Gionee’s Marathon series of smartphones bring you phones that are well designed and carry bigger batteries than the normal ones. Going with the trend of bigger screens, the Marathon M5 was launched back in June in China and November in India, but Gionee quickly followed it up with a variant that had a smaller screen, for the ones who prefer a more “handy” phone – something that is becoming a rarity these days. This is named Marathon M5 Lite and will be a dumbed down version of its bigger brother. How does the M5 Lite fare as compared to the M5 given the chopping off of certain features? Well while we are at the task of diving deep into our testing, we bring you our initial thoughts on the phone, read on.
What we got with us is the golden variant (there is also a gray one) and at the first look of the phone gave us a feeling of a well built phone with everything in the build being intact. To rattling or shaky things going on here – the reason why we tell you this is as companies attempt to bring phones at a cheaper price somewhere the eye for finer details especially on the build department takes a hit. The front portion of the phone sports a 5-inch HD screen protected by Asahi Dragontrail Glass. While the viewing angles are good, visibility under sunlight is a challenge with the highly reflective screen. And the fact that the screen is a big time fingerprint and smudge magnet doesn’t help either. A metallic frame chamfered slightly on either sides run all across the phone and no matter what angle or side you look at the phone, there is some shine – so subtle that is provides an aspect of “elegancy” to it. The power and volume buttons on the right side are well positioned and provided a very good tactile feedback. The 3.5mm audio jack sits on the top and the location is rather weird – not to the left, or right or centre but adjacent to the centre. The bottom sports the micro USB charging port and a microphone.
Onto the back is the 8MP primary camera with LED flash and at the bottom is the speaker grille. The matte finished back brings in good contrast to the shiny edged frame going all around the phone. A trio of non-backlit capacitive buttons sit below the screen while on the top is a proximity sensor and a 5MP camera. Coming at 8.5mm thick, the M5 Lite is not light weighing 183gms. And the reason being – massive non-removable 4000 mAh battery under the removable back. A pair of dual micro sim slots and a micro SD port can be found above the battery.
Under the hood is the Mediatek MT6735 SoC which is a Quad-core processor clocked at 1.3GHz accompanied by a Mali T720 GPU. With 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage of which close to 26GB is available to the users, the phone has it the right ingredients for medium to heavy usage patterns. The memory can be bumped upto 128GB as well.
Amigo UI 3.1 built off Android Lollipop 5.1 runs the phone and it’s the usual thick, heavy transition driven UI with vibrant imagery all around. There are some new tricks up its sleeve. For instance there are some well animated clocks as widgets, new HD wallpapers and some good new themes in its “Theme Park”. During our one week of usage so far, we did not encounter any crashes or forced closures. Though we did not expect a butter smooth experience that we see on minimum skinned variants of Android, there were some stutters and lags. At times, the bottom most row of icons would take a good 3-4 seconds to show up when the device was unlocked and it was the clock widget on other occasions. Applying a theme took 12-15 seconds at times. Bringing up the toggle menu doing a swipe up from the bottom required more pressure to be applied most of the times as the menu refused to come up completely. Launching of the default apps like message, dialler and contacts too take 2-4 seconds on many occasions. But as you spend more time with the phone you tend to get used to the behavior. Speaking of which you will also have to get ready for a chuckle here and there, thanks to some alerts, labels and notifications that come off funny due to literal translation from Chinese to English.
We gamed NFS Most Wanted, Asphalt 8 and Riptide GP2 – while frame drops and stutters were very limited and rare at times, the phone’s temperature shoots up and since it sports the metallic frame, we had to drop the device for a while until it cooled off. We observed temperatures of up to 49 Degrees Celsius which is on the hotter side. Another concern was the rapid drop in battery life. We lost close to 30% after gaming for about 80 minutes.
The 8MP camera on the rear supports auto focus but simply doesn’t seem to handle the exposure well. Skies and light in the background were completely washed out so were the subtle reflections. Focusing and processing is quick though. Same holds good for the front camera. We will test them both in greater details.
Where the M5 Lite does well is around its key selling proposition – the battery life. Though we used the phone heavily that included 80 minutes of gaming with a good drop in juice, it still managed to take us close to a day and half’s worth of heavy usage – very impressive. And the fact that it can charge other phones is a welcome deal.
M5 Lite has good looks though it tries to come off as a bezel-free display at a first look. Solid build quality and battery life will be its key strength. While we have to thoroughly test the software, the camera and other departments, we are at the moment having mixed opinions but the good part is that it does excel where it has to – very good battery life, in a handy phone. But at Rs. 12,999, the M5 Lite will have stiff competition from the likes of Honor Holly 2 Plus, Coolpad Note 3 Lite and so on if we were to consider the 5-inch phones aimed at giving you a very good battery life and we feel very positive about them already. Stay tuned as we bring you more updates and our detailed review in the coming days.