The Marathon series stands for mega phones with mega batteries. They’re built for the people who need a powerbank built right into their phones! That translates to a whopping 5000mAh battery in a phone that is 10.4mm thin. Kudos to Gionee for that.
The phone feels heavy in the hands for obvious reasons and comes in black or white color, the one we have for review is a white model and it has a smooth matte feel at the back. No notification light is present on this device which is bad. It has two chrome plated strips around the display, wadding to the premium feel. The placement of all the buttons are standard and gives a tactile feedback when pressed. The back is removable but a steel plating restricts you from removing the battery. There is also a 128GB expansion slot for your multimedia needs.
Once you’ve hit the power button, you are greeted with Amigo UI. Which is downright aggy even on other faster Gionee phones. It is a shocker, as it is just a skin of Amigo UI. While the newer version of Amigo UI doesn’t have an app drawer, the launcher on the M3 does have one and we like it. The launcher also has various gimmicky effects which may just please a ten year old. There is tonnage of bloatware in the phone, games which you won’t play, a “WhatsApp Downloader”, and old version of apps that would need critical updating to use them. Gionee also went ahead with the “TouchPal Keyboard” as the default one which, again, is very annoying. There are unpleasant input sounds throughout the OS. like The unlocking sound which makes everyone in the room aware that you unlocked your phone.. and a squeaky sound when clicking the photo tops the list. We found ourselves uninstalling all the bloat to free up RAM and storage space. And then the phone was more usable.
There are some few niceties on the M3 like OTG reverse charge, which means the phone can actually be used as a powerbank. But they didn’t provide any cable in the box to execute the same, so we couldn’t test it. We also liked the “Guest Mode” which hides camera gallery, messages and call logs. To enter and exit Guest mode, one needs to enter the passcode which is a nice thing to have. The phone has some interesting gesture controls like these – Messaging, Music, Contacts and Camera along with “double tap to wake” which lets us avoid using the power button. There is a slight delay when you execute a gesture but we got used to it.
After all the laggy experience, the camera is the only place where this phone stands out. There are modes, which are less likely to be used… they are embarrassing. The normal mode is good, and it gets the job done. The device has decent macro performance. In general, the images looked washed out on the phone’s display as if they lacked vibrancy but when seen on a monitor display, they looked decent. *There is a flash which just like other flashes, has a yellow tinge. The video performance is average.. It records at 1080p with irregular frame drops. It’s not a disappointing camera, it just gets the job done. On the front there is a 2MP camera.
Another thing is that the audio output is really loud. It almost feels like you’re at a live performance. The speakers are on the back and the sound doesn’t feel muffled even when you keep it on any flat surface. There is enough depth & clarity in the audio and it doesn’t feel compressed at all. At times, we had to lower the volume for a more personal listening experience.
Keeping in my mind the fact that this phone has a built-in powerbank, the phone lasted us 30 hours on heavy usage which consisted lot of YouTube, some gaming, few calls and extensive camera use. For a normal user, the phone can easily last for more than two days. There are no battery optimization features. The battery could’ve lasted us longer if it did have. About the gaming performance, its average. Regular games like Subway surfers, Temple Run would work fine but don’t expect this phone to run heavy games like GTA and Modern Combat.
To summarize, the M3 is not a performance biased phone and its not even advertised that way. You’d definitely consider buying this phone for the battery capacity and that we can assure you won’t disappoint. It will get your daily tasks done. But if you want a faster phone, without any bloatware, you should look elsewhere. Although the Moto G or Asus ZenFone 5 are in the same price range, they were made for a different purpose, which is good performance at an affordable cost. the phone reminded me of the Lenovo S660 and S860 which again had solid batteries. Battery life is a big issue with phones nowadays and if you are on the move, then most probably you should buy the M3 but we like the Lenovo S860 better in every sense.
It’s a good sign that companies are trying to make phones that deliver longer battery life but only if they could make it slimmer and more appealing. If only.