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Gionee Marathon M5 Review: Two Batteries Are Better Than One

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We review the Marathon M5!

More and more companies are coming out with phones that have bigger than normal batteries, and it’s not surprising. Ask anybody what the most important feature they want in a smartphone, and chances are many of them will tell you they want a phone that’ll last more than one day on a single charge. Companies are starting to listen – Lenovo, ASUS and Gionee are pushing out phones that have bigger than normal batteries. Gionee’s Marathon series of smartphones are one of the pioneers of the big-battery concept, and their latest device, the M5, looks to deliver three days of battery life out of sheer, brute force.

Gionee Marathon M5

  • 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6735 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 5.5-inch HD AMOLED display, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 16GB of storage, expandable via microSD
  • 13-megapixel f/2.0 aperture, phase detection AF, LED flash
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, HotKnot, USB OTG
  • 6020mAh battery
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop

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Heavy and hefty, but still thin

While the Marathon M5 is surprisingly thin (around 8.6mm) for a phone that has a 6020mAh battery, it’s pretty dang heavy. Picking it up is akin to picking up a slab of metal, as the phone weighs in at a stout 211 grams. That’s due to the two (yes two) 3010mAh batteries in the phone that give it it’s 6020mAh capacity. It’s big, heavy and can probably be used as a last ditch weapon when someone tries to stick you up while commuting.

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Despite it’s portly weight the phone looks rather fetching. The 8.6mm overall thickness combined with the tasteful chamfered aluminum chassis and plastic grey back gives it a splash of style though there are definitely prettier phones you can own.

The right side of the device holds the volume and power keys, as well as the microSD slot. The SIM slots are on the right side while the 3.5mm jack and USB port are on the top and bottom, respectively. There’s also an IR blaster right beside the 3.5mm jack on the top of the phone which is bundled with a Peel Smart Remote app.

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The Marathon M5 uses a 5.5-inch HD AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass 3. We’re a little bit disappointed with the HD resolution on the phone, since the larger display means that you’ll be able to pick out individual pixels on the panel if you look hard enough. Text and images aren’t as sharp as we expected, though we’re happy with the AMOLED display used on the phone. There’s a little bit of oversaturation owing to the display technology but nothing too bad – if anything the HD display and AMOLED tech will help extend the battery life of the Marathon M5 even further.

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Bezels on the side are acceptable but are in no way thin, bezels on the bottom and top are a little bigger to account for the two batteries. The phone uses physical Android navigation keys that are located on the chin of the device.

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Turning the phone over you’ll see the 13-megapixel rear camera nestled near the top of the phone, flanked on the side by its LED flash. Gionee’s branding is present on the back of the phone, but it’s not obnoxious. On the lower part of the phone you’ll see the speaker grille.

Just like other Chinese manufacturers Gionee’s Marathon M5 ships with its own custom UI layered on top of Android 5.1. In this case, it’s Amigo OS, now in version 3.1. We never really liked the UI approach of most Chinese manufacturers, as they try too hard to mimic the layout and approach of iOS. That’s not to say that Amigo doesn’t have anything useful on tap – far from it. Amigo seperates notifications from phone settings – swiping down from the top of the screen just shows you the latest notifications, for example. If you want to tweak display brightness, WiFi and other settings, you’ll have to swipe from the bottom up to see them. We also love the fact that Gionee used Swiftkey as the default keyboard for the Marathon M5, as it’s the keyboard of choice for us whenever we migrate to a new phone.

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Quad-core processor isn’t a beast, but good enough for most duties

we didn’t know it, but apparently there are two versions of the Marathon M5 floating out there – one 3GB RAM/32GB ROM and another lower, 2GB/16GB ROM variant. Our review unit was the latter, which kind of bummed us out but partially explained the lower price of the Marathon M5 here in the Philippines as opposed to India. Usable storage is around 10.9GB.

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Anyway, whatever version of the Marathon M5 you get, you’re still getting MediaTek’s quad-core MT6735 1.3GHz processor. While the MT6735 isn’t going to be setting any speed records anytime soon, it’s more than enough for casual gaming and browsing, and it doesn’t consume too much juice in the process, extending battery life.

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Call quality is relatively good, and the speaker is loud enough for typical use, though it’ll get drowned out in a loud room.

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Relatively good snapper for the price

We weren’t expecting too much from the Marathon M5 camera-wise because of its primary focus on battery life, but we were pleasantly surprised at its performance. The images we captured in daylight was full of detail and were very sharp, though the exposure compensation for the phone isn’t the best.

Low-light shots are a bit on the noisy side, but that’s too be expected. There’s also a bevy of shooting modes available for the Marathon M5, including a manual mode for more expert shooters.

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Insane battery life

Gionee strapped two 3010mAh batteries to the back of the Marathon M5 to give it an overall battery capacity of 6020mAh. Those two batteries are also responsible for the overall weight of the phone, but is it worth it? In a word, yes – our PCMark battery benchmark test gave the Marathon M5 a score of 16 hours and 39 minutes.

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It was our primary phone during our weekend Coverage to SG and MY, and we never needed to charge the phone after taking it off the charger when we left home. If you do need to charge the phone, Gionee adds a fast 2A charger into the package, though it takes a few hours for the Marathon M5 to completely charge from 0%.

Gionee’s also thrown in an OTG cable in the package so you can share the Marathon M5’s juice to other, less fortunate smartphones at the end of their rope.

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Verdict: A phone that offers a lot more than just a big battery

While the obvious appeal of the Marathon M5 is its gigantic battery, there’s more to the device than just that. A relatively thin frame, good camera performance, and speedy processor add up to an overall fantastic package. While it’s a bit pricey at Php 11,999, it’s still a great device for people who prioritize battery endurance above everything else.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

8 Comments

  1. Which is a better shooter? The zenfone max, gionee m5 or the lenovo p1?

    Looking into getting a big battery w/good camera performance phone. 🙂

    Thanks #unboxph

      1. i’ve read somewhere once of a phone that had two batteries as well,and you could take one off and it’d still work..what’s the point of the 2 batteries then. 🙁

  2. i have the romanian version of this phone and….damn you have a battery that makes calls! jokes aside, is a very good phone for this price. the weight is not that big. in a big hand is actually not that heavy or big. is very good for media(videos) and good enough for gaming. i have installed nfs most wanted, asphalt 8, n.o.v.a freedom edition, assassin’s creed(a little bit of lag in this but not disturbing), and this phone can take it. screen is only hd but you have to look very good to see the difference on a 5.5 screen. most users will not tell the difference. again, is a very good phone for media and casual gaming. the “only hd” display helps the battery life. it can be used some 10-12 hours easy non-stop. in a medium usage with no power saving options activated, it can reach 2 days easy. cameras are decent to good, especially in daylight. battery is not removable but this is not an issue. the gps connection is insanely fast(10 sec. max.) and it has glonass support. bottom line, with root and a little bit of work, is a pretty damn good phone for his value.

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