The S6s ups the ante by raising the bar for mid range phones to the next level. 

Emerging smartphone manufacturer, Gionee has been giving us hit after hit in the affordable smartphones bracket with cellular devices. They specialize in performance devices or those donning supernormal power backups. In their latest unit, they have taken the camera game to a whole new level. The Gionee S6s boasts about its camera features and relies on its shooters for marketing and promotions. But is it really up to the task? Let’s take a look at the handset up close beyond just the cameras and how the whole phone takes on the present competition. 

Unboxing

Before digging in, a quick glance at how the phone is packaged is something you ought to appreciate. A cardboard box in glossy finish with comparatively greater strength than most other boxes protects the inner contents. Stylish banner of the phone is printed on top while the bottom contains technical details of the handset with the most important specifications. Open up and you’ll find the Gionee S6s handset tucked in a plastic tray. Underneath are the earphones, travel charger, data cable, sim tray remover pin, a flexible rubber case, screen protector, warranty card and instruction manual. So, there’s plenty going on under the hood. 

Early Impressions

Once you grab the phone, you get the distinct aluminum chill on your palms. A unibody aluminum chassis with curved edges on the rear side is a treat for your hands with no compromises in terms of aesthetics and comfort. The same rear side hosts the primary camera sensor with its flash right below, a fingerprint sensor and the Gionee Logo to top it all off. Located on the bottom center of the rear panel is the speaker grill. In terms of placements of buttons and ports, both the volume rockers and power stay on the right edge with the power button placed slightly off center and the volume rockers just above it. The bottom edge has a micro USB port for charging and data transfers placed dead center along with the 3.5 mm headphone jack on the right corner along with the microphone vent. The left edge has nothing but the sim card slot while the top edge remains untouched. The screen side has a 5.5 inch display panel with physical capacitive touch buttons at the bottom in the sequence - Recents, Home and Back. Amongst other features present on the front face are the proximity sensor, earpiece and a secondary camera coupled with its own flash - the selfie flash.

Performance

Beyond the frills of its external wrapping, we take a look at what the device is composed of. To read out the key specs, we’ve got a 5.5 inch 1080p LCD display with Gorilla 3 protection. Its SoC is a Mediatek MT6753 with a Mali T720MP3 for those concerned. The storage on this unit is 32GB internal with a hybrid SIM card micro SD card slot that can accept cards as big as 256 GB as the cost of your second SIM slot. There is plentiful with 3GB RAM to load and background your tasks. As far as software is concerned, the S6s runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and considering its release that dates back a few months, the software is pretty up to date. In terms of the skin, a custom Amigo UI v3 handles the appearance and UI for this device. To power all this is a 3150 mAh Lithium Polymer (LiPo) cell. Since the back panel can’t be popped open, the battery remains a non-removable one. Lastly, the most anticipated feature about this phone is its camera. On the hardware department, the primary is a 13 MP rear f/2.0 sensor capable of 30 fps 1080p videos while the front is a solid 8 MP shooter. Interestingly, both cameras get their respective flashes for low light photography. 

User Experience

Numbers aside, let’s closely scrutinize every aspect on the phone.

Core Hardware

 The processor, RAM, GPU and storage space is ample on this unit at this price pool. You feel treated well in terms of the processing you get out of the S6s which sets you on track in a flash. The phone doesn’t struggle with day to day tasks but frame-drops and occasional stutters come into play upon graphics intensive gaming. 

Display

Reviewing this in 2017, a 1080p display seems the standard and Gionee has done it right by using an adequate display which is ultra bright for daylight usage but still feels a tad bluish and requires some software tweaking for the right color balance. 

Sounds

The speaker placement at the rear seemed like a concern when it came to playing music with the speaker facing a flat surface, but the curves that also make the phone beautiful reduces almost all the sound muffling. The earpiece has sufficient volume and the overall sound quality was loud and clear with dts integration. 

Battery

The battery pack stands at a modest 3150 mAh which seems to suffice for everyday use. Certainly for a powerful phone, it can’t withstand a full beating for more than 7 hours running full throttle. The charging is mediocre and charges at a standard pace requiring about 3 hours for a full top up. A fast charging scheme is somewhat missed occasionally.  

Camera

The signature element or rather elements of this smartphone are its cameras. The sensor sizes used are spot on with 13 and 8MP image resolutions. The hardware itself is very much capable and pictures in daylight are very high value but do lose significant potential in low light and introduce noticeable graining. That’s when its flashes click in. The rear camera does lack a dual LED and has a standalone LED flash which makes color ranges on night portraits tilting towards blue. The selfie camera is wide and crisp but again with the flash, you do miss out on so much detail that you otherwise get with day time selfies. Nevertheless the added front flash will definitely encourage more low light selfies. Also, the flash substitutes the notification LED otherwise found in many phones these days. In terms of software, the stock camera app is very nicely composed and feature filled. Several shooting modes and manual controls give you a fair sense of control on a smartphone camera. 

Fingerprint

The nuances of fingerprint sensor hit very high in 2016 with almost every smartphone manufacturer embracing the new security feature. Not only does it unlock your phone super fast but the sensor on the Gionee S6s also acts as your camera shutter button ideal for selfies. The accuracy on the fingerprint isn’t the best in the market but it’s worth appreciating Gionee’s strategy to accommodate a fingerprint sensor on a mid range phone like this one

UI

The android experience remains state of the art with the use of Android Marshmallow that keeps tab on your permissions and device manageability. I have my concerns with the Amigo UI not being the most intuitive UI and slightly off beat with the newest design pattern. Inheriting the iOS like settings panel by swiping the bottom of the screen was much appreciated on a 5.5 inch phone. However, the capacitive buttons lacking the backlit feature may put off a few, especially for new users who aren’t familiar with Gionee’s sequence. Also, it’s something I wished Gionee hadn’t cut down on considering how generous it has been on most other departments. The system itself handles very well and smoothly which is bound to keep you happy almost every single time you use it. 

Verdict

With features like the fingerprint sensor, a selfie flash and a really good camera engine to produces quality pictures, the phone does have a couple of outstanding features. Aesthetically superb, the phone’s colors - Latte Gold and Mocha Gold give it a premium look, the former with additional uniqueness points. Overall, it’s a balanced and performance favoring phone. It may not be the best camera-phone but it might just be one of the best budget camera-phones. At Rs. 24.999, the phone is a strong market contender and has been reported to be doing very well with current sales.