This should be very interesting for me, and for the readers as well because usually whatever smartphones we test and review, are new and are reviewed within the first month after the device is launched. We usually like most of those devices, and the actual problems come out a few months later. That’s the reason why I’m reviewing the Gionee Elife E7, a few months later. To be precise, it is just over six months since I am using this smartphone and it has been with me on every trip, every holiday and I have used this as a primary smartphone.
Before you come up with conclusions, this review is not about the performance compared to the competitor devices, but it is on how much can you expect from a smartphone after months of regular usage. And whether a company that was given a “Chinese” tag during its entry into the Indian market, could prove its point with its flagship smartphone?
What I loved the Gionee Elife E7 earlier, was for the amazing camera, the good display and the few apps from Gionee for the productivity and optimization of the performance. One of those factors still hold the same thought in my mind – the camera! There is always a general thought that the camera capture quality goes down with time, but that hasn’t been the case with the Gionee Elife E7, so far. It still gives the same quality excellent captures with the large 16-megapixel rear camera. Below are a few captures from the same camera, with no editing.
Of what I talked about earlier in my original review, it was a criticism towards the Amigo UI, which wasn’t impressive at all, and those who know much about rooting and installing other ROMs, they would have done that already. I didn’t, to check out what alternatives I can try, by just using some launchers and see if that works good enough for me. But frankly, I still hate the Amigo UI and I never complain about the OS updates when it is some custom ROM installed on the device, but here, there were all reasons for me to wait for the update to one of the latest Android versions. The main reason was the compatibility of Android Wear smartwatches, and because I use the LG G Watch, there was no way I could connect it to the Elife E7 running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.
I tried launchers such as Go Launcher, Everything Me and for a long time, Aviate too. But there were compromises in that as well, so what’s the point? you will not like the Amigo launcher and the Android OS update in this device is quite necessary.
What is still good after 6 months?
The camera (s) – Rear and Front
I still love both the cameras of the Elife E7. Ever since the company launched this, I was a fan of both the rear and front cameras, and still carry the same phone to every event, party and the captures come out superb. It’s the era of selfies, right? they come out pretty cool with the 8MP shooter with autofocus!
Playing a 1080p video on this shows great vibrant colors, and the brightness was great as well, though not as good as the AMOLED displays on Samsung smartphones.
The drop and survival
It is not once but around 4 times that the phone fell from chest height, always unintentional, and the Elife E7 survived each drop. I could be the lucky one there, but that is still good that the screen didn’t see any damage. There were dents on the corner where the impact was, but because these corners are curving from front to back, the dents don’t get noticed easily.
The call quality and connectivity
This is nothing to boast about, but I’m talking about the quality change over the time. In the past six months, I have been very happy with the quality of calling (voice, video) and the connectivity options in the Elife E7. Have used the smartphone while traveling, and this has been the Wi-Fi hotspot always. Not the best device for connectivity options, but when we are talking of the long-term use and the phone’s response, a 10/10 for the Elife E7 for staying the same even after the months of heavy usage.
What disappointed me all the time?
The top power button
There have been countless occasions when the Elife E7 is in the pocket, and while driving, the power button gets pressed (continuously) such that the device restarts in a loop, until I notice that and take the device out of the pocket.
The Bad Sensor
Another problem with the phone was the front sensors that would automatically detect and turn the display off while a call is active. The sensor on the Elife E7 is pretty bad, and thus many a times unknowingly the screen was on, and the screen got touched by the face and the large “disconnect” button used to get tapped many a times.
The Amigo UI
The user interface, i.e. Amigo UI isn’t good at all. You cannot place widgets, there is no app drawer, and you can play around with just limited settings. Although I used to switch between launchers, what you expect to be the best is the stuff that company packs into the device. Here, the Amigo UI is what I would love to hate.
OS version, Compatibility
We got the Android Wear smartwatch, i.e. the LG G Watch about a few days within the launch, and the Gionee Elife E7 being my primary device, I would connect both of them for the best use. But does that happen? no! Android Wear app requires Android 4.3 and later, while this flagship Gionee Elife E7 runs Android 4.2.2, no updates since launch. Thus, the G Watch is of no use, unless I use a secondary device only to pair it with this watch.
Is the Gionee Elife E7 still worth a buy?
There are two scenarios to look at: Whether you are looking to buy a new one or a used one. Several people who are reading this review of mine, might be ones who don’t mind purchasing a used device, if they feel the smartphone didn’t go that bad in these few months of usage.
If you are looking to buy a new Gionee Elife E7, there is one and only reason why you should buy it – the excellent camera. Otherwise, there are some excellent alternatives, like the Google Nexus 5, Sony Xperia Z and at least with these, you get the latest OS updates and thus there is no app compatibility issue at all. If at all you see an update for the Elife E7 in the near future, there is a lot that might change the user experience, but for now, I will hold my thoughts and see this is a Jelly Bean OS running device.
But is the device not worth it? It indeed is, because the camera of the device is still better than several flagships, and now companies have started launching smartphones with selfie cameras showing improvements, but this 8-megapixel front camera in the Elife E7 has been there to impress since the beginning of this year. If the OS version and the UI aren’t much of a concern, the device is still worth it for the price.
Just when I’m writing this, the pricing of the Gionee Elife E7 is dropped to a segment which has some great competition but the Elife E7 clearly can be called a winner with its excellent camera, and while the 16GB version costs Rs. 21999, the 32GB one costs Rs. 24999, and for that price, this is totally worth it.