Battery life on smartphones has been a major pain point in the last few years, so much so that Chinese smartphone maker Gionee has an entire Marathon Series of smartphones just to tackle it. The entire series has phones with not less than 4000mAh of battery packed into them and as a result, offer phenomenal battery life. Their latest smartphone, the Marathon M5 Plus is the best that the Marathon series has to offer with a lot of features crammed in. We did a quick preview of the phone with its initial impressions here, and now follows the full review.
The first thing to strike about the phone is the sheer size of the device. The original M5 was bulkier in comparison but for the Plus Gionee slimmed it down by reducing the size of the battery a little. That said, the design of the phone is roughly the same but now it’s nice and comfortable to hold.
The big size impression that the phone projects is primarily because of its huge 6-inch display up front. It is an AMOLED panel with a Full HD resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. This big screen high-resolution display manages to put out a pixel density of 368 PPI which is good if not great. The display gets 2.5D glass on the front that gives it a premium look. The Marathon M5 was a little smaller at 5.5 inches and was a little chunky to hold. The Plus, on the other hand, is slimmer and longer making it a bit of an act to balance it. Even if you’ve used big phones in the past, you’ll still need some time getting used to the dimensions of the M5 Plus. The smartphone has a metal back that encompasses the new Gionee logo, the 13-megapixel camera, and the single LED flash. There are two plastic caps at the top and bottom which look like an eyesore on an otherwise brilliant design.
Using the phone
Looking at the internals, the M5 Plus is powered by a MediaTek MT6753 processor and has 3GB of RAM on board. Now this is the same processor offered in the Coolpad Note 3 and the Note 3 Plus which is available at half the price, maybe actually even lesser. The performance is good for an average user and while our use we did not find lags or stutters. Heavy games will take slightly longer to load while the 8 cores work in tandem to load all the resources. The 3GB of RAM helps in multitasking and you can easily switch between a few apps without closing any.
The M5 Plus comes loaded with Android 5.1 Lollipop with Gionee’s Amigo UI on top of it. The UI does not have an app drawer and every installed app is available directly on the home screen. Gionee has used a slightly different method to get to the quick shortcuts pane. While most smartphones use a pull down from the top approach, on the Gionee it needs to be pulled up from the bottom. This approach takes multiple attempts, especially when watching video on the smartphone. That aside, the UI is smooth and has improved a little from what we have seen before. One of the coolest features of the UI is the Chameleon app. This app uses the camera to capture a picture and then allows you to pick colors from it for the theme.
The camera on the phone is a 13-megapixel shooter with an f2.0 aperture and has Phase Detection AutoFocus built in. The camera only gets a single LED flash at the back and no dual LED or Dual Tone LED goodness.
There are lots of modes to choose from while clicking images and if you know your stuff, there is a professional mode to take total command of the camera. That said, the images the camera produces is good though the one produced indoor lighting has some digital noise. The camera on the front is a 5-megapixel sensor that can be used for those quick selfies.
Coming to the highlight of the phone, the battery life. The phone has a massive battery and as a result, can go on for long durations of time without needing a top-up. The processor isn’t power hungry to drain the battery either and what you get is tons of battery life. With my kind of usage which was more of social media and less of calls, the phone lasted for 2 days without the need to plug it into the charger. But when it finally did, it took quite some time to get the smartphone charged up. Gionee provides a 5V 2A charger in the box which is good, but considering the size of the battery it still takes a while to top it up completely.
Talking about topping up, the memory would take the same amount of time as it comes with 64GB of internal storage by default. And when that runs out there is a MicroSD card slot that accepts cards up to 128GB. The Marathon M5 Plus is a Dual SIM device and has 2 Micro SIM slots. The Marathon M5 is VoLTE enabled and works flawlessly on the Reliance Jio network. Calls were clearly audible and had no drops when we tested it.
The Marathon M5 Plus is a big battery smartphone and has a long lasting battery but sadly that’s where it ends for this smartphone. The pricing that Gionee has opted for was the final nail in the coffin. Priced at Rs 26,000 it demands a lot of money for what it can offer. Phones like the Redmi Note 3 and the LeEco Le 2 offer a whole lot more for a fraction of the price. And what makes it really hard for the M5 Plus is the OnePlus 3 that is priced at Rs 27,000. Yes, the OnePlus 3 does not have a huge battery but the Dash charger it comes bundled with more than makes up for it. If you are in the market for that budget, the Gionee M5 Plus falls flat on its face. We would rather recommend the OnePlus 3.
The contribution of Aditya Shenoy of Pricebaba.com, is acknowledged.