Do you remember the first bezel-less smartphone? I think it was Xiaomi Mi Mix with an incredible combination of display and case materials. After the release of the second generation Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, the other Chinese manufacturers decided to make their own devices, and made phones with similar design. So, now there are a lot of bezel-less, tri-bezel-less, full screen and other smartphones with thin bezels around the display.
Yes, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is a flagship smartphone with high-end specifications and premium design. As you know, only few Chinese companies are ready to make expensive phones. Elephone is one of them. In September 2017, the Chinese manufacturer released Elephone S8 Red with flagship specifications, especially 2K display. It was very interesting mid-range smartphone. At the beginning of 2018, Elephone decided to update its smartphone with Red color version. The specs and features are the same, but now it looks even more premium.
We received Elephone S8 Red from our partner GearBest for unboxing and full review. Below you can find link with best price of new smartphone.
- CPU: MediaTek Helio X25(two cores Cortex-A72 to 2.5 GHz, eight cores Cortex-A53 up to 2 / 1.55 GHz;
- GPU: Mali-T880 MP4, up to 850 MHz);
- RAM: 4GB LPDDR3;
- Internal memory: 64GB eMMC;
- Memory card: no slot;
- Display: 6 inches, 2560×1440 pixels, Sharp, Corning Gorilla Glass 4;
- Cameras: rear Sony IMX220 20.8MP, front Sony IMX2198MP;
- Mobile network: GSM (B2, B3, B5, B8), WCDMA: (B1, B8), FDD-LTE (B1, B3, B7, B20), TDD-LTE: (B38, B40);
- Communications: GPS / GLONASS, Wi-Fi 802.11 b / g / n / ac (2.4 and 5 GHz), Bluetooth;
- Battery: 4000mAh lithium-polymer built-in;
- Features: fingerprint reader under Home button;
- NFC support: no;
- Dimensions: 152 x 80.7 x 8.6 mm;
- Weight: 195 g.
Elephone S8 Red: Package and unboxing
The smartphone comes in an unremarkable white box. There is only company logo on the front side. From one of the sides you can see a sticker with IMEI codes and model name. The package material is strong cardboard, so the contents have arrived safely and intact.
Inside, the package is three-tiered: the top is in the plastic lock, the smartphone itself is located; under it in the cardboard box is a complete polyurethane cover and SIM needle; at the very bottom, you can find a charger, USB Type-C cable and user manual in English. The charge model is KS150004R, and it provides only 10 watts (5V/2A) output power. Of course, this is not fast charging, because the competitor already use chargers with 18 watts and sometimes even 25 watts.
Elephone S8 Red: Design
Bezel-less design for sure is the main feature of 2017-2018 phones. But also mirror glossy rear panels became very popular among mid-range and flagship devices. Elephone S8 Red is no exception; it combines these two design features. The back panel, judging by the manufacturer’s description, is two-layered, and the outer layer is a glass surface that provides interesting refraction and play of light. It looks beautiful and attracts attention. By the way, the red color is bright and evocative. If you don’t like red color options, then you can choose from black and blue colors.
However, beautiful design does not mean practical using. The rear panel is immediately covered with fingerprints, which spoil the “wow effect”. Of course, you can use transparent silicone case, which also protects against scratches (the glossy surface is easily scratched). The smartphone is very comfortable to hold in one hand, thanks to rounded back panel and rough aluminum sides, painted in red together with the buttons. Samsung Galaxy S8 also has rounded sides, and it looks very impressive, however it slips in your hand, while Elephone S8 is kept in your hand better by non-slippery aluminum sides.
The design of the front panel is incredibly ascetic. Its main feature is the screen, which has almost no bezels on the sides (the width about 2 mm). The width of the upper bezel is 4 mm. There is a hole for earpiece.
The front camera moved to the right corner of the bottom bezel. The flash is located in the left corner. This solution was quite convenient, but you should turn the phone over to make a selfie. The Home button under the display is not pressed. It combines a fingerprint reader and a touch key that replaces the system buttons of Android OS. A short touch to the button returns one-menu item back, a double touch returns to the desktop, and a long touch brings up a list of running apps. Interesting control scheme, but you can also activate the usual on-screen keys.
At the bottom, you can find USB Type-C port. It looks like a welcome guest in 2018. However there is no headphone jack. Also you cannot find an adapter from USB Type-C to 3.5 mm audio jack in the package, although some competitors do not save on such a cheap accessory. To the left and to the right of USB Type-C port there are speaker grilles. The speaker is actually one, and it is located on the right.
On the right side of smartphone, you can see volume rocker and power button. The rifling helps not to confuse buttons to the touch. The slot for two nano-SIM cards is located on the left side. It’s a pity, but Elephone S8 Red doesn’t support microSD memory cards. It means that you have only 64GB of storage for your personal files.
At the top there is only a hole for noise canceling microphone.
The smartphone is made of high quality materials. I really like how it looks glass back panel, but you should not forget that it is easily to scratch. In addition, it collects the fingerprints. The rounded metal sides make the smartphone comfortable to hold in one hand. The corners are also rounded, so the 6-inch smartphone can be can be worn in the pocket of jeans or pants.
Elephone S8 Red: Display
The 6-inch bezel-less display is the main feature of Elephone S8 Red. It occupies 92.4% of the front panel area. It is produced by Sharp, while its resolution is 2560 x 1440 pixels, or 403 pixels per inch. As a result, a large diagonal offers a clear image, so the individual pixels are not visible to the eye.
I should not that color rendition “out of the box” is not perfect, but good. For the professional use it will require additional calibration. MiraVision utility can be useful. It provides not only contrast and saturation settings, but also color temperature, blue radiation level and other options. By default, the image is slightly warm.
Automatic brightness control works well. However, I found a very low minimum level of brightness, so it may be uncomfortable to use the phone in total darkness. From the other hand, the maximum brightness is excellent for using the phone under the direct sunlight. OLED panel provides amazing contrast.
Elephone S8 Red: Sound
The speaker has high volume, and it does not lose the intelligibility of sound. Of course, the music lovers should use headphones and external speaker, but the built-in speaker provides good performance for watching YouTube videos, to talk on speakerphone and other stuff.
Elephone S8 Red: Camera
The rear camera has 20.8MP sensor model Sony IMX220. This is not the newest sensor, because Sony Xperia Z1 and some other models from Xperia Series are equipped with the sensor. However, we know that Sony phones take really good photos. Many Chinese smartphones are equipped with newer sensors, but they make bad images. As for the front camera, it is equipped with flashlight (as well as the rear camera), and it has 8MP sensor Sony IMX219.
The camera application is typical for all smartphones on MediaTek platforms, but Elephone S8 Red has some interesting functions. For example, you can shoot a photo in DNG (RAW) format and picture-in-picture mode. To be honest, I did not like the longtime of focusing and the list of available resolutions (21 and 20Mp), because I would like to choose from 12-18-megapixels values.
If we talk about image equality, Elephone S8 Red takes sharp and detailed phones. The result in camera app may be not impressive, but the final picture is pretty good. It means that smartphone makes image processing before final result. The smartphone has only single rear camera, so it doesn’t have bokeh mode, portrait photos and blur background. Color rendition is not bad.
However, sometimes you may notice little artifacts. They are mostly noticeable only in comparison with another flagship phones. I hope the manufacturer fix the speed of focusing and dynamic scenes with software updates. Right now Elephone S8 Red makes good images, but I believe it can do better, because the camera sensors are very good.
Elephone S8 Red: OS and user interface
Elephone S8 Red runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat version 20171018 out of the box. It is almost stock Android system, but watches on the lock screen has been redesigned, several applications and options have been added in the settings menu.
Also you can find Elephone Service app to leave feedback about the smartphone and read the official forum with reviews from other users. Many people say that Elephone S8 Red doesn’t support external USB flash drives via OTG. It is true, my Toshiba U382 drive, that is designed for mobile devices, was not determined by the smartphone. You cannot use microSD memory cards and external flash drive. So, the cloud is the main thing you can use to expend 64GB of internal memory.
Elephone S8 Red comes with pre-installed file manager and task manager, a notebook for text notes, and locker for selected applications with access via a digital password. Also, you can close the access to files by selecting them in file manager and setting a graphic password.
The camera can be launched by double pressing the power button even on a locked smartphone. The scrolling with two fingers adjusts the volume, while using three fingers makes a screenshot.
You can create a list of important apps that will not be unloaded from RAM, even if they are minimized. This function can be useful for instant messengers, or other apps where the user reaction time is important.
The front fingerprint reader works very fast. I did not have any problems with recognition. The whole process takes milliseconds.
Elephone S8 Red: Hardware platform and performance
In addition to great display, another important part of Elephone S8 Red is hardware platform. Helio X25 is one of the most productive SoC from MediaTek among the already released smartphones. In coming months, we are waiting for new mobile chipsets, but now the hardware of Elephone S8 Red looks very attractive. It has powerful SoC, a large amount of RAM LPDDR3 (4GB) and flash memory (64GB). You can compare Elephone S8 RED with smartphones on Snapdragon 660 and above. In other words, Elephone S8 is very good mid-range phone, and just for design and display it can be compared to flagship models for $500+.
Helio X25 includes as many as ten processor cores: two powerful Cortex-A72 frequencies up to 2.5 GHz for the most demanding apps, four Cortex-A53 frequencies up to 2 GHz for tasks simpler and four more Cortex-A53 (up to 1.55 GHz) for the most basic apps or background tasks. The graphics is GPU Mali-T880 MP4 frequency up to 850MHz. This is relatively new 16 nm process technology that should keep heating and battery life within reasonable limits.
Below you can see benchmarks tests. In my opinion, Elephone S8 Red has great benchmarks results.
Elephone S8 provides a completely comfortable gameplay in most Android games, such as Asphalt 8, Dead Trigger 2, Lineage 2, and even PUBG Mobile.
Elephone S8 Red smartphone supports the following mobile networks and bands: GSM (B2, B3, B5, B8), WCDMA: (B1, B8), FDD-LTE (B1, B3, B7, B20), TDD-LTE: (B38, B40). It has a slot for two nanoSIM cards, but not for microSD memory card.
Wi-Fi adapter a/b/g/n/ac operates in two bands (2.4 and 5 GHz). I tested the smartphone via 50MB/s internet connection. As you cans see, SpeedTest shows about 16MB/s download speed, and 37MB/s upload speed. Also I doesn’t have any problems with GPS. It starts very fast, and the accuracy is about 3 meters.
Elephone S8 Red: Battery
Elephone S8 Red is equipped with non-removable battery with a capacity of 4000mAh. This is really big battery, but you should not forget about a large display and a powerful platform. Probably it have increased power consumption, so look at my battery test results.
First, I watch a movie with a half brightness of the screen and maximum volume of the speaker. The smartphone works about 6 hours before full discharged. It is not a record, but also not very bad. You can count on full day of battery life with moderate using.
Elephone S8 Red is very interesting smartphone, but I cannot say that it is my favorite phone ever. Of course, it has one of the best display I have ever tested. There is amazing bezel-less display, 2K resolution and AMOLED panel with excellent contrast. Also the smartphone fairly powerful hardware, so you will not have problems with resource-intensive games. The camera from Sony rakes good photos, but I am waiting for software updated to fix focus speed. Also I didn’t have problems with heating, hangs or reboots. Everything works nice.
Among the disadvantages, I can note 64GB of internal flash memory. There is no way to expend internal memory with microSD memory cards or external USB flash drive. Also, the smartphone doesn’t have 3.5mm audio jack, so you need to buy adapter from USB Type-C. The last software updates were few months ago, and to be honest I don’t believe that there will be OTA updated. It seems that U series (Elephone U/U Pro) became the main for Chinese manufacturer, so it can forget about software updated for other phones. Perhaps, you should install latest updates for yourself using PC.
Right now, the price of Elephone S8 Red is about $230, and I think it is a great deal for this phone.
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