Elephone is an up and coming smartphone maker that produces great handsets for a killer price tag and before we forget, its P9000 is going to storm the market sporting really impressive hardware but coming in an affordable price. Now, the company was generous enough to give us yet another smartphone, only this time, it belongs to the mid-ranged category, and is called Elephone M1. Is the smartphone worth your $175? Looks like you will eventually find out in this review.
Elephone M1: Design and appearance
Elephone M1 might be a mobile device that has really cool hardware but that is not enough for the handset to be branded as a great product. There are other factors that go into play, with the very first one being its design and appearance. Now, for a mid-ranged smartphone, Elephone M1 is absolutely gorgeous to look at, which is really great for the sort of people that judge mobile devices based solely on appearances and first impressions.
Its body comprises up of a metal build which not only provides durability to the smartphone, but it looks great aesthetically too. When we gripped the smartphone for the very first time, we knew that we were dealing with a premium quality handset because of the material that was used to make it was made up of very high quality. Since the smartphone does have a fair amount of bezels present on the top and bottom, its overall size is going to be much larger compared to other handsets. Those who are not used to handling large screen devices before will definitely have trouble getting used to it, but we are confident that this trouble will most likely be over in a couple of days.
If aesthetics were the only factor that was required to purchase a smartphone, then we believe that Elephone M1 would be sitting right on top of the table right now. However, there are several more things that need to be take into consideration, and we will be detailing them right here.
Elephone M1: Button placement
Button placement is by far the least important category of this review but if you will be upgrading to Elephone M1, then chances are that you will have to get used to that button placement, which is going to be quite different from your previous handset. Like majority of Chinese smartphones, Elephone M1 has its power and volume buttons situated on the right hand side of the device, and a SIM card slot is present right at the top left corner of the device. Keep in mind that the battery is non-removable so do not attempt to pry off the rear side because then you will end up causing serious damage to the handset.
Not incorporating a physical home button right in the center is an approach that several Chinese smartphone OEMs follow and it is not necessarily a good approach. This is because it is not going to deliver that clicking sensation when a user actually presses a physical home button, and majority of the times, they will have to tap on the capacitive buttons several times in order to confirm whether the action was completed or not. However, you can still experience that same sensation by choosing to switch on the vibration feature, though it will not be the same as an actual physical button and the other trade-off is that it will use up slightly more battery life.
The capacitive buttons illuminate when you tap on any one of them or when you wake up your Elephone M1 from sleep mode. There is a microUSB 2.0 charging port present at the bottom and a 3.5mm headphone jack present right at the top. We were hoping for a USB-C port, because we like to transfer large capacity files from our smartphone to other machines, but Elephone decided not to go down this road because USB-C has yet to become mainstream and its accessories such as charging cables are yet to become cheap since this particular charging port is relatively new to the smartphone market.
Elephone M1: Display and resolution
No doubt the smartphone is enormous in size and width and looks great too, but there are some disappointing things about Elephone M1 too. Starting off, why couldn’t the company fit in a 1920 x 1080 resolution instead of a 1280 x 720 one? We felt that the company did decide to cut a corner right here because 1080p displays are much more expensive to incorporate than a 720p one. However, possibly the best advantage of having such a display is that you will have added battery life.
Despite its resolution being on the low-side, Elephone M1 has some terrific viewing angles, even though you will easily be able to notice the difference in display quality thanks to its 5.5 inch screen. The pixel per inch density of Elephone M1 is relatively low, which will degrade the overall quality and experience of the user, but eventually you will get used to it.
Regardless of the low resolution, having more battery life is always a welcome addition to any smartphone and Elephone M1 will deliver exactly that.
Elephone M1: Interface impressions
Elephone M1 might have had a disappointing display, but our mood quickly turned upside when we discovered that the smartphone came running with Android Lollipop 5.1 as soon as we took it out of the box. While this yet to be confirmed, we are sincerely hoping that a compatible update of Android Marshmallow is made available for it later on in the year because the update is officially available to download and install on your device (at least for the Nexus lineup).
The interface was much smoother than the other devices we have seen up till now, which was really surprising given the fact that it is running MediaTek’s MT6735 chipset which has a quad-core processor and not an octa-core one. We will give credit to Google where credit is deserved and if a mid-ranged chipset running a quad-core processor can run this smoothly on Android Lollipop 5.1, then we are definitely hoping that Elephone M1 gets updated to Android Marshmallow, since that will drive up performance and improve the overall experience for all owners.
For users that want to purchase Elephone M1, but are afraid that the device’s interface will be presented in the Chinese language, there are several languages to choose from and depending on your location and of course your native language, you can switch to that from the settings menu.
Elephone M1: Performance (Processing and connectivity)
Now let us come to the core segment as to why consumers want to purchase a smartphone in the first place? Raw performance. We fired up AnTuTu and Geekbench to see how the device would fare when pitted against the remaining competition and we have to say that the smartphone might have missed its mark, but it is still able to achieve a satisfactory score, as you can see in the image below.
Despite the fact that Elephone M1 has an MT6735, and a quad-core Cortex-A53 running at 1.3GHz, the smartphone was surprisingly able to score a respectable position in both Geekbench and AnTuTu. Now, don’t get us wrong, performance is definitely not the strongest attribute of this smartphone right here, but then again, Elephone M1 is not intended to target those with a thicker wallet and who demand performance over everything else. It will cater to the requirement of those users that are on a strict budget and rightly so, with those scores, we think that the price is perfect with the level of performance we are getting from it.
The great thing about having an MT6735 present in it is that even mid-performing chipsets feature an LTE modem, which is terrific since once upon a time, only the most expensive of smartphones featured an LTE chip. Now, consumers who do not have sufficient funds to own a high-end smartphone can experience these features with a mid-ranged product, which shows that the market is slowly bringing high-end features to low-priced devices.
Elephone M1: Battery life measurement
For most of you out there, high amount of battery life is a very crucial feature to have in a smartphone. In Elephone M1, its large form factor is big enough to accommodate a 2,780mAh cell so we decided to take it for a battery test. We tested out the smartphone with its screen brightness set to 100 percent. In this way, you will be able to experience the worst case scenario when you purchase Elephone M1.
Having a larger battery is always a great thing to have, and this was witnessed from Elephone M1 when we were able to rake out slightly over 15 hours while connected to 3G, and 11 hours on 4G. Keep in mind that we carried out some casual browsing tasks and occasionally, we streamed high-resolution videos. We did this to give you an idea on what kind of battery life will you experience should you decide to carry out similar tasks as well.
Elephone M1: What features make this smartphone stand out?
Elephone M1 is a great Android powered handset, especially if you are on a strict budget. There are several features that make it feel that a premium quality smartphone and we would like to point out those features right now. Additionally, we will also point out what we felt could have been added to Elephone M1 in order to make it even better than before. Hopefully the company will be reading this so that they will be able to release an even better device in the future.
Things that we liked about Elephone M1
- Has a price below the $200 mark
- Its large screen size
- Ability to accommodate two microSIM cards (keep in mind that if you have a full sized SIM card, then you will have to reduce it to a microSIM form factor)
- A 13MP OmniVision rear camera sensor
- A fingerprint scanner
- 2,780mAh battery (we were hoping for a larger battery capacity but looking at the battery time we got, we couldn’t be happier with what we received)
- Running Android Lollipop 5.1 (It is possible that the smartphone could receive an update for Android Marshmallow, which will result in more performance, and more features)
- Able to accept a microSD card up to 128GB (this is the amount that most flagships accept so it is very commendable on the company’s part to provide such a feature)
Things that we thought could have made the smartphone much better
- Having an octa-core processor instead of a quad-core CPU (though this would mean overall price will increase)
- Having a higher resolution (720p is definitely on the low-side)
- Ability to accommodate both SIM cards and still have space for a microSD card (currently, if you place a microSD card, you will only have space for a single SIM card, which kills flexibility)
- The $175 does not do justice to the overall package that we received, which is rather strange because Elephone is used to pricing its devices quite well
- Having a USB-C port (the earlier phone that we reviewed, UMi Hammer S had a USB-C port and was priced much lower than this)
- Chipset: MediaTek MT6735
- Processor: Quad-core Cortex-A53 at 1.3GHz
- RAM: 2GB
- Memory: 16GB (supports a microSD storage card up to 64GB)
- Battery: 2,780mAh
- Display size: 5.5 inch
- Screen resolution: 1280 x 720
- Charging port type: microSIM
After looking at each and every aspect of Elephone M1, we have summarized the following scores below:
- Build Quality: 10 out of 10
- Appearance: 10 out of 10
- Button placement: 7 out of 10
- Interface experience: 10 out of 10
- Display quality: 5 out of 10
- Price/performance ratio: 6 out of 10
- Battery performance: 8 out of 10
There is no denying the fact that Elephone M1 is an amazing smartphone when it comes to appearance and aesthetics and has all the features that you could hope for ranging from a fingerprint scanner, impressive camera, Android Lollipop 5.1 operating system and a large capacity battery. However, we were definitely hoping for more in terms of a larger battery pack, a USB-C port and most importantly, a smaller price tag than the one present on Gear Best.
We would like to point out that since Elephone M1 has a microSD card slot capable of accepting a maximum card capacity of 128GB, do not go down the easy road and purchase an inexpensive one since those are the ones that will sacrifice both speed and reliability for a low price tag. Instead, spend a little more money and purchase a microSD card from reputable brands such as SanDisk or Samsung and trust us, you will not regret your purchase. Cheaply priced storage cards will eventually get corrupted and you will lose an abundant amount of data, not to mention that it will take a very long time for the data to be recovered, if it can be retrieved at all.
Right now, Elephone M1 is retailing for $175.46 on gearbest. There are much better smartphone solutions out there, but if you care more about aesthetics, and a large amount of features, then this one is also perfect for you in so many ways.