The S5.5 belongs to the S series of Gionee, the Chinese smartphone maker that’s making headlines every time it launches a handset. The S series stands for Slim smartphones and we can expect more sleek phones from Gionee in the future. As of now the S5.5 is the only offering from Gionee and it stands out in the market amazingly.
The Gionee Elife S5.5 holds the tag of being the slimmest smartphone in the world. The S5.5 in the name actually denotes the thickness of the phone. Yes its just 5.5mm thick and feels nice to hold. The phone has a unibody design made out of Magnesium Alloy and the device is covered with Gorilla Glass both at the front and the back. The build quality is top-notch and there are very few devices in this price range that will feel as premium as it does. The official website of Gionee at the moment states only two colour options, Black and White, but the promos had shown more colour options.
The top and bottom of the device is tapered and feels good to hold. On the front the device sports a 5 inch Full-HD Super AMOLED display and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera capable of 1080p video. This camera has a 95 degree ultra-wide angle lens and makes clicking group shots and selfies easier. The glass at the back has the Gionee branding in landscape, it has a 13MP camera with a flash and a secondary microphone for noise cancelling and video recording. Looking at the sides, the right side has the SIM slot. The left side bears the volume button and the power button, which is unconventional. The top of the phone has the microUSB slot for charging and data syncing. The bottom has the 3.5 mm headphone jack with the microphone next to it.
On the inside the device is powered by a MediaTek Octa-core processor with each core clocked at 1.7 GHz and a Mali-450 GPU. There’s 2GB of RAM with 16GB of onboard storage. This hardware is fueled by a 2300mAh non-removable battery.
The device is comfortable in hand and easy to slide in and out of the pocket. The phone runs Gionee’s Amigo 2.0 UI on top of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean out of the box. The OS is outdated at this point of time as other phones launch with 4.4 KitKat directly. But fortunately, Gionee has just released the Android 4.4 KitKat update for this phone. The UI is simple and easy to use but does not have an app drawer that Android users might be used to. All the apps are available on the home screen and this might confuse people who are used to the typical Android interfaces (where you can put app shortcuts on the homescreens and there’s a separate app drawer).
The UI has used very vibrant colours for icons. Plus, the AMOLED display really make the colours pop. The phone instead of on-screen buttons has capacitive touch buttons below the display and they are arranged differently than most Android phones. One problem we noticed with the buttons was that the backlight switches off after a fixed time interval even with the display on. The backlight comes on only after the buttons are touched and finding the buttons in darkness is a pain.
The Full-HD AMOLED display has a pixel density of 441 PPI. The display is super sharp and has good viewing angles. The brightness can be adjusted even with auto brightness enabled (much like iOS) and this helps the user fine tune the display to their liking. We loved the display and think this is among the best displays out there for a smartphone in general. Video playback support is good out of the box and we faced no problems playing different formats.
Speaking about the camera, there is also a shortcut to launch the camera directly from the lockscreen. The interface is very interactive with a button to toggle advanced mode for users who want to capture the perfect shot. The basic interface set to auto mode should be good for most users. The camera clicks good images with a bit of noise in the image. But the downside is the noticeable lag in the framerate of the viewfinder; that can hamper the photo-taking experience.
Music playback is good and the speaker is average, the music player has an option to switch on DTS. This enhances the music experience on both the speaker and the headphone. The bundled headphones are the In-Ear type with an in-line microphone, but sadly we couldn’t find interchangeable tips. The headphone has flat cables which translates to less chances of tangling. The sound quality of the headphones are strictly decent and thats all there is to say.
The phone comes with 16GB of internal storage with approximately 11.8GB for user storage. The storage is limited and cannot be increased as there are no card slots available on the device. It isn’t a deal breaker since about 12GB of storage should be enough for most, unless of course you are the kind that like to tank up their phone with content (or too lazy to back it up).
The battery is a 2300mAh unit which might have been compromised to keep the size of the phone down. Gionee has thought about it and has given battery saving modes to help the battery last longer. The charger provides quick charge by charging at 1000mA so the phone charges fast.
One of the cool feature given on the phone is fake call and it can be accessed using the lock screen; a feature we haven’t seen in most other phones.
To conclude the device at this price point offers a brilliant display and premium build quality; the only downers for us is the lag in the camera. The price of the Gionee S5.5 in India is around Rs. 21000.
Written by Aditya Shenoy | Associate Editor at Pricebaba.com