No matter how much Indian smartphone market is crowded, Gionee is doing a good job and setting them apart from low-cost Indian smartphone. The Elife E6 was a huge hit & it is quite good in the market for the performance at that price range and now the company has rolled out the Elife E7. It is the first flagship smartphone that is aimed at high-end segment in the market. It is a premium smartphone and the first one to be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. The hardware specifications of the smartphone match some of the high-end phones available in the market even though the pricing is comparatively much lower. The Gionee Elife E7 powered by Snapdragon based chipset and full HD display which is supported by an excellent 16-megapixel camera and at this price range it is easily compared with devices such as Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, LG G2, LG Nexus 5. It is the second Android phone in India with 16MP primary camera, the first being the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom.
Already in previous post we shared the Gionee Elife E7 image gallery, first impressions of the device and now in this post we’re sharing the detailed review of the smartphone. So, if you are planning to purchase this smartphone, then this review will help you out in choosing the best smartphone in the sub 25,000 range.
Look and feel
At first glance, the Gionee Elife E7 looks like a taller version of the Gionee Elife E6 but on closer inspection, you’ll notice more rectangular corners, because of the absence of rounded corners. When compared with Huawei Ascend P6, the top & bottom edges are rounded off and the back of the E7 looks much similar to the Lumia 1520, especially the camera part. We’ve go the black version, which is really dark and blends nicely with the display. The whole body is made from a single block of plastic on the back & the sides while there is a sheet of glass that covers the front. For your information, the plastic has granite texture and the surface is totally flat which allows you to grip this device easily.
The front of the device is dominated by 5.5-inch Full HD (JDI) display and it is protected by the scratch resistant Gorilla Glass 3. For navigation, you get three capacitive physical keys – Menu, Home and Back and all these keys placed just below the display and the three capacitive buttons are completely invisible when not illuminated.
Above the screen, you will see only a small earpiece and the front-camera lens which is located above the display along with the sensor array. The notification and sensors are well hidden and there’s no branding on the front.
Like the most high-end phones, the E7 made up of good quality plastic (polycarbonate sheet), but sports a glossy finish curved back and I’m not fond of the glossy finish as it’s a nightmare to keep it clean. Thankfully, it doesn’t attract fingerprints and the glossy finish makes it prone to smudges, particularly in black. This is a sturdy phone and the plastic is very dense & you will feel confident that it can take a good beating.
The Gionee Elife E7 doesn’t have a removable back and the large camera lens (housing 16MP sensor) placed at the top, similar to the Lumia 1520 along with small LED flash. In addition to this, there’s Gionee branding towards the lower part of the back. The phone feels good to hold, despite the glossy back. There’s only one ugly part of the design is that, the regulatory information such as IMEI number is printed on the sticker on the lower back of the smartphone.
The placement of the keys isn’t too great when compared with other Android smartphones like the power key. The power key & 2.5mm headset jack placed left on the top. The left edge of the phone features a SIM card tray, while the volume rocker key sits along at the right edge. The micro USB port is at the bottom. The keys are made of plastic.
The battery is non-user replaceable. the phone lacks microSD card slot and there’s a pop-open tray for micro-SIM. According to dimensions, the phone is relatively thicker & heavier when compared with other phones. It measures 9.2mm thickness & weighs 150 grams and it won’t weigh you down in your pocket.
Gionee Elife E7 sports a 5.5-inch Full-HD (JDI) display that sports a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and pixel density of 401ppi. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and it offers wide-viewing angles. I found the display impressively sharp enough, images & text appearing sharp and crisp. The response to touch was spot on too and there’s a minimal bezel at the left & right side of the display panel. Overall an awesome display at this price range but it is not good as Nexus 5.
Features and software
The Gionee Elife E7 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC, clocked at 2.2GHz. The review unit which I receive, came with 16GB of built-in storage space and 2GB of RAM but there is another variant with 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM.
Like the Gionee Elife E6, the Gionee Elife E7 runs on heavily customized version of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, called Amigo 2.0, it is the second iteration of its user interface (UI) skin. It is a complete nightmare as it’s hard to use it initially, although the skin looks similar to Xiaomi’s MiUI ROM. It doesn’t feature a separate app launcher but instead the app icons are merged in the home screen just like the Apple iPhone. There is no option to have homescreen widgets here and the experience is a bit smoother than it was on the Gionee Elife E6. Even the lock screen widgets are not supported barring one made by Gionee that offers access to camera, voice recorders, flashligh and a fake call app except for a weather readout that stays permanently attached to the top of the screen.
From the lock screen, you can swipe left to show shortcuts to the camera, voice recorder, torch and “FakeCall” apps, which are all pretty handy. Tapping the FakeCall icon makes your phone ring after 15 seconds, with a totally genuine-looking caller ID screen (which shows a name you can set in advance). If you pick up this fake call, there’s even a prerecorded woman’s voice saying “Hi, can you send me the file as soon as possible, please”.
Swiping up the phone unlocks it and the icon grid just slides into view. A lot of space is wasted between the weather widget on top and clock on the bottom & there is a space for 12 icons only. You can also swipe down from any point on the icon grid to lock the phone again.
In the notification tray, you see 15 icons and the main settings app is subdivided into two sections, Common Settings and All Settings. The Common Settings are duplicated of entries in All Settings and there is no way to search the apps or settings and no quick access to Google web search.
The Elife E7 also offers ‘smart gestures’ including smart dial ( to directly dial a number displayed in a message, contact details page or call history when the phone is brought close to the ear), smart answer (answer the phone when it’s brought close to the ear), and pause alarm (when the phone is flipped).
There are few apps included like UC Browser is the default web browser, Charm Cam offers a number of filters and effects which aren’t of very high quality bit are fun to use, GioneeXender lets you create Wi-Fi mesh networks to exchange files between devices and NQ security claims to optimize your device, scan news apps and downloads, hide files and call records from spying eyes, and back up contacts.
Kingsoft Office is a fairly capable app for viewing, sharing and creating documents in the popular MS Office formats. WeChat, BBM, Facebook and Twitter are preloaded for your various social needs, as are six rather low-quality games. Many of the apps have poorly translated English labels and options, especially a trio of utilities called Phone Accelerator for cleaning the cache & closing background processes, Power Manager us used to save the battery by restricting the functions when the device has low battery percentage left and Traffic Assistant for tracking data usage.
Native apps on Gionee Elife E7 also offer extra functionality like you can put a sleep timer while using the Music app so that the phone locks automatically if you fall asleep while listening to music. You can also record phone calls, an in-built feature which most high-end Android phones don’t offer (there are third-party apps though). The video player can also be resized and can float on the screen while you can use other apps.
Gionee Elife E7 sports a 16MP rear-camera 1/1.23-inch sensor and 1.34m pixel size and an 8MP front-facing camera with 1.4m pixel size, the same as the iPhone 5’s primary camera. The Elife E7 uses OmniVision’s OV16825 camera sensor. According to Gionee, the camera lens was developed and customized based on Largan M8 lens solution. It claims that the rear camera lens is the most sensitive among all phone cameras and at this price range, that’s the highest megapixel count you get in Android.
The operational UI, is minimal, but it does have a flashy interface to go along. A swipe to your left reveals a page of dials and sliders that let you manually set modes, change white balance presets and a lot more. There are many modes including HDR, Panorama, burst mode, night, ‘V-sign’ mode. The focus speed is pretty quick but if you or your subject move even slightly, you end up with a blurry shot.
Gionee has included two custom camera apps: Camera and CharmCam. The Camera app is the primary app that lets you switch between a simple mode and a professional mode. The professional mode features settings for Picture Size, Exposure value, White Balance and ISO, in addition to toggles for self-timer, HDR, Panorama, Face detection and scene selection that are also included in the simple mode. It also allows you to take burst shots.
The other app, CharmCam, features live filters to apply effects and features various shooting modes, including Face beauty, an Eraser mode for removing objects from photos and even a PPT mode for capturing slideshows, among others.
The quality of daylight images captured outdoors was pretty good with high level of detail, accurate colour reproduction, little or no noise and good contrast. Low-light and indoor shots also came out well, though these had some noise, especially under 100% zoom.
The phone offers video recording in 1080p, 720p and 480p resolution and includes anti-shake feature. You can zoom in and out by pinching with two fingers on screen and it takes good quality video. The quality of audio is also good because of three microphones. The camera is good at locking focus and it better than the Nexus 5 camera but it can’t beat Samsung Galaxy S4 and Lumia 925 in photography department.
The front camera also offers very good picture quality but video recording is restricted to 720p only.
The Gionee Elife E7 features a custom audio & video player and the music player has limited support for codecs. You can choose the built-in presets to tweak the settings. Audio quality is pretty good via headphones but on loudspeaker it is not good and at high volumes there is severe distortion.
The video player supports 1080p pretty easy and the best thing I like about this is that, you can switch to mini mode and perform other functions while watching the video.
On Gionee Elife E7 16GB variant, you get only 7.8GB for media files and rest 5.2GB is reserved for apps.
The Gionee Elife E7 comes with usual connectivity features like Wi-Fi ‘n’, Bluetooth v4.0, GPS and NFC, USB 2.0. One last thing about connectivity is that the Gionee Elife E7 also supports Wi-Fi Direct, which is used in its own app called the Xender, which can send any file from your phone to another using the same app, over peer-to-peer Wi-Fi.
Performance wise the phone is blazing fast, apps open quickly and no issue in playing graphics-heavy games although you may notice some heating issues if you are playing for a long time. There is no problem in playing HD videos, audio quality was decent but the built-in speaker is not loud or clear. Although Gionee Elife E7 integrated DTS technology for enhance sound output. The custom Music app offers DTS effects panels and you can tweak parameters such as 3D effect, Focus, Clarity and Space Reverberation individually or just choose from five presets.
Gionee Elife E7 comes with really powerful hardware and it is powered by 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor which is coupled with Adreno 330 graphics and 2GB RAM (The 32GB storage variant of the phone has 3GB RAM). Although the phone offers great performance but the only issue is the software, i.e. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with Amigo UI.
Another impressive feature of the Gionee Elife E7 is its battery life, it packs 2,500mAh battery which is non-removable and I managed to get in an around nine hours of movie playback time and after playing games like Temple Run 2, Dead Trigger 2 and Asphalt 8 (with visual Quality set to High) there are as such no major issues.
In Gionee Elife E7 out of 16GB storage, only 8.98 GB is available to the user and the major drawback is that it does not comes with memory card. It offers connectivity options like Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi and GPS. In addition to this, it offers good call quality and signal reception and I did not encounter any major issues while making calls even. Although I faced somehow problem in making calls when I was in Goa for Gionee S5.5 launch event, as there is no such great connectivity, neither the Airtel or Vodafone works there.
The Gionee Elife E7 offer FM radio with recording capability and I’m able to play almost all popular video & audio file formats. The only niggle is here is the SIM tray mechanism is erratic somehow like Google Nexus 5. In addition to this, the biggest problem is that it shutters down when navigation between the screens.
Gionee Elife E7 packs 2500mAh non-removable battery and I managed to get pretty good backup time. In this segment, the battery capacity is lower and it lasts for around 17 hours on medium usage and on normal usage it lasts for more than a day. In addition to this, there is a power saving mode that you can manually enable it to extend the battery life. Overall looking at the phone’s screen size and processor, the battery performance is quite good.
As you have read all the good and bad things about Gionee Elife E7 and its time for final verdict whether you should buy it or not? If you are searching for a premium Android smartphone in the sub 30,000 range, then Gionee Elife E7 can’t be neglected. The 16GB version of the smartphone priced at INR 26,999 while the 32GB version priced at INR 29,999 and with such a minor price gap, I recommend you to go for more powerful 32GB version over 16GB version. Although in the same price range, you can also get the Google Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Lumia 925.
The Gionee Elife E7 is a complete package as it packs high-end hardware in an attractive form factor and offers great battery backup. The only side it lags is the firmware update & too complicated for first time user. If you talk about camera centric smartphones, then Gionee Elife E7 is best at this price point although you have Sony Xperia ZR, which is also a very good camera phone in the sub 30,000 range.
As of now, Gionee doesn’t stand a chance to compete with Samsung, Sony, Microsoft Devices (earlier Nokia), LG so spending nearly INR 30,000 will feel like a bit of risk. Another factor to consider before buying the smartphone is the after sales service. Gionee is comparatively new to India and is still in the process of consolidating its presence in the market.
In a nut shell what I like about Gionee Elife E7 is that it has fantastic camera, great screen, top-end performance & a battery that didn’t let me down.
Now, you have read the whole review and my verdict on this smartphone, now it’s your turn to buy the smartphone or not.