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Featured Review: Elephone P8000

August 11, 2015 - Written By Nick Sutrich

Last year Elephone released over 20 devices to the market ranging from super budget devices under $70 like the Elephone G1 to more mid-range models like the recently released P7000.  All of these phones have one big thing in common despite the differences in their build quality and internal components; all of them push the boundaries of what was thought to be possible at a certain price range.  Most of the time Elephone opts for a more stock looking and feeling version of Android too, helping the phone feel and perform faster than it might if it had a heavy skin on top of Android.  With the P7000’s release basically just happening is it already time for another flagship phone from Elephone, or is this too little of an improvement too soon?  Let’s take a look.

Specs

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At $170 it’s absolutely mind blowing what Chinese manufacturers have been able to do with smartphones.

  • 5.5-inch 1080p IPS Display
  • MediaTek MT6753 1.3GHz 64-bit True Octa-Core Processor
  • Mali-T720
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 16GB internal storage, microSD card support
  • 4,165mAh battery
  • Android 5.1
  • 13MP rear-facing camera, LED flash
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • 155.2mm tall x 76.6mm wide x 9.2mm thick
  • 203g
  • Dual-SIM card support (micro SIM)
  • TouchID Fingerprint Scanner

In the Box

The box of the P8000 looks similar to the phone, with the same pattern on the back of the phone being displayed on the box itself.  The box is cut at a rather interesting angle and makes for a more intriguing package than a box that’s cut at the regular horizontal straight angle.  Inside you’ll of course find the phone, a wall charger, USB to microUSB cable, screen protector and a manual.  It’s this manual that’s rather special as it goes over all sorts of things in Android from how to enable Bluetooth to how to use Hangouts and everything inbetween.  Check out the unboxing video below to see it all.

Display

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At this price range you’ll often times find 720p displays with good attributes, or if you have a phone with a 1080p display it may have some negative qualities to it.  That’s certainly not the case here, and Elephone seems to have farmed out a top-notch IPS LCD display for the P8000, something that’s certainly not common in this price range.  It has excellent black levels for an LCD panel, great colors that are accurate and not at all over saturated, viewing angles that keep the display from changing color or dropping black levels no matter the angle, no light bleed at all from any side, and of course superb brightness outdoors.  It’s super easy to see this one in the sunlight, or any light for that matter, and the adaptive brightness in Android 5.1 Lollipop does a great job at automatically adjusting the brightness when needed.  I really couldn’t find anything to complain about at all here.

The digitizer, or the panel that sits between the screen and the glass and registers touches, is a component that many don’t ever think about until it doesn’t work.  Elephone has tacked a top-notch digitizer on this phone, just like the display, and is one that will likely never register on your mind it works so well.  Often times at this price range digitizers have a hard time recognizing multiple touches, and especially touches too close together such as adjacent fingers pressing keys close together on a keyboard.  There were no issues here at all and it was refreshing to see one so well made.

Hardware and Build

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The Elephone P8000 features a distinctly metal build, well advertised by Elephone in the pre-order process for the device.  This isn’t just any light aluminum metal frame though, this is some seriously heavy duty metal.  At 203g we’re talking a pretty heavy phone no matter how you slice it, but that heavy feeling is a quality heavy as it’s immediately obvious the phone is made of metal.  Part of this weight is the abnormally large battery of course, but the metal frame feels really fantastic in the hand.  Corners are rounded as well as the top and bottom, giving off a very LG G3 sort of look and feel in the hand, and given that it’s the same sized screen with larger bezels this is a very similar size to that phone as well.  Bezels around the screen are actually sort of strange, as the screen sits within a black bezel that sits within the phone’s frame and feels more like a frame picture than anything.

On the front below the display you’ll find three capacitive buttons: a round home button in the middle with a notification LED underneath that lights up when touched, and two dots on either side of the home button that work as menu and back keys.  On the right side of the phone you’ll find the metal volume rocker and power buttons, while the top houses the 3.5mm headset jack and the bottom the microUSB port.  The completely removable plastic back features no NFC connectors, so there’s no NFC support here, and the battery is completely non-removable.  Above the battery sits a microSD card slot as well as dual micro-SIM slots.  Also on the back situated slightly above the middle of the phone is a TouchID fingerprint scanner, as well as a camera and single LED flash above that.  The camera is recessed into the hardware quite a bit, likely to keep smudges or accidental touches from the fingerprint scanner from happening.

Performance and Memory

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MediaTek’s processors have gotten better and better over the last two years, and their latest round is no exception to that rule.  The MediaTek MT6753 is a true octa-core processor, meaning it’s a single processor with 8 actual cores instead of the big.Little architecture of dual quad-core processors that most octa-core processors are.  These ARM Cortex A53 cores are running at 1.3GHz, a 400MHz reduction in speed from the ones found on the MT6752 that powers the Elephone P7000, but it manages to keep up in most tasks regardless of this difference in speed.  Android 5.1 Lollipop felt absolutely butter smooth in every working respect and never slowed down for a second during my time with the phone.  Everything feels fast, fluid and most importantly gives a user experience well beyond the $170 price tag this phone carries.

Running games and benchmarks proved that this new Mali-T720 GPU is a force to be reckoned with, and the P8000 performed admirably in any task it was given.  You’ll easily be playing the latest graphic-intensive mobile games at 1080p on this phone, and with a great framerate too.  3GB of RAM is plenty for anything that needs to be done on the device and I found that multi-tasking was a great and fast experience.  This is regardless of the fact that the home button has to be pressed and held to pull up the Overview multi-tasking screen, as there’s no dedicated Overview button on this phone.  Inside the phone you’ll find 16GB of internal storage, and if you need more or can’t rely on the cloud for your storage needs there’s a simple microSD card slot underneath the removable back for expandable storage.

Battery Life

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MediaTek’s processors aren’t just known for their speed at the given price, they’re also known for their low power consumption.  Add that to a massive 4,165mAh battery, which is 50% larger than your average smartphone battery, and you can probably already guess just how amazing this battery life is.  Standby time is nothing short of brilliant, and lasting around a week when left alone for long periods of time is probably not unheard of if you’re taking it on a trip or somewhere that it’s not going to be used often.  Average use will be a full day for sure, with some users even able to carry this well through the second day without a recharge too.  I got an average of 8 hours of screen on time in my testing period, a number that’s well beyond twice the average battery life I’m used to and even encroaching upon three times what I expect.  Futuremark’s PCMark battery test backed up these stats and shows just how cool the phone stays during intensive multi-hour testing too.

Phone Calls and Network

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You’ll find from the bands below that the Elephone P8000 is fairly limited in its spectrum use, and as such you’re going to want to make sure you research your carrier of choice’s spectrum availability before buying the phone.  As a T-Mobile US user I was disappointed to see that I couldn’t get any signal at all from the phone no matter where I was, although AT&T users will probably have better luck with this one.  Testing out the speaker through a Hangouts call showed that the hardware was more than capable of making good quality and loud phone calls when needed.  Check out the supported spectrum below:

2G: 850/900/1800MHz

3G: 900/2100MHz

4G LTE: 800/1800/2600MHz

Software

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64-bit Android 5.1 Lollipop powers this experience, and it’s done without the use of a heavy, obtrusive skin to get in the way of a good user experience.  As usual Elephone keeps the look and feel of Android as stock as possible and only adds features where necessary to enhance the experience.  Overall these are very useful features, even though there aren’t pages and pages of them to be found.  The one thing I was disappointed with was the performance of the fingerprint scanner, especially given how accurate the one on the Elephone P7000 was.  The vast majority of the time I had difficulty unlocking the phone with my fingerprint, which given the fact that you can’t use the fingerprint scanner for anything else makes it feel pretty useless.  This is a TouchID fingerprint scanner, which means that holding your finger in any direction or angle is supposed to register quickly and accurately, but that certainly wasn’t the experience I had.  A black mark on an otherwise excellent software experience, so check out our video below for a full software walkthrough.

Sound

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At this price range I don’t expect the best sound output in the world, and that’s a good thing because that’s what I got here.  That doesn’t mean this phone reproduces bad sound by any means, it’s just not as full or rich sound as I’m used to hearing through more expensive phones.  Still if you only listen to music through a pair of earbuds or a sound system that’s not super top-notch you’ll likely not notice the difference, and that may be what Elephone is counting on here.  A built-in equalizer can be accessed through your favorite music app and provides control over the whole range of audio produced by the phone, adjustable via sliders for each output level.  There are also some stock sound enhancements that can be enabled under the sound settings panel, found under system settings.  These settings in general did nothing positive to the audio and I would not recommend their use in most situations.  Lossless Bluetooth audio is likely the only useful thing here, as it keeps Bluetooth audio from crackling or popping as it can do on many devices.

Camera

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Those that have been keeping up with the nuances of tech news might know that Sony has been having difficulty producing enough camera sensors to meet the incredible demand that manufacturers and users have for their products.  As a result other companies like Samsung and OmniVision have stepped in to take over orders, and it seems from phones that use alternate sensors that we might not be worse for wear because of this change.  The P8000 uses a Samsung  S5K3L2 13-megapixel sensor on the back of the phone with 1.127-micron pixels and an f/2.0 lens.  The lower f-stop lens helps make up for the small pixels on the sensor and performs quite well, especially at this price point.

Noise levels in lower lighting are acceptable, and even when present the denoise filter doesn’t go into overdrive to smudge out any details that can be found among the RGB artifacts.  This is also partially because the ISO levels don’t seem to climb very high, even in cases of very low light.  Unfortunately this also means that even a slightly dark area will come out incredibly dark because of it, a problem that could easily be fixed in a software update or with different camera software obtained from the Google Play Store.  Image quality from the camera in general was great, with accurate colors and lots of detail.  HDR mode is only useful in situations with non-moving subjects, such as sunset pictures or things like that.

The biggest problem with this sensor seems to be the complete lack of dynamic range in any situation that’s even relatively harsh.  For instance if you take a look at some of the pictures below, particularly ones with any strong backlighting or heavy contrast in colors, you’ll notice that many places are incredibly dark and the brighter areas are set as the preferred exposure sample.  This was present in video as well, so it seems to be an issue with the sensor itself rather than just with software.  Video quality was quite good and the camera really did a fantastic job of picking up crisp, clean 1080p video without nasty compression artifacts or other oddities as seem to be present in some phones at this price level.  Overall this is an impressive camera with some shortcomings, but nothing that’s going to be a deal breaker when you’re looking to spend this kind of money.

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Conclusion

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For $170 it’s going to be difficult to find a phone with better battery life, a higher quality build, as smooth of performance or as good of a display as is found on the Elephone P8000.  This is a phenomenal phone that’s well worth the money spent on it, even with its flaky fingerprint sensor.  Sound output might be pretty average but those looking to take some nice pictures will likely be very pleased with the camera sensor and lens combination chosen here.  Any other negatives that can be found are mostly from nitpicking, and that’s something to truly celebrate at this price range.

If you are interested in picking up the Elephone P8000, then you can currently pick it up from GearBest for only $159.99

Elephone P8000 $159.99