Elephone P5000 full review
On paper the Elephone P5000 is unlike any phone we've ever seen before, with a huge 5350mAh battery that can keep going four days or, thanks to OTG support, even act as a power bank. Read our Elephone P5000 review. Also see: Best smartphones 2015 and best new phones coming in 2015.
Elephone P5000 review: UK price and availability
Elephone is not a brand we've come across in the UK before. This is a grey-market phone shipped to us from Coolicool.com. You can buy it from China for £158.39, or Europe for £208.55. The latter option will cost you an extra £50, but if your phone is picked up by Customs on its way from China you could pay that in Import VAT in any case. Read our article on grey market tech to learn more about the pros, cons and risks associated with buying from overseas.
Elephone P5000 review: Design and build
Given that massive 5350mAh battery, we were expecting the Elephone P5000 to be very big and bulky. And clearly it is heavier and chunkier than rival 5in-screen smartphones, but at 206g and 9.3mm nowhere near as much as you might imagine.
In design the Elephone P5000 looks exactly like a Samsung Galaxy device, and it even has a fingerprint sensor built into the Home button. Available in black or white with a silver-painted trim, this Android KitKat-powered slab feels sturdy and unbreakable, despite its removable plastic rear panel.
You'll find a Micro-USB charging port and headphone jack at the top, power and volume on the right side, and dual speakers at the bottom. A 16Mp camera with LED flash sits at the back, but there's no dedicated camera button.
A 5in full-HD IPS screen adorns the Elephone P5000, with a pixel density of 440ppi. We found it a little odd looking at an IPS screen on what felt like a Samsung phone, more used to seeing Samsung's favoured Super AMOLED in such a scenario. The display is very clear and with excellent viewing angles and true-to-life colours, but we were surprised to find it was set at 100 percent brightness. It's not a dim screen, but in very bright light you might wish you could ramp it up a little. Keeping at 100 percent will also eat through that battery.
Elephone P5000 review: Hardware and performance
Don't be fooled by the fact this smartphone has an octa-core processor; the 1.7GHz MediaTek MT6592 when paired with 2GB of RAM and Mali-450 graphics offered mid-range performance in our benchmarks. We also found the top half of the phone could become warm in use, even when all we were doing was using the camera.
In Geekbench 3 the Elephone P5000 turned in 442 points in single-core mode, and 2365 in multi-core. Its best SunSpider performance was 1172ms, and in GFXBench 3.0 it could handle only the T-Rex test - here it recorded a lowly 13fps. Those results put this Elephone P5000 slightly behind the UMI Zero in performance. Compare these result to all the phones we've recently tested in our article What's the fastest smartphone 2015.
The Elephone is fitted with 16GB of storage as standard, plus you can add a microSD card up to 64GB in capacity.
Elephone P5000 review: Battery life
The battery is the key selling point of this phone. Not only does it offer around twice the capacity of standard Android phones at 5350mAh, but the Elephone P5000 supports OTG. This means that, using the supplied adaptor, you can create a Micro-USB to Micro-USB cable and attach it to another smartphone (or hard drive) and, if you're feeling really generous, use the Elephone as a power bank. We tried this with our HTC Desire Eye, which also supports OTG.
A concern with large-capacity batteries such as this is that they will take forever to recharge. Not so with the Elephone P5000: given the correct charger it can fill its own battery up to 70 percent in one hour. That's quite frankly astonishing.
We do have some concerns regarding this super four-day (45-day standby) mega battery, however. On receiving the phone from Coolicool the battery was totally flat. We charged it up, put it back into the box for a day, and when we took it out again to review the phone the battery was once again completely flat. We recharged and factory reset the phone, and battery performance seems better since - but it's not at all what we were expecting.
Left on standby the P5000 consumes next to no power. Following the last charge we left it on standby for eight hours and returned to find it at 100 percent. But we then ran GFXBench T-Rex and the battery fell to 92 percent. We haven't finished our testing of this battery, but it appears to be brilliant provided that you don't use the phone - as soon as you switch on Wi-Fi or try to do anything battery life appears to be no better than that of any other Android phone.
Elephone P5000 review: Connectivity
A key consideration when buying phones from overseas is whether they are compatible with UK networks. The Elephone P5000 operates on 850/900/1800/1900MHz 2G and 900/1900/2100MHz 3G, which means it will be compatible with EE, Three, Vodafone and O2's 2G and 3G networks, but there is no support for 4G. If you're looking for a cheap 4G phone, check out our cheapest 4G phones chart.
As with many phones bought overseas the Elephone P5000 supports dual SIMs. This is becoming increasingly attractive in the UK, allowing you to separate work and pleasure yet carry just the one phone, although few dual-SIM handsets are officially available to buy here. We've rounded up some of the best dual-SIM phones in our best dual-SIM phones chart.
The Elephone's fingerprint scanner is swipe-operated (just like that on the Samsung Galaxy S5), and we found you had to swipe really slowly to get it to recognise a fingerprint. Samsung is rumoured to be bringing in an Apple-style touch-input fingerprint sensor in its upcoming S6, which to us seems like a better approach to fingerprint scanning.
As well as the aforementioned OTG support, the Elephone P5000 also boasts 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and GPS.
Elephone P5000 review: Cameras
An 8Mp camera is fitted to the front of the Elephone P5000, which is useful for selfies and video chat. It has a Face Beauty mode, although it doesn't offer a live preview.
At the rear is a 16Mp camera with an LED flash. There's support for HDR mode, face detection, smile shot, a 40-picture burst mode and more. It supports panorama, picture-in-picture, motion-tracking, multiple- beauty face, multi-angle shots and more. Video recording is supported at 1080p.
We were happy with our test image, shown below.
Elephone P5000 review: Software
Running Android 4.4.2 KitKat the Elephone P5000 has reasonably up-to-date OS software, although we'd like to have seen 4.4.4 (or 5.0, but Lollipop is only just rolling out to flagships). Although the Elephone P5000 is rooted (read more about rooting Android here) and runs SuperSu (an app that allows advanced access management of any apps that require root), it appears in the Settings menu that FOTA updates are available.
The software is fairly standard Android KitKat, with few additions. Several useful gestures are supported, although switched off by default. From the lock screen you can double-tap to wake the phone, or draw a letter or swipe in a particular direction to open an app of your choosing.
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Elephone P5000: Specs
- 5in full-HD (1920x1080, 440ppi) display
- 850/900/1800/1900MHz 2G, 900/1900/2100MHz 3G
- Android 4.4.2 KitKat
- 1.7GHz MediaTek MT6592 octa-core processor
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB storage (plus microSD support up to 64GB)
- Mali-450 graphics
- 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.0
- fingerprint scanner
- 16Mp rear camera with LED flash
- 8Mp front camera
- 6350mAh battery
- 206g (with battery)