Smile! It’s the Gionee S8, and that’s the expression that’ll make you want it

Gionee says its new smartphone is a smilephone, and that's why you'll buy it

The Gionee S8 gorgeous metal phone with distinct visual flair and a 3D Touch screen, but nearly ruins by borrowing too heavily from Apple for the UI

This time last year, Chinese company Gionee turned up at Mobile World Congress with the super slim Elife S7, and in 2016, it’s back not only with the sequel, but also a completely new brand identity. Gionee says it has worked out what makes us buy certain types of smartphones (by which it means Apple phones), and it’s because they make us smile. Armed with this information, it has come up with a new logo and the Gionee S8 — which it often referred to as the ‘smilephone.’ Yep, really.

Did the Gionee S8 make us smile? Yes, it absolutely did, but not always for the best reasons.

That’s great, but then it becomes the only question that’s important: Did the Gionee S8 make us smile? Yes, it absolutely did, but not always for the best reasons. On the positive side, the Gionee S8 is beautifully made. That’s not new for the company either, the models we’ve reviewed in the past have always been top-notch. It’s made of a smooth metal, and rather than stretch the antenna bars across the body, it has run them around the edge of the device. This cleans up the back of the phone, and frames the body nicely. Handling the phone is pleasant. It’s very light and only 7mm thick, but still manages to fit in a 3000mAh battery. We smiled.

The screen is also smile-inducing. It measures 5.5-inches and has a 1080p resolution, and because it’s an AMOLED panel, it looks great. The Amigo user interface hasn’t made us smile in the past, and it’s version 3.2 installed here. It has many annoying alterations — putting the quick access buttons in a drawer that’s pulled up from the screen rather than down, for example —but it did at least feel fluid and smooth in our quick tests. The screen has 3D Touch, adding pressure sensitive shortcuts to certain apps, just like the iPhone 6S. It’s not the only similarity, the shortcut menu is almost identical to the one used by Apple in iOS. It’s actually almost too close for comfort. We still smiled, but not not in a good way. It’s also limited to only a few apps, and for animating the live wallpaper.

There’s plenty of connectivity options, including VoLTE and Cat 6 LTE, plus some interesting new apps. For example, you can clone WhatsApp — because it’s not possible to install two versions of the app on a single Android phone — because the phone has dual-SIM slots, so you can have a separate WhatsApp account for each number. Gionee really pushed the S8’s camera, boasting about video editing features, a slow motion mode, and a new beauty mode for selfies. These we’ve seen before, but the RWB 16-megapixel sensor supposedly improves low-light photography without increasing the backlight, resulting in better images. That’s new, and not something we’ve tried before.

The MediaTek octa-core Helio P10 processor is also new, and there’s a massive 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage space, plus a MicroSD card slot inside the dual-SIM tray. It’s a strong package, and we really liked the design and in-hand comfort, but as with previous Gionee phones it may be difficult to actually buy. It’s going on sale in the next few months for 450 euros, but there’s no word of a wide international launch. That means looking for an importer if you really want one.

Adding up the smiles, the S8 did manage more happy smiles than condescending ones, which means Gionee may be onto something with its research.

Highs:

  • High-tech camera
  • Clever antenna design
  • Bright AMOLED screen
  • 3D Touch

Lows:

  • 3D Touch isn’t utilized enough
  • UI borrows from Apple
Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.
Social Media

Facebook is rolling out a Messenger ‘unsend’ feature and here’s how to use it

Facebook is starting to roll out a "remove message" feature for its Messenger app. It lets you delete a message in a thread within 10 minutes of sending it, and replaces it with a note telling recipients that it's been removed.
Computing

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…
Movies & TV

Winter coming in spring? HBO reveals 'Game of Thrones' season 8 premiere date

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.
Mobile

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.
Mobile

Upcoming Galaxy S10 may support 8K video and have Neural Processing Unit

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Mobile

Netflix is testing a cheap mobile-only subscription tier in some markets

Netflix is trying to reach potential subscribers in emerging markets. To that end, the company has begun rolling out a cheaper, mobile-only subscription tier, which comes at around $4 per month -- half the price of the Basic subscription…
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Mobile

Samsung will reportedly announce its folding smartphone at MWC in February

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy F, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.
Mobile

Check out 30 of the best iPhone games you need to be playing

The iPhone has some of our favorite games available for any mobile platform. Here are the best iPhone games for every big-name genre, whether you're into puzzles, strategy, or something else entirely.
Mobile

Text messages are disappearing on Pixel 3s, but a fix is on the way

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are arguably the best Android phones out there right now -- but they aren't perfect. Users have reported a number of issues and problems related to the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Here's how to fix them.
Mobile

Get ready for more V-series phones: LG trademarks names up to the V90

It looks like we should get ready for more LG V-series phones. LG has trademarked names for the LG V50 all the way up to the LG V90. We may have to wait some time before we see these phones; the next LG flagship is expected to be the LG G8.
Home Theater

What is MHL, exactly, and how does it work with your TV?

There are more ways to mirror your smartphone or tablet to your TV than you might think. Check out our rundown of MHL for everything you need to know about the wired protocol and its myriad uses.
Deals

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…