Gionee Elife S5.5 review: Genie in a bottle
13MP autofocus camera does OK
The Gionee Elife S5.5 camera uses a 13MP camera that shoots with a maximum resolution of 4208 x 3120 pixels. There is also a LED flash to help you with some low-light photos.
The camera interface is pretty much standard - you get three shortcuts on the left (settings, front camera switch, flash) and three controls on the right (switch to video, camera shutter, gallery).
The settings menu can be accessed either via its dedicated shortcut or with a swipe from the top of the screen. The default view has a feature-rich, yet awkward layout. It is only has a portrait orientation, which makes it even more confusing.
The topmost buttons set up geo-tagging, the shutter sound, face detection and the level meter. Resembling some real world DJ controls, the next toggle sliders allow you to adjust the resolution, white balance, exposure compensation and ISO. Next up you can set up the capture mode (Normal, Touch shot, V-sign shot, Smile shot) or set-up a self-timer interval. At the bottom there's the final rotary dial, which, much like a digicam's, sets the shooting mode (Auto, Sport, Night, HDR, or Panorama).
Thankfully, you can easily switch to a normal looking UI, but some of the manual settings are not available on this mode.
Gionee has included some nifty camera features in the Elife S5.5 via the Charm Camera app. It supports Beauty Face, Make up shot, Best Face, Eraser, Life filters, Stamps. It could have been better of all those modes were included in the standard camera app though.
The Gionee Elife S5.5 camera samples have an average level of resolved detail when viewed at 1:1 magnification - the noise reduction algorithm has taken its toll on the fine detail. The exposure, contrast and colors are good, which makes for nice looking photos when you view them fitted on a FullHD monitor.
Here are the 13MP shots we've snapped:
We've also snapped two nice sunset samples.
The HDR mode is conservative and rescues both the highlights and shadows without going to extremes, though the resolved detail is a bit lower.
Here's a test HDR shot:
The 360-degree panoramas on the Elife S5.5 turn out pretty nice but you have to pan around really slowly for the stitching to be successful and leave no artifacts. You can snap pano shots in both landscape and portrait modes, but the latter comes with higher field view and resolution.
Finally, here is a 5MP shot snapped with the wide-angle front-facing camera.
Still camera comparison
We uploaded full resolution 13MP samples to our photo quality comparison database to compare against other high-resolution smartphones. The image quality - resolved detail, noise, colors and contrast - are great, which means the closer you shoot the better quality you'll get.
Video recording done in 1080p at 30 fps
The Gionee Elife S5.5 is capable of capturing 1080p video at 24fps. The camcorder UI is similar with the still camera's.
The Elife S5.5's 1080p samples are actually quite ok. There is plenty of detail and the framerate is smooth. Colors and contrast are good as well. On the negative side, they are stored in a 3GP file container and the bitrate is as low as 14Mbps. The auto focus tends to hunt quite a bit with all those moving cars but we've seen worse.
Here's a 1080p sample, which we've uploaded on YouTube.
And here is an untouched 1080p@30fps video sample for you to download.
Video camera comparison
The Gionee Elife S5.5 captures poor 1080p videos. It manages to resolve very good detail in good light conditions, but fails to do so in the low light. There are visible artefacts on the moving objects and the low frame rate isn't helping either. But the oscillation still remains the biggest of the problems. You can hit the Play buttons on each test and check the video samples for yourself.