Gionee Elife E7: Made for Shooting?

 
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The Gionee Elife E7 along with its interface.

Ambarin Afsar wonders whether the Gionee Elife E7, a phone that is aimed at cellphone photographers, lives up to its claims.

Most cellphones are targeted at people who are extremely social, and some even have a button dedicated to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Very few are aimed at the growing market of serious cellphone photographers.

And so, it is interesting to see Gionee make their foray into the Indian market with a flagship that claims that it is ‘Made for Shooting’. There is a huge amount of competition in the Rs. 20,000–30,000 price segment, including last-gen flagships, older iPhones and Oppo’s innovative swivelling camera, the N1.

In comparison, the Gionee Elife E7 has a rather high camera resolution and some attractive features and ergonomics.

The dynamic range of the camera falls just a little short of the mark. Here, I wish that the highlights on the chair and on the wall were not blown out. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

The dynamic range of the camera falls just a little short of the mark. Here, I wish that the highlights on the chair and on the wall were not blown out. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

What’s in the Box?
A 16MP primary camera and an interface dedicated to advanced users is the USP of the E7. I must say that I was quite impressed with the frame rate, the writing speed and the buffer capacity of the phone.

A Radically Different Camera Interface
The interface is very similar to the one found on the Samsung Galaxy camera, in terms of virtual dials and sliders. While I’m extremely pleased to find this sort of an interface in a phone, I also have a few grouses with it, most of which are first generation issues and can easily be ironed out with a firmware update.

This strange banding and posterisation are what occurred when I pointed the camera at the sun, which was partially hidden by trees. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

This strange banding and posterisation are what occurred when I pointed the camera at the sun, which was partially hidden by trees. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

But Not Without Issues
Firstly, summoning the advanced mode is a two-tap option and if you don’t know what that little icon on the bottom right of the screen does, chances are, you will never hit it, and never access the advanced mode.

This needs to be better labelled. The ISO, WB and Exposure Compensation sliders need to be made a little larger. Right now, either the touchscreen is not responsive enough, or the sliders are too small to be accessed and moved quickly.

Another instance of the manner in which the light source in the frame has blown out. While I was metering for the foreground and anticipated blown out highlights, I did not expect to see posterisation. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

Another instance of the manner in which the light source in the frame has blown out. While I was metering for the foreground and anticipated blown out highlights, I did not expect to see posterisation. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

Shooting Speed and Image Quality
The camera is quite fast at focusing, however, there is a certain amount of shutter lag that slows down response time. This is a serious drawback because most cellphones today perform very well in this department, and offer virtually no shutter lag. The low light quality is decent, but the dynamic range isn’t as good as other phones in this price range, and the optics are lacking.

Priced at Rs. 26,999, the Elife E7 aims to be complete value for money, but fails to do so mostly due to first-gen interface issues, shutter lag and subpar optical quality, which results in flare and other problems. Wait for the second generation version.

The colours straight out of the camera are quite nice, but sometimes, I spotted a strange sort of purple discolouration or fringing as is visible at the bottom of the image. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

The colours straight out of the camera are quite nice, but sometimes, I spotted a strange sort of purple discolouration or fringing as is visible at the bottom of the image. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

AT A GLANCE
SPECIFICATIONS 16MP back camera, 8MP front camera, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, Quad-core
2.2 GHz, 2500mAh battery, Rs. 26,999
WHAT WE LIKE The superfast burst shooting capacity, the camera’s innovative interface
WHAT WE DISLIKE  Sliders that do not slide fast enough, interface glitches
WHY BUY IT The interface is the E7’s best feature, but that too comes with its own
imperfections. It will appeal to those who want great control.

FINAL RATINGS 75%
CAMERA  Features 8MP front camera, advanced UI,
no slow shutter mode
 12/15 
IMAGE QUALITY  Decent low light quality, light sources always posterise  25/35
VIDEO QUALITY Camera records 1080p video, front facing camera shoots 720p  17/20
HANDLING  Feels plasticky, but is sturdy; camera app needs
to be improved
 11/15
SPEED & RESPONSIVENESS Fast AF, but considerable shutter lag  10/15

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Tags: 000 price segment, 000–30, 16MP, Ambarin Afsar, Cameraphone, cellphone, control, gionee, Gionee Elife E7, interface, July 2014, made for shooting, manual control, Rs. 20, UI