After taking a long break, Gionee is trying to come back to the market. It never actually went away. But the buzz around the brand did. Now, with two new phones — Gionee F205 and Gionee S11 Lite — the company is hoping that it can catch the attention of phone users in India again. Both the smartphones were launched in April last week and out of the two, Gionee S11 Lite is the phone that features in this review. The Gionee S11 Lite is the successor to the last year’s S10 Lite. To recall, Gionee launched the S10 Lite back in December 2017 for Rs 8,999.
Compared to the S10 Lite, the new S11 Lite is slightly expensive, which is okay, as it comes with better hardware. With the S11 Lite, Gionee is targeting consumers who want a phone that is pocket-friendly and offers some of cutting-edge features like edge-to-edge display, dual cameras, fingerprint sensor, portrait mode in camera, group selfies. Gionee launched the S11 Lite at a competitive price of Rs 13,999. This is the same price point around which phones like the Redmi Note 5 Pro, Moto G5 Plus, and Xiaomi’s Android One phone Mi A1 also sell. So in this crowded market, can Gionee S11 Lite woo consumers? Not exactly.
The Gionee S11 Lite is a phone that looks good. Relative to its price, you can say that this a very good looking phone with a premium finish. Unfortunately, once you go past the looks, you will notice that unlike other phones in this price bracket the S11 Lite uses a plastic back. It’s shiny. It looks like glass. But it is plastic. This is something of an issue for the S11 Lite because phones like the Redmi Note 5 Pro sport a metal body design. Although, there is a plus side to it as well. The plastic back cover makes the device incredibly light and easy to carry, which is something that will be appealing to the consumers who hate almost 200 gram phones that other companies sell in this price bracket.
The plastic rear panel of the S11 Lite sports a reflective glassy look, which at first glance seems attractive. But, later on, the more you spend time with the device the more smudges you see appearing on the glossy back, which definitely spoils the overall look of the phone. The rear panel of the Gionee S11 Lite includes a horizontally aligned dual rear camera set up and fingerprint sensor in the middle, which is embodied within a circular housing.
Coming to the front design, the curves on the sides add to the overall look of the phone. It’s mostly because of the curved sides that the phone seems relatively easier to hold and operate with one hand. Unlike the Redmi Note 5 Pro, the Gionee S11 Lite isn’t a bezel-less phone. The sides of the S11 Lite include thinner bezels when compared to the top and bottom. As for the build quality, I can say that Gionee S11 Lite is sturdy enough to take a beating or two. My review unit survived a few accidental falls here and there, so I can definitely vouch for that.
Gionee calls the screen technology in the S11 Lite FullView display. The Gionee S11 Lite sports a 5.70-inch HD+ FullView display, with a layer of 2.5D Gorilla Glass on top. Keeping in line with the current industry trend, the S11 Lite screen comes with an aspect ratio of 18:9. While the FullView display and the 18:9 aspect ratio makes the S11 Lite stand out, the resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels may raise some eyebrows considering the price tag of the phone. Here’s the thing, the display of the S11 Lite is fairly good, but I feel Gionee missed the boat by not giving this phone at least FullHD display, considering its competitors like the Redmi Note 5 Pro and Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 come with FHD+ display with resolution of 1080p.
But screen is one area — despite that lack of extra pixels — that I consider the best part of the phone. The Gionee S11 Lite produces decent colours, which are reasonably punchy and vibrant. The phone has fairly good viewing angles, which in turn deliver a good video viewing experience. The touch response is smooth and I didn’t face any lag in my one week of using the phone. Brightness levels are good, but definitely not great. I was able to view the display in outdoors under sunlight provided the brightness is on maximum. Keeping the brightness at max consumed a lot of battery though, which wasn’t something that I was happy with. With the brightness at mid levels, the display looked dull outdoors, but it worked just fine indoors.
With the S11 Lite, Gionee is promising a lot as far as camera performance is concerned. Of particular note, according to Gionee, is the phone’s front camera. The Gionee S11 Lite sports a dual camera setup on the rear, consisting of a 13-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor. While, the front-facing camera, which seems more interesting to me, comes with a 16-megapixel sensor.
Although Gionee claims that the camera set up — on both front and back — is the best part about the phone, after using the phone to click over 100 photos I don’t agree with it. Overall, the Gionee S11 Lite manages to click decent pictures, but they lack details. It also tends to get colours wrong. In outdoor situations, under blazing sunlight, Gionee S11 Lite cameras click photos that have oversaturated colours and over-processed look.
The performance of the camera in room light is better. The pictures clicked inside a room appear clear and detailed, unlike the outdoor shots. It still can’t match the likes of the Redmi Note 5 Pro, but the photos clicked with the S11 Lite are decent.
In low light, the Gionee S11 Lite rear camera performs poorly. In low light the camera takes too long to focus properly. And when it does and when you click a photo, the image mostly turns out grainy as well as lack fine details.
Comparatively, the front camera is better. Selfies shot in indoor situation were sharp and detailed. However, the situation varies when it comes to clicking selfies in strong sunlight and low light. Most selfies clicked in low light appeared grainy and unclear, while in bright sunlight the pictures look overexposed most of the times.
Both the front and rear cameras on the S11 Lite come with several effects like night mode, PRO mode, time lapse, slow motion, backlight, among others. The cameras also include a bokeh aka portrait mode. Pictures shot with rear cameras in bokeh mode managed to impress me as the phone captured details of the subject, while keeping the background nicely blurry. However, the selfies clicked in bokeh mode also tend to blur the edges of the subject, which Gionee needs to work on portrait mode software.
The smartphone is powered by a 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset coupled with 4GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Support for a microSD card with capacity of up to 256GB is included.
The Gionee S11 Lite is capable of handling day-to-day tasks well enough. But, the phone does lag when you switch between apps. It also gets slow when too many apps run in the background. The scrolling in apps like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp is smooth enough, but lag is visible at times, clearly showing that Gionee needs to work on the software optimisation for this phone.
Overall, the Gionee S11 Lite struggles to handle multitasking. Surprisingly, it handles games well enough, if you are not running too many apps in the background. The smartphone works well enough while running games like Subway Surfers, Temple Run 2. It even handles the GPU-intensive games like Asphalt 8: Airborne very well.
The S11 Lite runs Amigo 5.0 based on Android 7.1 Nougat out-of-the-box, which is disappointing to see as one expects phones to run Oreo out-of-the-box by now. There is Android P coming in a few months from now (beta is already out) and some phone are still stuck with Android Nougat, which is now two years old. The Android in the phone has been customised by Gionee with the Amigo user interface. Amigo comes pre-loaded with apps like UC Browser, WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and offers some neat little features like App Clone, Private Space.
But screen is one area — despite that lack of extra pixels — that I consider the best part of the phone. The Gionee S11 Lite produces decent colours, which are reasonably punchy and vibrant.
At the time of launch, Gionee had promised to bring Face Unlock to S11 Lite via software update, but so far no such update has come. The Gionee S11 Lite comes with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, which is extremely fast and take milliseconds to unlock the phone. For me, the fingerprint sensor worked very well most of the time, and it was rare that it misread. Apart from unlocking the phone, the fingerprint sensor also lets users click selfies.
Gionee S11 Lite delivers a long battery life. During the launch Gionee had promised that the S11 Lite will offer at least full-day battery life. This is a promise the S11 Lite meets. The phone comes with a 3030mAh Li-polymer battery, which delivers long lasting battery life. After seven days of using the phone, I can say the phone lasts for almost 12 to 14 hours of rigorous use, which is fairly good for a phone in this price bracket. Overall, I can say the Gionee S11 Lite is an ideal buy for people who want a pocket-friendly Android phone with great battery life.
No. The Gionee S11 Lite should not be your first choice. That has to be some other phone from the market, which is better than what S11 Lite is offering. This could be a Xiaomi, or a Nokia, or a Moto. Or may be some other phone that you believe offers the best value.
Comparatively, the front camera is better. Selfies shot in indoor situation were sharp and detailed.
But having said that, the S11 Lite is not exactly a bad phone. It has a few aspects to it that are average. And some that are good. The main camera, though, plays a spoilsport because that is the weakest part in its performance.
The Gionee S11 Lite is all about its design, selfie camera and long-lasting battery. So if these — looks, battery life, and selfie camera — are what you require above everything else, do consider the S11 Lite. In fact, if you do you may even find that it is easy to buy the S11 Lite, unlike say the Redmi Note 5 Pro or the Mi A1 that are almost never in stock.