Gionee S11 Lite is a good-looking smartphone.
Selfie camera performs well, but the Dual cameras do not live up to the hype
Experience is laggy because of the heavy Amigo UI
There’s certainly no dearth of competition in the budget smartphone segment. That said, among the few brands that compete for a slice of that pie, is Xiaomi with its Redmi Note 5. The device offers mid-range specifications with a premium build at an affordable price tag. Similarly, Vivo and Oppo have also taken this segment by storm in the past year.
Compared to other Chinese brands, Gionee still has a long road to cover in the Indian market. It continues to focus on its strategy of a better selfie camera and battery. Its latest smartphone, the Gionee S11 Lite seems to do just that. The device is priced at Rs 13,999, and is available via online as well as offline retail channels. I’ve spent the past two weeks with the phone and here’s my review.
Design and display
To my surprise, the Gionee S11 Lite is rather eye-catching, all thanks to the glass back. It’s not very reflective, and that’s a good thing. However, the choice of material makes it a fingerprint magnet.
Considering device launches we’re witnessing currently, it’s refreshing to see that Gionee has stuck to the basics and gone ahead without a notch. It still manages to get a 5.7-inch HD+ display, with a tall 18:9 aspect ratio and tiny bezels. The speaker grille, headphone jack and the microUSB port are all placed at the bottom of the phone. Both the Power/ Standby and the volume rocker take their place on the right side. They offer a responsive click, but are placed too close to each other. Often while trying to reduce the volume, I ended up putting the phone on standby.
The 5.7-inch IPS display offers good color reproduction, but its brightness levels could be better. On a sunny day, it looks washed-out even with brightness levels set to maximum and auto-brightness turned off. The viewing angles could certainly do better. Videos on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video appeared slightly dull, but were still enjoyable for the most part. I was a little let down to see that the phone come with HD+ resolution though. Most phones in this price range have already jumped to full HD resolution and Gionee’s display does not make the cut. This hampers the overall experience in key areas such as gaming and videos, which are critical for a smartphone these days.
The Gionee S11 Lite comes with dual cameras at the back. It comprises a 13-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor that acts as telephoto lens to provide 2X optical zoom. For selfies, you get a 16-megapixel camera at the front with an aperture of f/2.0. The camera app looks identical to the one on iOS. Camera modes include Photo, Face Beauty, Panorama, Card, Group Selfie, Time lapse and Video. Except for the Card mode, all the modes are available for both the cameras. There’s also support for HDR mode and Bokeh effect.
The dual-rear cameras takes decent images in outdoor lighting conditions. Colors look subtle and there is a fair amount of detail. However, that couldn’t be said about the images taken indoors or in low-light situations. With indoor lighting the camera struggles with White Balance. It pushes too hard and often brings in a warmish tinge on the pictures. In low-light situations, there’s way too much noise in the images, even when there is a decent amount of light around. The camera focuses quick enough, but struggles to maintain it.
The front camera on the other hand is impressive. Images look subtle and well-focused. Results with both the Beauty and the Bokeh mode were satisfying. In fact, we found the camera to be quite consistent in most lighting situations. The only complaint is that images look a bit softer. So, minute details are not captured extremely well and this is noticeable the moment you zoom into your selfies.
Performance and software
The Gionee S11 Lite comes with Android 7.1 Nougat layered with Amigo UI on top it. We aren’t big fans of the UI because it’s heavy and comes with plenty of bloatware in the form of apps that cannot be uninstalled. The UI contributes a lot to the phone’s sluggish and unresponsive behavior. Opening and closing apps takes more time than they should. There were instances where apps took almost 2 seconds to load on the screen. That kind of delay can also be seen with screen animations when going through the interface.
There is no shortage of features on the Amigo UI, but it still needs some work to make it user friendly. The settings app can be a little difficult to get around the first time. The most annoying thing about the interface is the lock screen. It presents you with a list of random news stories in the form of pictorial cards. It’s difficult to disable this feature.
The S11 Lite comes with a Snapdragon 430 octa-core SoC, running alongside 4GB of RAM. Performance with basic apps is just about decent. Apps like Facebook and Instagram always stuttered a little in the start, but ran smoothly after a while. Basic games like Mario Run and Jetpack Joyride run smoothly and look good. However, the experience with intensive games like PUBG and Asphalt 8: Airborne is really stuttery. PUBG took forever to load, especially when there were more apps loaded in the background. The game ran with low quality graphics and was difficult to play with the lag.
Watch: Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 + 5 Pro Review
The 3,300 mAh battery was easily able to last for an entire day with moderate use. That also includes playing gaming and watching videos from time-to-time on its 5.7-inch display. A lot of that credit can also be given to the HD display here. The phone also features good standby time. However, there is no fast charging support, so the phone takes 2 hours to charge completely.
The Gionee S11 Lite looks good on the outside, but past that, there’s room for improvement. The performance was below average, the interface is too laggy and the dual cameras at the back do not live up to the hype. For the price of Rs 14,000, you will definitely find better options in the market that will offer both better experience and specifications.