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Gionee M6, M6 Plus: Hands on and first impressions

The new Gionee M6 and M6 Plus smartphones feature on-device data encryption chip and massive batteries up to 6,020mAh. We go hands on with both smartphones to take a closer look at them.

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Gionee, with its M-series, has focused on smartphones with massive batteries. Late last year, the company launched the M5 and the M5 Plus with massive batteries up to 6,020mAh. Now, at its event in China yesterday, Gionee launched two new smartphones – the M6 and the M6 Plus. Besides upgraded hardware and massive batteries, this time around, Gionee has also focused on making the data on your smartphone secure by using an on device data encryption chip. We were at the launch event in Beijing, China, and after spending some time with both the smartphones, here are our first impressions. 

The M6 will set you back by RMB 2,699 (Rs 27,200 approximately) for the 64GB variant, and RMB 2,899 (Rs 29,200 approximately) for the 128GB variant. The M6 Plus, on the other hand, will set you back by RMB 2,999 (Rs 30,200 approximately) for the 64GB variant, and RMB 3,199 (Rs 32,200 approximately) for the 128GB variant. While these smartphones will go on sale starting August 13 in China, there’s no word on the Indian availability yet.

Gionee M6, M6 Plus design and build

Unlike the M5 and M5 Plus, Gionee has tried to bring some uniformity with the M6 and M6 Plus. Be it the form factor or the hardware that both smartphones run on, there are hardly any differences between the two. To begin with, both smartphones feature a metal unibody design with chamfered edges on the sides.

Up front, the Gionee M6 features a 5.5-inch full HD (1080p) AMOLED display with 2.5D curved glass, whereas the M6 Plus flaunts a 6-inch full HD (1080p) AMOLED display. The screen is pretty bright and offers a good color reproduction. However, we couldn’t take it under direct sunlight to test its sunlight legibility. Above the screen you have the selfie camera, sensor and earpiece, whereas the physical home button, back and menu buttons are placed below the screen. The physical home button also doubles as a fingerprint scanner for biometric authentication, something that was present in the M5 Plus, but absent from the M5.

The microSD card tray, volume rocker and the power / sleep button are placed on the right edge, whereas the dual SIM card slot tray is on the left edge. The top has the 3.5mm audio jack and an IR blaster to let you control your audio and video devices such as TVs, Hi-Fi systems and more, whereas the bottom has the microUSB port.

Now, on the M6 Plus, Gionee has got rid of the 3.5mm audio jack, instead, the audio is routed via Bluetooth or micro-USB cable. The move is not surprising considering that Apple is rumored to do away with the 3.5mm audio port on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, whereas LeEco has already done that with its Le 2, Le 2 Pro and Le Max2, where audio is routed via the USB Type-C port. However, Gionee opting for a micro-USB port is something that doesn’t quite make sense to me. Ideally, they could have opted for USB Type-C port as it is now close to getting mainstream.

gionee-m6-m6-plus-hands-on-4Turn to the back, and you have the camera module, LED flash with Gionee’s new logo below it. The antenna bands running along the top and bottom are also clearly visible. The camera module also has a slight bump and the lens is surrounded with concentric circle pattern, adding up to its aesthetics.

On the whole, Gionee has done a good work with the design of both the smartphones. Also, despite packing such large batteries, Gionee has done a commendable job to keep them sleek and slim. Both smartphones are well built, and feels solid and sturdy too.

Gionee M6, M6 Plus specifications

The Gionee M6 and M6 Plus are powered by MediaTek’s 64-bit Helio P10 octa-core SoC and paired with 4GB of RAM. However, there is a slight difference in clock speed – the M6 is clocked at 1.8GHz, whereas the M6 Plus is clocked at 2GHz. Now, I don’t really get why Gionee went ahead with Helio P10 when there are alternatives such as the Helio X10, X20, X25 or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 650 or Snapdragon 652. In fact, the OnePlus 2 and LeEco Le Max2, both of which are similarly priced as the Gionee M6 and M6 Plus are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 SoC with up to 6GB of RAM.

On the storage front, you get 64GB and 128GB onboard storage options, with a microSD card slot that supports further expansion up to 128GB. On the connectivity front, you get dual SIM 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth, GPS and microUSB port. Armed with 5,000mAh and 6,020mAh batteries, Gionee has also included 9V/2A dual-charge chip for fast charging along with reverse charging feature – meaning you use your phone as a power bank to charge other devices.

For shutterbugs, the M6 sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with PDAF and single LED flash, whereas the M6 Plus comes with a slightly higher resolution 16-megapixel rear camera with PDAF and dual tone dual LED flash. For selfie lovers, both smartphones pack an 8-megapixel front facing camera. We did click a few photos from the smartphones at the event, and camera quality looked pretty good. However, we will reserve our judgment until we review the smartphones.

On device data encryption chip

One of the key highlights of the M6 and M6 Plus is the on device encryption chip that adds an extra layer of hardware based security over the usual fingerprint scanner. With integrated security measures, the encryption chip covers RAM, ROM and eFlash (operating system) to ensure that the authentication and encryption related information remains within the chip. While bypassing encryption on software level is easy, the on device encryption chip will prevent hackers from gaining control over your data, Gionee says.

gionee-m6-m6-plus-hands-on-3Also, if the chip suffers from any external damage, the hacker won’t be able to decrypt the encrypted data. This hardware based encryption chip will safeguard all your data including call records, photos, notes, documents and more. Unfortunately, the feature is China specific and in regions such as India, users will only get data protection in the form of a fingerprint scanner. Gionee’s William Lu went ahead to clarify that due to the regulatory restrictions in India and lack of required government approvals, the feature won’t make it to the Indian markets.

Gionee M6, M6 Plus operating system and performance

Both smartphones run on Amigo OS 3.2 based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The UI is pretty simple with no app drawer – all installed apps appear on different home screens. The interface was pretty smooth and during our 15 minutes usage, we did not notice any lag or stuttering. However, with limited number of apps installed on the device, we could not test the smartphones by playing games or doing some multi tasking on it.

Final words

Overall, both the M6 and M6 Plus come with a good design, sleek body and sturdy build quality. Gionee has packed in good amount of RAM and onboard storage options along with massive batteries. However, one of the key features of the smartphones, on-device data encryption chip, won’t be supported in India. Also, with approximate price ranging between Rs 27,200 to Rs 32,200, the addition of Helio P10 cannot justify its hefty price tag. It is will likely face fierce competition from the likes of OnePlus 3, LeEco Le Max2, Xiaomi Redmi Note and Mi 5 are available approximately in the same price range. Now it remains to be seen how the smartphones perform in real work usage, which we will only come to know when we review them. Stay tuned.

Disclaimer: Gionee paid for our stay and travel for the M6, M6 Plus launch event in Beijing.

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