Gionee, one of the lesser-known brands in India, had recently launched a quad-core Android smartphone, the Dream D1. It featured an HD AMOLED and is a good value for the price and build quality it offers. This time, the manufacturer has launched another smartphone with almost similar features. The Elife E3 was in our hands for quite a while and we put it under the scanner. Here is what we have to say about it.

Crisp, Vibrant and clear 4.5-inch HD IPS display

Crisp, Vibrant and clear 4.5-inch HD IPS display

Design and build

The E3 is well designed from all aspects. With a rubberised matte finished exterior, the E3 has a very strong and rugged frame. All the hardware is enclosed well within the 7.9 mm chassis. The dark front panel has a 4.7-inch display with a front-facing camera and three capacitive backlit buttons for Menu, Home and Back. The power and volume buttons are placed on the right side while the micro USB interface and the earphone jack is placed on the top. The other two sides are completely blank. The rear panel is made of a flexible polycarbonate plastic and fits snugly on the chassis. The rear side sports the camera with an LED flash and a speaker grille on the bottom end.  The entire phone weighs around 125.5 grams and the slim form-factor together with the rubberised finish makes the phone very comfortable to hold and operate. 

8 MP rear camera with LED flash, rear panel has a rubberized matte finish.

8MP rear camera with LED flash; rear panel has a rubberised matte finish.

Availing a screen protector and a rear protection case for the phone would definitely be difficult for now, as this manufacturer is new in the market. Keeping this in mind, Gionee has bundled along a screen protector and a transparent and flexible protective shell. The shell fits very snugly and feels as part of the phone itself. Though the shell is not scratch resistant, it will definitely keep the phone’s brightly coloured rear panel safe from being scratched and tarnished. We found the shell fitting so perfectly that there is a slight issue while removing it—it tends to come off along with the rear panel. Though this is not a matter of concern, detaching the shell from the phone takes a bit of effort. Also, if you want another shell, you might have to write to the manufacturer for an additional piece. 

Top features the micro USB interface and headphone jack

Top features the micro USB interface and headphone jack

Volume and power on the right side of the phone

Volume and power on the right side of the phone

Along with the phone is packed a good looking pair of earphones matching the phone’s colour. Though the build quality of the flat cabled in-ear headset is good, there is a slight lack of proper finishing touches. Also bundled is the charger, user manual and a micro USB cable.

Dual SIM, 1800 mAh battery, free transparent protective shell

Dual SIM, 1800 mAh battery, free transparent protective shell

Features

The Gionee Elife E3 features almost identical specs of the Dream D2 except for a few differences. The handset is a dual-SIM Android smartphone with support for GSM and WCDMA SIM modules. While one SIM slot is for a regular mini SIM module, the other SIM slot supports the micro SIM module. This is beneficial for those who have an existing mini or micro SIM as they would not have to cut or exchange the existing ones. The E3 features a quad-core Cortex A7 processor clocked at 1.2GHz with 1GB of RAM. The graphics processor used here is the PowerVR SGX544. The internal storage is a good 16GB as compared to the Dream D1, which featured just 4GB. The display on this one is a 4.5-inch HD IPS panel with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The rear camera is 8MP with an LED flash and the front camera is 2MP. Connectivity options include the standard 3G, Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth. The operating system on the E3 is Android Jelly Bean v4.2. Lastly, the internal battery fuelling the smartphone is a lower 1800 mAh as opposed to the 2100 mAh one used in the D1. The handset we received was the pink variant, while other colour options available are  white, black, yellow and blue.

Smooth custom UI and launcher similar to MIUI

Smooth custom UI and launcher similar to MIUI

User interface and performance

Gionee has been using a custom user interface and launcher on the E3 just like the D1. The UI gives you the feel of the famous MIUI touch with a few changes here and there. The UI is smooth and swift with no lags or jitters at any given time. The user interface can be completely themed as per your preference and there are six free themes on the system at your disposal. Sadly, there are no online themes for download, nor can you customise your own for now. The themes are very similar to the MIUI counterpart. If you don’t like the themes, you would have to use your own launcher. 

System info, launcher can be customized with themes

System info, launcher can be customised with themes

On the performance front, we did our usual benchmarking using a few apps. AnTuTu scored 13,075, Quadrant scored 4,057 and Nenamark2 reported 43.1 fps in their tests. Linpack averaged at 36.7 MFLOPS and 123.6 MFLOPS in the single-thread and multi-thread tests respectively. Based on the results, we found the Elife E3 performing a tad better than the Dream D1 and the Xolo Q700. 

Desktop can also be customized.

Desktop can also be customised

Display and media

The 4.7-inch IPS HD display panel looks pretty awesome the moment you sweep the lock screen to get to the homescreen. The colours are very vibrant and a high brightness will make you assume that the phone uses an AMOLED panel. The IPS display has no viewing angle issues and the crisp picture quality makes watching full HD videos a great experience. 

Settings in the system are very similar to the MIUI interface

Settings in the system are very similar to the MIUI interface

The media supported by the E3 are MP3, MP4, H.264/H.263. This makes watching full HD movies encoded with the compatible format almost flawless. Other formats such as MKV would still have to be played using a third-party media app. But so is the case with most smartphones anyways. We did not find any lag or jitter on HD and full HD videos. No complaints here.

Custom camera user interface with a few extra features

Custom camera user interface with a few extra features

The onboard speaker is loud and clear. Though it is a bit shrill sounding, the sound quality is good enough for a small crowd. Using the earphones for personal entertainment is definitely recommended if you want better audio quality. The bundled earphones have good audio reproduction and you won’t need a replacement unless you are an audiophile. 

Outdoor photos are very good with a nice balance of color, brightness and contrast

Outdoor photos are very good with a nice balance of colour, brightness and contrast

Camera

The Elife E3 features an 8MP camera as the main rear shooter and a 2MP camera on the front for video chats. The 8MP rear shooter does a good job if we compare the camera to other smartphones in the similar category. Indoor shots are good and have a nice colour balance, but are slightly vibrant. The picture as a whole is acceptable unless you zoom into a subject—this is where you will notice the grainy picture. Macro shots are above average, too, except that you need a good amount of light on the subject. Even the picture we shot in our premises under incandescent lamps was pretty good. If you use the flash at a low distance, you will wash out the entire image. Outdoor shots are pretty good and have a very nice balance of lighting and colours.

Indoor shots are good too provided there is enough ambient light

Indoor shots are good too, provided there is enough ambient light

Battery

The Elife E3 has a below average run time and this can be blamed on the low battery rating of 1800 mAh incorporated inside. The battery on the E3 was tested with two hours each of talk, video, YouTube and music on a fully-charged battery. The phone finally gave up after around 6 hours, which we feel is a bit too little. But if you are a casual user, you can expect around 8 hours, which should be just enough for a working day. We recommend you use the battery saving mode included in the operating system to help you save on battery life. 

Macro shots are great even in regular incandescent lighting

Macro shots are great even in regular incandescent lighting

Verdict and Price in India

Priced at an MRP of Rs 17,999, the E3 is a bit steeply priced. However, the device is available for an MOP of Rs 14,999 in the market. And there are some online stores selling it for as cheap as Rs 13,800. The E3 is a good looking smartphone and will definitely attract the teenage crowd. The slim form factor and rugged shell with a vibrant display and fluid user interface does make the E3 worth the price. In terms of looks and performance, the Gionee E3 is definitely recommended, but on the price front, the Xolo Q700, which features similar specs, wins the deal hands down. The bundled protective case, the earphones, free screen protector, good looks, excellent slim build, good performance, above average camera and the crisp display are some of the highlights. What goes against the phone is the poor battery life and the slightly steep price.

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