- 6-inch AMOLED 2K display
- MediaTek Helio X10 chipset
- Fingerprint sensor
- 24-megapixel camera
- Crisp display
- Up to 128GB of expandable storage
- Reliable battery life
- Hefty profile
- Low light camera performance could be better
- Underwhelming graphics muscle
Just last month, Gionee introduced new devices to its Elife E series, focussing on their camera and multimedia capabilities. One of these is the new Elife E8, a successor to the Elife E6 and the Elife E7. The Elife E8 boasts of a 6-inch Quad-HD AMOLED display, a fingerprint reader, and a 24-megapixel primary camera. While it looks as though Gionee has aimed the device mostly at shutterbugs what with its 24-megapixel camera, the Elife E8 also looks promising in terms of its multimedia capabilities.
Gionee touts the camera capabilities and the overall performance of the Elife E8 to justify the asking price of Rs.34,999. We took a gold-coloured variant of the Elife E8 and put it to test. Here’s what we found after using it for more than two weeks.
In terms of design, the Elife E8 certainly looks like a beastly successor to the Elife E7 - it measures and weighs a lot more than the E7. A metal frame encases the device, which along with its gold-coloured rear panel, gives the phone an elegant look. The device has curved corners and flat sides, which make the device easy to hold in hand.
Three non-backlit capacitive buttons for menu, home, and back are located below the screen. The earpiece rests at the top, along with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera and a proximity sensor. The power, volume control, and a dedicated camera button are placed on the left edge.
The Micro-USB port is situated at the bottom, whereas the 3.5mm audio port rests at the top. A fingerprint sensor rests at the back, right under the 24-megapixel camera. The removable back cover is made of plastic and it took us quite an effort to fit it in perfectly with the body. Underneath the back panel are two SIM card slots, a memory card slot and a non-removable battery.
The E8 is a hefty device at a height of 164mm and at a weight of 210g. The phone is sturdy and has a solid, premium build quality. However, such a humongous profile is a challenge to operate with a single hand and can also be quite cumbersome to fit in an average pocket. You will have to either carry it in hand or in your backpack.
Gionee has used a 6-inch AMOLED display with 1440x2560 (Ultra HD) 2K pixel resolution, which translates the screen’s pixel density to 490PPI. This results in crisp visuals. The screen produces saturated and vivid colours. Reading text on the device is a bliss, but not for long hours. The display uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3 technology to minimise scratches. The screen offers great viewing angles and produces deeper blacks due to good contrast. Legibility of text under direct sunlight is a challenge, and hence one has to bump the brightness to the highest level.
Watching Full-HD and 4K videos is sheer bliss on the screen. Although, we did feel that the colour calibration was a bit off in our unit, Gionee has offered an option to change the colour to either cooler or warmer colour tones from the Display settings.
Gionee E8 houses a 64-bit octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 chipset which clocks in at 2GHz. It’s the same chipset that is used in the HTC One M9+. To top this further, 3GB of LPDD3 RAM works closely with the chipset to ensure fluid performance. The chipset integrates a PowerVR G6200 GPU for handling the graphics. By default, Gionee offers a 64GB variant of the E8, of which 52.3GB is available to the user. But, if that isn’t enough, you can upgrade to 128GB, by using a microSD card in the memory card slot.
In this dual-SIM device, both the slots support a 4G enabled Micro-SIM card. In India though, this phone supports both the 4G frequency bands - Band 3 and Band 40. However, only one slot can support 4G-enabled SIM, while the second SIM falls back onto the 2G network.
Faster downloads are ensured by the dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Wi-Fi Direct. Other connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, GPS with A-GPS, and USB host support. The fingerprint reader at the back is a welcome change, which is fast and works as an additional security layer. The device also features the set of regular sensors such as an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a proximity sensor and a compass.
The 8-megapixel camera with autofocus rests at the front, while the 24-megapixel primary camera with a dual tone LED flash rests at the back. Although the phone packs a 3,500mAh battery, there is no Quick Charge support to charge the phone quickly.
Overall, the Elife E8 seems to have got a logical upgrade in terms of hardware. Also, the default 64GB model is a welcome change. But a faster LPDD4 RAM would’ve been more apt to ensure that the phone is capable enough of handling future software updates.
The Elife E8 boots Android 5.1 Lollipop with a layer of Gionee’s custom ROM, Amigo OS 3.1, out of the box. There’s no sight of stock Android UI in it. You can apply themes using the Theme Park app. The Chameleon App uses the primary camera to detect colours from your surrounding and lets you pick them to customize the theme of the phone.
The Amigo UI has separated the Quick Settings option from the Notifications tray. You can multitask by using the multi-window option, but there is no option to kill all the apps at once. So, you can either swipe the open apps individually or shake the phone to kill them all at once. Furthermore, the phone doesn’t slow down even if you are running more than 10 apps in the background.
The fingerprint reader is the new addition on the E8, which takes about half a minute to set up. It takes about half a second to unlock the phone, which is fairly quick. The Settings app is quite different from the usual one found on Android-based smartphones. Frequently used apps such as Display, Network, Wi-Fi, and others are shown upfront, whereas the scarcely used ones such as Smart Gestures, LED light settings, Language Input, and other settings are present in Advanced Settings option.
Yet again, Amigo OS doesn’t offer any app launcher. However, you can add the app shortcuts to folders and place it on the Home screen. That apart, we barely noticed any lag or stutter. The software is a lean and slick iteration of Android.
With its 24-megapixel primary camera, Gionee is promoting the Elife E8 as a camera centric phone. A dual tone dual-LED flash compliments the camera along with the Phase Detection Autofocus system for faster focus. The Camera app offers a variety of shooting modes such as Magic Focus, HDR, Panorama, Night, and Take Anytime (burst mode). Avid shutterbugs can enjoy more manual control by selecting the Professional mode that offers control over settings such as Focus, Shutter Speed, White Balance, ISO sensitivity and Exposure Value.
The Ultra Pixel mode is a rather interesting feature that lets one click an image in 120p, by basically stitching up five images together. Two things are worth nothing here - firstly, processing takes about half a minute, so you’ll have to hold the phone still and secondly, the resultant image is almost 20MB in terms of file size. A dedicated camera button is at hand for shooting images.
The image quality of the photos captured during the daytime was very good, had a lot of details, and the contrast was good as well. We played around with the HDR and Professional Mode to reap the best of natural sunlight. But under artificial, diffused or harsh light, the image quality suffered. The processing algorithm takes care of the exposure, but at the cost of details, sharpness and noise.
Meanwhile, the selfies and images taken using the front facing 8-megapixel managed to impress us more than the photos taken using the primary camera. The images had a good amount of details and the colours were balanced.
The primary camera can record videos in Full-HD and 4K resolution. However, we noticed some amount of jarring in the video, and also the contrast was off. The audio quality in the videos is average at best. The option to record slow-motion video was absent.
We feel that the camera app could use some tweaking to improve overall. Only then can the phone be considered capable enough to compete with top-tier camera smartphones such as the LG G4, Samsung Galaxy Note5, and iPhone 6s.
The E8 offers a dedicated music player that can play almost any audio file. The app has a built-in software equaliser which allows one to choose from different presets and pre-loaded headphone profiles. While the audio via the speaker is loud, vocals sound muddled when songs are played. However, when used with a decent pair of headphones, the sound quality is very good. A dedicated video player is also present which can easily play 4K videos effortlessly. This means, you won’t have any issues playing 1080p movies and videos, but there is no support for subtitles.
Previously, we did not have a great experience while using the HTC One M9+, which is loaded with the MediaTek Helio X10. The Elife E8, on the other hand, functions smoothly throughout. We barely noticed any stuttering.
The camera app was the only app which crashed a couple of times. In terms of call quality, the voice quality through the earpiece was quite mediocre. The area around the primary camera turned warm whenever games such as Minion Rush and Modern Combat 5 were played. It looks like the heating issues of the Helio X10 continue to exist. Adding to that, the E8’s internal design doesn’t really dissipate heat properly. In short, don’t expect a gaming performance that blows your mind on the QHD display.
We ran our usual set of benchmarks and noted that the E8 scored 55,558 points in the AnTuTu benchmark which slots it very close to the OnePlus 2. In the 3DMark suite, when we ran the Sling Shot benchmark to test the 4K gaming capabilities, the E8 crashed. But when we ran the Ice Storm Limited benchmark to test the HD gaming capabilities, the phone gave a score of 16,736 points, thereby, making this device as good as the devices from a year ago, such as the Sony Xperia Z3. In terms of the web browser testing benchmark Vellamo, the phone scored 2,595 points and stood just below the LG Nexus 5 and the Lenovo A7000.
The Elife E8 comes with a 3,520mAh battery which doesn’t offer Quick Charge support. The phone takes about two and a half hours for charging completely using a 2A charger. With an average usage involving 40 minutes-long voice calls, intermittent usage of social media apps, watching a 40-minute TV show, listening to a couple of songs, and taking a few images, the phone lasted easily for two days. Throughout this whole time, the phone was connected to a Wi-Fi network almost continuously. Clearly, the smartphone shows enough potential to handle a good amount of multimedia and still manage to run for one and a couple of hours more.
Gionee packs some competitive hardware in a sturdy body of the Elife E8. The camera and the fingerprint reader are the two redeeming features of the E8. However, the camera too struggles in low/artificial light. While the Quad-HD display generates excitement, it does so only on paper. The ability to play 4K and Full-HD videos effortlessly though, shines through. But do keep in mind that loading 4K content is likely to eat up a lot of storage space, and even the additional 128GB of storage space may not be enough for it.
Compared to its closest rivals, i.e the Motorola Moto X Style, HTC One A9, and LG Google Nexus 5X, Gionee retains the bragging rights of featuring the biggest image sensor, and a reliable battery life on the E8.
The Elife E8 is available exclusively through Snapdeal at a price of Rs.34,999. Despite its steep asking price, we feel that the Elife E8 will find its audience. With good multimedia capabilities, the Elife E8 is clearly meant for the amateur shutterbugs and multimedia enthusiasts out there.