Elephone P6000 Review: Entry-level has never looked so good


Elephone has been making (or at least showing off) phones at the speed of light in recent times. The young company started off with entry-level and mid-range p not too long ago, and has gradually managed to build itself an audience with some more powerful offerings in the recent past. The Elephone P5000, P6000 and the upcoming P7000 happen to be some phones from this category, all of which not only look good but also have some serious specifications backing their arguments. The P6000 comes with the all new MT6732 chip, which has more than just impressed, as you shall know through the course of this review.

We spent a good couple of weeks with the Elephone P6000 to be able to test out every aspect of the phone, and here’s what we feel about this new Elephone smartphone.

Elephone P6000 Review: Unboxing

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PIjM8Me7g0&w=560&h=315]

Elephone P6000 Review: Design and Build

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Right off the bat, the Elephone P6000 doesn’t look, and certainly doesn’t feel, like a generic rebranded phone. The phone has a heft to it, the sort of heft that leaves you confident about the device’s build quality. It’s made out of plastic, but a reinforced metal lip goes right around the screen for some added protection. The weight of the device also seems to suggest that the internal frame is metal rather than plastic.

If there is something that Chinese OEMs have, without doubt, gotten better about, it is build. Not just ‘original’ phones like the P6000, but we’ve seen even clone makers like No.1 give phones like the No.1 Note 4 and the No.1 Mi4 some real good material for the build on them. This comes at a price though; the P6000 is certainly not one of the thinnest phones around, but rather a phone which you would gladly keep in your pocket and be confident about it not bending while its inside.

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To speak of the P6000’s design, the rear looks a lot like one of the new Meizus or even the JiaYu S3 (which we recently reviewed), the only difference being the LED flash (dual LED flash vs. single on the P6000). Many Chinese and international companies have started being very ‘minimalistic’ about branding on the phone, but Elephone certainly aren’t shy of showing off their logo on the back which stands right in the center, in chrome. It might take some a while to get used to it, but we didn’t really mind it.

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What’s peculiar about the design though is that the rear casing of the phone has a larger footprint than the rest of the phone. This will certainly take some getting used to. It’s exaggerated on the chin of the phone where the rear case protrudes the most; it might sound like a massive design fail but it really doesn’t look as bad. Also, the rear is made up of some high quality toughened plastic unlike other phones which come with flexible rear covers, which is definitely a good thing. There’s no real creaking/squeaking except for a the left edge of the phone – exactly opposite to the volume and power buttons. Ours was a pre-production sample, but it doesn’t look like a design error but more a manufacturing defect… which is more worrisome.

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Taking off the rear is no child’s play, especially if you like to keep your nails short. It will first take you some searching to find the notch to push your nail into (pro tip: it’s on the top edge of the phone), and then some to pry out the case inch by inch. Once done, you’re greeted by what looks like a real 2700mAh thick battery, and above that, two SIM slots (both micro SIM) and a microSD slot. Below the battery slot sits the mono speaker, some 3D printed antennae and a vibration motor (which is a little on the stronger side) exposed on one side.

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Something that certainly deserves a mention is the glowing halo which also doubles up as the home button on the P6000. Many might remember something like this from the Meizu MX series of phones also. On the P6000, the glowing halo is accompanied by two capacitive buttons on either side, which don’t light up with the halo in the center. Which is not much of a problem, in fact, it also gives the glowing halo an exaggerated look since there’s no light shining anywhere around it. It lights up during charging and when there’s an unattended notification.

We’re pretty happy with the build quality on the P6000 in general, and hope that the slightly squeaky back is a one-off thing. Design wise the phone isn’t a miracle (doesn’t have the thinnest bezels also), but somehow it still manages to impress.

Elephone P6000 Review: Components and Performance

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Since the P6000 is one of the first few phones to come with the MT6732, there’s naturally a buzz about how its going to perform and hold up to day-to-day situations. Up until 2014, many believed (and rightly so) that most MediaTek phones can only be entry-level troopers. However, MediaTek wants to set the record straight with their new 64-bit line up, and how well it shows.

In other words, if the MT6732 chip is going to be powering entry-level phones, entry-level is in good hands. My daily driver, for a long time, has been the Xiaomi Mi 4 now. Being a GizChina guy requires me to test phones, and more often than not the phones that I’m testing aren’t up to Mi 4 levels of performance, battery, etc. But the P6000 is an exception. The phone actually trumps the Mi 4 in a couple of departments as you shall read further, but first, lets get the specifications out of the way.

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There’s nothing too fancy on the P6000. It starts with an austere 1280 x 720p display which is the first thing you notice about the phone (alongside the cool blue ‘breathing’ halo). Not the highest pixel density screen, but install an AOSP-style launcher such as Nova and the screen suddenly looks a lot better (Elephone NEED to get rid of the ugly icons!). There’s literally no backlight bleeding on the display (we’re saying this a lot more frequently about Chinese phones, shows that things are improving), and in all it looks like a very decent, more than just a display that does the job.

A 1.5GHz quad-core MT6732 CPU rocks the boat for the Elephone P6000 as mentioned before. You might be wondering why MediaTek chose to go the quad-core route after making the octa-core (which might seem like a step back) MT6592. Turns out, MediaTek have a winner on their hands. The MT6732 holds up extremely well; through the couple of weeks of usage, the CPU hasn’t disappointed once. Now, for a brand new chipset with an all-new architecture, that is some feat.

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AnTuTu benchmark and other things apart, the CPU makes the device feel like something powered by a slightly more powerful Snapdragon 600… besides the added advantages of a newer and more power-efficient architecture. Now that’s nothing to write home about, if you don’t consider the pricing. The phone goes for only around the US$150 mark, which is honestly a good price to pay for what you get.

Elephone P6000 Benchmark scores:

  • AnTuTu: 31,007
  • AnTuTu X: 30,140
  • GFXBench Manhattan: 505.8
  • GFXBench Manhattan Offscreen: 252.3
  • GFXBench T-Rex: 1,032
  • GFXBench T-Rex Offscreen: 626.1
  • Geekbench single-core Score: 736
  • Geekbench multi-core Score: 2,173

In fact, a direct competitor from the Snapdragon series happens to be the Snapdragon 615, that features on phones such as the Yu Yureka (similar pricing, but no international availability). General usage is very much on par, but we’d still give it to the MT6732 for better power optimization. It really doesn’t feel like one from the breed we’ve come to know as Chinese phones.

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Power to the internals is supplied by a 2700mAh cell, which for a change looks true to its claimed capacity. The beefy cell is more than good enough for one day’s usage, pretty much regardless of how you use the phone (unless you’re just looking for a portable gaming rig — in case of which there are better alternatives). This is partly the result of a good quality cell (we can only tell from how well it works), and partly the outcome of good power optimization on MediaTek’s part.

A typical smartphone day for me consists of a lot of browsing on WiFi, WhatsApp, 20-odd photos, and other applications like feedly, etc. with around 3-4 hours of screen on time. The P6000 more often than not had enough juice left to take me through half of the next day (the WiFi half).

On a busy day, the phone managed more than 5 hours of screen on time as well, which is very acceptable. The phone is supposed to get an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop in the coming few days, so battery life is something you can expect will be improved.

Elephone P6000 Review: Camera

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We’ve tested a lot of entry-level and mid-range MediaTek powered phones through the whole of 2014, but unfortunately not many have managed to impress us with their camera performance. The Elephone P6000 comes with a 13 mega-pixel rear camera and a 2 mega-pixel front, and considering how much the rest of the phone impressed us, we expected to be pleasantly surprised on the camera department as well… which wasn’t to be, unfortunately.

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Having said that, let us also tell you that the P6000 camera is in no way substandard. It just doesn’t impress (rather, doesn’t surprise – in a good way) as much as the phone around it. Dynamic range suffers to a certain extent, but the shutter, and the camera app itself are decently fast. There’s also a general lack in sharpness which we have noticed in a lot of phones that cost about as much as the Elephone P6000.

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Photos come out decent in sufficient light, but then again only if there isn’t one single bright source/area. Selecting the HDR mode helps up to an extent, but there’s still something that leaves you wanting. Pictures can also often look pixelized, the reason behind which can only be an extrapolated camera. And that is something which can be checked only by doing a teardown of the phone…

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One area where the P6000 camera impresses, though, is low-light performance. In general, we found the phone to be better at low-light photos (when no flash was used ) than the Xiaomi Mi 4, if that’s any standard. It is, however, a completely different story when flash is used.

First, there’s only a single LED flash on the P6000 which simply doesn’t cut it on a 2015 phone; second, the light from the flash disturbs the overall composition of the picture, giving it an artificial look. If you have to use the P6000 in low-light situations, and if it isn’t pitch dark, you’re recommended taking photos with the flash off!

Elephone P6000 Review: ROM, and Other Issues to take Note of

The Elephone P6000 comes with a near-stock version of Android, running v4.4 KitKat. There’s hardly a departure from vanilla Android besides a few added features such as the customary scheduled power on/off, etc. However, one interesting addition (which according to us is software-only, so there’s a possibility of it showing on other phones) is MiraVision (more info on MediaTek website) settings.

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The suite basically lets you tweak the picture to your heart’s content. Editable settings include a choice of picture mode (between Standard, Vivid and Custom). If you do select Custom, you are now given the access to color tuning (contrast, brightness, saturation) and other advanced settings such as sharpness, color temperature, etc. Other than that, it’s quite a stock ROM.

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A few things that are worth mentioning about the P6000: the phone comes pre-rooted, which is certainly helpful if you plan to tweak your phone. GravityBox on the Xposed Framework is a great place to start. Also, there is a weird sort of a touch bug on the P6000, something that has to do with the wrong touch resolution. In other words, instead of registering a clean swipe, the P6000 will register your gesture say after your finger travels 5 pixels. Think continuous vs. discrete.

Elephone P6000 Review: Conclusion

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It really doesn’t feel like one from the breed we’ve come to know as Chinese phones.

Despite the minor few glitches the P6000 has, the device is still a very, very strong contender in the list of budget phones. For just around US$150, you get a phone that’s way more powerful than what the money would otherwise buy you, complete with 2GB of RAM for the power user. Perhaps for the first time, battery life on a phone like this isn’t disappointing; so OEMs are slowly, but certainly getting there. If there was one thing I would’ve liked on the P6000, it most certainly would be a better camera. I’m more than happy with the 720p screen and other no-nonsense hardware that’s supplied on the phone, otherwise.

We’d like to thank CooliCool for supplying us the review unit. The phone can be had off their web-store for US$159.99 with free shipping. GizChina readers can enjoy an additional US$5 discount by using the following coupon at checkout: CICP6000

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