Gionee Elife S5.5 review: slim can be powerful

“The world’s slimmest Android smartphone comes with a host of exciting features and superb styling that can cause envy”

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In the world of Android smartphones, slimness is the new buzzword. Most device makers are today looking at making their devices slimmer and lightweight. Gionee, which is relatively a new player in the Android smartphone market in India, recently announced the launch of the Elife S5.5 Android smartphone. The Gionee Elife S5.5 flaunts an ultra-slim body bearing an overall thickness of just about 5.5mm, making it the slimmest Android smartphone in the world. Its anorexia doesn’t mean it’s a wimp though, as it packs in loaded specs and features in its svelte body. Interested in knowing more about this device? Let’s dive in to the detailed review of the Gionee Elife S5.5.

Specs at a glance

  • 5-inch, 1,080 x 1,920 pixel display
  • 1.7GHz, true octa-core MediaTek processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage, USB OTG
  • 13-megapixel AF camera
  • 5-megapixel FF front camera
  • 3G, supports single-SIM only
  • Bluetooth 4.0, GPS
  • 2,300mAh battery
  • 5.5mm overall thickness

Attention to the detail for good looks

One of the first things that anyone would notice about the Gionee Elife S5.5 is the unique slimness around which Gionee has created the whole device. The device adopts a glass sandwich design, much like the Apple iPhone… only much slimmer. Along with the glass, the company has made use of a special metal alloy in fabrication that imparts low weight and high strength to the device.

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In the look and feel department, the Gionee Elife S5.5 gets full marks; however, the feel of the smartphone could be a little uncomfortable for a few users owing to its sharp edges. The designers have tried to minimise this by tapering off the edges as much as possible but still, it is not everyone’s cup of tea.

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However, that does not mean that the handset isn’t designed well. In fact, it is one of the best designs we have seen this year on mobile devices. The clean straight lines and the flush back and front along with the colour options that the device has been provided in, look absolutely stunning and classy.

All in all the Elife S5.5 has an overall weight of about 133 grams; this for a 5-inch display based device is certainly on the lower side, especially if the device features glass and metal only construction.

A design that stands out in the crowd

Today while most device makers are resorting to cheaper materials like plastic in order to make cheaper and lightweight gadgets, Gionee has dared to manufacture a smartphone using not just metal but glass as well. In addition to use of different materials, Gionee has also designed a phone that is the slimmest smartphone globally bearing an overall thickness of 5.5 millimetres only.

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As compared to its closest competitor, the Vivo X3, the Elife S5.5 is slimmer by 0.25 millimetres. To the naked eye it does not mean anything, but from the manufacturing stand point, making a device with metal and glass at this thickness is a mammoth task. Moreover, the slimness of the device alone does not makes it unique. Its look and feel also makes it stand out in the crowd, and a huge chunk of the credit goes to the glass sandwich design. In addition, the buttons have also been given the same treatment as the metallic casing for better looks.

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Gionee has provided a ton of bundled freebies including a soft bookcase, three scratch guards for the back of the device and two for the front in the box, and it’s a gesture that’s most welcome.

As we discovered though, those scratch protectors are very necessary… since the handset might be great to look at, but is very prone to damage and scratches. The glass can shatter upon the smallest of falls, so users will have to be really careful while using it.

Brilliant AMOLED display

The display on the Gionee Elife S5.5 is certainly amongst its strong points. The 5-inch full HD resolution display is built using Super AMOLED technology, which inherently offers brighter images with superior contrast ratios compared to IPS LCD displays. This technology has been used to the hilt on the device, even though the display is slightly biased towards over saturation. Overall, it is a delight for the users.

Therefore, it does not not matter what kind of content users view on this display, everything looks good and crisp as well due to the full HD resolution.

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On top of the screen, Gionee has applied a layer of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 for protection against scratches and accidental knocks. In addition to better protection against scratches, this third-generation Gorilla glass also offers advantages in the form of lighter weight and more flexibility.

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The display offers quite vibrant and vivid colours making videos and multimedia content look good. Additionally, Gionee has added a special fingerprint-resistant layer on top of the display to avoid smudges and is a definite welcome, especially for Indian weather conditions.

In addition, a camera that performs well but is afraid of the dark

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For imagery the Gionee Elife S5.5 offers a 13-megapixel autofocus camera at the back accompanied by an LED flash for illumination. As with most slim smartphone cameras, the shooter offers average results, though the Elife S5.5 did surprise us with its superior image quality and colour variance it displayed in the images captured. However, the camera is good but not perfect and is a poor performer for low-light shots. In brightly lit conditions the camera performs flawlessly.

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*Please click on the image to see the full resolution version as well

In addition to the 13-megapixel rear camera at the front of the device, there is 5-megapixel camera with a fixed focus lens, which offers average results and has nothing special to shout about. However, it does makes up for a very useful feature for 3G calling and video calling through software’s like Skype. You can check out the camera samples taken from the Elife S5.5 here.

Amigo 2.0, which upgrades to KitKat now

While the Elife S5.5 has been hugely commended on its look and the way, it stands out in the crowd, its operating system, more importantly the Amigo user interface has been one of its pain points, especially for users who’re used to having widgets on their home screen.

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Gionee has recently released the Android KitKat 4.4 upgrade for the Elife S5.5 and while the platform has been refreshed, the user interface and Amigo UI remain the same. In terms of ease of access, the Amigo UI is very simple and easy to use. Users can simply unlock the device and access the apps from the app drawer, which is also the home screen for the device.

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Direct app access is not new, we have seen similar UI with the Apple iPhone, and people familiar with the iPhone UI would have no problem using Amigo. However, Android users have been using the desktop layout from the very beginning and therefore first-time Amigo users might feel that it is a bit incomplete. However, after a few days of use it, you might appreciate the simple operation. In case you don’t, getting back to a familiar Android UI comprising multiple home screens is a simple matter of downloading and installing one of the numerous free custom launchers from the Play Store.

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With the KitKat upgrade, the Android version has changed and the UI has become a lot smoother as compared to before. However,  nothing new has been added in terms of new apps and functionality.

All eight hands on the deck for serious performance

The Gionee Elife S5.5 gets all its computing muscle from a MediaTek MT6592 true octa-core processor running at 1.7Ghz. A true octa-core processor allows apps to run more efficiently using several cores at once for better performance, and while not in use the device can switching off the cores that are not required, in turn offering better battery life as well. This true octa-core processor can make a serious difference for applications that rely on multitasking such as HD games and multimedia apps an increases performance output of such apps.

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This processor is accompanied by 2GB of RAM and 16GB of non-expandable internal storage. However, for additional storage, users can make use of the OTG-capable USB slot and attach up to 64GB flash drives to this device.

In terms of overall performance, the smartphone has no issues with multitasking and playing HD games. The only downside of the processor is that it gets heated up fast. The processor reaches a certain threshold in temperature and then keeps going steadily at that pace without having any adverse effect on the performance. In addition, clever designing uses the metal skeleton of the device to dissipate heat and for keeping the temperature under a safe threshold. Its an inherent characteristic of the MediaTek chip and that is the prime reason why even Micromax had to reduce the clock speed of the Canvas Knight from 2GHz to 1.7 GHz to prevent overheating issues with the device.

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The Gionee Elife S5.5 offers an average one to one a half days’ worth of run-time between recharges with moderate gaming, music and internet usage on 3G. If you try playing resource-hungry games on this device, then it will offer a backup time of about five to six hours between recharges. In our battery drain test, the Gionee S5.5 lasted for about six hours and 20 minutes during which it was constantly playing a 720p video in a loop with volume and brightness set at 50 percent. If you are a light user as far as smartphones go, the Gionee Elife S5.5 should offer you even better battery life.


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In essence, the Gionee Elife S5.5 is a spectacular-looking device that offers some impressive hardware specs. However, performance is certainly not the idea behind this device. The Elife S5.5 is a smartphone that is designed to cause serious envy to others and while using the device, we experienced that a lot. When it comes to its competition in India, only the Micromax Canvas Knight (review) is the device that manages to come close to the Elife S5.5 in terms of look and feel and the performance.  However the Knight offers dual SIM functionality and a bigger camera while sacrificing on the slimness quotient. Otherwise the Alcatel One Touch Idol X Plus (first impressions) is another contender having similar hardware specifications and slightly more bulk than the world’s slimmest smartphone.

The Elife S5.5 is not a really high-end performer but will definitely enable users to keep up with most present day apps and games with ease. It gets a brilliant display and a good camera, but an average battery life, which is all, thanks to its slim design.

Price: Rs 18,999

Editors rating: 8 / 10


  • Stunning looks
  • Brilliant display
  • Good Camera
  • Lightweight
  • Good performance


  • Average battery life
  • Camera is not good for low light