A couple of days ago, Gionee launched their latest and greatest flagship phone in the country, promising to deliver stronger performance and increased user friendliness to exceed the needs of smartphone users.
Delivering competitive specs at a price point that is 30-40% less than brands like Samsung, HTC and LG, the Gionee Elife E6 certainly seems like a promising phone, but does it have what it takes to make a mark in the Philippine market and improve its smartphone market share on our shores? Let’s take a look.
Design and Construction
While the Gionee Elife E6 isn’t a dead ringer for the iPhone 5 or 5S, it borrows enough design cues to be iPhonesque. The phone measures just 7.7mm thin and the bezels measure just 2.74mm, allowing you to easily slip the unibody design into your pocket, despite sporting a screen that is large enough for it to be classified as a phablet. It’s clean, sleek and elegant, and comes in either Pearl White and Stunning Black color choices.
The Gionee Elife E6 features a 5″ Full HD LTPS LCD display with a monstrous pixel density of 441ppi. That kind of clarity puts it in the same group as many international flagship phones such as the Sony Xperia Z, HTC Butterfly and Samsung Galaxy S4. In addition, it’s a one glass solution that makes use of the LTPS manufacturing process so the entire screen assembly is much more compact.
However, I’m a bit puzzled that the Elife E6 variant for the Philippines didn’t come with an AMOLED screen since prior to the launch, I had read a few international blogs that reported the E6 as having an AMOLED display and not the LTPS LCD that was launched with the local variant. I’ve reached out to the PR agency that handles Gionee Philippines and will update this post when the information becomes available.
Under the hood of the Gionee Elife E6 beats a MediaTek MT6589T SoC with an overclocked PowerVR SGX 544 GPU. In case you weren’t aware, the “T” in MT6589T stands for turbo to indicate that it is the most powerful in a trio of MT6589 variants. While the extra oomph in processing power is meant for phones that have Full HD resolutions, navigating the phone’s UI in real life wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped — more on that in the Software and UI section. It’s nice that it comes with 2GB RAM for improved multitasking, but that doesn’t help improve the snappiness at all.
The Software and UI
When it comes to Custom UI skins, there are two ways phone makers go about it. They either keep customizations to a minimum, changing around only a few things such as the icon set or stock wallpapers, or they can go all Samsung in it and improve on every aspect of functionality that can be improved. Gionee apparently decided to go all out with the Amigo UI layer that is reminiscent of MIUI.
It eliminates the app drawer, allowing you to access all of your apps and widgets through any one of the homescreens despite running on top of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Similar to the Galaxy S4, there are a lot of sensor-enabled features that are designed to make interaction with the phone more natural. For example, you can gesture in front of the phone to flip through images in your gallery, flip the phone over during an alarm to enable snooze, pause videos whenever you look away from the screen and resume them when you’re looking again, and a lot more.
The Amigo UI layer is certainly polished, however the crap ton of features does lend a lot of bloat to it. The sensor-enabled features also slow the phone down enough to be noticeable. Those of you who have used a Galaxy S4 may have noticed a bit of a delay because of similar smart features, and the MT6589T SoC, while powerful, can’t be expected to do a better job than the Snapdragon 600 that’s on the Galaxy S4. Yes, the Amigo UI was pretty, functional and had enough software features to put Samsung to shame, but simple navigation through the UI wasn’t buttery smooth at all.
If you want your next smartphone to have a capable camera, the Gionee Elife 6 fits the bill with its 13mp autofocus rear-facing camera and 5mp front camera. But where its imaging prowess really shines are all the camera and post-processing tricks that have been baked into the phone.
There’s the typical HDR, Panorama, Micro and Night modes, but there’s also Smile & V detection where the camera automatically snaps a shot if it detects the subject is smiling or making a peace/V sign. Then there’s the Picture Clear feature that erases photo bombers and other unwanted distractions from the photo. Lastly, the 5mp front camera is enabled with a 12 level beauty enhancement that not only beautifies your selfies, but also allows you to adjust it so it’s just right and doesn’t look too touched up.
The Rest of the Specs
The Gionee Elife E6 also has the rest of the boring smartphone tech spec stuff covered and comes with 32GB of non-expandable internal storage, 3G/HSPA+ support, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS with A-GPS support. In addition, there’s also DTS 3D stereo for studio quality sound that allows you to enjoy movies and music just as intended. Finally, powering the entire phone is a non-removable 2,020mAh battery.
Battery life is a bit of a concern, but Gionee sense that the Elife E6 is capable of regulating apps in the background, only waking them up every ten minutes rather than keeping them running in the background when you’re not using the phone. This is said to significantly reduce power consumption and will let you go to bed and not have to lose 30% while you sleep.
I certainly had high hopes for the Gionee Elife E6 when I first heard that it would be coming to the Philippines. While I wasn’t disappointed specs-wise, I do think that the asking price of Php18,999 is a bit too much.
To be fair, it’s priced about 30-40% less than the most powerful flagship phones in the market while offering top of the line features. However at that price, people no longer think about locally branded phones like Cherry Mobile or MyPhone, or even more established international brands like Huawei and ZTE. They think about the truly established brands like Samsung or LG where paying extra for brand security is worth it.
Gionee Elife E6 Specs
- 5″ Full HD LTPS display (1080 x 1920 resolution, 441ppi)
- 1.5GHz quad core MediaTek MT6589T SoC
- PowerVR SGX544 GPU
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with Amigo UI
- 2GB RAM
- 32GB non-expandable internal storage
- 13mp autofocus rear-facing camera
- 5mp front-facing camera
- DTS 3D Stereo
- Up to 3G/HSPA+ support
- Bluetooth 4.0
- GPS with A-GPS
- 2,020mAh non-removable battery
- Price: Php18,999
To be honest, I do like the phone. It delivers competitive specs and great software features that you would typically find on phones that are several thousands of pesos more expensive. It’s just that I’m not too sure it will have very wide appeal. If Gionee had a larger local presence and better brand recognition, the Elife E6 would have a better chance of succeeding in the Philippine market. Unfortunately, I just don’t see the Gionee Elife E6 doing very well here.