The 6.4 inch Xperia Ultra or the 6.3 Galaxy Mega ‘phablet’ (phone tablet) may be perfect for your needs but are expensive. Luckily phablets are popular in Asia so there are low cost Chinese produced alternatives (list & links).
They have more memory & storage than the Galaxy Mega, and same/higher MP cameras & screen resolution. But are they a disappointment or a real bargain?
Well, the model I bought exceeded my expectations and impressed my top of the range smartphone owning friends:
The Elephone P6S ($248.99 / £157.18) is the same phone but with an octa-core processor & faster GPU. The P6 is no slouch, and apart from speed (I’ll cover differences) the contents of this review should apply to both the P6 and P6S
To confuse matters Elephone have now released a totally different 5 inch phone called the P6i which is NOT covered in this review.
(prices as at 5 Feb 2014)
Models have either an octa-core MTK6592 or quad-core MTK6589T processor, Dual SIM (full & micro), micro SD slot & FM radio. The P6 also has a 2GB/32GB option. Android version: 4.2.2.
Memory: The P6 is equipped with either 1GB RAM and 16GB internal storage, or 2GB & 32GB. The P6S has 2GB RAM and 16GB storage.
Screen resolution is 1280 x 720 (“HD”) and rear/front cameras are 8MP/2MP i.e. the same as the Galaxy Mega. Many Chinese phablets have higher MP cameras and 1080 x 1920 FHD resolution (see phablet list); but “ordinary HD” has advantages (see below).
Included with the phone are the usual USB cable, mains charger, earphones, and a spare screen protector film.
The phone was as described by the store. However, both the spec label stuck to the box and initial protective screen film my phone came in show incorrect details for the phone.
Despite the low price it is an excellent phone. It offers far better value than equivalent phones available in the “West”; and its only real competitors are other Chinese phablets.
The Elephone P6S/P6 can be used as an all in one phone, satnav, web browser, radio, “Kindle”, camera, games, MP3 and video player. With its 6.3 inch screen it’s small enough to carry as a phone but large enough for a tablet experience.
It saved me over £200 on the price of the Galaxy Mega i9200 6.3 8GB (the cheapest similar phone in the UK).
The low cost hasn’t resulted in a poor product; the display is just as good, and unlike the Mega it has a decent amount of internal storage and an FM radio. However, like the Mega i9200 you don’t get LTE. This isn’t an issue for me, LTE is still rolling out in the UK and data caps make it expensive.
The phone was designed for 3G on 850/2100MHz which suits many/most(?) countries. In the UK 2100MHz is alloted for 3G so my P6 is great. However some countries use 900, or 1900MHz, or a mix of frequencies; so check with your network provider. In the US some networks use 850MHz for 3G but on many you will have partial 3G coverage or only receive a 2G GSM service.
Size & Usability
If you’ve seen or handled a Galaxy Mega 6.3 you’ll have feel for its size. The P6/P6S’s width & length are near identical but it is slightly thicker (see spec). It fits my pockets (even jeans), I’m using it as my only phone and it has replaced my tablet.
There is also an optional smart wake view” case (£4.99) and I’m ordering one.
The volume button is on the left side, the “On” button is almost directly opposite on the right. Because of my last phone I’m used to a power button on the top. When grasping the P6 I initially found I’d accidentally press the power button whilst adjusting the volume. I’m now used to the phone, but placing the power button on the top would have been better.
Touch screen sensitivity was spot on for finger use. Unlike some modern phones I couldn’t use the touch screen whilst wearing gloves; however, you can use Air Gestures with the P6. I’m not an AG fan, I’d maybe use it for ebook page turning but neither the Kindle or FBreader appear to work with Air Gestures.
Both the Elephone P6S and P6 come with Android 4.2.2. and mine arrived set to the English default.
Price hasn’t compromised performance. Unlike my previous phone I wasn’t irritated by lags – even after trying the fast Galaxy S4. My P6 achieved an Antutu(v4) score of 16488 which is close to Google’s Nexus 4. If latest processor heavy games are important opt for the P6S. Its Antutu benchmark places it in the same league as the S4 & Nexus 5.
The P6 feels solid and doesn’t look cheap. The rear cover is plastic and fairly flexible, but once in place is feels as strong and firm as the rest of the phone.
At the price I was expecting some sub-standard components e.g. sound. However, I don’t feel anything is below par. Sound/volume are better than my 2 year old LG Optimus and quite acceptable. With a phone of this size there is room for a large removable battery, and (assuming it doesn’t die) it is brilliant – currently at 49%, and well over 3 days since last charged (I’m not a heavy user but this does include browsing via 3G & WIFI, music, photos, plus testing Apps, Sat Nav and video for this review).
The battery was marked 4200mAh, but the store spec shows it as 3000mHa. Whichever it is, it is more than adequate.
Display & Camera
Like the Galaxy Mega the P6 has a 1280×720 (HD) display. I love the display on my P6. I let 2 friends try it out, both had FHD screen phones (S4 & Nexus 5) both thought the display on the 6.3 inch screen was fantastic especially video and used words like crisp and lovely colour. HD also has some advantages over FHD (1080×1920): In theory: i. fonts will be bigger (better for those with middle age eyesight like me) ii. FHD requires more processing so if 2 phones have the same “processor” the HD phone will be faster/handle more frames per second.
The Elephones 2MP/8MP cameras are responsive compared to my previous phone and I noticed no difference in lag between my P6 and a Nexus 5. Quality is average, but good enough for the type of snaps I take.
If you want FHD (1080 x 1920) or 13MP camera there are plenty of other Chinese phablets to choose from.
One common complaint with Chinese phones is trouble getting GPS to work properly. I’d read that the Elephone didn’t have these problems, and I’ve used my P6 for Satnav in my car and can confirm it worked without any tweaking.
Other Points to note
Electrical Goods sold to the EU should have a CE certification mark. The phone has a CE logo (genuine or not), but the mains charger doesn’t. The absence of a CE mark does not necessarily mean a product is unsafe. The charger appears to be safe (it gets no warmer than my last phone charger), but you can’t be certain. If this is a concern to you, buy a replacement from a local store (Maplin sell a suitable charger for only £2.99).
I recommend using the earphones off your old phone. The supplied earphones are as good as others and volume excellent; and they had the usual button to skip tracks when using the P6 for MP3s. However the earphone jack is 1.5mm longer than standard and when fully inserted looks like it could be pushed slightly further in. I thought, if fully in, the earphone button might have the capability to accept/end phone calls. So in the interest of this review I forced the jack all the way into the socket. Unfortunately the only result of the forcing was that the supplied earphones with their longer jack are now the only ones that work with the phone.
Specification as detailed by Banggodd:
|Model||Elephone P6 or P6S|
|Band||2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G: WCDMA 850/2100MHz
|Sim Card||Dual SIM Card Dual Standby|
|OS||Android OS 4.2.2|
|CPU for P6 Model||MediaTek MT6589T, Quad core 1.5GHz with Cortex™-A7 and low power consumption.|
|CPU for P6S Model||MediaTek MTK6592 1.7GHz Octa-core|
|Internal Storage||P6: 16 or 32GB; P6S: 16GB|
|RAM||P6: 1GB or 2GB; P6S: 2GB|
|Display Size||6.3 Inch|
|Type||Original mega screen|
|Resolution||1280*720 pixels HD screen|
|Screen Color||16000K Colors|
|Ringtones Type||Support Polyphonic/MP3|
|Audio Format||Support MP3/WAV/AMR/AWB|
|Music&Sound format||Support AAC/AAC+/EAAC+/WAV/MP3/MIDI/AMR|
|Graphical Format||Support JPEG/BMP/GIF/PNG|
|E-Book Format||Support TXT/CHM/DOC/HTML|
|FM Radio||Support, a 3.5mm earphones is needed|
|Card Extend||Support micro SD/TF card up to 64GB|
|Data Transfer & Connectivity|
|Camera/Picture Resolution||Dual Cameras, 2.0MP front camera, 8.0MP back camera with flashlight|
|Video screen||1080p Video records with sound|
|Language||As the pictures show.|
|Navigation||Yes, Built-in GPS chip (GPS+AGPS)|
|Multi-Touch||Yes,5 point touch|
|Note: no electronic compass|
|Talk time||350-480 (Unit:Mins)|
|Standby time||200-250 (Unit:Hour)|
3G, WIFI, GPS, FM, Bluetooth, Ebook, Email, Messaging,wallpapers,calendar, calculator, clock, camera, OTG, etc
|Net Weight(Including battery)||230g|
|Package Included||1 x Elephone P6 ot P6S Smart Phone|
|1 x 3000mAh Battery (mine was marked 4200mAh)|
|1 x USB Cable|
|1 x Earphone|
|1 x Charger|
|1 x Protector|
|1 x User’s Manual(English – but not much use)|