The M2 4G Phablet by Elephone transpires itself worldwide and does that in style. This new smartphone gets unveiled while a large audience looks at it with an inquisitive eye. Through this elephone M2 review, we intend to cover the nitty-gritty associated with this device which in turn would give you a better understanding of this device so that you can make a wise choice! So, let’s begin with the Elephone M2 review.
The Elephone M2 smartphone comes in a standard charcoal black, rectangular box which is a good touch to the design quality of the entire product. The Elephone logo is etched on the top while the name is centered at both sides of the packaging. The M2 logo is etched to the center of the top cover and at the bottom, there’s a nice little quote that says,”Keep expecting and be surprised.” True words can not be said any differently as using the device for sometime, I was definitely surprised and honestly, given Elephone’s marketing on their webpage, I was expecting the device to at least get me interested for some time, that it did pretty well.
Within the box, you can find the tray which rests the phone. A gigantic beast to begin with since we are looking at a Phablet design. The phone comes inside a protective plastic bag. Beneath the tray, we can find a USB cable and a docking charger (5V/1A). The phone comes with two front and two back, clear protective covers aside from the ones that are already on it. There’s a Quick Start Guide and the entire booklet is written in English which does explain that Elephone has kept the US and EU market in mind when designing this phone.
Last but not least, we can found an ejector pin which is used to eject the sim tray out of the phone. The accessories that come with the M2 are nothing fancy but that’s a given due to the budget aimed theme of the phone. Regardless, it should have been nice to see a pair of headphones with this phone, I guess it’s not much to ask for.
Overall, I would rate the design of this package to be a great thing and something that offers a showcase of the device that is within it.
Elephone, like a few other Chinese budget phone makers, doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to build quality and materials, but that’s something the company is clearly very keen to change with the M2. It boasts an all-metal construction which delivers a premium look and calls to mind the likes of the iPhone 5S and Sony Xperia Z5.
The unibody design is broken on the back by two strips of plastic which allow the internal antenna to function correctly – the topmost strip also houses the Sony-made MX214 13-megapixel camera and LED flash.
The top edge of the phone is where the 3.5mm headphone socket resides, while on the bottom you’ll find the mono speaker and Micro USB port. The volume and power buttons are unusually situated on the left-hand edge of the device as opposed to the right, where you’d normally expect to find them.
In the M2’s case, the right edge of the phone is home to the Micro SIM card tray. This offers dual-SIM capability – another hallmark of phones aimed at the Chinese market – but you can choose to insert a microSD card in one of the trays, should you prefer. Expandable storage is always a welcome feature on smartphones, but with a whopping 32GB of space coming as standard, you might not actually need it.
As you might expect, the front of the M2 is largely taken up by the 5.5-inch 1080p screen. Above this is the earpiece, while directly below you’ll notice the Home button, which contains a fingerprint scanner. On either side of this there’s a capacitive button, although Elephone has ignored the usual Android iconography.
What makes things even more confusing is that the left-hand button – normally associated with the app menu – actually performs the same action as a long-press on the screen. To access the Recent Apps menu you have to hold down the Home button. The right-hand button acts as the “Back” command, as per normal.
While Elephone has clearly imitated other handsets with the M2’s design, it’s produced a device which looks and feels fantastic in the hand, and certainly puts pretty much every other budget device in the shade in terms of pure aesthetics and build quality. Because it’s a totally sealed unit there’s no creakiness to speak of, and the only real complaint I have is the rather cheap feel of the fingerprint scanner – it also sits a little too low in the casing.
The M2’s display maintains the impression of quality established by the metal body. It’s an LG-made panel with a Full HD resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels, and measures 5.5 inches from corner to corner. Viewing angles are absolutely rock-solid, while colours look bright and punchy. Despite not being an AMOLED screen, contrast is also excellent.
We’re seeing more and more low-cost phones shipping with above-average-quality screens, and the M2 continues this welcome trend. Pin-sharp, bright and large enough to please the growing legions of phablet fans, the M2’s screen is hard to find fault with. The use of Gorilla Glass 3 should also fend off any serious marks and scratches.
Elephone has included its own “Smart Wake” application which allows you to double tap the display to turn it on or draw a gesture to quickly open a particular app. For example, tracing the letter “M” on the screen while it’s switched off will boot up the default music player, while drawing a line downwards will start up the camera.
It actually works really well, but there’s a predictable catch for the more security-conscious among us – if you have a PIN or fingerprint lock enabled, you’ll have to follow the gesture with that before the phone will execute the shortcut command. As a result, I found it easier to simply unlock the phone with my fingerprint and manually open the app I wanted.
As is common with some of the cheaper Android devices we’re seeing coming out of the Far East right now, the M2 ships with a largely stock version of Google’s mobile operating system. It’s running Android 5.1, which isn’t the latest version, but seeing as very few other handsets have been upgraded to Android 6.0 Marshmallow, it’s not a deal-breaker by any means. What’s more worrying is that Elephone doesn’t have a great track record of supporting its older products when it comes to firmware updates, so it’s unlikely that the M2 will ever see Android Marshmallow.
The M2 provides what is essentially a blank slate as far as apps are concerned. There are some pre-loaded offerings – such as a file manager, FM radio, backup application and Elephone’s own feedback app – but on the whole you’re expected to populate that app drawer with your own selections, which marks a refreshing change from the flood of unwanted bloatware that is typically forced on Samsung, Sony and LG’s customers.
The downside is that newcomers might not realise that they’re expected to source apps from the Google Play Store, and out of the box the M2 feels a little half-finished and incomplete in terms of software.
While the “ELE UI” OS is a close match to stock Android, it’s not exactly the same – there’s no Google Now functionality, for example. Thankfully you can add this by downloading the Google Now Launcher from the Google Play Store, ensuring that the super-useful voice-activated personal assistant is never more than a swipe (or “OK Google” voice command) away. Bizarrely, though, it’s impossible to change the lock screen wallpaper, so you’re stuck with the default option, which is a vinyl record. Could be worse, I guess.
Connectivity is always a concern when buying a Chinese phone, as not all handsets produced for the Asian market support the 4G bands we use in the UK. Thankfully, the M2 bucks that trend and offers full compatibility with networks in this part of the world – even O2, which is something that can’t be said for rival Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi’s current range of phones.
The M2’s MediaTek MT6753 64-bit chip is clocked at 1.3GHz and comes with an ARM Mali T720 GPU. Such specs are pretty unremarkable when compared to 2015 and 2016’s Android flagships, but at the lower end of the spectrum they’re more agreeable – especially when you take into account the fact that the phone comes 3GB of RAM, which certainly helps maintain smooth performance when switching between applications.
Benchmark tests don’t paint a picture of this being a processing beast. Geekbench 3 awards the M2 a multi-core score of 2,865 and a single-core score of 625, which places it well behind the leading lights of the Android arena. However, those results still beat pretty much any budget handset you can currently buy on the UK high street.
The inclusion of a fingerprint scanner for security is impressive, but the performance isn’t quite as good as those sensors seen on other phones. Despite a fairly thorough registration process, the scanner often failed to recognise my print. The actual contact area is quite small, which could contribute to this issue, but a more likely explanation is that the tech and software involved isn’t quite as good as that seen on Samsung and Apple’s handsets.
Because Android 5.1 doesn’t come with native fingerprint support – only present in Android 6.0 as standard – Elephone has had to create its own solution. However, when it does work, the scanner is quick to respond and it’s nice that you can unlock the phone from sleep simply using a tap of your digit.
Although a fingerprint scanner is on-board, there’s no NFC, so you won’t be able to use the M2 to make contactless payments when Android Pay eventually launches in the UK. Instead of NFC the phone is equipped with MediaTek’s HotKnot, which transmits data through the handset’s capacitive touchscreen. It’s an interesting concept, but NFC has been widely accepted as the standard for contactless data transfer, so HotKnot could be something of a dead-end, at least in the West.
The phone’s main speaker is incredibly loud, and its positioning on the bottom edge of the handset means that it won’t be muffled when the phone is upside down in your pocket. I had no issues hearing it in busy, noisy environments – in fact, the message tone was so boisterous that it made quite a few bystanders jump when it went off.
The audio is nice and bass-heavy, but at maximum volume there’s some noticeable distortion on certain sounds. The earpiece is similarly punchy, but call quality isn’t quite as good as it is on the Galaxy S6 or iPhone 6S.
Like a great many other low-cost Chinese phones, the M2 is packing a Sony IMX214 camera with a 13-megapixel sensor and LED flash. The camera is quick to focus as long as you have the HDR option disabled – turn this on and there’s quite a pause as the phone processes the shot. It’s tempting to leave it off altogether, but in many conditions HDR offers superior results; without it, images tend to be a little on the dark side.
Image quality is actually very competent for such a cheap handset, and the built-in camera software is blessed with plenty of options – certainly more than you’ll find in the stock Google camera app.
Face detection, anti-shake, gesture detection, smile detection and filters are all on offer, and the 5-megapixel front-facing snapper is more than adequate for selfies and video calling. Full HD 1080p video recording is also included with the rear-facing snapper.
The M2’s 2,600mAh can hardly be described as generous, especially when you consider that it has to power a roomy and bright Full HD 5.5-inch screen. Starting a day at full charge, I found that the M2 would start running on empty around 8pm after a fairly typical day of useage. There’s no quick-charging capacity, so topping up the battery from nothing to 100% takes around 3 hours.
During a video test I streamed a HD movie with volume turned to maximum and the battery lost around 35% of its capacity in the space of an hour, so don’t expect to use this as a media player when you’re out and about.
Display: Front Screen: 5.5 inch (1920 x 1080 ) FHD LG Screen
CPU: MTK6753 64bit Octa Core 1.3GHz
GPU: ARM Mali720
System: Android 5.1
RAM + ROM: 3GB RAM + 32GB ROM
Camera: Back camera 13.0MP with flashlight, touch focus and auto focus + front camera 5.0MP
Battery Capacity: Built-in 2600mAh powerful battery
GPS: GPS, A-GPS
Off Screen Wake Up: Yes
Sensor: Accelerometer / Proximity sensor / Light sensor/Hall sensor
SIM Card: Dual SIM dual standby, two Micro SIM Card
2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G: WCDMA 850/900/2100MHz
4G: FDD-LTE 800/900/1800/2100/2600MHz
|Basic Information||Brand: Elephone
Type: 4G Phablet
OS: Android 5.1
Service Provider: Unlocked
Languages: English, Indonesian, Malay, Czech, Danish, German, Spanish, Filipino, French, Croatian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovenian, Finnish, Swedish, Vietnamese, Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, Russian, Ukrainian, Hebrew, Arabic, Thai, Khmer, Korean, Simplified / Traditional Chinese
SIM Card Slot: Dual SIM,Dual Standby
SIM Card Type: Dual Micro SIM Card
|Hardware||CPU: MTK6753 64bit
Cores: Octa Core,1.3GHz
RAM: 3GB RAM
External Memory: TF card up to 128GB (not included)
|Network||Wireless Connectivity: GSM,3G,GPS,Bluetooth 4.0,WiFi,4G
WIFI: 802.11a/b/g/n wireless internet
Network type: FDD-LTE+WCDMA+GSM
3G: WCDMA 850/900/2100MHz
2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
4G: FDD-LTE 800/900/1800/2100/2600MHz
|Display||Screen type: Capacitive (5-Points)
Screen size: 5.5 inch
Screen resolution: 1920 x 1080 (FHD)
|Camera||Camera type: Dual cameras (one front one back)
Back camera: 13.0MP
Front camera: 5.0MP
Video recording: Yes
Touch Focus: Yes
Auto Focus: Yes
|Media Formats||Picture format: JPEG,GIF,BMP,PNG
Music format: AAC,MP3,WAV
Video format: 3GP,AVI,MP4
|Other Features||I/O Interface: TF/Micro SD Card Slot,3.5mm Audio Out Port,2 x Micro SIM Card Slot
Bluetooth Version: V4.0
Sensor: Accelerometer,Ambient Light Sensor,Proximity Sensor
Sound Recorder: Yes
Additional Features: 3G,Wi-Fi,Bluetooth,GPS,Light Sensing,Fingerprint Unlocking,4G
|Battery||Battery Capacity (mAh): 1 x 2600mAh Battery
Battery Type: Lithium-ion Polymer Battery
|Package Contents||Cell Phone: 1
Screen Protector: 1
Power Adapter: 1
USB Cable: 1
English Manual : 1
|Dimensions||Product size: 15.50 x 7.70 x 0.74 cm / 6.1 x 3.03 x 0.29 inches
Package size: 18.00 x 10.00 x 5.00 cm / 7.09 x 3.94 x 1.97 inches
Product weight: 0.161 kg
Package weight: 0.550 kg