Gionee is one of those Chinese smartphone manufacturers who have decided to target the huge Indian market with their Android devices, and the S6 ranks second on their Elife S Series of phones.
This is a nicely built device, with metal accounting for 89% of the components and a nifty rose gold unibody. The styling is sparse, with just the company’s name emblazoned on the rear. The shiny edges are chamfered and the phone fits nicely in the hand, never feeling heavy despite the amount of metal it contains.
The 5.5-inch, 720p Super AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 3 protection takes up almost the entire front of the phone, with a small section at the top featuring the front camera, earpiece and a sensor and another at the bottom with three capacitive buttons.
The only other controls are two tactile buttons on the right side to control volume and switch the phone on and off. The left side contains the tray that accepts two SIM cards or a single SIM card and a micro SD card to expand the phone’s internal storage of 32 GB to up to 128 GB.
Getting the S6 up and running was no problem, especially if you have used other Android phones. However, for some reason, the review sample provided by Gionee refused to read my micro SD card (which worked fine with all my other phones).
The S6 ships with the ubiquitous data cable, charger and white in-ear headphones. A nice touch was the inclusion of a screen guard and a transparent silicone case.
However, the charger seemed unable to cope with the summer heat in Delhi (which sometimes crossed 44 degrees Celsius while I was testing the phone) and would cut out and resume working only after it was given a break of a few minutes. The headphones were nothing to write home about as the sound was tinny and harsh.
The S6 is based on the Android 5.1 Lollipop system with Gionee’s Amigo 3.1 skin overlaid on it.
The S6 supports VoLTE though no service provider in India has rolled this out as yet – it’s always good to be future proof. My service provider’s signals at my home are a bit of a hit and miss, but the S6 locked on to the signals and internet browsing on 4G and making calls was a cinch.
Using the S6 was a delight – calls went through without any problems, the phone never heated up while playing games with intensive graphics, music playback was great and watching serials and movies on Netflix was a treat because the punchy colours on the AMOLED screen and the terrific sound. The 1.3GHz, octa-core Mediatek MT6753 chip and 3GB of RAM kept things buzzing along at a nice clip and I never experienced any lag even when multi-tasking.
Another useful feature was a button for making a “fake call”. Press it, and the user gets a “call” after 15 seconds – the perfect way to make an escape from a boring guest at a party.
The 13-megapixel rear camera on S6 was a little underwhelming – the colours seemed over-saturated and the clarity was not what is expected with a phone in the semi-premium range with a price of about Rs 20,000. Photos taken in low light and at night were fuzzy and left a lot to be desired. Here are some photos:
There’s very little about the S6 that isn’t right – this is a nice and solid device. But with several phones in a lower price range offering similar specs and even features such as a fingerprint sensor, the S6 may face a few problems in pulling ahead of the pack.