It's a favorite Mobile World Congress pastime of mine to visit the stands of upstart Chinese phones manufacturers hoping to get noticed. That's why I cruised by Gionee's booth to see what the company had to offer. Though it lacks the international presence of Xiaomi or Huawei, Gionee has been doing pretty well in China and India. And here in Barcelona it took the sheets off its new Gionee S8 phone.
With a shiny but not unusual metal-clad body, there's not much about the S8 that immediately catches your eye. Rather, the story here is something a lot of Chinese Android phones have in common -- a strong resemblance, either in features or in design, to Apple's iPhone. The S8 definitely has the "iLooks" down, but more interesting is that it has its own version of 3D Touch.
On the iPhone 6S, 3D Touch is a pressure-sensitive display that lets you press down onto the screen to interact with it, calling up quick menus or preview links. Fully push down on a link and it opens up into a new normal window. In theory, it sounds like a great feature, but of all the iPhone things for the S8 to borrow, I wish Gionee had picked something else.
Putting aside the fact that I hardly ever use 3D Touch even on my iPhone, on the S8 it's way too limited. There's no peeking to do, as it only opens quick menus on the default apps. If you try it with other apps, such as Google's or those downloaded from the Play Store, the feature just simply doesn't work.
Honestly, the S8 would be better without it as the phone sports some redeeming features that would be far more useful. It comes with dual SIM support as well as support for dual WhatsApp accounts. The latter enables two instances to run on two different numbers at the same time, so messaging addicts will be able to message themselves. It's easily done by using 3D Touch on the WhatsApp app and clicking on the clone option.
If you're still interested, Gionee's retailing the S8 for €449, which converts to about $495, £350 or AU$685. It will be sold in China and India soon, and will make its way to Europe as well.
What you should know
- Has a feature similar to Apple's 3D Touch, but limited to just menus
- Slim metal body draws the eye
- Supports two WhatsApp accounts
- Fingerprint sensor on the home button
- 1.9GHz MediaTek MT 6755 Helio P10 octa-core processor
- 5.5-inch AMOLED full-HD with 3D Touch
- Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow software
- 6.07 by 2.95 by 0.28 inches (154.3 by 74.9 by 7 mm)
- 5.19 ounces (147 grams)
- 4GB RAM, 32GB onboard storage
- Dual SIM, 4G connectivity
- 16-megapixel rear camera, 8-megapixel front