Gionee is not your average Chinese smartphone manufacturer company; it is that hub that many local mobile brands go to get their smartphones manufactured. Originally, a manufacturer of smartphones for others, Gionee realized that they should start their branded smartphones. The journey that started a couple of years ago has yielded good fruit to the company in various regions outside the homeland. Especially, India has played a key role in bringing out the best out of the Gionee products. Some of them are even designed keeping in mind the mid-range craze in the country like the F103, a fashioned focused mid-ranger.
The company launched several handsets this year such as Gionee Elife S7, Marathon M4, and M5. But out of that the most astonishing was the Elife E8, originally announced during June but recently launched in India. The E8 is the flagship device from Gionee, and it is being touted as the best camera smartphone of this year. Elife E8 is just for shutterbugs or does it have more to offer? We find out in this detailed review of the device.
There is nothing much familiar of the Elife E7 on the new E8, but one thing I would say that the bezels are still given much room. These days’ companies are focusing on removing any extra room for bezels and utilize it to offer compact size. With display 6-inch in size, the company could have taken some more measures ensuring the large size doesn’t affect the usability of the device.
The first thing comes into mind when you see this handset lying on the desk is that if it’s a small sized tablet. That’s the generous thing to say, but when you realize that it’s not exactly a tablet per say, but an oversized smartphone. Then, I won’t do justice to the design if I’m not slamming Elife E8 for its large heavy design.
Now that I’m over complaining about the oversize let’s get some facts straight about the design language on Elife E8. The device sports a metal body built but is not entirely a metal phone; the frame and edges are metal while the back panel is a removable plastic.
Neither the front nor the back is a fingerprint magnet, which is a good thing, as I’m quite sick of fingerprint magnet phones. Gionee may have screwed about the device size, but the company did well with certain other basic stuff like giving a giving camera shutter button on the right edge. As well as the placement of the Volume rocker keys and power button, which is also present on the right edge. Because I hate it when volume rocker placement is on the left edge, it’s just not intuitive design.
Talking further about the ports placements, the bottom edge houses microUSB port and a microphone while the top edge has the 3.5mm audio jack only. You can see the two band marks on the corner of the top and bottom edges. On the rear, you can see the camera module at the top center along with dual-tone LED Flash, just below that is the fingerprint sensor. Coming down is the Gionee branding and the loudspeaker, which has good output. The slight curve in all the corners on the back allows the device to have some space between the surface and corner. That’s smart design, as it helps in easily picking up the phone when its lying on a desk.
The 6-inch Quad HD (2560 x 1440 resolution) screen is more than enough for a sharp and vibrant display one wants on their device. And since it is an AMOLED display I don’t have doubt that it would create any issue.
The 2K resolution and AMOLED technology together creates a perfect combination of entertainer. With a large real estate, the device is a big treat for consumers who like to watch movies while travelling. The E8 can be a good companion for those users since no extra gadgets would be needed for that purpose. Some of us like to travel with tablets for the work; the E8 isn’t a Note 5 with executive apps or multi-window functionality, but it should be good to create and edit documents on the go.
The sunlight legibility of the device is pretty incredible, you can see almost everything even when the screen is put under sunlight, of course, the brightness should be full, and otherwise it’s hard to see anything. The adaptive brightness feature is present since the operating system is based on Android Lollipop.
Some more interesting parts in the display are that you get three different LCD effects, which optimizes the color reproduction of the display. By default, it would be on Neutral while you can opt to go with Cool or Warm color based on your needs. Though, I would suggest you keep it neutral.
The display comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection, so you don’t have to think twice before placing the house keys and phone in the same pocket. But you’ll hardly put this gigantic phone in your pocket. Hey, I’ll just flaunt my large display phone instead feeling awkward putting it in my jeans pocket. Overall, the display is pretty stunning, and you’ll enjoy what you see if the large size is not an issue for you.
The interface is quite similar to recent Gionee handsets, F103, and Elfie S7. Based on the Android Lollipop 5.1 the device runs on the Amigo OS 3.1, which is the Android skin for Elife E8. Looking at what we saw on the E7, the company has improved upon their software interface a lot. The UI was one of the things that were pretty bad on the Elife E7 and in the end that handset didn’t even got the Android Kitkat update as there was some issue according to the company that they weren’t able to solve or something.
Comparing the predecessor regarding the software enhancements, the UI has come to a point where I actually enjoy using it. The earlier Amigo UI might have great content of features, but the new Amigo OS has totally changed the way one looks at the Chinese interfaces. I like the clean and simplicity of the new interface.
There is no app drawer present on the interface, so if you’re pretty conscious about them, you can anyway install Google Now Launcher. The overall interface experience won’t be affected, what you’re getting is a well-organized system that you can rely on.
Regarding bloatware, you’ll find tons of pre-installed apps that may not be useful for everyone, especially the games that are just the trial versions. Though, there are many apps that are quite resourceful to the system and users. Such as system manager, file explorer, system update, one-stop mobile security and many more. These apps are useful for a purpose of management and security.
While talking about the appearance, there are many options through which you can change the look of the interface. One of the ways is through Chameleon app, which allows you to change the color theme and wallpaper of system. Using the camera, it absorbs the color of the environment and creates a theme based on the color in surrounding. A very innovative way to create themes for the system.
Multi-tasking is pretty much similar to the Stock Android experience, once you tap on the menu button, you get recently launched apps. Though, there is no way to close all apps at once like the stock UI. Talking about the internal storage on the device, we have the 64GB variant with us, and it has around 52GB internal storage free out of the box. Moreover, you also have the option to expand the storage up to 128GB via microSD card slot, and it supports OTG drive as well, which we tested out for confirmation.
Hardware & Performance
Powering Elife E8 is the Helios X10, Mediatek’s premium chipset that clock at 2GHz. Along with PowerVR G6200 GPU, 3GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, the device isn’t less than any beast. The same processor that is powering the HTC’s One M9 Plus, the Octa-core X10 is the first of the Helios series of chipsets that MediaTek has launched to compete directly with latest Snapdragon 800 series processors.
The powerhouse is optimized for incredible performance on the Amigo OS, which it delivers as advertised. I didn’t feel any lags as the Apps open swiftly, the multitasking is also quite snappy. I didn’t go easy while using it as a daily driver, whether you take gaming or heavy apps usage, the Elife E8 can take any challenge and succeed.
The experience in most of the games was smooth and without any lag, on top of that the loudspeaker was clear and has high sound intensity. You could truly enjoy the gameplay on Elife E8. But the fact that it heated quite a bit within a couple of minutes of gaming was bad. The area that is heated mostly was the Fingerprint sensor; it was almost unbearable to put the fingertip on the sensor just after the gameplay.
We tested the device for various popular benchmarks like Antutu and Vellamo. We were not surprised to see the scores for the Helios X10 processor. For Antutu, the device scored around 49500, which isn’t as great as expected from the processor. While the Vellamo scores for the browser was 2404, for Metal it was 1379 and Multicore score was 2338, among these three categories in Vellamo, the device of most of the flagships including LG G4 in Multicore score. Though, it didn’t beat the score of Samsung Galaxy S6 in the list.
The large screen allows a good browsing experience that was for sure, which we later realized was the icing on the cake. The Zoom-in and Zoom-out capabilities are amazing; moreover the screen responsiveness is quite fast. Loading the desktop version of the website is not recommended on smartphones, but Elife E8 experience is unlike any average smartphone since it has large display to showcase the whole website.
I would have liked if the menu, back, and home buttons were given on-screen because these capacitive buttons aren’t responsive at times. They demand force touch, which is not friendly at all, and they don’t have a backlit light for operations in the dark.
The ideal position for the fingerprint is on the front while these days’ companies are focused on offering the biometric sensor on the back. The Elfie E8 offers fingerprint sensor on the back of the device. While the placement may not be ideal, the feature works pretty neatly. Just tap on the sensor and you’re good to go. The sensor is present just below the camera module in a circular hole formation. You can clearly feel the depth, which is a good thing as when placed on a desk it won’t interfere with surface and thus less chance of it being damaged in prolonging use. Note you can add up to four fingerprints only.
The USP of the device are the cameras, specifically the rear camera that is of 24-megapixel and has the support of various impressive technologies such as PDAF (Phase Detection Autofocus), BSI Sensor, Ultra Pixel and much more. To aid these camera technologies, there is a dual-tone LED flash, Lossless Zoom up to 4X, Smart Scene to capture those cloudy details and a night mode for captures in low light.
We tested out the camera in various conditions such as low light, natural light, and artificial light. In all of these conditions, the camera performed pretty neatly in natural and artificial lighting conditions, but in low light it was as good as advertised. The night mode isn’t any good if you’re capturing photos in dark conditions, but instead I would suggest you go with Pro Mode or LED Flash for dark light captures.
The UltraPixel technology is just splendid, which lets you capture image sin up to 120-megapixel resolutions, i.e. 12608 x 9456. The details can’t be hidden much more in such captures. This kind of photography haven’t been achieved on the smartphone camera, Gionee becomes the first to offer such technology. While Oppo did have a technology like this but that can only offer up to 50-megapixel image resolutions. This is a just an incredible feature on the Elfie E8.
The broad daylight captures were stunning, as you could see the color reproduction to be exactly same as reality. Further, the white balance and saturation was perfect in the image outputs. Talking about the video recording options, you get a 4K video option on the Elife E8. The fact that there is no OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) support on the camera sensor is sad because the large camera is capable of recording some amazing video content.
The issue with the 4K content is that the device wasn’t able to play most of the recordings even though they were the MP4 format. We contacted the brand for this issue on the Elfie E8 and company reverted saying it might be the issue with the MediaTek Chipset, the Helios X10. Gionee has forwarded the issue with MediaTek’s Technology Team. And we should soon receive an update on this.
One more point that could have made it good was the Slow motion capture feature. While previous generation Apple iPhone with 8MP had the Slo-Mo option, Gionee couldn’t able to offer that option on their 24MP camera module, which is quite sad. We hope company consider this in future devices or if possible via an OTA update.
Talking about the front facing camera, it has an 8-megapixel camera sensor that apparently doesn’t have a wide-angle lens. We compared the front facing camera of E8 with Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and noticed the lack of wide angle lens. One could easily notice the difference as the Elife E8 fit less content on its bigger selfie camera. But don’t you worry about the quality of the selfie, it is quite good. Just take out your Elife E8 at the dinner table and try to catch all the family members in a selfie. You can read our detailed camera review of Elife E8 for further insight.
The large size comes with an advantage to the battery life, here you get the 3500mAh capacity battery, but when you compared the size to capacity ratio on Oppo R7 Plus, the device packs 4100mAh battery for same 6-inch device. Not to complain, but Gionee might have added few extra mAh to the battery. I guess that would have made it more bulky and heavier than it is at 9.6mm and 207 grams.
OTG Charging is one of the benefits of having a large battery capacity on your phone. If you like to carry a secondary phone with you, and that is running out of battery juice, then you can use the Elife E8 as the power bank to charge the secondary device. It is a quite convenient feature as you don’t necessarily have to carry a power bank all the time with you while travelling.
The standby time of the device is good, but it’s not even close to what company claims, the battery isn’t what I was expecting of the large capacity. The sole reason for quick battery life might be the 2K display, and since it has more real estate to showcase, the drain is quick. Though, it can get you through the day with average usage.I got around three and half hour of screen-on-time, which is pretty bad for such a massive capacity battery.
The device offers two power saving modes for different situations, normal power saving mode can be turned ON most of the time as it will allow power saving mode in the most efficient way without compromising the performance of the device. Whereas the Extreme mode was for when you have only a couple of percent battery juice left and wanted to keep your phone last longer than even on a normal mode. Note that in the extreme mode you’ll only able to make calls, reply to texts and see the clock. This will drastically increase the battery life. With not much good screen-on-time for a massive capacity, these power modes would be required.
The connectivity has always been the foremost part of the smartphone, every year it has been increased concerning the network speed. This year the 4G LTE has been a highlight in the country and thus a 4G enabled device is a must these days. The Elife E8 support fast 4G LTE network bands in the country, as well as other connectivity, needs including latest Wi-Fi standards, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP support and Wireless Input device in the form of casting screen to other devices.
You get the support of NFC technology and company is generous enough to provide the NFC tags on their retail units, so the users can actually make use of the NFC. India is yet to incorporate NFC payments system, but you can still have fun using the NFC tags to activate different settings according to needs.
Talking about the call quality on the device, it was pretty clear all the time when I was connected to a 4G network, there were no call drops as such to complain about. We don’t know whether the four small holes above the camera module are the microphone, which may be the reason of the top-notch call quality. Either way it was good.
The Gionee Elife E8 is your flagship device of the year? No, I wouldn’t go that far, since it lacks in some important key points that need to be present on a great flagship device. It doesn’t offer a great battery life that one would be looking forward on a massive capacity battery. The large size would have been still manageable for me, even though I don’t like to carry such heavyweight devices in my pocket.
The points that it checks out are the impressive camera package, stunning display, great speaker output and a clean UI. For only these reasons, you can invest in the Elife E8. But if you have a budget of around 35K then you can surely go with much better options like Moto X Style, Oppo R7 Plus, and Samsung Galaxy S6. The Elife E8 is not exactly the best camera phone if we take 4K video recording issue under consideration. But it does make a good case.