Elephone U Pro Review: More Than just a Galaxy S9 Clone?
- Good Value For Money
- Good Battery Life
- Beautiful Design
- Vibrant Amoled Screen
- Camera is Lackluster in Low Light
- Design is Uninspired
- Slow Fingerprint Scanner
“Is that a Galaxy S9?” This was the question posed to me regularly when I was using the Elephone U Pro as a daily driver for this review. For better or worse, the phone bears a striking resemblance to the Galaxy S9. More questions were asked when I remarked that this phone was the Elephone U Pro; a “little-known smartphone from Shenzhen”.
This description in itself is a category of smartphone populated by smartphone makers such as OUKITEL, Dogee, and Elephone. These manufacturers are known for making phones at a breakneck pace and selling them at unbelievable prices. Unfortunately, most of these phones bear little regard for the intellectual property of major smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, Apple, and Xiaomi.
However, this is hardly something to be concerned about considering Android phone manufacturers take design cues from Apple and each other at times. Moreover, for their price, these smartphones offer a whole lot more value for money. The Elephone U Pro is one such phone. Priced at around RM1863.16 on GearBest (excluding the use of any GearBest discount) this phone is positioned as a flagship with a midrange price that can give flagships like the Galaxy S9 phones a run for its money. How does this phone stack up? Read on to find out.
* We would like to thank GearBest for sending us the Elephone U Pro to review.
Elephone U Pro Specifications
|Categories||Elephone U Pro (~RM1863.16)||Galaxy S9+ (~RM3999)|
|Snapdragon 660 Octa –
14nm, (1.8 GHz Kryo 260)
Exynos 9810 Octa – (4 x 2.9GHz + 4 x 1.9GHz)
|Screen: 5.99″ 18:9 curved flexible AMOLED screen
Resolution: 2160×1080 pixels, (~403 ppi density)
Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass 5
Wide color gamut: 103% sRGB
|Screen: 6.2” 18:9 curved Super AMOLED Screen
Resolution: 1440 x 2960 pixels, (~529 ppi density)
Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass 5
3D Touch (home button only)
13MP+13MP(RGB+Mono), ArcSoft algorithm, Bokeh effect
Front camera: 8MP
12 MP+12MP (Wide Variable Aperture 1.5 and 2.4+Telephoto), OIS, phase detection autofocus, 2x optical zoom, LED flash
Front camera: 8MP
Band Details (EU):
CDMA: BC0 (800)
|Cellular: GSM / HSPA / LTE
2G bands GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 – SIM 1 & SIM 2 (dual-SIM model only)
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100
4G Network LTE Speed HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A (6CA) Cat18 1200/200 Mbps
|WIFI||WLAN:802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4GHz/5GHz||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band|
|SIM||Dual SIM model (Hybrid SIM slot): Nano SIM+Nano SIM/TF up to 1tB
|GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 – SIM 1 & SIM 2 (dual-SIM model only)
microSD, up to 400 GB (uses SIM 2 slot) – dual SIM model only
|OS||Android 8.0.0 Oreo||Android 8.0.0 Oreo with Samsung Experience|
|Bluetooth||BT 5.0||BT 5.0|
|Battery||Non-removable 3550mAh with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and Wireless Charging||
Non-removable 3500 mAh battery with – Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 and Wireless Charging
|USB||USB Type-C||USB Type-C|
|Headphone Jack||Not Supported||Supported|
Although it may seem unfair to compare the Elephone U Pro to the soon to be released Galaxy S9+; it stacks up surprisingly well. While the S9+ may have a better display, camera, and IP rating, these things are not necessarily vital a phone’s core experience. This is where the Elephone U Pro shines. Just looking at its specifications, this is a lot of phone for the price.
Packaging And Accessories
The phone comes in a simple eco-friendly cardboard box. Inside the box there is a:
- Data cable (100cm)
- Type-C to 3.5mm headphone adaptor
- AC power charger adapter( 100~240V / EU plug)
- English user manual
- Pin for SIM Card
- TPU Case
There’s no avoiding it, this phone looks a lot like the Galaxy S9. However, this is no cheap knockoff. In terms of build quality, the Elephone U Pro is largely indistinguishable from its Samsung counterpart. Weighing in at a lightweight 166g, this phone is a finely machined piece of aluminum sandwiched by Gorilla Glass. Our review unit came in this vibrant shade of blue. Aside from a small logo on the back, this phone does not have any other branding. All in all, it is rather impressive that Elephone managed to match up to Samsung’s build quality whic sets it apart from the other Galaxy clones.
As for the display, the Elephone features an almost bezel-less 6-inch full HD+ (2160×1080) 18:9 flexible AMOLED screen that covers 103% of the sRGB color gamut. This translates to a great screen that is bright, sharp, vibrant with good contrast and very pleasing for everyday use. One of the standout features of the phone as the 2.5D glass flows seamlessly over the edges. When watching YouTube videos, I was able to let the video zoom out and fill the edges of the screen.
The front camera features an 8mp selfie-shooter that takes pictures that are rather pleasant. This picture was taken straight out of the camera with the sun coming in through the window. In addition, you can add a bokeh effect after you take a picture in the gallery. However, when it comes to lowlight performance, it is rather poor.
Unlike other phones in this category, the Elephone features two real 13MP sensors. These sensors are almost identical but serve different functions. One sensor takes in all the color information while the other sensor takes in monochrome light information. The phone then blends these two images in software to create a sharper image with a higher amount of dynamic range. Here are some straight out of camera samples from said cameras.
Additionally, the phone has a portrait mode that creates fake bokeh. Using the phone’s dual lenses, the phone creates an image that has a nice blurred background.
However, the Elephone trips up in low light situations. Photos taken in these conditions are soft, noisy and are not very usable.
Overall, this is a decent shooter that takes good quality images in good light and features many shooting modes. However, when the light is scarce, this phone suffers which is not acceptable for this price.
As for the video, the Elephone U Pro outputs in 4k and full HD. Footage from the camera is very good for this price point. However, videos from this phone are rather shaky due to a lack of Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).
Elephone U Pro Unlocking Options
The Elephone’s fingerprint scanner is located at the back of the phone below the rear cameras. Coming from the Redmi Note 4x’s almost instantaneous fingerprint scanner, I was disappointed as the Elephone’s scanner felt sluggish in comparison; taking about a second to detect my finger and unlock.
However, the Elephone U Pro makes up for this with face unlock. The phone uses the front-facing camera to detect my face and unlock the phone. This worked fairly quickly in good and poor lighting conditions and was a reliable replacement for the fingerprint scanner. Do note that this feature is also less secure than the fingerprint sensor.
UI: Stock Android Goodness
Software-wise, the phone comes loaded with Android Oreo 8.0.0. Aside from the launcher, the experience you get is pretty close to stock android, with added features such as the ability to customize the navigation keys. In addition, the phone comes with very little bloatware.The impressive thing about this phone was that it came updated with the latest February security patch. Although it did not come with the latest version of Android, I was receiving regular updates from Elephone.
Hardware and Performance
As for the hardware, Elephone made the switch from Mediatek processors to the Qualcomm 660;, the latest midrange processor from Qualcomm. This switch is rather significant as it shows that Elephone is serious about making a great phone as although processors from Qualcomm are better, they are also generally more expensive than their counterparters. Although the processor is midrange, its performance and battery efficiency is nothing to sniff at. Coupled with 6GB of ram, this phone is plenty powerful. For daily use, the phone is generally fast but not the most responsive. This could be a sign that the software is not fully optimized as the hardware is more than capable of providing a smooth experience.
After nearly a week spent using this phone, I was getting an average of 8 hours of screen on time on the Elephone U Pro. The phone was used mainly on WiFi and 4G and I was using it for messaging, emails, Reddit, listening to music on Spotify and browsing Instagram. More often than not, the phone can comfortably last a whole day and more under light use.
As for charging, the Elephone supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 with its included charger. Topping up the phone was incredibly fast as I was seeing 70% of battery restored in an hour. Additionally, the phone supports wireless charging as well.
Availability and Warranty
The Elephone U Pro is available on Gearbest for RM1863.16. Head on over to ShopBack for deals, coupons, and cashback.
One Year Repair Warranty
The phone comes with a year-long limited warranty. However, the customer has to cover shipping fees for delivery and return.
The Elephone U Pro is a slightly great phone. Aside from the ‘inspired’ design, this phone offers a similar experience to flagships that cost much more than its price. The main caveat lies with its camera. In today’s world of excellent mobile cameras, no phone can be truly superb without having a good camera, and the Elephone U Pro lags behind in this regard.
Regardless, almost everything else about this phone measures up to the aspiration of premium, flagship-tier quality. At RM1863.16 the phone is keeping up with phones that cost twice as much providing great bang for the buck.