Back when the Elife E6 was launched, I was impressed by the gorgeous hardware and attention paid to the camera software. However, the bloated Amigo UI and slowish processor held it back from being truly great. Fast forward to today, and the Gionee Elife E7 has its chance to redeem its predecessor. Is the Elife E7 everything the E6 should have been? Find out in my hands-on review of Gionee’s newest flagship.
Build Quality and Design
The Elife E6 was a gorgeous phone, but in my opinion, the design was largely ripped off from the iPhone 5/5S. The Elife E7 has a look all its own and appears to be taller and more rectangular than the E6.
Naturally, the front is dominated by the touchscreen, but what’s so remarkable about the Elife E7 is that it has the highest screen proportion to bezel that I’ve seen on a smartphone. Its screen takes up 81% of the front of the device. In comparison, the LG G2 which has the highest screen vs bezel proportion among mainstream brands only covers 75.7%.
The Elife E7 has a very clean look from the front, especially when the capacitive navigation keys aren’t lit up. All you can see are the earpiece and front camera situated above the screen. The ambient light and proximity sensors are hardly visible.
Neither are the capacitive navigation buttons below the screen.
The micro SIM slot is on the left side of this impossibly thin-looking device.
On the right, you’ll find the slim volume rocker.
On top is the power/lock button and 3.55mm headset jack.
At the bottom is the micro USB port, microphone pinhole, and loudspeakers.
At the back is the humongous camera, LED flash, and Gionee branding toward the bottom.
Overall, the design of the Elife E7 is understated and angular, with curves in just the right places to make it easier to hold or slide into your pocket. Despite the large 5.5 inch screen size, you could easily slide the Elife E7 into some tighter men’s jeans. It’s also remarkably lightweight and is actually lighter than the Lenovo Vibe Z that we had on-hand.
The Gionee Elife E7 features a 5.5 inch low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) display with Full HD resolution (1080 x 1920). This results in a pixel density of 401ppi. Comparatively speaking, the iPhone 5S retina display has a pixel density of 326ppi. So you’re getting images that are much sharper than Apple’s offering. It’s also protected by Gorilla Glass 3, which, you know, is kind of bad-ass.
I found the Elife E7 screen to be adequately bright, however in comparison to the Lenovo Vibe Z’s IPS screen, it appeared to be less bright and the colors weren’t as vivid in comparison. LTPS is one of the newest mainstream technologies when it comes to LCD panels so it’s kind of disappointing that the Elife E7 screen would lose in a quick comparison to an IPS panel from a competitor. It could just be a calibration thing, but it was disappointing nonetheless.
The Elife E7 runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with their Amigo 2.0 UI running on top. The Amigo UI is heavily customized and is noticeably different from stock Android. Rather than the app drawer being separate from the homescreen, the homescreen IS the app drawer on the Elife E7, something that MIUI ROM users should be familiar with.
However, I found it to be a little too bloated. The Elife E7 is driven by a powerful Snapdragon 800 series processor, so any sort of lag is almost unthinkable. Yet when I tried to edit the homescreens, the transitions started to lag. If your UI starts to lag despite being rendered by a top-shelf chipset, you’re doing something wrong. Thankfully, it’s easy enough to download a slimmer third party launcher like Apex or Nova to quickly eliminate the laggy navigation.
SoC and Performance
The non-LTE variant of the Gionee Elife E7 is driven by a Qualcomm MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 SoC with a 2.2GHz quad core processor coupled with the Adreno 330 GPU. The LTE variant is powered by the MSM8974AC with each core clocked at a faster 2.5GHz.
Now that the Snapdragon 801 series has hit mainstream devices, the Elife E7’s chipset isn’t the best available out there anymore, but it will deliver more than enough performance to blow through any applications and games you would want to install. I was able to run Antutu and Nenamark on the 16GB variant with 2GB RAM and here are the results.
The Elife E7 is equipped with a 16mp autofocus rear-facing camera and 8mp front camera. The 16mp rear camera is remarkable because it also ups the pixel size to 1.34 microns. In comparison, most mainstream phones only have 13mp sensors with 1.12 micron pixels.
Other phones with large pixels are the iPhone 5S and HTC One, which have 8mp/1.5 microns and 4mp/2 micron sensors, respectively. You’ll notice that the Elife E7 has managed to increase both the resolution and micron size, whereas competitors focus on just one or the other.
The front camera is even more remarkable because it has an 8mp sensor with autofocus lens and 1.4 micron pixel size. That’s almost as good as the iPhone 5S’ rear camera, which itself is pretty awesome. Considering we’re home to the selfie capital of the world, that’s not a bad thing to have at all.
Of course, the Elife E7 doesn’t just have great cameras. It has great camera and gallery software. It has several shooting modes, which shift automatically depending on the scene and lighting conditions. The software is actually smart enough to detect and make the adjustments itself. The Panorama mode is also remarkable because it is able to save in higher resolution.
Finally, the gallery is able to intelligently organize itself according to the people who are in it. Yes, that’s right! It actually uses facial recognition to organize photos and group them together with people who have the same facial features. Creepy, yet awesome!
The Gionee Elife E7 remedies the problems of the E6 by pairing a Full HD screen with a more powerful SoC that’s actually capable of rendering their Amigo UI smoothly. There are still a few hiccups when navigating the UI, but it’s nothing a third party launcher can’t remedy.
The only problem would have to be pricing and brand recognition. For the specs, you’re getting a pretty good deal, but you’ll be shelling out Php24,500 on a non-mainstream brand, and that’s for the non-LTE variant of the Elife E7. Most people who could afford it would have no problem burning that kind of cash if it were Samsung or LG, but Gionee is a relative unknown worldwide.
Make no mistake, Gionee is hugely dominant in China and has a reputation as a premium phone brand. However, that hasn’t carried over to the Philippines just yet so even if I would easily get the Elife E7 if I could afford it, I’m not sure if anyone else would.
Gionee Elife E7 Specs
- 5.5″ Full HD LTPS display (1080 x 1920 resolution, 401ppi)
- 2.2GHz/2.5GHz quad core Snapdragon 800 SoC
- Adreno 330 GPU
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with Amigo 2.0 UI
- 2GB (16GB storage variant)/3GB RAM (32GB storage variant)
- 16GB/32GB internal storage
- 16mp rear-facing autofocus camera (1.34 micron pixel size) with LED flash
- 8mp front autofocus camera (1.4 micron pixel size)
- 4G LTE (32GB) and 3.75G (16GB/32GB) variants
- WiFi a/b/g/n/ac
- Bluetooth 4.0
- GPS with A-GPS
- FM Radio
- 2,500mAh battery
- Dimensions: 150.6 x 75.0 x 9.5mm
- Weight: 150g
- Price: Php24,500 for the 32GB non-LTE variant