Gionee announced the Elife S5.5 last month at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona and claimed it to be the world’s slimmest phone. Priced at Rs 22, 999, the phone will be available on shelves from April 27. The device was launched in China on March 18 and announced in India on March 31. India is one of the 40 countries where the phone is being launched and it is the second most prioritized country after China, to which the manufacturer belongs. The company president, William Lu, has said India is an important market for them at the time of making the announcement.
Mr. Lu has also said that the company constantly endeavours to bring in new technology always. Arvind Vohra, Gionee India Head has stated that the company has seen an increase in popularity within a year of beginning operation in India. It has experienced unprecedented growth especially with the ELIFE series.
The company started its operations in India in March 2013 and has so far done over Rs 500 crores worth of business. The company has a target turnover of Rs 2500 crore by the end of 2014-15 financial year. So far, the company has launched 14 mobile handsets in the country and 11 of them are smartphones. The number of service centres will also be increased to 750 from 400 by the end of fiscal year 2015. A budget of Rs 150 crore has been set aside for marketing and brand building, as stated by Mr Arvind Vohra.
The company targets states such as Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab as its market and wants to woo crowds in the metros as well.
Globally, Gionee earned revenues worth $2.5 billion globally by selling 24 million handsets over the world last year. Of the 24 million handsets sold, a million were in India. For this year, the company targets to sell 35 million handsets globally of which 6 million will be in India. Gionee is ranked 10th among the shareholders of smartphones markets and is slated to break into top 5 within the next 5 years. It was the ODM or original device manufacturer for several Indian brands and made a foray directly into the market in the 2013’s first quarter.
The launch event took place in Goa where the firm claimed that the ELIFE S5.5 was the best engineered product. The first impressions of the product are not too bad and they do not spell the final verdict for the phone.
Design, Build and Display
The thick metal chassis feels and looks premium while the display unit has been made with corning gorilla glass. The display unit is Super Amoled and is fully HD. The tactile feedbacks on power and volume rockers are good. Both the buttons have been placed along the left panel. The similar positions of the two buttons are good for single handed operations. The USB charging point and 3.5mm jack have been placed on top.
The back and front glass covering is quite similar to what has been noted on the Nexus 4. However, all this is held in aluminium metal chasses with an ultra slim body of 5.5mm. The phone weighs 130 grams which is a little more than what the iPhone 5S weighs (112g). The right panel of the phone has a SIM card slot close to the top and is covered with rubber. The first look of the design and build is quite impressive.
The display unit is 5 inch long and fully HD. It has a pixel density of 441ppi. The display unit offers good viewing angles and is not very reflective. Texts look sharp and colour reproduction is quite precise. The display unit may turn out to be a strong point for the device.
The device performed well for video playbacks although reproduction of sound was not very good. With sound modulation, the body vibrates a little which can be quite annoying.
An octa core processor that clocks speed of 1.7 GHz is being used in the phone. The battery used in it will be 2,300 mAh although it will be upgraded to 2460 mAh in the next upgrade of the phone. The Elife S5.5 shall also support HSPA+42MBPS in 6 different band sets which would allow it to function in most WCDMA 3G coverage areas.
Until you hold it in your hands, it would be difficult to believe that the maker managed to squeeze in a 13MP primary camera and a 5MP secondary camera in the 5.5mm thick aluminium metal body. The LED flash on the back camera however is not blended in completely with the back cover and it protrudes outwards slightly.
The placement of the edges is a little uncomfortable as users may get their fingers in the frame while holding the camera. Even though the camera is yet to be tested at length, the 13MP shooter offers an average performance.
Software Used on the Phone
The ELIFE S5.5 uses Android Jelly Bean or 4.2 as the base and the Amigo UI is the customized skin for it. The feel of the software is similar to that of the Elife E7 although the company claims it is an improvement over the previous model. Further inspection is required to tell the difference between the two softwares. It should be notified beforehand that the ELIFE E7 has its own share of problems to deal with.
During the course of first impressions, there were no problems with the software although the phone heated up a bit. The performance of the software is yet to be tested fully.
The company is taking the Indian market very seriously as it has 2 to 4 percent of its sales being generated here. The company plans to distribute the phones through 25,000 centres. It has no intention of tying up with large online retailers unless the companies decide to sell the phone at MOP. Moreover, it does not intend to drop the prices of phones that Sony and Samsung do quickly after a launch. This will help to build brand value.