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Elephone P9000 Review: Missed Opportunity

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We review the Elephone P9000!

If you haven’t heard, Elephone, the newest Chinese brand to hit our market, has released three new phones. These phones are all exclusive to Lazada, and among the three, the P9000 is the top of the line device. We’ve spent quality time with the top-end model, which promises to give you a premium experience for less. Does the P9000 deliver? Find out in our review below. But first, the specs:

Elephone P9000 specs:

  • 2GHz MediaTek MT6755 Helio P10 octa-core processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 5.5-inch OGS full HD LTPS display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 32GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD
  • 13-megapixel Sony IMX258 f/2.0 rear camera with laser AF, dual tone LED flash
  • 8-megapixel front camera with 84-degree lens
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow

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Solid frame, flimsy back

The Elephone P9000 tries to deliver a taste of class by using tried and tested tricks of the big boys – namely, a very, very solid metal frame. That metal frame has chamfered edges that gives the phone a solid feel, and reinforces the illusion that the P9000 is a premium smartphone.

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Notice we said the illusion of a premium smartphone. When you take a closer look at the phone, you’ll see several build quality issues that takes away from the premium feel of the phone. The most apparent is the noticeable flex on the back of the phone. Even lightly pressing on the back shows the rather annoying flex of the device.

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If you can ignore the annoying flexing on the back, you’ll notice the nice sandstone finish on the rear that’s similar to the one on the OnePlus One. You’ll also see the 13-megapixel rear camera, as well as the fingerprint scanner located right below it.

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Going through the rest of the phone, you’ll see the power button and volume button on the right. The P9000 uses a USB Type-C port on the bottom which is flanked by speaker grills. On the top lies the 3.5mm jack. On the left of the phone lies the shortcut key that you can map to anything that you want.

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Looking at the phone dead on, you’ll notice the single capacitive key on the chin of the P9000. This button is all the Android navigation keys rolled into one – a single tap of the button takes you back, two taps takes you to the home screen while pressing down on it for an extended period of time will show the recent apps. You can still get the traditional Android navigation keys on the screen if you want though.

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The 5.5-inch full HD display is bright and has thinner than average bezels. As far display quality goes, the P9000’s full HD panel looks great, has good color reproduction all around. The display really looks close to the glass since the phone utilizes an OGS panel.

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MediaTek’s Helio P10 performs well, but isn’t a beast

The Elephone P9000 represents our first run-in with MediaTek’s new Helio P10 octa-core processor. This processor is paired with a Mali T860 GPU and in the P9000’s case, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage.

People expecting the P10 to be a beastly processor may be disappointed to learn that it performs marginally better than the tried and tested MT6753 octa-core processor that we’ve grown accustomed to locally. Asphalt 8 is playable without too much issues, though you’ll only be able to play NBA 2K16 on low settings.

Call quality and connectivity is good, though as expected LTE signals dropped quite a bit, probably because of the SoC. To MediaTek’s credit, WiFi and GPS signal strength has improved this time around, which is a big improvement over the previous generation chips.

As for the fingerprint scanner, well, it’s not the best. It wasn’t as responsive as the ones in other phones, and we only managed to successfully unlock the phone using the fingerprint scanner 6 or 7 times out of 10.

Camera is good on paper, not so much with actual use

On paper the P9000’s 13-megapixel Sony IMX258 f/2.0 aperture rear camera with laser AF looks impressive. Unfortunately, it’s not the case with actual use – we noticed a pinkish hue in some of the photos that we shot, and there’s quite a bit of noise in photos shot in well-lit conditions. To its credit, the phone manages to lock onto subjects quickly, but that’s not much use if the photos that come out are pinkish and full of noise.

Good battery that’ll take you through the day

Powering the P9000 is a non-removable 3000mAh battery. The phone managed to give us around 10 hours of use, and that’s with LTE and casual browsing with a few calls and messages. That’s not shabby, and you can probably extend that a little bit more with proper battery management.

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Verdict: a phone that would have been a killer, but numerous issues bring it down

We’re disappointed with the Elephone P9000. At first glance it has a great mix of design, specs and price. Unfortunately, numerous issues in its build quality and camera make us hesitant to recommend this particular smartphone. There’s plenty of alternatives to the P9000 if you’re looking to get a phone under 12K – Huawei’s GR5 is a good bet, as well as ASUS’ Zenfone Selfie. We’re hoping that Elephone offers something better than P9000 the next time around. For the meantime, it’d be best to avoid the phone if you can help it.

The Elephone P9000 is priced at Php 11,499, and is available exclusively through Lazada.

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