- 5-inch HD Super AMOLED display
- Android 5.0 Lollipop
- 2GB of RAM
- 5,000 mAh
- Sturdy build, comfortable design
- Crisp, bright display
- Impressive battery life
- Images are mediocre in low light
- Battery takes 4 hours to charge
Gionee has extended its Marathon series of smartphones, with the new Marathon M4. This device comes as a successor to the Marathon M3, a device that at the time of its launch, had a bigger battery capacity than most other smartphones. While this line-up of Marathon phones is generally known to feature batteries with huge capacity at mid-range price point. Now with the M4, Gionee has further upped its ante for the device sports a massive 5,000mAh battery. Besides that, it also features two dual SIM slots along with 4G LTE support.
At the Rs.15,499 price point, the Marathon M4 competes with the Xioami Mi 4, OnePlus One, Samsung Galaxy J7, and Motorola Moto G (3rd Gen).
We managed to get our hands on the Marathon M4, and spent a fortnight testing its real-world performance the device. Here’s our account of what we think of this device.
The Marathon M4 comes encased in an aluminium frame which gives the phone a sturdy look. The device has a removable plastic back panel which conceals the microSD card slot, the battery and two Micro-SIM slots. At a thickness of 10.18mm, the Marathon M4 is rather chunky, and at a weight of 175g, the phone is also quite heavy to hold.
At the front is a 5-inch HD Super AMOLED display with three capacitive buttons resting below it. These buttons are not backlit. Above the the display is an earpiece, with a front-facing camera to its right, with an LED Notification light and a couple of sensors to its left. The power button and the volume control buttons are placed on the right edge. A micro-USB port, along with a microphone, is located at the bottom. The M4 however, lacks a secondary microphone for noise cancellation. A 3.5mm audio port comes at the top edge.
Underneath the plastic back panel, is the massive 5,000mAh Li-Polymer non-removable battery. The device has two dedicated slots for the Micro-SIM cards, and a slot for the microSD card.
Overall, the Marathon M4 feels good to hold in hand, despite being slightly on the heavier side. It also has a marginally more durable build quality when compared to other smartphones, at a similar price point.
Gionee uses a 5-inch Super AMOLED display, which is sharp and offers a gamut of brilliant colours. It has a pixel resolution of 720x1280, and a pixel density of 294 PPI. In comparison to the average LCD display, the colours are slightly punchier, and give a good viewing experience while watching movies and videos. The text too, appears crisp on the display. Additionally, the screen is quite responsive as well. However, the lack of Corning Gorilla Glass technology on the display makes it susceptible to scratches.
The M4 is powered by a 64-bit MediaTek MT6735 mobile chipset with a quad-core processor clocked at 1.3 GHz. The graphics are taken care of by a Mali-T720MP2 GPU. The device has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. However, you can increase the storage space using the microSD card. While on paper, the M4 supports microSD cards up to 32GB, we had no trouble using our stock 128GB Kingston Micro SD card (Class 10).
In terms of connectivity, the smartphone offers Wi-Fi a/b/g/n support along with Bluetooth v4.0, but excludes the NFC chip. The dual SIM card slots have SIM numbers clearly labelled on them. Fortunately, both the slots support 4G LTE networks for Indian bands - Band 3 (1800MHz) and Band 40 (2300MHz). However, only one of these slots can hold a 4G-capable SIM at a time.
Gionee provides a flip case, a screen guard a pair of in-ear earphones, a data cable, an OTG adapter, and a 2A power adapter in the box. The Marathon M4 is available in white and grey colour options.
The Marathon M4 boots Gionee’s Amigo 3.0 UI atop Android 5.0 Lollipop. The device does not have an app launcher, so the apps can be found spread out across the various home screens. The virtual navigation keys can be customised as per your requirement. The phone also comes with a bunch of pre-installed apps and games, most of which can be removed in case you want to create more onboard space.
While the Dialer app and the Contacts app usually appear separately on many smartphones, Gionee has integrated the Contacts app into the Dialer app, that makes it easier to make calls. The Settings app shows you a list of the frequently accessed options such as Sound, Display, Date and Time, Control Center, Location, as soon as the app launches. Options such as Smart Gestures, LED light, Storage, Language Input, Accounts are already present on the phone by default. The phone packs only six themes, and in case you want to download some more, you can always head to the Theme Store. The built-in Chameleon app works well, but fails to select accurate colours at times. The Xender app on this device is a great option to transfer data to and from other phones.
The Amigo 3.0 UI is a forked version of Android Lollipop. What this means is that Gionee has worked from ground up to create a new UI and with that, provide a new user experience. However, the UI has a few rough edges. For instance, there were a couple of spelling errors in the alert messages, the Fake Call option could not be removed, and a few options were missing in the native apps.
The Gionee Marathon M4 has an 8-megapixel rear camera with an image sensor that packs 1.4 micron pixels, and an LED flash to aid in low light conditions. The camera app offers a variety of features ranging from Beauty Mode to Picture Note. Autofocus on the camera is quick and takes only a couple of milliseconds to lock the focus.
The Take Anytime feature vaguely resembles the options on Lumia’s camera app, that include the Best Shot, Tracks, Motion Blur, Eraser, and Best Face options.
The camera is fast and shoots images with a fair amount of details, colours and contrast. The images taken in landscape mode, keeping the HDR mode on, have a very balanced output, without much noise. The low light shots though, have a good amount of noise, even when aided with flash. The front-facing 5-megapixel camera can be used for taking wide-angle selfies.
Although videos can be recorded at 1080p HD resolution, the app struggles to lock focus quickly. An Anti-Shake feature on this device, helps reduce shaky frames in a video. This feature is just a minor add-on, which cannot make up for the lack of OIS on this device. Moreover, when the Anti-Shake feature was switched on, the camera cropped the available field of view, thereby limiting the range of landscape images.
We found the camera performance to be just average when pitted against rivals such as the Mi 4 and OnePlus One.
The music player app on this device features grid-like circular buttons to navigate between various categories, such as songs, artists, folders and favourites. A ‘shake to change song’ gesture allows you to shuffle between songs by simply shaking the device. The device allows a variety of audio files to be played on it, ranging from .mp3 to .flac. You can also always use the software equalizer to change the pre-tuned settings, or choose from a list of presets such as Classic, Dance, Folk, Heavy Metal and Jazz.
The video app plays many of the popular file formats, such as .mp4 or .mkv in Full HD resolution out of the box. The app also gives you a floating window option, which minimizes the window of the video player, so that you can use other apps while watching the video at the same time. The M4 comes across as a convenient portable multimedia player.
The MediaTek MT6735 that this device uses, at least on paper, delivers the same performance as the Snapdragon 410. On this device however, the chipset easily manages to pull of the task.
The M4 managed to score 27,014 in the AnTuTu Benchmark test, which was better than what the Moto G (3rd Gen) scored. But, do take note of the fact that the Moto G (3rd Gen) has optimised its software for the chipset, so real-world usage, especially in the long-run, might be different.
We were able to play Asphalt 8: Airborne on moderate settings without any issues. A few compatibility issues occurred with Modern Combat 5, but it was still playable at low graphics settings. In terms of video playback, the phone easily manages to play 1080p HD resolution videos in the popular video formats. The Super AMOLED display offers great looking visuals. The speaker output on this device though, is not loud enough and the treble tends to sound shrill at times.
You can enjoy music on the M4, provided you have a good pair of earphones or headphones. The smartphone works well with most headsets, and is also powerful enough to drive a premium pair of earphones like the Bose QuietComfort 20. Users can enable the DTS sound for multi-channel sound experience by navigating to the settings of the Music app, and selecting from any of the predefined presets.
The voice call quality was clear, with the person on the opposite end able to hear us clearly. Although the M4 features only one microphone, it cancels out the ambient noise quite well and delivers good audio over a voice call. In terms of the software, the app download and install performance was surprisingly faster on this device when compared to other smartphones in the same price range.
The Amigo 3.0 UI is usually smooth, but tends to lag at times. However, in terms of overall usage, the Marathon M4 does manage to deliver above average performance and give good all-round experience.
Gionee packs a massive 5,000mAh Li-Polymer battery which easily runs for two days, even with heavy usage. At the end of two days, we were able to get over 10 hours of screen-on time. This was a spectacular battery performance, especially since the phone was continually connected to a a 4G LTE (on Band 40 - 2300 MHz) network for data, to a second 2G network for calling, apart from frequent usage of the camera app, some amount of gaming, an hour of watching videos and a couple of hours of listening to music.
The only demerit of this mammoth battery is its charge time. The battery takes approximately 4 hours to charge from zero percent to 100 percent, using a 2A wall charger supplied by Gionee. But, given the fact that the battery life is huge, a longer charging time is to be expected.
A Power Management feature on this phone offers two battery saver modes - Normal and Extreme. The Normal mode reverses the interface to a blue-black background instead of the white one as used in the regular mode. The Extreme mode, on the other hand, reverses the interface to grey-black. In this mode, you can access only a couple of options such as Phone, Contacts, SMS and Clock.
Needless to say, this phone offers a spectacular battery life, in comparison to other phones in this price range.
The Gionee Marathon M4 was launched in India for Rs 15,499 and now retails online as well as offline for roughly Rs 15,000. In its price range, it competes with more powerful devices such as Xiaomi Mi4, Mi 4i and Asus ZenFone 2. Had the Marathon M4 been priced a couple of thousands lesser, then it would compete with devices such as the Moto G (3rd Gen), Lenovo K3 Note, Meizu m1 and the Meizu m2 note, on the grounds of hardware and value-for-money.
The Marathon M4 scores brownie points for being a smartphone with decent performance, a decent portable media player, and a spectacular battery life. The phone supports 4G LTE network through two Micro-SIM slots and also manages to give a storage capacity up to 128GB (officially, 32 GB). The camera app also captures decent images that can be flaunted over social networks.
Several flagship devices too, fail to offer a package as the M4, usually trading a feature as important as the battery life, for other features. In a nutshell, the Gionee Marathon M4 is simply the best smartphone for anybody who needs consistent performance with an outstanding battery backup.