Walking around the world’s largest mobile show, Mobile World Congress 2013, you’d inevitably stumble upon something amazing. We sure did - that something was the 5-inch Gionee Elife S5.5, the world’s thinnest smartphone. How come you’ve (probably) never heard of it? Simple, it’s a phone that’s available only in Asia (China in particular) at the moment.
However, it’s an engineering marvel, so we were definitely excited to take it for a spin - take a look at our hands on with it right below.
The Gionee (by the way it’s pronounced JinLee in China and JoNee in the rest of the world) Elife S5.5 is a truly stunning piece of design. It’s so thin we actually dropped it twice just trying to get used to that slimness! The exact thickness measure is 5.6mm (0.22 inches), while the Galaxy S5 for instance is nearly 50% thicker.
It’s made out of glass and the sides are made of metal - it looks extremely sleek, really a looker.
In terms of size, it’s on par with other 5-inch devices like the Nexus 5, but being the slim device that it is, you can reach its corners easier and (when you get used to its thinness), it’s actually easier to handle in general.
The Elife S5.5 features a 5-inch 1080 x 1920-pixel Super AMOLED display and its colors just pop at you - they are that vivid and contrasty. Needless to say, this is one very sharp screen and you won’t be bothered by any pixelization, plus it has some great viewing angles. We cannot say definitely how accurate the colors on it are, but they seem just a bit overblown at first sight.
Interface and functionality
The Elife S5.5 is shipping with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and it has a custom skin on top of it. The interface is very flat with rounded icons, really different in terms of visual style.
It’s all Android at its core of course so it can be customized and changed via custom launchers and that’s nice.
Processor and memory
The Gionee Elife S5.5 sports an octa-core MediaTek MT6592 chip running at 1.7GHz, and while eight cores sound great on paper, there was a very slight slowdown in menus and the interface. We think that’s a software issue, though, and we are fairly certain that the phone will be able to handle the most demanding games - we’ve seen that chip being optimized to run Modern Combat 4 flawlessly, which is neat. There is also 2GB of RAM on board.
In terms of memory, the Elife S5.5 has 16GB built in, but you cannot expand on this as it does not support microSD cards.
With a 13-megapixel rear camera on board and a 5-megapixel front shooter you should not worry much about detail in your images.
The main camera supports 1080p video recording and is of the auto-focus kind of course. We don’t have camera samples just yet, but we’ll update this once they are available.
All in all, we enjoyed this little engineering marvel - the world’s thinnest smartphone. And what do you know, we loved it! It’s brilliantly designed, bursting the myth of bad designed Chinese phones. It’s a true looker, and while the MediaTek chip seems to be just a bit slower than we’d like, we wish we could buy it not just in China. What are you waiting for Gionee?