Elephone P9000 Review: Further Blurring the Lines Between Flagship and Budget

Elephone P9000 Review: Further Blurring the Lines Between Flagship and Budget

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The Elephone P9000 is the “successor” to the Elephone P8000 that we reviewed and liked. Bearing some of the previously liked features and improving on the rest, the P9000 evolves over the low-end to tread onto mid-budget territory with specs and features that will give most of the market a run for its money.

But can it really walk the walk? Can the device do justice to all of its specs? Follow along the review as we take a look at the device from all angles.

First things first, here’s a quick look at the spec sheet of the Elephone P9000:

Dimensions148.4 mm x 73.2 mm x 7.3 mmScreen Size5.5″
Weight145 gScreen Type &
Resolution
LCD LTPS OGS, 1080 x 1920, 441 ppi
Primary Camera13 MP, f/2.0, Laser AFSecondary Camera8 MP
ChipsetMediaTek Helio P10 MT6755CPU & GPU2.0 GHz Cortex-A53, x8; Mali-T860
Storage32GB Internal;
expandable upto 256GB
RAM4GB
Battery3000 mAh Li-Po, non-removableNFCYes, Full
Android VersionAndroid 6.0 MarshmallowSIMDual, Micro SIM
Fingerprint
Scanner
Yes, RearUSB PortType C
ChargingQuick Charging as per PE+; Wireless ChargingSupported BandsEurope: GSM: 2/3/5/8
WCDMA: 1/2/5/8
FDD-LTE: 1/3/7/8/20
TDD-LTE: 38/40
US: GSM: 2/3/5/8
WCDMA: 1/2/4/5
FDD-LTE: 1/2/4/7/17

Contents:IMG_20160301_124501

Design, Build Quality

Elephone makes premium-looking devices, and the P9000 is no exception. While not being as luxury-exuding as the M2 or the OnePlus X, the P9000 definitely feels better in the hand than the OnePlus One and the P8000. Just like its predecessor, the P8000, the P9000 features a combination of metal, glass and plastic; with the right elements at the right places to accord a good balance between a premium feel and a practical device.

IMG_20160301_124545

The front of the device bears a very clean, glass slab look with very few distracting elements. The 5.5″ display is flanked by thin bezels on the side, and comfortably adequate bezels on the top and bottom. The side bezels on this device are actually quite decent: they are not as drastically thin as the marketing material depicts, but are certainly nowhere as big as the ones on previous Elephone devices. Further, there are no “hidden” bezels, a design choice that is way too common on Chinese devices as a means to hide those extra bezels by painting it like a switched off display. Here is a comparison pic of the P9000 against several devices:

As you can see, the Xiaomi Mi 5 also employs “hidden” bezels to overstate the screen to body ratio appearance of the device. Thankfully, the Elephone P9000 does not have to resort to these techniques. The marketing material for the P9000 does show an edge-to-edge display and “ultra narrow” bezels, but realistically, the phone has the normal amount of bezel as you would expect in a device. This is definitely an improvement for Elephone, and as such, was worth mentioning.

On the front, at the top, you have the loudspeaker grill recessed into the device, with sensors on the left and the front camera on the right. Below the display, you will find the single capacitive home button which also houses a white notification LED. There a few points to note regarding this button: firstly, there are no other capacitive buttons on the device. While the OS gives you an option to use on screen buttons, you can choose to use this single button for navigation. We will expand upon this functionality in the software section of this review.

The other point to note is that the LED present is single colored (white). There are no other colors present (tested with LED Tester). And to complicate matters a bit, the LED appears cut off. Instead of a full circle as you’d come to expect on LED’s, this comes up as a circle cut by a chord which really bugged me for some reason. Elephone mentions that this is actually an intended design behavior and not an accidental fault. On the same note, you can tilt the phone at an angle and see the lit up display underneath the screen. We asked Elephone about it, and they mentioned that our review unit belongs to the first batch of engineering units. This has been “optimized” in the consumer release versions, so we hope that consumers get the full LED that they paid for.

Moving on to the mid frame of the P9000, it is made out of aluminum, and tries to seamlessly meet the display. There is a chamfered edge where the frame meets the back. The frame has a smooth finish to it, which overall, really helps with the handling of the device.

You will find the power button centered on the right edge of the frame, but strangely off centered towards the back. The positioning is better described by pictures than by words, which you will find below. Above the power button is the volume rocker. On the top edge of the frame, you will find the 3.5mm headphone jack on the left, and plastic antenna bands mirrored on both sides. On the left edge of the mid frame, you will find the tray slot for the SIM cards and microsd cards, along with a convenience key. This hardware button can be configured to launch an app of your choice, and can be long pressed to toggle between Vibrate and General sound profiles. On the bottom of the mid frame, you will find the speaker holes (only the right side houses the speaker), hole for the microphone and the USB Type C port.

The back of the device features a Sandstone finish, with the back curving slightly when it comes to meet the chamfered metal side edges. The top half of the back holds the camera sensor, which protrudes a bit; dual tone LED flash, laser autofocus and the fingerprint scanner. On the bottom is the Elephone logo.

IMG_20160301_123154

The Elephone P9000 box bears only the minimal required accessories for the device, namely the USB Type C to Type A cable, and some device documentation. There is no charging adapter included. If you wish to get some more accessories beyond this, you will have to purchase them separately. Elephone was nice enough to send an extended box for accessories, which included a fast charger adapter, another USB cable (same as in the box), a wireless charger (which curiously has a micro usb port, and does not quick charge), a clear silicon case, a flip cover case, a glass screen protector and a SIM removal tool. That is a lot of accessories that they bundled in, but do note that these are all sold separately.

Talking about the design of the P9000, it bears zero resemblance to the P8000. Well, apart from the Elephone logo obviously. The device looks more like the OnePlus 2 than it does as a P8000 successor. The device dimensions of P9000 are shrunk down to house the 5.5″ display, and the result is a device with a very good screen-to-body ratio. There are no annoying black borders on the display and the bezels, albeit marketed over-enthusiastically, are practical enough. The P9000 is smaller than the OnePlus One and just a hair’s breadth thinner, but it is drastically different in dimensions from the P8000. Even when it comes to weight, the P9000 is lighter than the OnePlus One and feels almost half of the P8000 because of how the weight is distributed on both the phones. Take a look at the gallery below, keeping in mind that all three of these devices house a 5.5″ display:

The Sandstone Back on the P9000 is quite flimsy. The “rough” texture felt very shallow with no depth to it. After a few hours of use, the back feels a lot more smooth and soft, which shouldn’t be happening. You don’t get the same feeling to it when compared to OnePlus devices. The device is still plenty grippable, but the texture on the back will likely put you off into purchasing a case.

Overall, the design and build of the P9000 bring in mixed reactions, but most of them are positive. The texture on the back and the cutoff LED are the biggest complaints. Outside of that, you will love what you are receiving. A premium device that is quite light but not fragile – that is the aura the P9000 gives off, one of robustness and confidence. People who hold the device will have a difficult time believing this comes from a Chinese OEM. If I were to say that the Elephone P9000 was the best device that Elephone has made, I would not be wrong. And you would agree as well.

Continue to Software UI & Features

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