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Gionee M6 and M6 Plus first impressions: the smartphones with 'never say die' attitude

|July 27, 2016 |Android Phones, Android, First impressions, Gionee

“The M6 packs a beefy 5,000mAh battery, while the M6 Plus has even larger 6,020mAh pack”

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Gionee has made a name for itself for offering phones with long-lasting batteries under its ‘Marathon’ series. Unlike many other battery-centric options, the phones in the Marathon lineup aim to offer capacious batteries along with decent specs, making them capable all-rounders. The same ideology continues with the latest devices in the range, aptly christened the M6 and M6 Plus. The phones were announced at an event in Beijing yesterday, and we were able to get up close and personal with them during the launch. So without further ado, here are our first impressions of the Gionee Marathon M6 and M6 Plus.

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As their names suggest, the M6 Plus is a beefier sibling of the M6, with few differences between the two, such as different screen sizes, battery capacities, and the camera sensor. Otherwise, both of them are quite similar.

The Gionee Marathon M6 and M6 Plus fall in the phablet league thanks to their 5.5-inches and 6-inches displays respectively. Similar to the Marathon M5 Plus (review), the successors are crafted out of metal and feature unibody constructions. However, what’s notable is their sleek designs and lightweight build, which defies their size.

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With a thin frame of 8.2mm, the Marathon M6 nestles in the hand perfectly and we were able to use it single-handedly with ease. Its bigger sibling too can be held comfortably with one hand, though for tasks like typing you’d require both hands owing to its large 6-inch display.

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Dominating the proceedings up front on both the Gionee Marathon M6 and M6 Plus are the 2.5D display panels, which are accompanied by sensors, earpieces and front-facing snappers above and rows of capacitive keys at the bottom. The navigation buttons follow the standard Android layout and seem to be inspired by the Korean giant Samsung, with the physical oblong-shaped home button flanked by an overview key and the back key. The home button also doubles up as a fingerprint scanner.

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Coming to the sides, both the power toggle along with the volume buttons and the ejectable slot for holding two micro-SIM cards can be found on the right spine. The left edge also has an ejectable slot which accepts a microSD card. The 3.5mm audio socket and an IR blaster is available up top on the Gionee Marathon M6. Strangely though, the audio socket is MIA on the M6 Plus, and it only has an IR emitter at the top. At the base, both phones have micro-USB ports sandwiched between precision-grilled holes. While the retail packaging of the M6 will have standard earphones, its sibling would be bundled with micro-USB earphones.

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At the back, the primary camera module is present along with the secondary microphone and a dual-LED flash. Gionee’s new logo can also be found beneath them along with its branding further below. The camera unit juts out slightly. The devices will be available in gold and grey options, and look beautiful and premium. However, what breaks the gorgeous design is the antenna bands on the top and bottom. The dual curves at the rear also help in the ergonomic handling of the phones.

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Both the phones feature AMOLED panels with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. The displays are absolutely stunning with crisp text and saturated colours. The viewing angles are quite wide and brightness levels are adequate too.

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Like all Gionee devices, both the Marathon M6 and M6 Plus feature the brand’s custom skin Amigo v3.2, which is based on the latest build of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The UI brings a multitude of features and options. It supports various gestures like double-tap-to-wake-up and screen-off gestures which lets you draw certain characters to launch various apps straight from standby. You can also enable the suspended button, which offers a floating icon on all the screens, letting you access voice control, one-hand mode, lock the display or jump to the homescreen. It’s particularly useful in the Marathon M6 Plus.

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Similar to all Android devices, swiping down from the top display the notification shade, but the quick toggles are available when you swipe up from the bottom. This also adds to the usability as you can access the toggles with a single hand easily. The phones also come with a multi-window feature, although the support of apps is only limited to the WeChat, browser, and calculator.

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Powering the show on both the Gionee Marathon M6 and M6 Plus is MediaTek’s octa-core Helio P10 chipset, which is coupled with 4GB of RAM. The processor is mid-range, but since it’s combined with ample RAM, the phablets should be able to handle everything thrown at them with ease. During our brief session, there was no trace of lag, though we’ll reserve our comments till the time we review them. While our demo units offered 64 gigs of internal memory, the devices will also be available with 128GB of storage on board. You can also extend the storage further up to 128GB with the help of a microSD card.

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For imaging, the M6 features a 13-megapixel Sony IMX258 sensor at the back, while its sibling gets a 16-meg snapper. Both the rear cameras support PDAF technology  are supplemented by a dual-tone LED flash. For selfies, both phones flaunt 8MP cameras at the front. The camera interface is minimal, yet is packed with options. You can enable various live filters such as B&W, Memory, etc. or modes like Panorama, HDR, Time Lapse and GIF animation. Sadly though, the phones miss out on 4K video recording or slow-mo videos, which are becoming popular these days. The camera seems to shoot decent pictures, but we’ll like to play with the devices more before reaching a conclusion about their camera quality.

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With the 4,000mAh battery capacity becoming a norm, the Gionee Marathon M6 goes a step ahead by offering a battery rated at 5,000mAh. Its bigger sibling, the M6 Plus draws juice from a larger 6,020mAh unit. The brand claims that both phones should be able to last up to two days even with heavy usage. You can also make use of battery-saving modes to extend the battery life further.

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Another highlight of the Gionee Marathon M6 and M6 Plus is the promise of excellent security, thanks to a dedicated encryption chip. The chip protects all your data on the phones, and there are also various features like Private line, which ensures that there’s no eavesdropping while you are on a call. Sadly due to regulatory hurdles, this encryption chip won’t be available in Indian units, otherwise this would have been a great option for corporates. The company also claims that the fingerprint security on the devices is foolproof too.

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The Gionee Marathon M6 and M6 Plus are capable smartphones, with powerful batteries and decent hardware specifications. However, pricing is the most crucial aspect of the purchasing decision, and that’s where it gets difficult for the phablets. While their Indian pricing hasn’t been revealed yet, the Chinese pricing of the M6 starts at 2,699 RMB (approximately Rs 27,000) and M6 Plus starts at 2,999 RMB (roughly Rs 30,000), which is quite high. The competition is quite stiff for one, but the kind of hardware the phones are offering is available for a lower price in other smartphones too. The Marathon M6 and M6 Plus are expected to land in India before Diwali, and we are certain that if priced aggressively, they can prove to be worthy deals.

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Disclosure: This writer is in Beijing on Gionee India’s invitation



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