Elephone may not be the most well known Android smartphone manufacturer out there, but like its other Chinese OEM counterparts, the company churns out solid offerings that feature price points that are competitive and affordable. The previous Elephone may have been released just a few months ago, but its successor is already available, bringing with a few improvements along the way. What does this device bring to the table? We find out, in this Elephone Vowney Lite review!
The Elephone Vowney Lite retains a lot of the design elements of its predecessor, but that isn’t a bad thing in this case. The rear back panel comes with a carbon fiber texture that will remind you of the carbon fiber dbrand skin, and along with the metal band, the Vowney Lite offers a surprisingly premium build that you wouldn’t expect from a device in this price range.
With its weight and thickness of 156 grams and 9.5 mm, the device feels very substantial and solid in the hand, but this extra heft is worth it, considering that it makes room for a large 4,000 mAh battery. The back cover is removable, giving you access to the dual SIM card slots and the microSD card slot. The back cover is quite thin though, and with relatively strong clips holding it in place, it can be very difficult to remove.
While at first glance it may appear as though the device has very thin bezels along the sides of the display, turning on the display shows that there is actually a black border around the screen, a design element that some users may not be a fan of. Below the display are three capacitive keys, with the dots being the back and recent apps keys, and the circle being the home button. The home button is illuminated, and depending on when you picked up the device, may also double as a notification LED.
We say depending on when you picked up the device, because the first batch of 5000 devices come without the notification LED feature. Elephone mentions that this was a compromise that had to be made initially to keep up with the demand. Users who face this problem are entitled to a discount with the next Elephone flagship, but other than that, there is nothing else that Elephone is offering by way of compensation.
The Elephone comes with a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display, with a FHD resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 535 ppi. The display looks fantastic, and features excellent color reproduction, neutral color temperatures, good viewing angles, and enough brightness to allow for comfortable outdoor visibility.
There are some issues with quality control though, which is quite worrying. For starters, there is no Gorilla Glass panel protecting the display, which is surprising given that it was found with its predecessor. Further, there was a line of LCD bright spots on the right side of the display, a dead pixel near the bottom left corner, as well as a bit of dust trapped between the LCD and digitizer. While not every device will see these issues, the oversight in quality control before shipping is certainly alarming.
Under the hood, the Elephone Vowney Lite packs an octa-core 64-bit MediaTek MT6795 processor, clocked at 1.9 GHz, and backed by the PowerVR G6200 GPU and 3 GB of RAM. This is the processing package seen with quite a few similar low-cost smartphones out of China, and the performance is quite good, given the price of the device. There were no issues with general day to day tasks, and multi-tasking is a breeze with 3 GB of RAM. Graphically-intensive gaming will result in dropped frames and slow loading times, however, but it can handle more casual games easily.
The Vowney Lite comes with 16 GB of on-board storage, further expandable via microSD card by up to 128 GB. The device also packs a standard suite of connectivity options, and also comes with 4G LTE support in select markets. Network connectivity was a big issue however, with the device unable to connect to the T-Mobile network, and allowing only for 2G speeds on the AT&T network, and that too only when outdoors. Basically, the Elephone Vowney Lite isn’t going to be a good option at all if you are in the US.
The single rear speaker unit of the Vowney Lite is unfortunately disappointing, as it is not very clear and doesn’t get too loud either. It is good enough for basic use, but certainly isn’t going to meet the need when it comes to media consumption. Using headphones certainly allows for a far better audio experience, but even then, the maximum volume isn’t as loud as one would hope. This may just be a software issue however, and something that Elephone can fix in a future update.
The Elephone Vowney Lite comes with a fingerprint reader on the back of the device, which can take some getting used to, as you can’t see the scanner to place your finger properly. It is a 360 degree sensor though, which means that it shouldn’t matter which angle you place the finger in, but in my experience, it didn’t work as well as it should. Accuracy was at around 70% even placing the finger perfectly, which is certainly disappointing. The same setup on the Vowney worked much better, so it is actually quite surprising to see this kind of performance this time around.
One of the best features of the Elephone Vowney Lite is the battery, with the device packing a large 4,000 mAh unit. The device lasted for as long as 25 hours with just over 5 hours of screen-on time, which is impressive by any standard. Granted, this was with mobile connectivity turned off because of the issues mentioned above, so your usage results may vary. In either case, users should be able to comfortably get a full day of use out of the device. An expected trade off here is the charge time though, with the device taking a little under 4 hours to charge fully.
The Elephone Vowney Lite comes with a 21 MP rear camera with dual-LED flash and a 8 MP front-facing camera. As good as it sounds on paper, the camera produces awesome looking shots. Great images are possible, but the camera suffers from focus and exposure issues, besides the claim that the phone has phase-detection auto-focus, which means that it can take a while to get a correct shot. Low-light performance is well over good, which is understandable, given that the phone has dual-led flash. Overall, we haven’t seen any better cameras with other devices in this price range.
The Elephone Vowney Lite runs Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box, with the custom Elephone UI on top. As is seen with other custom user interfaces from Chinese OEMs, there isn’t an app drawer available, leaving users dependent on folders to keep things organized. A nice addition here though is the ability to swipe easily swipe between different folders to quickly find what you are looking for.
There is a theme store, but changing to a different theme only affects the wallpaper and the system icons, and not much else. Everything else, like the Settings menu and other software aspects remain stock-like, which many enthusiasts will appreciate. However, gesture settings that were seen with its predecessor, like double tap to wake, are no longer available. Miravision does make its way over though, which lets you adjust the display colors to your liking.
|Display||5.5” FHD 1920 x 1080.|
|Processor||1.9 GHz, octa-core MediaTek MTK6795|
|Storage||16GB, microSD card slot, up to 128GB|
|Camera||21 Megapixel Rear Camera
8MP Front Camera
|Connectivity||GPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth|
|Networks||GSM, 3G, 4G LTE|
|Software||Android 5.1 Lollipop|
|Dimensions||153 x 76 x 9.5 mm
|SIM slots||Dual-SIM: Nano SIM + Micro SIM|
Pricing and final thoughts
The Elephone Vowney Lite is available for just $252.64, with color options including white, silver, and gold. Of course, keep in mind that network connectivity is a big issue in the US, so it’s a good idea to buy this device only in other markets, after checking for compatibility first.
So there you have it for this in-depth look at the Elephone Vowney Lite! As impressive as this device looks on paper, there are a lot of issues that show up when it comes to real world performance. While the battery life is amazing, and the display, other than some quality control issues, is excellent, there are some glaring flaws that are hard to overlook. It’s a definite no go if you are in the US unless they can fix its network connectivity issues, but may still be a good option in other markets however, especially if you’re looking for an affordable device with excellent battery life. So, for hikers, and people who travel a lot, the battery and the cameras are are better than what one could ask for for a phone of this price range.