Gionee’s S series have been standing out for style, well at least most of them. The S5.1, the S7, the S5.5 are some of the good examples and some of these were the slimmest phones for some time. We had loved the unique design of the S7 and its overall performance too. This year, Gionee brings up a new offering the S series in the form of S6. If you notice, they have dropped the Elife moniker and calling it just the Gionee S6. Things are slightly different this time around with Gionee very sensitive about the pricing, keeping it just below the Rs 20k mark and also going the online route for sales. How does it compare with its lineage? Let’s find out as we present to you our detailed review of the Gionee S6.
If it’s the S series from Gionee, it has to be about style more than anything. While the S7 was very unique with its design, the Gionee S6 shoots for style in a more subtle way but keeping all the elegance its predecessors offered very intact. The design has a striking resemblance to an Apple phone. Imagine elongating the iPhone 5 along its length and width by a bit and voila! That is how exactly the Gionee S6 looks like, with the antenna bands going around its surface. What we got is the gold version and the shade chosen is simply one of the best we’ve seen. S6 is built off metal in the form a unidesign with 6.9mm in thickness (yes, the S6 will not get into the bout of slimmest phones) and weighs 147g which is good job pulled off by Gionee. And why do we say this? It’s a big 5.5 inch phone and one of the key challenges here would be to keep the phone light while providing a good battery capacity and keep the design such that it allows for easier single handed usage. This is what Gionee seemed to have done well with the S6. Though the edges are chamfered to give that shine, it’s all soft on the palm. It fits so well and we loved it.
On the right is the pair of power and volume rockers with superb tactile feedback, the 3.5mm audio jack on the top, a dual sim hybrid tray on the left side and a pair of speaker grille that resemble a compressed USB Type C slot and an actual USB Type C slot at the bottom. Onto the back is the 13MP camera with the LED flash. The front sports a trio of capacitive buttons that do not light up (bummer bummer bummer infinity times) and a 5MP camera onto the front with a proximity sensor by its side. The 5.5-inch display is an AMOLED screen but is just of HD (720p) resolution with 267 ppi. Clearly indicates Gionee scarified the FHD screen to keep the overall costs low. On the positive side, its protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and thanks to the vibrant Amigio UI, the screen ain’t dull. Colors pop out so bright and are so over-saturated that if you were to use the phone for a long time at a stretch, you might have a slight eye-sore. Under the sun, it’s hard to read on the screen that is very reflective. However, viewing angles are good while using it indoors.
Gionee being mindful of keeping costs under control is seen with things under the hood as well. An Octacore Mediatek MT6753 chipset clocked at 1.3 GHz is what runs the S6. This processor is quite old and is mostly adopted by entry level phablets. Thankfully, 3GB RAM finds its way and a 32GB of internal memory provide some saving grace for the S6. It can also accommodate as much as 128 GB in its microSD slot on the hybrid sim tray. A 3150 mAh battery will provide juice to the S6 that run on Amigo UI 3.1 built off Android 5.1 Lollipop. In our 3 weeks of usage, we never encountered any major hiccups, but there are occasions where the thick UI with those transitions slowed down by a fraction of a second but that is just nitpicking. Our apprehensions of the big fat Amigo UI running on a midrange processor were gotten rid of within the first 48 hours of using it. The theme store has tons of options now and each and every theme is well knit – something that we have come to see on the MIUI which has its strength there. There are tons of pre-loaded games and apps and thankfully you can uninstall them. Overall, it’s the standard Amigo UI we’ve seen in the recent phones from Gionee just that this one on the S6 seems to be well optimized. One of our favorites is this clock widget where satellite revolves around a planet and a super excited kid watches it – nice touch by Gionee.
Gaming too was decent, thanks to the AMOLED screen, visual experience was suitable for gaming and the S6 showed no signs of over-heating. But there were instances where temperatures spiked to 44 deg C for no reason, but thankfully this was just an exception. High end games did well with that occasional stutter during long hours of gaming. The sound output on the loudspeakers could use some improvement at its max volumes. And the position of the speakers are tricky and get covered by your palms when playing. On the flipside though, the battery life came down by 30+% for every hour we gamed.
Speaking of battery, the Gionee S6 has a 3150 mAh capacity battery and one can easily get through a day with moderate usage and we got good Screen-on-Times of 4.5 to 5 hours with Wifi/4G on all day, a hour of calls, WhatsApp, twitter and Facebook all day and some gaming too. The Gionee S6 is sort of future safe with the USB type C but bad on the convenience side if there aren’t many cables around the places you move.
The 13MP camera on the Gionee S6 impressed us a lot with its f/2.0 aperture. Depth of field is very good, macro shots came well and the processing too is very fast. At times it struggles on focusing but it is still manageable. Low light conditions introduce some noise but that anti-shake feature with the HDR mode helped improve the quality. The front camera too does a decent job but at times the exposure handling goes out of whack and blows off selfies. The camera app has some cool features like Magic Focus for adjusting focus post processing, GIF Maker for quick animation, and the Image Plus for beautification and Eraser mode that lets one get rid of things they’d not want to see in the clicks.
Coming at Rs 19,999, Gionee has cut few corners on its latest S series phone the S6. It does well on the style, design, and decent performance in all departments. But then it lacks a fingerprint scanner, and that is what will set it back when compared with the competition, especially the Lenovo Vibe X3 which is a stunning offering coming at the same price with a better screen, audio output, camera and fingerprint scanner. There are other phones like the Coolpad Note 3, Lenovo K4 Note having the same processor and RAM capacity offered at less than half the price, but of course they may lag behind on the build and design front. Then there’s the LeEco Le 1s which looks dangerously similar to Gionee S6 and arguably carries a better processor. But what stands out in the S6 is the AMOLED screen, but would one buy it just for that screen? Well, that’s a call you need to take. If you’re looking to buy one, the Gionee S6 comes in gold color and is sold on Flipkart exclusively for Rs 19,999.