Gionee Elife S5.5 review: Genie in a bottle

GSMArena team, 27 June 2014.
Pages: «12345678910»

Tags: Gionee, Android

Unboxing the Gionee Elife S5.5

The Gionee Elife S5.5 comes in a lofty cardboard box packing a bigger than usual set of accessories. Our unit came wrapped in a gold flip case that doubles as a stand. The downside is the flip case gets attached using a strip of double-sided adhesive so it's not something that you would be putting on and off your phone that frequently. Also, the case will make your Gionee Elife S5.5 thicker.

Gionee Elife S5.5 Gionee Elife S5.5 Gionee Elife S5.5 Gionee Elife S5.5
The Elife S5.5 flip case

The retail box contains a pretty much mandatory charger and a USB cable. You will also find an in-ear headset, a SIM ejection tool, a microUSB to USB adapter enabling USB OTG and USB Host, and four screen protectors - two for each glass-covered side of the Elife S5.5. The protectors even come with microfiber cloths.

Gionee Elife S5.5 Gionee Elife S5.5
The retail package

Some research revealed the Gionee Elife S5.5's set of accessories varies across markets. There is a different, even bigger retail box, which omits the flip cover, but contains a transparent rubber bumper and extra charger plugs instead.

Gionee Elife S5.5 360-degree view

The Elife S5.5 stands at 145.1 x 70.2 x 5.5mm and weighs just 129g - incredibly light and thin for a 5" flagship, but seemingly taller for this screen size. The phone is built around a magnesium alloy frame with Gorilla Glass on both the front and rear.

Design and build quality

The Gionee Elife S5.5 is one of the best looking phones we've handled in quite a while. The dual-glass design was pioneered by the iconic iPhone 4 and the Xperia Z lineup is another prime example. The Elife S5.5 is by no mean worse at that, even next to such dignitaries.

Gionee Elife S5.5 Gionee Elife S5.5 Gionee Elife S5.5
Gionee Elife S5.5

Sheets of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 cover the entire front and rear of the Gionee Elife S5.5. They are pressure-resistant but can eventually get scratched with prolonged use. That's why Gionee is supplying protectors in the retail box.

The Elife S5.5's frame is molded out of magnesium alloy, light and strong. The strong metallic frame and the thin Super AMOLED panel have helped Gionee claim the world's slimmest smartphone title for their Elife 5.5.

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The iPhone 5s laid on the Elife S5.5 • the chamfered edges

The bold angular shape and the flat sides are the perfect match for a body this slim. Good thing the Gionee Elife S5.5 didn't try too hard to mirror the iPhone with its rounded corners. We feared a glass-covered device - and super slim at that - would be nearly impossible to hold securely. Of course, there are phones offering a better grip but the Elife is no worse than an Xperia Z.

The unibody has ruled out a removable battery, but it was probably their only choice aiming for a profile this slim. With a 5.0" screen, the Gionee Elife S5.5 is by no means a small device but the ultra-slim unibody feels refined and solid, yet surprisingly light. All bits fit perfectly together in a nearly seamless design and there are no cheap-looking accents whatsoever.

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Handling the Elife S5.5

The Gionee Elife S5.5 feels amazing in the hand, especially considering its size. The white glass-clad back is nice but slippery - the extra slim body helps single-handed use in portrait but, regardless of the ample space above and below the screen, the landscape hold isn't as secure and comfortable. You risk covering the single rear loudspeaker too. Overall though, we think the handling issues are easy to live with in a phone which looks that good.

Display

The Gionee Elife S5.5 has a 5" Super AMOLED screen of 1080p resolution and 441ppi. It uses the same panel as the Galaxy S4 - at least in terms of visual qualities. It's bright, with even backlighting, low reflectivity and great contrast.

Gionee Elife S5.5
The 5" 1080p SuperAMOLED display

Another underlying similarity is the PenTile matrix with a diamond arrangement. The diamond layout will make sure there are no visible artifacts and, with pixel density north of 400ppi, you can't take away points for sharpness either.

Gionee Elife S5.5
Gionee Elife S5.5 and Samsung Galaxy S4 screens up close

The color rendering is great with punchy colors typical of AMOLED screens. There are no dedicated color saturation modes though as on the Galaxy flagships.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Gionee Elife S5.5 0 178 0 330
Samsung Galaxy S4 0 201 0 404
Samsung Galaxy S5 0 274 0 529
HTC One (M8) 0.20 245 1219 0.46 577 1256
LG G2 0.10 149 1522 0.45 667 1495
LG G3 0.14 109 763 0.72 570 789
Sony Xperia Z2 - - - 0.41 488 1195
Sony Xperia Z1 - - - 0.38 580 1513
Oppo Find 7a 0.33 280 842 0.68 580 852
Apple iPhone 5 0.13 200 1490 0.48 640 1320

Since it's a Super AMOLED display, the stellar contrast should hardly surprise. The sunlight legibility is great too helped by the non-reflective screen.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.970
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.950
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.790
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • LG G3
    1.820
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.740
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.680
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Samsung Galaxy Core LTE
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • HTC Desire C
    1.300
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.270
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.180
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114
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