The Elephone S3 has the features of a common medium range smartphone: the device offers an Octa-core processor, which is supported by 3GB RAM. It also has a 13MP camera and a full-HD display – so far so good. However, in one point the Elephone S3 differs from its competitors in the same price range: the S3’s display is completely bezel-free, at least it conveys the impression. Whether or not Elephone can convince with this plan, you’ll find out in the following review. A phone without bezels – why doesn’t every mobile phone look like this?
Design and build quality
At first glance, the slim style makes stand out the Elephone S3. The bezel-free display is impressive, which clearly distinguishes it from other phones. The smartphone’s length of 14cm is on average, the width of 7cm is quite slim, considering the 5.2-inch display. That is also the reason why you can easily operate the Elephone S3 with one hand despite the “big” display. The thickness of 9.4mm and the weight of 170g are on average. Holding the phone in the hand, it provides a premium feeling. The volume control and the power button on the right hand side are fixed well in the casing and have a pleasing feedback. The display’s rounded off glass (2.5D glass) almost seamlessly merges into the aluminium casing. The fingerprint scanner is on the rear below the camera.
Since the Elephone S3 has a uni-body metal casing, the battery cannot be changed. The SIM cards (Nano + micro) and a micro-SD card can be inserted in the slot on the left hand side. Either two SIM cards or one SIM and a micro-SD card can be used in the Elephone S3. Below the display there are no soft touch buttons; Elephone uses on-screen buttons instead. The phone offers a notification LED, which, however, currently shines only during charging. Elephone should resolve the problem with the next update.
Elephone S3 scope of delivery
- Micro-USB cable
- Operating instructions
- Power plug (EU)
- Screen protector (already attached)
The Elephone S3’s touch screen doesn’t work well with the provided screen protector. We recommend using the phone without a screen protector.
The Elephone S3 provides a 5.2-inch full-HD display with a 1920*1080pixels resolution. With a pixel density of 424ppi, it is not possible to detect any single pixels on the display. Users can enjoy a clear picture. In terms of colour representation the Elephone S3 is outstanding: contents appear to be colourful and bright, and the phone is suitable for looking at pictures. The contrast is also strong. Black is depicted almost completely dark, which is why the S3 is perfect for reading texts. Because of its bezel-free display, the Elephone S3 has a special design. The S3’s weak point is the use outdoors. As soon as bright light hits the display, it reflects strongly. Having a closer look, you can spot pale stripes in bright light as well as with the display turned off. You can use the Elephone S3 in bright sunlight; however, then the comfort is reduced.
The touch screen can register simultaneously up to 5 points of contact and does an accurate job. The phone offers gesture control and SmartWake as additional features.
The Elephone S3 uses an Octa-core processor by Mediatek (MT6753), which clocks at 1.3GHz and is supported by a Mali T-720 GPU and 3GB RAM. Thanks to these features, the Elephone S3 secures a fast use of basic functions (apps, surfing, and system), but a reduced gaming performance. The Elephone S3 has almost no load time navigating the menus or switching apps. Thanks to the 3G RAM, several apps can be used at the same time without causing force-closes or speed losses. Graphically demanding games like Asphalt 8 or Modern Combat only run smoothly with medium graphics settings. Those who are looking for a smartphone suitable for gaming should rather choose a Helio X10 or a Snapdragon 650/652 smartphone. For all others the Elephone S3 offers enough performance.
The 16GB internal storage has an average reading/writing speed of 142/48MB/s. The RAM offers a good speed with 3.5GB/s. The system permanently occupies 1.5GB of the RAM. The remaining 1.5GB are enough for multitasking.
The Elephone S3 uses a current Android 6 system, which is kept up-to-date with over-the-air updates via Wi-Fi. Of course, the Google Playstore is preinstalled. During our test, the system worked fast and mostly without any problems. Only the eBay app could not be opened on our device. Users can enjoy a pure and smooth system without any bloatware.
The Elephone S3 has a 13MP rear camera with a Sony IMX135 sensor. The camera convinces with a fine sharpness and colour representation. The Elephone S3 definitely does a great job, although the phone can’t keep up with the Cubot X17S or the Redmi Note 3 in terms of sharpness. The camera takes nice pictures in daylight, which above all convince with their bright colours. The autofocus works fast and precisely. The trigger time is on average. Image noise occurs quickly in bad lighting conditions or indoors but considering the price range, this is completely normal. The Elephone S3’s single-LED flash is rather weak. The Elephone S3 can record videos in full-HD resolution.
The 5MP front camera takes useful images, which, however, are light on sharpness. The camera is suitable for occasional selfies and video telephony.
2G: GSM: B2/3/5/8
3G: WCDMA: B1/2/8 TD-SCDMA: 34/39 CDMA: BC0
4G: FDD-LTE: B1/3/7/20 TDD-LTE: B38/39/40/41
The Elephone S3 supports all needed LTE frequencies as well as 2G and 3G networks. The S3 is a dual-SIM smartphone, meaning two SIM cards (Nano & micro) can be used at the same time. However, using two SIM cards simultaneously, the storage expansion via micro-SD card is not possible. The Elephone S3’s reception is good and there were no problems during the testing. The voice quality could convince as well. Both partners understood each other well, and the hands-free kit worked without any problems.
Unfortunately, the Elephone S3’s internal speaker is below average. It is sonorous enough to be noticed, but the speaker doesn’t achieve a high volume. Additionally, the sound is quite tinny and without any basses.
The fingerprint scanner on the rear is optimized well and only needs a split second to recognize the fingerprint. The accuracy is quite high and seldom are there any unsuccessful attempts. You can register 5 fingerprints on the Elephone S3. You can also wake up the phone from stand-by by using the fingerprint scanner. You can use it as well in order to switch between the home screens by stroking the sensor with your finger. We thought this function to be a bit annoying because you often set it off unintentionally. We recommend deactivating this function in the settings at safety/fingerprint scanner/fingerprint control.
The Elephone S3’s GPS signal is on average. After a short waiting time, the phone connects to a sufficient number of satellites to determine the position. During the test track, the phone didn’t determine the position wrongly and there were no interruptions. Unfortunately, the mobile phone doesn’t offer an e-compass, what makes the pedestrian navigation more difficult.
Concerning connectivity the Elephone S3 has the standards of a medium range smartphone. It provides a Wi-Fi module (802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4GHz) and a Bluetooth 4.0 module. The Bluetooth module has a really good reception, whereas the Wi-Fi reception is only on average. The Elephone S3 offers proximity, brightness as well as acceleration sensors. However, there is no gyroscope available.
The Elephone S3 has a 2100mAh battery, which is clearly below average for a 5.2-inch smartphone. In daily use, the phone is not suitable for those who like to use their phone often and for a longer time. Especially users who like to play games should rather choose a smartphone like the Redmi Note 3 Pro, which offers a stronger battery and a more powerful CPU. For average users, the Elephone S3 mostly provides enough power for one day. Thanks to the improved Android 6 stand-by energy consumption, the Elephone S3’s battery barely loses any energy when it is not being used. You can reach an active period of use of 2-3 hours a day. The battery is fully charged in 80 minutes using the provided quick-charge adapter.
* Incl. VAT and, if applicable, delivery costs – subject to interim changes.