Gionee Elife S5.1 first Impressions: lighter and slimmer but not necessarily better

“With its all metal and glass construction, the Gionee Elife S5.1 feels sturdy and has a premium appeal to it while sporting an ultra lightweight profile”

Update (Nov 25th): The smartphone has been launched in the country, and it’s powered by 1.7GHz octa-core processor (MediaTek MT6592) instead of 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset.

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Gionee is planning to announce the launch of its latest and the most stylish Android smartphone, the Elife S5.1 in the Indian market soon. The Elife S5.1 is the successor to the Elife S5.5 (review | FAQs) that, until last year held the crown for being the slimmest Android smartphone in the world. The company tried to reclaim that title with the Elife 5.1 as well, but the Oppo R5 (first impressions) with its 4.85mm slim body managed to steal that title from the company. But despite the fact that the Elife S5.1 is the second slimmest Android smartphone in existence, the device has now been targeted at the masses carrying a mellow set of hardware specification and a much improved display, which leads us in believing that the device would be priced competitively amongst the slew of mid-ranged Android smartphones in the Indian market today. Meanwhile, as the company gears up for the launch of its slimmest Android smartphone, we managed to get a sneak preview of this device and here is what we have to say.

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The first thing we noticed after holding the device in our hands for the first time is that the Elife S5.1 is an equally impressive device as its predecessor and the designers have managed to keep it sturdy while having being able to reduce the weight of the device considerably. We are yet to get the official weight of the device but from our experience the device weighs under 120 grams which for a glass sandwich design is great. Similar to the S5.5, the S5.1 also gets its name in sync with overall thickness which is 5.15 mm. Unlike its predecessor which had a slight protrusion on the back for accommodating the 13-megapixel camera, the S5.1 offers a less powerful 8-megapixel camera which the company has managed to fit in nicely in the device without spoiling the design at all and therefore you get a device with uniform thickness overall.

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At the front, the handset gets the usual three-button interface with the use of three capacitive touch keys. On the left hand side, it sports hardware keys for volume control and power/standby function. There is no official word on the use of Gorilla glass at the back but the glass used seems to offer good resistance against scratches. In terms of ports, the phone gets all usual ports including a USB and the 3.5mm audio connector as well, which surprisingly is missing in the world’s slimmest phone, the Oppo R5

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Other than the slim body, the Elife S5.1 features a low weight as well, which can be attributed towards a better metal alloy which offer better durability while helping in keeping the overall weight of the device low. In addition, the device has been made available in a range of colours, with rounded edges which have been sand blasted for better look and feel as well. The sand-blasted finish offers a comparatively rougher edge that also promotes better grip, quite essential for a device which has a glass-based construction.

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Along with the new design, the S5.1 also adopts a new display which now features a Super AMOLED technology. As compared to IPS displays, Super AMOLED is certainly better and offers much more vibrant colours, though the resolution of the display has been reduced from a full HD to 720p. But the quality offered is still good and the 4.8-inch screen size does offer good viewing angles and ample brightness to tackle bright outdoor conditions easily.

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On the hardware front, the device features a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor coupled with 1GB of RAM. Now this is one area which has received maximum reduction and it is evident with the application load times and multitasking performance as well. We would not call the device slow, but it lacks the zippiness which we have experienced with the Elife S5.5 earlier. In addition to that, the phone gets 16GB of storage which is non-expandable. However, as an addition the new S5.1 now comes with support for 4G/LTE networks and the device would be supporting Indian LTE frequencies as well.

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Last but not the least, the new smartphone now features a lower camera resolution with an 8-megapixel camera at the back while the front camera resolution remains the same. Along with the lowered resolution the camera now supports video recording in 720p resolution only on both the front as well as the rear cameras. To power the device, the company has used a 2,100mAh lithium polymer battery pack which is likely to give it a day’s worth of usage. However, we’ll have more on the specifics of the device in the full review which we will be bringing in the coming days.

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As a smartphone the Gionee Elife S5.1 is superb in the way it looks and the way it attracts attention. The design is both functional as well as durable and even through the specifications have gone down a bit, the experience has not been adversely affected. However, the pricing in this would be critical before we can have a final say on the smartphone.

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