Gionee ELife S5.1 review: Thin, thinner, thinnest

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New Delhi | Updated: December 18, 2014 8:50 AM

While Gionee is pushing the boundaries of smartphone slimness, how good is the ELife S5.1 as a phone?

ELife S5.1, at a thickness of 5.1 mm, is one of the slimmest smartphones in the world. Gionee claims it has been crowned the world's slimmest phone by Guinness World Records.ELife S5.1, at a thickness of 5.1 mm, is one of the slimmest smartphones in the world. Gionee claims it has been crowned the world’s slimmest phone by Guinness World Records.

Last week, over a corporate lunch with a few business leaders in Delhi, I noticed some of them eyeing my smartphone. Minutes later, one of them approached me and asked, “Which phone is this? It looks slimmer than my new iPhone 6.”

The Gionee ELife S5.1, at a thickness of 5.1 mm, indeed is one of the slimmest smartphones in the world. In fact, Gionee claims that the ELife S5.1 has been crowned the world’s slimmest phone by Guinness World Records. Ultra-slim it certainly is, but how good is the ELife S5.1 as a phone?

First, the looks. The phone is absolutely stunning, its finish is exemplary, and some may even mistake the ELife S5.1 for some future Apple device! A complete metal frame with curved edges give it a superior grip, and its front and rear are strengthened with Gorilla Glass 3. At 97.5 gm, the ELife S5.1 is very light too. The 4.8-inch HD 1280 x 720 super Amoled display screen is just the right size and very bright. The capacitive buttons are located under the screen and are quite responsive. The power and volume rocker buttons are on the left edge, and the micro-SIM card slot is on the right. The available colours right now are white, black, blue and pink. Although the phone does look a bit fragile, but in reality it is quite a sturdy device.

The ELife S5.5 runs on the 1.7 GHz Octa Core processor supported by 1 GB of RAM together with 16 GB of built-in storage (but the storage is non-expandable—perhaps in such a slim device there was no space for a memory card slot). The handset runs Android OS, v4.4 (KitKat) with Gionee’s Amigo 2.0 UI. A nice and useful touch is the Wet Hands Mode, where the touch responds even when operated with wet hands. Other features include an 8-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and 2050 mAh battery. The rear camera is not the best in business—while it does produce decent images for you to share on social networking sites, the images are not good enough to take large-sized prints. However, the camera is very functional and allows you to take panorama shots (both horizontal and vertical), it gets the face detection and geo-tagging features, it can click 20 photos in one command, there is LED flash for low-light support, and it also gets features such as gesture shot and smile shot. Further, the front camera is great for selfies and also for video-chat. A very cute feature is the CharmCam, an app, which gives you various shooting mode options. (But one of the best Gionee camera phones, undoubtedly, remains the ELife S5.5, which is also one of the slimmest phones in the world.)

As far as playback is concerned, the phone comes equipped with ear phones which produce great sound. However, if you are watching a movie or a TV show on loudspeaker, the results are mediocre. The 2050 mAh battery, surprisingly, lasts long for its specifications. On a particular weekend, I watched a three-hour movie, browsed the web for an hour, took about 100 photos, shot a 15-minute video, and used the phone for a couple of hours of voice calling, and the battery lasted me more than a day.

As far as outright performance is concerned, there are instances when the phone hangs a bit, like when you open multiple apps. But overall the phone doesn’t disappoint you—we loved playing Temple Run for long hours and didn’t encounter any lag. To our surprise, the phone didn’t heat up even when using multiple apps. Mention must be made of the ELife S5.1’s network connectivity, which is quite good. In fact, we did a lot of voice-calling in the underground stations of Delhi Metro and barely encountered call drops.

What works the best for this phone is its price. For R18,999, the ELife S5.1 is a decent buy. Moreover, the kind of attention it receives is priceless. There are two things I wished the ELife S5.1 had: better rear camera and a micro-SD card slot to increase storage.


* Dimensions: 139.8 x 67.5 x 5.15 mm
* Screen: 4.8-inch (1280 x 720 pixels) AMOLED display
* Processor: 1.7 GHz Octa Core
* Memory: 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB internal storage
* Operating system: Android v4.4 (KitKat)
* Camera: 8 MP (front); 5 MP (rear)
* Battery: 2050 mAh
* Weight: 97.5 gm

Estimated street price: Rs 18,999

(Chinese phone maker Vivo this week introduced in Indian market the X5Max, which reportedly measures 4.75 mm in thickness, but it costs a lot more, Rs 32,980.)

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