Metal is in. After HTC pretty much set the trend with the HTC One M7 back in the day, several manufacturers have tried to replicate the gorgeous Aluminium build on their devices. As a result, we have had some gorgeous devices. The HTC A9, iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge come to mind. With metal seemingly being a winning formula, several players in the budget category seem to be having an affinity towards it. We saw LeEco announce the Le1s recently while the likes of HTC and Samsung have had metallic devices in mid range before.
Gionee has had its share of metallic devices, and most recently the likes of the Gionee Elife E8 and Marathon M5 come to mind. Get ready to add one more to the list as just last week Gionee announced the Gionee S6 in India. The phone was launched in China, towards the end of last year and has now made its way to India as an exclusive product online.
We have got our hands on the golden review unit from the manufacturers though the phone is also available in several other colours including rose gold and silver.
In terms of specifications, the device comes with a 5.5 inch Super AMOLED Full HD display. The device has 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. You can expand the memory of the device, thanks to a hybrid Dual SIM tray that it comes with. The phone is powered by an Octacore Mediatek MT6753 chipset where all the cores are clocked at 1.5 GHz. The rear camera is 13 MP and the front firing snapper is 5 MP. The device supports LTE on both the SIM cards and is VOLTE enabled too. Gionee has done well to pack 3150 mAh battery in a phone as sleek as this one. The phone is just a shade under 7 mm in thickness and weighs around 147 grams. The entire box with its contents weighs about 503 grams.
Like all Gionee devices, we were impressed with the inbox contents as the phone comes with a charger brick, USB Type C to Type A cable, a pair of earphones with inline microphone, a couple of scratch guards and a plastic case for the back. There is an SIM ejector tool thrown in there too. All the accessories were white in color. The box reminds us very much of Xiaomi or HTC devices, where it is compact and feels that it can take a blow or two.
Coming to the device itself, as we said that the Gionee S6 is a metallic phone. Put it side by side to a LeEco 1s and you will have a hard time recognising the devices. In fact, the S6 looks like the Gionee Marathon M5 on a diet so clearly, there is no real design innovation here to look at. The phone feels really solid in the hand and despite this not being a unibody structure, it feels rigid to hold. The front of the phone is dominated by the screen, which is flanked by three capacitive buttons on the bottom and the earphone, front facing camera and proximity sensors on the top. Sadly, the capacitive buttons do not illuminate and that was a bummer.
The screen is an AMOLED panel and the colors predictively are really sharp and crisp. The contrast is strong and colors are deep. The bottom of the phone has two cutouts for speakers but in reality, the left cutout is the microphone while the right one is the mono speaker. The speaker output sounded average in a couple of videos we played though obviously we will spend more time on it.
The right side of the phone has the power button and volume rocker, both of which have a nice pattern for gripping your finger on top. Turn the phone back and you have the 13 MP camera, with a protruding lens. The lens is protected by the lens ring which is just a shade raised above the lens to ensure that the lens is not scratched from the surface. There is a single LED flash and a secondary microphone alongside the Gionee branding at the back.
Our favourite feature of the Gionee S6 is also at the back of the device, which is this neat plastic strip that covers the chamfered edge on the back. Not only does this protect the edge from being scratched but also prevents the phones from slipping away on flat tables. Since the strip is really thin and transparent, it does not spoil the look of the phone and still keeps things safe.
On the software front, the Gionee S6 runs Amigo 3.1 over Android 5.1 Lollipop. We are not sure about when the update to Marshmallow 6.0 would come, but we would not keep holding our breath for that. In terms of software experience, the device is exactly as the new Gionee phones, be it the Elife S7 or even the Marathon M5. Like most Chinese manufacturers, there is no app drawer here and Android is heavily customised. We like the Chameleon feature which turns the background of the device to your surrounding colors. There is a Control Centre like setup where when you swipe from bottom to up, you have all the system shortcuts. Generally, the phone performed well, though it did get a little warm while syncing accounts and watching Youtube on 1080P. We did not play any games as such on the phone, but in day to day use, we did not find any stutter. The camera does take just a millisecond to save the pictures, which could be annoying though we will reserve judgement on the quality for the final review.
We will continue to use the Gionee S6 over this and once we are confident with the device, we will come back with a full review.