Gionee Elife S7 Review – Finally Style Meets Solid Performance with An Eye for Details
[dropcap]G[/dropcap]ionee is a unique company in its own right and are known for their flaunting, be it the way they design their phones or the event that is organized for a launch and why not, the company recently stated that they’ve made huge leaps in terms of sales and profits. Gionee has different buckets for different phones it brings out and one such bucket is for STLYE where the word “sexy” is showered with no pull back and we now bring you the detailed review of their latest phone is the Elife S category – the S7.
Box Contents –
- Elife S7 phone
- USB cable
- Charging adaptor
- In the ear handsfree
- One translucent back case
- One flip case
- Two sets of screen protectors (front)
- Two sets of screen protectors (read)
- OTG USB cable
- User guide and Warranty card
That is quite a lot in the box! The good thing about this is that one wouldn’t have to hunt down for the specific screen protectors and cases when it comes with the box and what more, in case of Gionee, all the goodies in the box have been of top notch quality.
Elife S7 Photo Gallery –
Style and Build:
When we talk about phones in their detailed reviews or first impressions we start off with the Design and Build section but since this is the latest phone in the Gionee Elife S series we love to take it up a notch and called it the Style and Build and embed the design aspects into this. The S7 is so good, sexy, elegant, shiny and well built that we have to take you through a detailed tour
The shape of the phone is a simple rectangle with well finished, rounded edges and doesn’t have any unique feature or a brand logo that will instantly remind you of the Sony Xperia phones! The phone has an icon look – a dual U shaped rim that goes all around the phone that will remind you of the railway tracks. These are built of high quality aviation grade metal alloy and help in easily gripping the phone coming with a 5.2 inch screen that has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection on both the sides! So expect a glossy and slippery back that may slip off your hands but thanks to the dual rim and the case that comes along, the phone feels pretty comfortable to hold.
To the right side are neatly placed power and volume rockers, again built off good metal and provide the right amount of tactile feedback which actually goes missing in most of the phones while they try to cut down on the costs. On the other side is a neatly concealed dual micro-sim tray. Taking this off will have one just gaping at it as its really well made. Look carefully and it would even tell you what side is up and request you to handle with care (there are tons of complaints when people try to insert sims into the phones). This is easily one of the best SIM trays we’ve seen in the recent past. The ones on the Xiaomi Mi4 and Mi4i are below mediocre while the one on the OnePlus One is made of plastic. At the bottom again is a set of well concealed slots – the one for 3.5mm audio jack, speaker grille and the micro USB charging port. The metallic dual rim runs all around the phone and yet Gionee has taken so much care in crafting the slots so well that you can hardly tell of their existence from a distance with the black color phone. On the back is the 13MP rear camera with a single LED flash and the Gionee logo shining away! On the front is the 8MP camera, LED notification light and there are no capacitive buttons.
Coming at just 5.5mm thick and weighing just 126.5gms, the S7 is a peach to hold and work with.The elegant combo of smooth black edges in matte finish with the shiny parallel metal lines appears stunning from most angles. Everything feels so right and we will not be wrong if we tell you it get you going WOOOOW!, especially if you were to pick the black color.
Under the hood powerhouse:
Elife S7 is powered by a 1.7GHz octa-core MediaTek 6752 SoC with integrated Mali-T760MP2 graphics – while the majority of the world is still going nuts over the Qualcomm processors, Gionee has chosen Mediatek and the one here is one of the BEST that Mediatek has produced and hence no need to feel inferior. Accompanying it is 2GB RAM and a 16GB flash memory. Sadly there is no option to increase the memory via a micro SD card but thankfully Gionee has provided the OTG support and like mentioned before the box has a Micro-USB-to-USB converter that will come handy.
The S7 gets is charge from a 2,700mAh battery and we always wonder how Gionee packs such great capacity batteries into their slim phones. Its probably one of the reasons why they cant fit a slot for additional memory on the PCB.
S7 comes with a 5.2 inch screen packing 424 pixels per inch and helping the Full HD display is the SUPER AMOLED screen with Gorilla Glass 3 protection – that is one power packed screen! We’ve always enjoyed the screens on the Samsung flagships and that is the same experience we’ve had here. The display is bright, vibrant, with good color reproduction and decent viewing angles. The visibility in direct sunlight is also very good under appropriate brightness level. The device has on-screen navigation keys and you’ve the option to move back key to either right or left. In display settings, there are options such as Adaptive brighness and Economical backlight that adapts backlight automatically to save power. Those bored with the default font can easily switch between the 10 pre-installed fonts and even change their size. Comes with 3 screen effect modes – Neutral, cool and warm color for user convenience.
The smart window flip case that comes along is made of faux-leather with real stitching on the edges that looks premium. The case with a window cut out displays the time, weather, notifications, etc. and intelligently wakes up/ locks the phone as you flip the case.
Hello Amigo! – the user experience:
Gionee has loaded the S7 with the all new Amigo UI 3.0 built off Android Lollipop. It is colourful, vibrant, lag free, butter smooth transitions and simply too good to believe that Amigo UI has finally reached a stage where we can call it FULLY BAKED! All the previous versions were so jerky and naive that the OS came off as untested and half baked – not the case now. Lets looks at where the Amigo UI has improved:
Android Lollipop – no lagging behind this time. Amigo UI comes with the latest Lollipop and claims to have made full use of the features in terms of enhancing battery life, security and all round performance.
Rock solid, stable and little light – Overall OS is vibrant yet gotten rid of the juvenile look it had before. Icons are well crafted and flattened, transitions are smooth, layouts are well placed, fonts are good and have good readability.
Themes – there are as many as 6 themes and most of them are unique rather than just a change in colors and icons. Each theme is unique and you will get some time to used to each of them and its a FUN experience! We simply loved it. This is where Gionee has finally started showing us they can get original and creative.
No FCs or crashes – this was a major concern in all of the previous versions. Random app crashes, force closes and random reboots. In our usage of this phone for almost 2 weeks not a single issue encountered thus inducing the faith that its a stable OS finally. No one wants to see FCs all over the pace. Yureka and OnePlus One did come with the popular Cyanogen OS but it had so many bugs that it frustrated the users and we’ve seen the wrath of it.
Creative apps – so there is this app called Chameleon that lets you choose a color via the camera and it automatically chooses colors and applies it to the theme! It was such a fun moment when we used this for the first time and literally felt like a kid in the candy store. Gionee has managed to impress and amaze us with these now – kudos.
Extras – there is the ability to record calls, turn on lock screen with a simple swipe down on home screen, double-tap to wake up screen, and tons of smart gestures are included. One can schedule power on/off, set the notifications priority, manage specific app permissions and prohibit mobile network usage for desired applications.
Having said all that, we will want to nitpick about certain aspects of the Amigo UI where Gionee can bring in improvements.
Tons of preloaded apps – There are tons of preloaded apps and this eats up the phone’s memory. This is bad given the fact the S7 has no option for additional memory and it also affects the performance. The users will have to manually review and delete the unwanted apps which is a pain at times. Having got a new phone, one would want to set things up and not knock things out!
Tiny quirks – the options toggle menu is brought up from a bottom up swipe. This is really awkward as almost everyone is used to having the notifications and the toggle menu coming from the top. And since this took us a while to discover! However, swipe up for quick settings is useful in a way as one can easily access them with one hand without reaching at the utmost top.
So having been thoroughly impressed by the all new Amigo UI 3.0, here is how the S7 performed across various departments:
Gaming – a very good processor with a 2GB RAM was no problem for the S7 when we threw games like the Asphalt 8, Mortal Kombat X, Leo’s Fortune and likes. We did not observe any lags or jerks but if there were 2-3 apps open in the background then after a while there were fraction-of-a-second stutters in the gaming. Closing all the other apps resolved the issue. The back of the device did get warmed up with elongated periods of gaming but that was expected with the Gorilla Glass protection. But there was no discomforting overheating at all.
Call quality and signal reception – no complaints again! Signal reception was far better than the ones we’ve seen in S5.5 or the S5.1. Although there were couple of call drops in the two weeks that we used and one of them was during transit so we cannot completely blame the phone. Overall no issue here – calls come loud, clear and crisp. If you were to use the in-the-box earphones, the experience would improve a bit as it comes with a good microphone.
Benchmarks – S7 scored a whooping 46k+ score in the AnTuTu benchmarks clearly indicating its not a midget when it comes to performance though holding a Mediatek processor. Anything above 40+ is a decent phone for gaming and butter smooth performance.
Battery life – Super AMOLED screen, 424 ppi, custom skin that is so vibrant and has transitions, all of these would hint towards a huge challenge for the battery to deliver a decent battery life. Guess what, we consistently got something close to 5-6 hours of screen-on time every time! Simply a champ in this department. There were no tweaks made at all. Normal day to day usage of couple of hours on calls, 3G data switch ON all thru and few hours of whatsapping and browsing and listening to some music and also 50-100 clicks on the camera. This is not a light usage and the S7 still stood up to the test. The Elife S7 had no battery discharge while it was in standby mode for 5 hrs during night. Impressive!
Sound – The loud speaker cased at the bottom side deserves a mention. The bottom placement of the speaker grille is apparently borrowed from iPhone 6 but it’s certainly the best placement besides the front facing one seen on HTC. The speaker sounds pretty loud with a good sound quality and fortunately you won’t miss any calls while the phone is placed on a flat surface, a common problem seen on phones with rear facing speakers. The overall music experience on S7 is satisfactory.
13MP + 8MP is the camera duo on the S7 and apart from the Xiaomi Mi4 we’ve not seen any phone come with this combination! And though Gionee hasn’t bragged much about the makers of the lens, the S7 delivers a stunning performance on the camera.
The rear shooter is snappy and decent enough in locking the focus. Processing too is quick and no lags even when we tried the HDR mode. Thanks to the options rich camera app that lets you toggle across various options including the manual mode that will remind you of the Nokia Camera app on the Lumia series. The app is simple and all the basic options are right there in the landing screen. 4 colorful rectangles sit at the left hand bottom corner that will bring up the options.
S7 handles the depth of field and the exposure really well and is on par with the shots we’ve seen on the OnePlus One and the Mi4i, hence daylight pictures are no problem. Panorama mode does the right kinda sticking and takes some stunning shots. Close up shots too came good but one gripe here was that one had to be extremely still to get the right shot else it introduced blur. We cannot complain much as there is no dedicated macro mode or image stabilization. The S7 does struggle in the low light conditions though it tries really hard but I guess we are spoilt so much after seeing what the Lumia flagships did! The 8MP front shooter takes stunning selfies and nothing at all to complain here.
The photos posses natural colors and good amount of details such that zooming in lets you see smallest of the elements in the picture. The Magic focus camera mode works practically where one can choose a specific focus area after taking the shot. It supports video recording in 1080p at 30fps but slo-mo option is missing. Below are various camera samples taken in different conditions with the S7. Do check ’em out!
Elife S7 Camera Samples –
Tip – To view photos in full size, right-click on an image and select ‘Open image in new tab’ while viewing it in lightbox image viewer.
What We Liked:
- Style and build quality
- Amigo UI 3.0
- Battery life
- Goodies in the box
- Camera duo in the day light
What We Did Not Like:
- Low light camera performance
- UI quirks mentioned
Gionee has got almost everything right with the Elife S7 – the style, the build, the finish, the software, the performance and left us with very little space to complain! We cannot be more pleased to see how much progress Gionee has made in terms of putting all the hard work and bring out lots of originality in this phone for which no price can be tagged. Speaking of price, the S7 comes at 23-25K INR depending on the store you buy and at first sight comes off as costly. Immediate choices would be the OnePlus One and the Mi4 but both the phones are no where near the S7 when it comes to style. S7 is on par with the camera performance too but may be the 1GB less RAM and processor could be its weak points. But it all boils down to one’s preference – if you’re looking for a handy, stylish phone with a solid software and wicked awesome camera, go get one S7! But if you are someone who goes by the ROI on the price then go for the OnePlus One or the Mi4 or one of the Zenfone 2.