Full Elephone S2 Review 2GB MT6735 slim and light mobile
Elephone is one of the most prominent China phone brands in the game. They’ve been creating some very interesting, unique mobiles and behind the style is a strong marketing team.
Elephone S2 style and design
The Elephone S2 and Elephone S2 Plus are both slim, good looking mobiles, overall feeling solid and well built. The back piece is made of glass and shows some interesting triangular designs that play with light when tilted.
The sides are matte silver with an angular CNC machined style cut at the edge. The front glass is 2.5D, which simply means the edges of the glass are curved which adds an extra bit of class to the design.
The S2 is an enclosed phone, meaning the battery isn’t removable. It also means that the SIM and SD expansion are accessed from the sides. There’s room for either a single SIM and SD-expansion, or dual-SIM.
There is no backlight for the capacitive buttons, something I find to be a positive. There is a notification LED.
I want to note here that there’s an S2 Plus available for only $10 more. This is a 5.5″ version of the phone with a bigger battery (2600mAh).
Elephone S2 display
The display on the Elephone S2 is 5.0″@720P and Elephone S2 Plus 5.5″@720P giving us a ppi of 293 & 267 respectively. The display looks good, with above average pop. Color and contrast changes mildly from extreme angles, but remains entirely legible.
Elephone S2 review OS
The OS on the Elephone S2 and S2 Plus is Android 5.1. Everything is quite snappy. There have been no force closes. Play is downloading, updating and installing apps, including Google Play Services without issue. All of my testing apps have run without any problems.
There was an OTA update available which downloaded and installed without any problems.
The RAM on the S2 and S2 Plus is 2GB and is behaving great in regards to background app management. That is, I can open more than a few apps and switch between them without them falling out of memory. This is one of the plus sides of having a 2GB RAM phone and it’s good to see the S2 handle itself well here.
Storage on the S2 is entirely relegated to one partition, leaving us 12GB for internal. Easily enough for installing hundreds upon hundreds of apps.
Elephone S2 frequency support
The Elephone S2 and S2 Plus have 4-band 2G GSM, 900/2100 3G WCDMA and 800/1800/2100/2600MHz 4G FDD-LTE. This makes it a good phone for UK/Europe and most of Asia. As always, check your carrier’s frequency support prior to purchasing a mobile.
Elephone S2 performance
The SoC in the Elephone S2 is the increasingly popular MT6735. In the S2 it’s the MT6735P variant with the quad-cores clocked at 1.0GHz. The GPU is Mali-T720.
The Elephone S2 Antutu score is 20k, which for benchmarking geeks may trigger some frowns. Notably, the 3D score is a somewhat low 4k (720p), though in testing Asphalt 8, I found the S2 to run it quite smooth and very playable.
Despite the Antutu score, the phone does well navigating and running apps within Android 5.1. There’s some minor transition stutter, but nothing that slows you down. There’s little difference in terms of quickness of operation in comparison to phones such as with MT6752@1.7GHz. As mentioned in the OS section, everything is quite snappy, with apps opening speedily and web pages rendering quickly.
Slow scrolling is butter smooth, and fast scrolling is quick and with appropriate friction.
Elephone S2 review WiFi
WiFi on the S2 is sub-par, reaching 65ft/18m before losing the router. While this is a disappointing result, consider that it still should be enough for the majority of home and business situations.
Elephone S2 GPS Compass
GPS on the S2 is sub-par. Locks happen in under 30 seconds, but SNR quite low in the high-teens to mid-20’s. The screen shot here is best case scenario and GPS hasn’t performed any stronger than this. Number of satellites locking is quite low as well, typically locking on to 3-5. We must take into account that the lock is happening and staying locked, so in terms of usability it should suffice.
Unfortunately, for the compass to work properly, the phone must be held at a 45° angle with the top tilting down. If held flat or straight up or down the compass is useless. It’s a bizarre situation which calibrating multiple times didn’t change. Most likely this can be fixed with an OTA update.
I tested a mouse, keyboard and gamepad with the Elephone S2 OTG and it’s working without a hitch.
Elephone S2 speaker mic earpiece
The speaker on the Elephone S2 is beyond adequate for listing to movies and hands-free calls. With a fan on high, I could still clearly hear the dialog during the 720p battery test.
The earpiece and mic are working without issue; I could clearly and easily hear the person on the other end and they could hear me no problem.
Elephone S2 camera picture samples images
The Elephone S2 camera is quite good, producing images with surprisingly good color and dynamic range. Take a look at the image with the large tree against the sky. Here we see both the sky and the branches of the tree well exposed, where typically we see harsh contrasting. It’s a guess based on the 100% crops that the images are upscaled/interpolated from 8mp.
The images were shot at 13MP and the crops you see are 100% crops from these images. As usual, the pictures are unedited other than re-sizing and cropping.
Elephone S2 battery life and charging
Charging is a bit slow at 3 hours, but the 2100mAh battery is fully saturating to 4.2V. It’s worth mentioning here that many phones in this price range charge at a similar or even slower rate.
Battery life is very good for a 2100mAh battery, lasting hours at 140 lux, running 720p video over YouTube WiFi with a SIM in. The S2 is appropriately deep sleeping.
There are a couple of different ways we can look at the Elephone S2. Disappointingly, the WiFi is weakish and the GPS SNR is on the lowish side, the compass is buggy, and it would have been great if they’d included a charging system that would accept 1A.
What makes the negatives extra disappointing is that the Elephone S2 does stand out in several ways: the budget price, the slim, unique style, very strong HD display, good battery life, stable Android 5.1, and 2GB RAM with very good background app management.
Competition is super deep at the moment and there are many phones that deserve consideration in this price range. With just a bit more attention to detail in regards to antenna placement and compass, this phone would get a huge recommendation from Gizbeat.
As it is, the Elephone S2 handles my needs and I’d be more than comfortable having it as my main mobile, but due to the negatives mentioned above, it’s tough to recommend it outright. Consider the negatives carefully and ask yourself if they affect you prior to laying your money down on the S2.
At Elephone’s official site, the S2 and S2 Plus are $20 more than you’ll find them at 3rd party shops, and at this price point it’s impossible to recommend them, but at the lower prices available elsewhere, they can be considered.
Here I’d also like to give special mention to the Elephone P6000 Pro. I reviewed the P6000 several months back and overall found it to be a solid buy. It’s being re-released and is on pre-sale now at an excellent price point.