When Gionee invited to us for the launch of Gionee Elife S5.5 to Goa, we had very little clue of what awaited it. The launch event was a party unlike any other we had attended. The event was a perfect opportunity for a lot of us to get personal and interact with people whom we have so far interacted online only. At the end of the day, as much as we enjoyed the event, there was a product released and that definitely merited more attention than the glitzy evenings.
The Gionee Elife S5.5 is the world’s slimmest smartphone measuring hair thin at 5.5 mm. Yes, that is hair thin in the world of smartphones at least in 2014. We spent a good 20-25 minutes playing with the device in what was perhaps one of the best demo arrangements we have seen in last few years of covering tech so thumbs up to team Gionee for that. We had not experienced the device till we finally got our hands on it after the launch but were skeptical of the build quality after the price of the device was announced to be Rs 22,999. However, those were laid to rest very quickly the moment we held the device in our hands.
We used the black review unit and fell in love with the glass and metal sandwich build of the phone. The only concern we have with the glass on the back is how tough it is given we have experienced devices like Nexus 4 and iPhone 4/4s shattering from the back with a similar build quality. Gionee did tell us that the phone was tested to take minor falls from decent height and has enough resistance to take average falls. If ever there was a device that needed to be touched and felt to know how well it is built, then Gionee S5.5 would be very close to the top of that list. The phone is available in five different colors of which have been derived from certain features of places in the world, for example, the black is derived from the night of LA.
The OS skin on the device remains the Amigo 2.0 and its a gripe we have had since the Elife E7. The experience on the S5.5 is a lot smoother and we kind of liked the new condensed font on the device. As much as we liked the build of the device, it is the colored chamfers that really had us in split thought. We liked the way it looks, but how well it will stand the test of the time is a million dollar question. Even the likes of HTC M7 had issues with the chamfer holding up, and given the various colours the device is available, we are not sure if minor dents would show up as the color peels away from top of the naked metal underneath. Apart from that, the device also has the thinnest .6mm PCB board which adds to the thin profile of the phone.
The camera on the phone is a 13 MP rear shooter and a 5 MP front cam with a 95 degree view for covering a larger selfie frame. We took a couple of test shots on the device especially trying things out like Macro shooting and the shots looked pretty good at least on the screen as we were unable to check them out on a higher res display on laptops. The Camera UI is very much like how it was on the Elife 7 and the much spoken about professional mode is present. The other features are present in “Charm Camera”, stuff like footprint mode, meeting mode etc, all of which we have seen on the E7. The processor on the Gionee S5.5 is the Mediatek MT-6592 Octa Core 1.7 GHz Cortex A7 which in our little time with the device performed well. There was no lag which we could observe in regular things like scrolling and opening apps, however, a more concrete conclusion on this could only be made once we have used the phone for an extended period of time. The multitasking windows in the S5.5 though have been changed to a more vertical placement of apps as compared to the stock Android like horizontal arrangement we have seen previously on E5.5.
The 1080 P 5 inch screen on the phone is gorgeous. The viewing angles were good and colour production was natural and looked good. It is a Super AMOLED Full HD panel with 441 pip, which is indeed an interesting choice as the Elife E7 had an LCD panel. The device is launched with Android 4.2 and we could not get a word for the updates from Gionee team. Apart from this, rest of the general stuff is pretty much standard with support for OTG, Micro USB 2.0, WiFi Display and a 2300 mAh non removable battery. We could obviously not test the battery enough, but do feel for a Full HD display of that size, it may fall a bit short. We will have more on the Elife S5.5 when we get the device for review, so do stay tuned for that.