The Gionee P5w Works Best As A Sidekick

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Coming off the overall positive experience of using the Gionee S Plus for a few weeks, I had high hopes for its lower end sibling — the Gionee P5w (hereafter know as the “P5”) was also released in December 2015.

I had to remind myself that the P5 is in fact a less capable device than the one I had just reviewed, and that I would need to reset my expectations, which is really hard to do. I would have preferred to have reviewed them the other way round, but it couldn’t be helped.

Nonetheless, I think I got a good sense for how this device stacks up in the general scheme of things. This will be a short review. First of, the Gionee P5’s specs.

Specs

SIM: Dual SIM
Display: 5.0 inch HD (720 x 1280) IPS
Battery: 2000mAh
Camera: 5 megapixel rear, 2 megapixel front
Memory: 1 GB RAM, 16 GB storage
Card slot: Micro SD, up to 32 GB
CPU: Quad Core 1.3 GHz
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 2G/3G
OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop, Amigo 3.1
Radio: Yes
Face unlock: Yes

First impressions

“Zen”, “pristine”, “spartan” are the adjectives that come to mind

The build and aesthetic of the Gionee P5 is very spartan, almost zen. If not for the rounded edges, camera lens and flash and the conspicuous Gionee emblem on the curved back, it would be completely featureless. The speaker grille is nigh invisible, unless you actually go searching for it.

This is where Gionee throws in a cool easter egg, by way of two extra battery covers. I got the cyan and white covers, but there’s also red and yellow variants. Be sure to look at the box before you buy to get your preferred hues. Who knows, might even come in handy, if you are the type to colour match your accessories to your outfit.

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P5 in white

Gionee’s generosity with accessories means that in addition to the extra battery covers, there’s a protective screen film and phone case included in the retail box. There’s also a wipe cloth, which I am certain you will need. It turns out that the P5’s smooth plastic shell is a powerful fingerprint magnet.

The P5 feels sturdy, which is a requirement for budget-conscious buyers in the first place. Gionee knows that ain’t nobody in that demographic got time for a device that flies apart on contact with the pavement. And when you put it in it’s protective case, it begins to feel like an impervious Ninja Turtle…not the clunky kind, the sleek kind. I still wouldn’t drop it, if I were you. But if you insist on dropping it, try letting it fall on its back, not the screen, which at this price point is obviously not in Gorilla Glass territory.

Performance

The Gionee P5 is in many ways a smaller clone of the S Plus. In fact, they are the same in many respects. Unfortunately, I am afraid that opting to put just one gigabyte of RAM on this model has held the device back from realising any real potential it had. You remember that part about having to reset expectations? Yeah. If you use a comparable device like the Infinix Hot 2 et al, you won’t notice. But for people who’s used faster, the device lags a noticeable second and half more than the S Plus in many places. The screen feels just a titch less responsive.

Nonetheless, I didn’t encounter any catastrophic issues when I applied my usual tests. The map dutifully homed in on my exact location without fuss. No app install barrier to be seen. Subway Surfers gameplay was just okay, so the device wriggles by with a pass on performance. With the Gionee P5, you get a Ninja turtle build without the Ninja reflexes, I’m afraid.

UI/UX

When it comes to UI and UX, there’s practically no difference between the Gionee P5, and the Gionee S Plus. I made extensive UX notes in my S Plus review, all of which apply to the P5. Face unlock, extreme mode, the fake call function, super screenshots, smart gestures, the notifications centre and the control panel…it’s all the same down to a T.

As usual, the first thing I did was to swap the default Amigo 3.1 UI with a stock Android feel, using the Google Now Launcher. This is absolutely necessary not just for aesthetic purposes, but also if you want access native Google Now functions. There’s nothing more annoying than not being to say “Ok Google” right from your homescreen without having to launch a separate app.

The display

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On the bright side, the P5’s screen is just as good as the S Plus’. Viewing angles and sunlight legibility are good. On the other hand, the screen didn’t feel as responsive as I would have liked…I’m guessing it’s that RAM deficiency at play, not the screen itself. The devil is in the details.

Battery

The Gionee P5 has a 2000mAh battery. Which as today’s power consumption demands go is pitifully small. Low end is not equal to low consumption. Between that 5 inch screen, Android background processes, notifications, music and phone calls, you’ll struggle to eke out a full day’s use from this battery. Maybe I shouldn’t have uninstalled the battery optimiser afterall. My advice is to buy a powerbank if you don’t want to be caught unawares. If you do get into a battery pinch, Gionee’s signature extreme mode should help you get by with the bare necessities (phone, contacts, messaging and clock) till you can find power.

Other notes

Frankly, the Gionee P5’s camera is forgettable. Five megapixels at the back, two in front. Take your selfies, but keep those filters handy..

The sound on the Gionee P5 is okay, but whoever designed the in-package earbuds decided to place the hands-free module so far away from where your mouth should be that it’s ridiculous.

The P5 seems to handle incoming sound alerts with music on better than the S Plus. Weird, but worth noting.

Pricing, availability and conclusion

The Gionee P5 is in many ways a smaller version of the Gionee S Plus. But it is smaller in some ways that make me wonder if it was intended to stand by itself. Unlike its “elder” sibling (they were both released in December 2015), the P5 won’t replace my iPhone as my primary device. But it could make a decent sidekick, a backup device that doubles as a wifi-hotspot and for those times when your primary device runs out of juice on the move.

By itself, the P5 is another entry-level device for first-time smartphone owners who are looking to test the waters with something sturdy and cheap. At NGN19,000, it looks like a bargain. I understand that it can be found at SLOT shops and will soon be available at other major retail outlets as well.

Pros

  • Great pricing
  • Sturdy build
  • Okay performance for price range and specs
  • Plays well with the Google Now Launcher
  • Generous accessories
  • Local support

Cons

  • Software updates at the discretion of OEM
  • Vestigial bloatware
  • 1GB RAM might be responsible for slight lag

Should you buy this phone? It depends. New to smartphones? Yes. Have a high-powered device but need a sidekick? Sure. It can even serve as an interim replacement for your lost or stolen high-end device. But if you’re looking for something in the middle that can hold its own in any circumstance, you’re better off peeling off more cash out of your wallet to acquire the more capable S Plus model.

At the P5’s level, without anything extraordinary on display, to buy or not to buy usually comes down to a question of how much. This device’s biggest challenger is the Infinix Hot 2, which boasts of stock Android, via its Android One partnership with Google, and a 2GB variant. Except it costs at least NGN3,000 more than the Gionee P5. Up to you to decide how much 1GB of RAM is worth to you.