user experience. The camera can capture six images in one second and compose them to one image by adjusting brightness and image noise. All this is possible due to the night mode engine of Image+. It can capture a picture within 500 milliseconds and can focus on the subject in 300 milliseconds.
Gionee has talked a lot about the powerful camera of the S7 along with its new image processor as well as professional modes. However, it falls short of our expectations. It is surely not a bad performer but the images which come out looks quite over saturated and artificial. Smartphones in this price range like the Xiaomi Mi 4 or the OnePlus One has a better camera.
The camera UI looks clean and offers different modes – Normal, Professional, Face beauty, Take anytime, Magic Focus, Filter, HDR, Panorama, Night, PicNote. These options do help in tweaking the shots using professional mode which offers features like focus selection, white balance, aperture control, ISO and exposure control.
The main problem of the images are they look really good on the Full HD display with over saturated colours but as soon as you see them on your computer, it falls short of your expectations. Sometimes we faced an issue with focus and got softer colours. If you want to capture low-light images, this camera isn’t for you because it gives out a lot of grain. The over saturated images has to be due to the software algorithms which can be fixed with future software updates.
On the front, there is a 8 megapixel camera which comes with intelligent Face beauty 3.0 technology. It estimates users’ gender and age and then recommend the best over the face beauty effects for more natural selfies. It is pretty good in a brightly lit environment but you have to encounter grains in low-light condition.
Check out the camera samples below. Couple of them were clicked by Sudipto from Tekhsquare. More sample images will be available when his review comes out.
Software, Battery Life and Connectivity
Gionee has been using Amigo OS for the last two years and this is the third iteration. Gionee Elife S7 runs on Amigo OS 3.0 which is based on Android 5.0 Lollipop. It is a heavily customized skin which looks similar to the iOS UI. There is no app drawer and you have Control Center like iOS. The OS was really sluggish but that is all in the past now. Gionee has listened to the feedback of the consumers and has improved the performance, optimized it with the hardware. This resulted in no lags while gliding through the interface.
As mentioned, there is a control center which is similar to that of iOS and has to be pulled out from the bottom. This may not appeal to the regular Android consumers who are habituated with stock Android scenario. We do not see much of Material Design which is the core of Lollipop either. Amigo OS 3.0 strips out a lot of customization offered by Android. Hence, you need third-party launchers. A lot of bloatware comes pre-loaded as well which is not welcomed. Those do not add much functionality and are mostly gimmicky.
The S7 packs in a 2,750 mAh battery under the hood which is quite a lot considering a 5.5 mm body. In the past, we have seen the ultra slim phones do not perform well in this department but S7 doesn’t fall in that category. It easily lasts more than a day on mixed usage with around 5-6 hours of SOT. It also has Normal and Extreme power saving modes which will come in handy in case you have little juice left.
In the connectivity department, the phone supports Dual SIM. The slot takes in two nano SIM cards which support 4G LTE across India. It has standard Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n on board but lacks WiFi 802.11 ac connectivity. We have seen WiFi drops on few occasions but the problem got resolved after few restarts.
If you’re a power user who likes to store HD movies and take your music collection everywhere, the S7 will disappoint you. It comes in only one storage variant which is 16GB, out of which around 10GB is available after first boot. On top of that, there is no option for expandable memory as it doesn’t have a microSD slot. Considering it a flagship device, Gionee should have sold a 32GB variant or the base variant should have been 32GB instead of 16GB. However, it supports USB OTG and Gionee is kind enough to send a USB OTG cable in the box.
Gionee Elife S7 Review: Final Verdict
The Gionee Elife S7 is priced at Rs 24,999 and the main target segment for the smartphone is offline. In this price or below Rs 20,000 range, one can find a lot of devices which has better overall package than the S7 but thankfully Gionee does not target that segment. They have their own consumer base who shop offline mostly. If you pick up a Elife S7, you will love it for its beautiful design accompanied by a 5.5 mm body and light weight. It is also a power house which can handle almost everything and comes with a decent camera. Storage is a downside but USB OTG comes to your rescue and Amigo OS 3.0 is almost there but isn’t perfect yet.
Thus, if you value design and engineering and want to flaunt a ultra-slim smartphone and most importantly shell out Rs 24,999 for it, then you should get the Gionee Elife S7.