Gionee Elife S5.1 camera review: a decent shooter on a stylish smartphone

“The svelte Gionee Elife S5.1 rocks a decent 8MP snapper”

Thin is definitely in, and references to the Beauty and the Beast may be quite apt when talking about the super-slim Gionee Elife S5.1 (unboxing | first impressions) – the device scores very high on the oomph factor when it comes to looks. Looking quite stylish with its 5.1mm thick body and metal frame, the S5.1 is a beauty for sure, but one wonders if it can really be a beast when it comes to capabilities. Our full review will be evaluating all of that, but the first parameter on our evaluation list is the camera. Considering the device is meant for the fashion-forward crowd, it’s especially important for it to rock a capable snapper. At its rear is an 8-megapixel sensor while the front camera totes a resolution of 5-megapixels.

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The camera app is fairly minimalistic with respects to features, and doesn’t give you creative control by tweaking settings like ISO, white balance etc. However, it does offer features like an auto scene mode, HDR and panorama, along with different shooting options like a V-sign shot and smile shot. The default camera app also gives you access to CharmCam, another shooting app which is also accessible via its own separate icon. CharmCam offers various other frills to desk up your images, including a configurable make-up mode, a PPT mode, stamps and live filters. Let’s get a taste of what it can actually do.

Long shot


This Gionee Elife S5.1 camera sample shot in auto with default settings shows a crisp, sharply-focussed image with ample detail. The colours look reasonably accurate too, since the sunlight was quite bright at this time.



This close-up shot is yet another good indicator of the S5.1’s camera prowess, as it shows vivid colours and a nice depth-of-field effect in the background. The detail and focus look good too.

Close-up (zoomed in)


The same shot, when magnified, displays ample clarity and proves that the svelte Elife S5.1 is no wimp when it comes to shooting abilities, especially as far shooting in daylight is concerned.

HDR off


This lovely-looking fountain forms the perfect subject for us to test out the HDR capabilities of the Gionee S5.1. This image has been shot in auto mode to see if the HDR mode can work its magic to liven it up.

HDR on


With HDR on, the same scene looks much livelier, with different elements such as the water, the grass and the trees in the foreground looking much better than before. The darker areas around the tree leaves also look more detailed and crisper when compared to the image that was shot without HDR.

Front camera shot


The 5MP sensor at the front looks good enough for the occasional selfie, though we think the colours are a tad off the mark here. That apart, the focus and clarity seem spot on.

Night shot


Noisy? Yes. Unusable? Not at all. Shot at night to test the S5.1’s nocturnal shooting capabilities, this image shows a fair bit of noise, but reproduces the structure, foliage and shadows rather well.

Low light


To further evaluate the device’s low-light performance, we shot this image indoors in dim lighting. The noise is evident again, but the colours look decent and the details on the subject look good too. This Audi looks like it’ll be burning rubber on the road soon. 

Low light with flash


With the flash on, it looks like the Audi R8 needs a little bit of cleaning up, but at least the scene is illuminated nicely and doesn’t drown the subject too much.

Overall, the Gionee Elife S5.1 seems to offer reasonably good imaging capabilities and should be able to handle casual photography well. We’ll have more on the stylish smartphone in our full review, including a closer look at the UI and its features, the performance and the battery life. Coming up shortly.

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