When we received our review unit of Gionee’s Elife S5.5 (featured here) – awarded as the “World’s Slimmest Smartphone” by CBS Interactive ZOL – I excitedly volunteered to put the phone through our two week, real world trial. The morning after I took it home, I resisted the urge to willy-nilly rip open the box and play with the beaut so that you, dear reader, can have the pleasure of creating your own first impressions. Ladies and gents, here is the unboxing of the Gionee Elife S5.5.
To start us off, the box! (lol)
The box feels and looks premium, with the whole thing sprayed in shiny white. It’s a rightful container for a flagship.
Sliding the top part of the box off, we see the smartphone itself covered in protective plastic. Before going into the nitty gritty, let’s see what that tab near the phone is…
Oh, look! It’s the phone’s peripherals. You have your standard micro USB cable, adaptor, and in-ear headphones with a flat and (supposedly) tangle-free cable.
There’s also the user guide and warranty card. Unless you’re the kind who throws their phone around like a rag doll, you’d be hard-pressed to find a use for it as the S5.5 is built to be extremely durable with 98% metal and Corning Gorilla Glass 3. As for the user guide, those who actually read these things, raise your hand!
I was surprised to find these things in the box. The pin for opening the microSIM SHOULD be there, but I don’t know if the USB On-The-Go (OTG) cable, protective flip case, and front and back screen protectors are standard fare for all purchases.
And finally we have…
Here’s the smartphone itself, with the sticker showing some of its specs. Let’s peel it off, shall we? *awesome feeling of that sticker coming off*
Here it is in my hand. Just as advertised, it’s really thin and really light. That doesn’t mean though that it is flimsy. In fact, it feels very premium and solid, with just the right amount of heft to make you remember that you’re actually holding a real phone and not a toy.
The micro USB slot sits alone on the top; volume rocker and power button is on its left side; 3.5mm socket and microphone pinhole is on the phone’s bottom; and the right side houses the microSIM tray. Occupying the front is the phone’s 5-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen with a 1080×1920 resolution and pixel density of 441ppi. Below it are the menu, home, and back capacitive buttons. On top of the screen is the promity sensor, call speaker, and 5MP ultra-wide angle front camera. At the back is the primary 13MP snapper with autofocus and LED flash.
To drive the phone’s thinness even harder, here are some pictures of the Elife S5.5 besides and on top of my ZTE Grand X Quad V987.
Moving away from the nice aesthetics, let’s checkout how the phone runs. Spec-wise, the phone sports a MediaTek 1.7GHz Cortex A-7 quad-core processor, Mali-450MP4 GPU, and 2GB of RAM – all being powered by the 2300mAh battery. It comes equipped with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean out of the box. On paper, this should equate to smooth operation and blazing fast performance that lasts for more than an entire day.
Time to see the innards in action. Booting up saw Gionee’s logo on screen in flashy-dazzy effects and took 20 seconds. A bit long, but meh. It’s not like you’d be turning this thing on and off very often.
Disclaimer: I’m a vanilla Android junkie. I love the straightforwardness and no-nonsense aspect of the whole UI. I don’t appreciate bloatware or heavy modifications. I’d choose a mid-spec’d vanilla Android over a beastly, too-customized OS any day.
I’d make an exception for the ELife S5.5 though because everything just works. The lockscreen is basic and tells you everything you need to know: time, date, day, and any notifications. Swiping right leads to a widget which gives quick access to the camera, audio recorder, torch (flashlight), and even a fake phone call. Swiping down from the status bar shows your notifications, and if there are none, to quick settings.
There is no app drawer button here. Instead, all preinstalled and downloaded apps will immediately appear on the infinite scrolling home screen. There’s not much unnecessary bloatware cluttering up the screen. In fact, I appreciated some of the apps the phone shipped with, like NQ Mobile Security, WeChat, and for the quick texters out there, Swiftkey. Overall, it’s a slimmed down and further simplified Android interface.
After the UI, what’s the next logical phone feature to checkout? That’s right! The camera! In these times, playing with a phone wouldn’t be complete without messing with its camera and taking vanity shots.
I was very impressed with the phone’s front camera. The 5MP make was a pleasure to take selfies with, producing pictures that could’ve passed as shots from a mid-tier phone’s primary snapper. The ultra-wide angle lens means you and your friends don’t have to squish together uncomfortably for a group selfie.
The primary camera is likewise a pleaser. In well-lit conditions, colors came out sharp and accurate and are fit for printing and social media uploads. Colors were a bit dim and washed out in overcast and dull lighting, though. But that’s a problem most cameras suffer from.
I ran the phone through AnTuTu Benchmark to see how fast and powerful the phone is compared to other flagships. It scored a very impressive 28,493, meaning that you’d need to simultaneously play a couple of HD games, watch a few HD videos, and perform some other high-requirement task to see significant slowdown. Head to head with other phones, it ranks…
…right up there with the flagships of other brands.
Given its spectacular performance during my initial time with it, I think the Elife S5.5 will be a great companion for the next two weeks. I’m very thrilled to put this slim and premium smartphone through the abuses my previous mobiles went through. (lol)
Watch out for the full review of Gionee’s Elife S5.5 in Gadgets’ September issue!