The Elephone U is a 2018 Android smartphone. It is a cheaper alternative to the companies flagship Elephone U Pro smartphone which I did review earlier this month. In this Elephone U Review, I am going to explore the fact that this smartphone is a very capable, good, and cheap alternative to the U Pro.
The Elephone U and the U Pro are almost identical smartphones. The only major difference is the processor.
The fact that Elephone is using Qualcomm chipsets in their smartphones is a great leap into legitimacy in their direction. It’s not easy working with a high profile company like Qualcomm, with all of their licencing requirements. But it sure does pay off because their chips are considered the best and most groundbreaking because of the amount of money and resources that go into developing these processors.
MediaTek Processors are not as good. But they are also not that bad. The Helio series of chips have been used on plenty of Chinese smartphones. Both knockoff and original mid-range devices. Performance is great if you take price into account. But the MediaTek company is in the business of dishing out the units which are not as groundbreaking as the work that is being done at Qualcomm.
There’s also a few other features that the Elephone U does not have. Like Quick charge 3.0 and Wireless Charging.
If none of this means anything to you and you would rather keep your $100 saving from the U Pro to the U, then this review is for you!
Elephone U Review
Elephone is a Chinese smartphone manufacturer that is known for producing smartphones that largely resemble Samsung smartphones. They currently have two different models on sale now that are very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S8. One of which is called the Elephone S8. They are not the first Chinese company to do this. There are many Samsung S8 copycats out there. But the Elephone S8 stands out in that crowd for manufacturing one of the best S8 clones.
Elephone has taken a slightly different approach with their latest release. The company has dropped the “S” and rebranded their flagship smartphone to Elephone U and U Pro. This simple name change sparks a legitimacy into this fantastic phone. The Elephone U is no longer a common knockoff. It has just the right elements in there that gives it a sense of uniqueness. This smartphone has the looks and features that make it a decent mid to budget smartphone.
The overall shape and design may scream Samsung S8 (or S9). But that is certainly not a bad thing. If I were given a chance to design a smartphone, I would lean towards the design of the S9. The S9 is gorgeous! Apart from the large 18:9 aspect ratio, the screen has curved edges. The AMOLED display curves into the frame of the smartphone. So too does the rear cover. This makes the Elephone U especially comfortable to hold.
The back cover has a striking gloss finish. A glass cover just like the U Pro which makes wireless charging possible. But there isn’t any wireless charging on the U model because its MediaTek chip does not support it. It would have been a good feature to have at this price point. But nonetheless, the rear of this smartphone does look awesome.
Also on the back of the phone are the dual cameras, as well as the fingerprint reader. The setup is neat, the cameras are stacked up on top of the fingerprint reader. The fingerprint reader is definitely in the right place here. It is roughly around an area where your index finger could sit. The only issue here is that there is very little physical difference between the scanner and the camera. In order words, it can get difficult to feel for the sensor and instead easily touch the camera. You can opt for the built-in facial recognition software as your primary unlocking method. It isn’t as fast as advertised, but it is still decent and impressive.
- MediaTek Helio P23 Octa-Core processor
- 6GB RAM and 128GB onboard memory
- 13MP rear dual cameras
- 6-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio
- Android 7.1
- Curved AMOLED display
- 3620 mAh Battery
The Elephone U has an exceptional amount of RAM and memory for a device at this price point. The RAM may be overkill, considering its processor. But I don’t think anyone will complain about the 128GB of hard disk space available. You are sure to get at least a whole days usage on the Elephone U with it adequately sized 3620 mAh Battery.
It’s also important to note that most S8 copycats have a curved glass display. These smartphones replicate the curved shape of the Samsung S8 by curving the front glass. But the actual S8 has a curved display. The actual AMOLED display has the ability to flex, hence allowing Samsung to curve the sides. The Elephone U has a similar panel and is able to accomplish the same display and design effect as Samsung did on their S8 and S9
Performance and Camera
The Elephone U comes with a near stock version Android 7.1. The company promises to release an 8.1 Update soon. You do get Android 8 on the U Pro. This isn’t usually a dealbreaker for most people as Android 7 Nougat is still a good version of an operating system to use today. There is a small skin on top of the smartphones near stock Android OS. Elephone chose to take some fancy design cues from other manufacturers such as Huawei and Apple in regards to the overall look of the skin. It’s not the best but still not bad.
Performance isn’t as good as the U Pro, but it isn’t bad too. The Elephone U scores an impressive 65000 points in comparison to the U Pro’s 100000 points on the AnTuTu Benchmark platform. A further comparison would be with an LG Q6 with a Snapdragon 435 with 45000 points. Navigating your daily apps with 6GB of RAM is no problem. Multitasking such as Whatsapp and YouTube at the same time won’t be a problem at all. Even gaming will be fine on the Elephone U. But you will notice issues with the more demanding titles.
The dual 13MP cameras offer great quality at this affordable price point. The second camera will assist you in getting those portrait mode Bokeh pictures with blurred backgrounds. It isn’t perfect, but at least its not a dummy camera like most Chinese smartphones with dual cameras. Also, the bokeh is decent and not just a software addition to the Elephone U. The dynamic range and overall quality may not be as good as the Samsung S8 camera. But again, still decent at this price point.
Verdict – Should You Get the Elephone U
In my review of the Elephone U Pro, I mentioned that the asking price was similar to the OnePlus 5T which had a far superior processor. This was one of the main downfalls of that smartphone. But this is a minor issue considering how good the U Pro is. The U Pro is so good that even if you do shave off some of its performance and features while leaving its great looks, it will still be an amazing smartphone. That is exactly what we have here with the Elephone U.
It is a budget-friendly version of the U Pro with most of its amazing qualities. The smartphone has great looks, performance, and display. Especially for its price. But just like the U Pro, the U is not a Flagship Killer. It falls only slightly short of flagship status. If you are looking for a good budget Chinese smartphone, then go for this smartphone.