Nimish SawantFeb 24, 2016 08:22:41 IST
Gionee announced its latest smartphone - the S8 - at an event in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress. Along with announcing the S8, Gionee also showcased its brand new logo which is inspired by smiley emojis. Gionee President William Lu stated that the new ‘Make Smiles’ rebranding is to showcase Gionee as a global company.
The Gionee S8 will be the upgrade to the S7 that was launched last year. It is being projected as a camera centric smartphone. Post the event we spent time with the Gionee S8 and here are our first impressions.
Build and Design
The Gionee S8 comes with a metal build which is non removable. Gionee calls it the invisible antenna loop design, but on close observation you can see the antenna strip running along the rear edge. The phone feels good in the hand and isn’t as slippery as we would expect. There aren’t any sharp corners around the edges.
On the left hand side you have the dual SIM card slot in the centre and on the right hand side you have the volume rocker and the power/standby button. At the base you have a speaker grills on the left hand side, the USB Type C port in the centre and the 3.5mm audio jack. Here again, you can see the antenna cut points.
On the front you have a 5.5-inch fullHD display. The bezels on the sides are quite slim. At the base you have the home button which also houses the fingerprint scanner section. One either side you have the mutli-tasking soft button and the back soft button.
The phone comes with a 5.5-inch AMOLED display. The display comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection. The display is sharp and the blacks are deep. Gionee has also added on the 3D touch functionality to the display which works pretty much like the one we had seen with the Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Long pressing on the camera icon for instance brings up options to shoot selfies or videos or snapshot. Long pressing on the home page animates the wallpaper and so on. Gionee said that it will work with more app developers to get the 3D touch feature on more apps. A new feature is bringing up apps quickly by hard pressing on either edges.
Chipset, RAM, Storage, Battery and Connectivity
The Gionee S8 comes with MediaTek’s Helio P10 or the MT6755 chipset which has an octa core processor clocked at 1.9GHz. In the MediaTek heirarchy of chipsets, the P10 belongs to the midrange series. This is paired with 4GB RAM alng with 64GB of storage. It comes with a microSD card slot which lets you expand the storage to up to 200GB according to Gionee.
The phone sports a hybrid dual SIM slot. It supports VoLTE and works in dual 4G configuration. Apart from this you have Wi-fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, FM radio among others. The home button also houses the fingerprint scanner. It sports a 3,000mAh battery. There was no mention of quick charging support. We will update this accordingly.
The Gionee S8 sports a 16MP rear camera with an RWB sensor and an 8MP front facing camera. The rear camera sports an f/1.8 aperture and comes with both laser AF and phase detect AF which should give quick AF acquisition speeds at least on paper. On the front you get an 8MP camera with a 1/4 inch sensor size.
The camera app is somewhat similar to the one we had seen on the Elife E8. The Gionee S8 comes with time lapse and slow motion video shooting modes. Gionee has bundled in a Video editor app which can let you make and edit videos on your own or via its presets which are demarcated based on time. The video camera features the beautified video mode which lets you adjust the beauty modes on your videos in post. Also with the skin camera the skin lightening feature will also work with non facial skin portions in an image such as hands or neck and so on. The camera also supports barcode scanning, animated GIFs and mood captures as well. So the Gionee S8 is packed with features on the camera front, but we will need to see how it all comes together in real world scenarios.
OS and Software
The Gionee S8 sports Android 6.0 Marshmallow along with Gionee’s proprietary Amigo 3.2 user interface. According to Gionee there have been a lot of optimisations on the new variant of the Amigo skin. It lets you use two WhatsApp apps for two SIMs on the same phone. There is also a live locker feature which was showcased. But as we have noticed on the previous generation Gionee handsets, the user interface does stutter during usage. For instance, we tried to activate the live wallpaper by pressing onto the 3D Touch enabled display, and while the wall paper started to animate, it happened with a lot of brakes. We will need to use the phone for a longer duration to be able to get a good idea about how the Amigo 3.2 UI holds up in the long run.
GIonee S8 has been priced at around 449 Euros which roughly translates to around Rs 34,000. Mind you, this isn’t the official Indian pricing, just a conversion. According to Gionee India head Arvind Vohra, the phone is expected to launch in India around June. Gionee already has the Elife E8 priced around Rs 34,000 and going by the Euro pricing, it is safe to assume that the S8 will be over Rs 35,000 taking into consideration taxes and duties.
While on paper the features look great, we do not have a reference point regarding the Helio P10 chipset and we will have to see how it performs in the real world. Gionee cameras have generally been better than competition and the S8 has a interesting feature set on the camera front complemented with value added software touches. Regarding the 3D Touch, this will be the second time we are seeing 3D Touch on Android, but it will all boil down to how many apps support it.
But the Amigo user interface hasn’t really been a strong point for Gionee with the system stuttering and lagging while using the phone. We are interested in seeing how well optimised the Amigo 3.2 UI is, and looking at the Gionee roadmap where we saw the Amigo 4.0 coming in by June, by the time the Gionee S8 launches in India, it may as well come with Amigo 4.0 skin atop the Android Marshmallow OS. So as far as India is concerned it is still some time before the phone lands in our labs for review.
Disclaimer: The correspondent was invited by Oppo India to attend the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. All flight and accommodation expenses are taken care of by Oppo India.
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