Elephone never cease to be in the news (for better or worse) and now they are here again with a new budget model from their ‘Trunk’ sub brand. I go hands on in our full Elephone Trunk review right now.
In my initial first impressions with the Elephone Trunk I was shocked! This was a phone that (at the time) cost less than $100 and featured great build, a Qualcomm chipset and decent camera. Since then I have uncovered a few issues, and the RRP has now jumped to $119.99, so is the Elephone Trunk still a shockingly good buy?
Elephone Trunk Review – Design
The Elephone Trunk design is similar to the Nubia range of phones in how it looks but features a soft, rubberized finish. The finish gives the phone a nice feel and provides grip when in the hand and rested on a surface.
The narrow 5-inch form factor of the Elephone Trunk along with a rounded body and curved edges means that this is one comfy phone to hold, plus the fit and feel make it appear better than the price might suggest.
Elephone have kept the Trunk simple with a 5 inch panel taking up most of the front of the phone, and capacative hardware buttons on the chin. A main circle button is used as a home button, and once pressed it is backlit as are two buttons either side. Currently there is no LED notification light on the Trunk, but Elephone are looking on using the home ‘halo’ as a notification light in future updates.
With a removable rear panel you can get to the dual SIM and SD card slot (good for up to 32GB cards). With the back in place it is a simple cover with room for the external speaker, single LED flash, camera lens and ELE logo. The logo on our review phone isn’t quite in the center of the body, but is only notable on close inspection.
Being a basic phone there aren’t so many features to look at, but your usual volume and power buttons (on the right), and USB and 3.5mm headphone jack (in the top).
Elephone Trunk Review – Performance
The Elephone Trunk is unique in the Elephone range as it is the first and only device not to use a Mediatek chipset. It would have been so easy for Elephone to just use a budget quad-core Mediatek processor, but instead the phone runs a Snapdragon 410 chipset. The SoC comes with an Adreno 306 GPU and RAM is 2GB.
At this price the performance of the Elephone Trunk is adequate for the job at hand, that job will mostly be casual gaming, music, online content, social media etc. For these daily use scenarios the Trunk performs admirably.
Simple gaming is not an issue for the Elephone Trunk either. Real Drift, for example, runs smoothly and without hang ups, but try anything more graphically taxing and the little Trunk begins to struggle.
Compared to a Mediatek chip of the same ilk, the Snapdragon 410 fails to impress in Benchmarks, but then again the Qualcomm chipset does offer the chance of longer update support and open source third-party ROMS.
Elephone Trunk Review – Hardware
A Snapdragon CPU and 2GB RAM is a good start for a $119.99, and there are a few other nice hardware highlight in there too.
The Elephone Trunk has a 5-inch 1280 x 720 HD display. The resolution is fine for a 5-inch panel and it’s really nice to see a decent OGS panel on a low-cost phone. There is no mention of any protection on the Elephone specs page, but I can confirm the phone can survive a substantial drop (I accidentally dropped the Trunk while at the park a few nights ago).
Audio isn’t a feature that Elephone are marketing on the Elephone Trunk, and I think they are missing an opportunity as audio is quite good. The built-in speaker is nothing to write home about, but plug in a set of headphones and you will be pleasantly surprised. We’re not talking LeTV levels of audio, but it is much much better than other phones of a similar price. Decent bass and great clarity it is surprisingly good!
During my test I ran the Elephone Trunk with a Vodafone Spain LTE SIM and got 4G LTE coverage and fast browsing over data. WIFI is also strong, and GPS is fast and accurate too.
The Elephone Trunk comes with dual SIM support and a micro SD card area to expand on the 16GB of internal memory. We’ve seen other budget phones ship with just 8GB ROM, so 16GB memory is fine and the micro SD card means you can load up on music and enjoy the quality audio.
A 2100mAh battery is tiny in comparison to most phones of 2015. A battery of 2500mAh+ would have been nice, and 3000mAh would have rocked, but even so the battery life isn’t bad in the trunk. Remember we have a HD panel and low power processor on the phone, so on screen time of 4 1/2 hours is normal for my useage (31% screen brightness) and a full day of moderate use is not a problem either.
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Elephone Trunk Review – ROM
Elephone have taken Android 5.1 and given their own spin to it. In the settings you won’t notice any difference from Elephone’s UI to stock Android, but on the home screen there are some big differences.
First up there is no app draw. This isn’t much of an issue to me, but for those of you who prefer an app draw you are going to have to try another launcher.
Another difference in how you can switch from folder to folder. There is a neat feature in the Elephone ROM so that once one folder is open you can simply swipe from one folder to the next rather than heading back to the home screen. The Elephone ROM also does it’s best to try and place downloaded applications in suitable folders for you automatically (you can always manually edit the locations later).
There is one major distraction in the Elephone ROM though and that is the inclusion of ad ware. You will notice that when opening a folder there is an option at the bottom which says “Nearby Applications”. Click this and a splash page full of sponsored applications appears. It’s annoying and unnecessary.
More adverts are found when cleaning up the most used applications. Cleaning apps using the One Tap Application cleaner brings up an advert to download the full application from the Google Play Store.
Other users have commented on the Ad Ware on other phones, and already fans are building alternate ROMs which remove the junk, but I hope Elephone will consider doing this out of the box as their UI is quite nice to use.
Elephone Trunk Review – Camera
Elephone state the main camera on the Trunk is a 8 mega-pixel Samsung Sensor interpolated to 13 mega-pixels. My initial impressions of the 8 mega-pixel main camera were good. During my first hands on I was impressed by the photo capability of the Elephone Trunk and the colour reproduction the phone was capable of.
Over time though the auto focus has become quite terrible which has affected the camera and really spoiled the feature. (before anyone says that perhaps I damaged the camera when I dropped it, let me confirm the issues started before the accident).
Being a budget phone the Trunk has quite a slow camera meaning it is only really suitable for stationary subjects, but even then the auto focus needs optimisation to make the most of the sensor.
If Elephone can address the AF in an update that would be fantastic as the camera could be rather good, especially with the huge number of features available to you in the custom camera application.
Elephone Trunk Review – Gallery
Elephone Trunk Review – Specifications
|Sim Card:||Dual Standby|
|Color:||Black, Blue, White, Pink|
|Capacity||RAM: 2GBROM: 16GB|
|Chipset||CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 Quad-core|
|System||Elephone ROM based on Android 5.1|
|Screen||Display Size: 5-inchResolution: 1280 x 720
|Camera||Rear Camera: 8 mega-pixel Samsung
Front Camera: 2 mega-pixel
|Network and Wireless Connectivity||4G: FDD –1/3/7/20 (800 1800 2100 2600)3G: WCDMA 1/5/8 (850 900 2100)
WIFI : 802.11b/g/n(2.4G)
|Battery capacity||Removable 2100mAh|
Net Weight: 138g
Elephone Trunk Review – Conclusion
When the Elephone Trunk launched the phone cost an amazing $89.99 and at that price it was a steal. Prices then increased to $99.99 and still the phone is good value for money, but at the current price of $119.99 it is less of a bargain.
The build quality and hardware on the Elephone Trunk is exceptionally good for the money. Audio is a huge surprise, the screen is lovely and the phone has a camera that will shine if updates sort out the auto-focus issues.
What I am worried about though is if those updates will come. If Elephone can update the camera software and remove the ad ware then the Elephone Trunk starts to look good again, but it would look even better if the price was reduced to $99.99.
At $119.99 the Trunk has stiff competition from the Xiaomi Redmi 2 (with proven updates), the Meizu M2, and even phones such as the Ulefone Paris and UMi Hammer S. If Elephone sort the software and get the price right then I would have no issue recommending the Elephone Trunk to budget shoppers.