You may have heard in passing of a smartphone company named Gionee – it’s a Chinese smartphone maker that’s been steadily gaining a following outside of its home country. It also gained quite a bit of fame last year when it released the Elife S5.1, which held the world record for the thinnest smartphone for a little while. Yesterday, the company unveiled its latest smartphone, the Elife S7 which features a unique frame that promises to be harder to bend than the iPhone 6.
The Elife S7 uses a U-shaped metal frame, which the company says is inspired by railway tracks that share a similar-looking frame. This shape, according to Gionee, distributes pressure more evenly across the frame, giving it better rigidity. The fact that this groove also provides more grip is a welcome addition, especially when the device is just 5.5mm thin.
With the front and back covered in Gorilla Glass 3, the Elife S7 looks pretty similar to the Sony Xperia Z series, but Gionee is more proud of the fact that its 13MP rear camera sensor sits flush within the device – not like what Gionee amusingly calls “Tim Cook followers” – smartphones which sport a protruding rear camera. In any case, the smartphone feels solid, and the U-shaped groove does its job of providing a good grip – though it can get a tad uncomfortable with prolonged use.
As with almost every Chinese smartphone, the Gionee Elife S7 runs on its own custom software based on Android. The Elife S7 runs on a ROM called AmigoOS 3.0, based on Android 5.0 Lollipop. Like other Chinese ROMs, AmigoOS does not have an app drawer, and adds some interesting customisations to stock Android, including a quick settings bar similar to iOS 8’s Control Center that utilises the same swipe-up gesture. Among these quick settings that can be toggled here is a super amusing “Fake Call” feature, which makes the phone mimic an incoming call.
On top of that, AmigoOS also has some unique camera features. Besides the clean camera UI, the Elife S7’s camera has got a few modes you can’t find in other smartphones. There are the normal ones such as Panorama, HDR, FaceBeauty and Night, there’s also Magic Focus (which lets you refocus an image after it has been shot), and the most unique one, Take Anytime.
This odd-sounding mode is essentially an amalgamation of five different modes rolled into one. In this mode, the camera will snap an unspecified amount of shots before processing them and entering the preview page above. There, you can alter the shot in five different ways: Best Shot (where the algorithms select the best-looking image of the bunch), Tracks (which composites multiple shots of a moving subject into a single frame), Best Face (similar to Best Shot, but applies only to images with visible faces), and Eraser (removes unwanted objects in the frame).
The Gionee experience zone was rather dimly lit, and the small area couple with a large crowd made it pretty difficult to explore more about this device. Nevertheless, we’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on Gionee, especially now that we know it has plans to enter the Malaysian market.