China's Gionee Elife S5.5 could be the slimmest smartphone in the world with its 5.5mm-thin chassis. Aloysius Low/CNET

BARCELONA, Spain -- If there's one thing I learnt at this year's Mobile World Congress show, it's that sometimes you have to look to the Chinese vendors for surprises. Where Samsung failed to really surprise anyone with the design of its new flagship handset, I found a few gems from the various Chinese manufacturers such as this one from Gionee.

Encased in a 5.5mm-thin metal frame, the Elife S5.5 packs a MediaTek eight-core 1.7GHz processor, a 2,300mAh battery and a 5-inch full-HD (1,920x1,080 pixels) Super AMOLED display.

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I don't really know how the company managed to squeeze so much into this thin chassis, but Gionee beats Huawei's Ascend P6 (6.14mm) in terms of slimness.

Check out just how thin the phone is. Aloysius Low/CNET

When I held it in my hands, I was basically impressed with the build quality, but the phone's lightness makes it feel like a toy in my hands.

The phone has a Corning Gorilla Glass back. Aloysius Low/CNET

The handset is powered by Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) but with Gionee's own skin, and gives it a very Symbian/MeeGo like feel. The UI felt pretty smooth and responsive, though.

The Elife S5.5 will be available soon in Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and India. There's no pricing yet but the phone retails for $375 in China, so expect it to retail for around the same price when it debuts in these countries.

The touch-sensitive menu buttons aren't really obvious, and give the impression of more screen space. Aloysius Low/CNET