Gionee has been in the Indian market for about couple of years now. In this span, the company has launched devices targeting different needs of customers – for style conscious users it had S5.5 and S5.1, for power users it offered Marathon M3 and M4 whereas its flagship, Elife E7, came with the mix of top of the line hardware and software features. Though, all of these devices belonged to the budget, mid-range and higher mid-range segments. Almost two years after launching the Elife E7, Gionee launched its successor, the Elife E8, with which it has stepped in the premium territory.
Priced at Rs 34,999, the Elife E8 is the most expensive Gionee smartphone thus far, and is set to take on the likes of Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG Nexus 5X. The mantra for success in this category has primarily been a combination of quality user experience along with top of the line hardware. Gionee has tried to fill these parameters with the latest Android, 2K display, 3GB of RAM as well as a 24-megapixel camera that is capable to deliver 120-megapixel pictures. Do all these features combine to make the Gionee Elife E8 the best in the high-end category? We have spent considerable time with the new Elife E8, here’s our detailed review:
While the Gionee Elife E7 had a 5.5-inch display, the latest flagship Elife E8 has a larger screen at 6-inch, though resolution has increased to 2K from full HD. The Elife E8 is quite a good looking phone featuring metallic frame on the sides and curved corners that enhance the style quotient. Even though glass back panels are in fashion, it has a plastic removable back panel, but its quality certainly doesn’t feel cheap. The front is dominated by the display along with navigation buttons at the bottom. Volume and power buttons along with a dedicated camera button are placed on the right edge. The audio jack is mounted on top, while the base has the micro-USB port. The camera lens and flash are placed on top of the rear followed by a fingerprint scanner – similar to the recent smartphones with fingerprint scanner such as the Honor 7. Removing the back panel, the phone houses slots for dual-SIM cards (both micro SIMs) and a microSD card.
Though large screens are quite popular in India, but still they have their own set of limitations, especially when it comes to single hand usage or ease of carrying the phone in your pocket. I have been using an iPhone 6, which has a smaller display, therefore I had little bit of struggle with the big size of the Elife E8 initially. While the power button is comfortably within the reach, I had to stretch little bit for tapping the volume up button. Weighing at about 205 grams, the Elife E8 is quite heavy, which we believe is mainly because of the large 3,500mAh battery inside. The phone measures 164.0×82.28×9.6mm, which doesn’t add it to the league of slim phones either. Overall, the Elife E8 is a good looking device, and if you are already using a 5.5-inch or larger display, getting used to the form factor of the Elife E8 is perhaps not going to be very difficult unlike my case.
As mentioned earlier, the Elife E8 has a 6-inch AMOLED 2K display with Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The AMOLED display on the Elife E8 delivers vivid colors and impressive brightness level and contrast ratio. Be it watching high resolution multimedia, playing games or reading text, the experience on the phone is fluid. The adaptive brightness is quite good, delivering decent outdoor and indoor legibility. We were satisfied with the touch responsiveness.
The 2K display on the Elife E8 is complimented by Gionee’s custom Amigo UI that is based on Android Lollipop 5.1. Gionee’s Amigo UI has improved a lot over the years. During our review, the UI ran smoothly. The interface brings a range of themes, wallpaper, dynamic wallpaper among other customization. A few interesting features include display network speed, which shows network speed on the status bar; access control center from the bottom of the lock screen; smart gestures for different patterns on lock screen to access different apps; and touchless gestures that allow perform tasks such as switch to the next when viewing the image by waving the palm over the display.
Coming to one of the main highlights of the Elife E8. The 24-megapixel resolution rear camera is very impressive. It is one of the most feature rich cameras featuring Optical Image Stabilization and a slew of modes like Touch Focus, Face/Smile Detection, Panorama, HDR, Professional, Magic Focus, Face Beauty, Pic Note and Ultra Pixel, which stitches multiple images together to deliver a 120-megapixel resolution image.
In the normal mode, the camera delivered quite impressive images with appropriate balance of colors and contrast ratio. The Elife E8 thrives in good light conditions, delivering stunning detailing and depth of field. In indoors or in low-light, the camera struggles little bit with evident noise on the resultant image. However, the dual LED flash came really handy in such situation.
(click the images to see the full size images) Check out the full library here
If you want to squeeze more out of the camera, you can either switch to the HDR mode,which adds to the crispness and contrast level, or you can simply switch to Ultra Pixel mode. Image processing in both the modes is bit slow, but results are brilliant, especially in the Ultra Pixel mode. The 120-megapixel images bring more depth, and allow serious photographers to do a lot more with the image. Click here for more photos clicked from the Elife E8.
For further customization, you can switch to the Pro mode where you can adjust and control features such as focus, shutter speed and exposure. Other interesting mode of the camera is Magic Focus, allowing you to touch to focus on any part of the composition. It works better with macro shots. Ensure you have stable hands to get optimum results.
For videos, the rear lets you take 4K videos, which you can adjust in settings as it is set at 720p by default. While 4K videos are quite good, features such as timelapse and slow-motion could have been good additions. Both 1080p and 4K videos shoot at 30 fps.
Gionee’s front facing 8-megapixel camera isn’t the best front facing camera in the market but is good enough for taking decent quality selfies in good light. In low light, the camera struggles.
(Selfies with beauty mode on)
If you are shelling out over Rs 30,000 for any smartphone, you would expect top-notch performance. The Elife E8 does not disappoint on this front. Powered by MediaTek’s 2.0 GHz Helio X10 coupled with 3GB of RAM, the smartphone delivers fluid experience. Another feature that impressed us is the massive 64GB onboard storage, which is also expandable up to 128GB via microSD.
We did not come across any lag on normal usages such as browsing, emailing or streaming multimedia on the phone. It comfortably handled multitasking with 10-11 apps opened in the background. However, the smartphone heats up frequently on extended usage of apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp. We played a few graphic intensive games on the phone such as Real Racing. While the gaming on the device was smooth, longer sessions of gaming led to heating up. The 2K display makes the games look much better on the phone.
The Elife E8 joins the trend with the inclusion of the fingerprint scanner. Situated on the rear, the button is reachable within comfort. The scanner works fine and is accurate enough.
In terms of sound quality, the Elife E8 does a very decent job. While speakers are pretty average, quality via the bundled in-ear phones is quite good. Gionee gives you flexibility to customize sound with an equalizer, enable/disable DTS as well as sound modes such as Classical and Folk among others. Call quality, however, is very ordinary and we felt calls on speakerphone mode could be louder.
The battery life on the Elife E8 is pretty decent if not very impressive. We managed to squeeze a full day life from the 3,500 mAh battery on normal usage that includes extended usage of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and messengers such as Slack and WhatsApp, roughly 30 minutes of gaming, streaming from YouTube, browsing Internet and then active Gmail in the background. However, you can most probably have more battery life on moderate usage.
As said earlier, Gionee is eyeing the top-tier segment with its latest flagship smartphone. The smartphone does hit all the right notes for a premium segment, especially the 2K display and 24-megapixel camera. However, the large 6-inch screen and relatively heavy form factor may not impress those who like the smaller sized smartphones. Moreover, the price at Rs 34,999 could be an issue for the Elife E8 as it steps in the territory of premium smartphones where the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S6, Motorola Moto X Style and the recently launched LG Nexus 5X are better smartphones in almost every aspect. In fact, Apple’s iPhone 6 is now selling for about Rs 40,000 online.
Without taking credit away from Gionee’s efforts to establish itself in the Indian market, it will be tough to convince new users to pay premium for a Gionee phone over established ones such as Samsung, Motorola and Apple. Had Gionee attempted to target the mid-range category with such hardware and software features, where customers are more willing to experiment, the verdict would have been more on positive side.