The Quick Take

Gionee is a fairly popular brand in China and one of the largest manufacturers of smartphones in the country. The company has expanded into several markets like Taiwan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, Algeria as well as India in last few years.

As smartphones have evolved in past few years, hardware components like processor, camera, and display have significantly improved along with design elements and build materials. Battery life though continues to be one of the primary challenges for a smartphone maker. The Gionee Marathon M5 packs in a massive 6020 mAh battery and aims to solve this issue for now.

The Good

  • Battery Life
  • 32GB internal storage
  • Performance

The Bad

  • Extra bulk
  • Low-light camera performance
  • Lackluster display

Gionee Marathon M5 specifications

Category Marathon M5
Operating System Android 5.1 Lollipop with Amigo 3.1
Display 5.5-inch HD (1280 x 720) | Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Processor 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6735 64-bit processor
Storage 32GB internal memory; expandable up to 128GB with microSD card
Rear Camera 13MP with LED Flash, f/2.2 aperture
Front Camera 5MP, f/2.0 aperture
Dimensions 152.00 x 76.00 x 8.55mm
Weight 211 grams
Battery 6020mAh

About this review

I used the Indian retail variant of the Gionee Marathon M5 for over two weeks. Out of the box, the Marathon M5 ran Amigo 3.1 running on top of Android 5.1. For most of the time, I used it with Airtel 4G, and to test the dual-SIM functionality I popped in a Vodafone 3G SIM sometimes.

Gionee Marathon M5 hardware

As soon as you take the Marathon M5 out of the box, the extra weight strikes you. The biggest highlight of the Marathon M5 – the 6020mAh battery – is also its biggest hindrance. At 211 grams, it is bulky, and feels like a brick in the hand.

But of course you wouldn't need to lug around a power bank all the time — like most of us on a daily basis. The device sports a 5.5-inch screen, and although heavy, feels compact and easy to use. For a phone that packs battery of this size, just 8.55mm of thickness is appreciable. There's a plastic back with metallic rims and although the design is pretty much standard, it is very sturdy and feels durable. And here's a recommendation… get the gold one which looks quite rad.

The 5.5-inch AMOLED display has nothing much to write home about. It's only 1280 x 720, and since the pixel density is low, text and images aren't as sharp as one would prefer. The colors too are far from natural, and feel jarring at times.

That's one department where the Marathon M5 disappoints. There's of course Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection, with non-backlit capacitive navigation buttons.

Powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, the phone packs in 3GB of RAM for a smooth Android experience. There's no lag or stuttering in navigation across screens or while web browsing. Even with graphic-intensive games, the Marathon M5 didn't break a sweat. Prolonged gaming sessions do cause heating up, but never to an uncomfortable level.

The M5 includes 32GB internal storage, expandable up to 128GB via a microSD card. For a mid-range smartphone, the Marathon M5 boasts of a competitive set of specifications and the hardware combo makes it a solid performer. There are some random crashes when several apps are running in the background, but that is most certainly a software issue, and could be taken care of via a software update.

Gionee Marathon M5 software

The Marathon M5 runs Amigo 3.1, the company's proprietary UI layer with Android Lollipop under the hood. The UI is single-layered with no app drawer, so you'll have all your apps spread out across multiple home screens.

Like always, Gionee installs a host of trial games and third-party utilities, but thankfully you can uninstall them if you don't like them. A few of them are pretty neat though.

The Marathon M5 sports a built-in IR blaster that turns the smartphone in a smart remote for televisions, ACs, and other compatible appliances via the bundled Peel Smart Remote app. There's also Gionee Xender, which lets you connect your phone to another smartphone via Wi-Fi and transfer files between the two without an internet connection. There's the interesting Chameleon app that lets you chose a custom color scheme for the phone's theme by pointing the camera at anything and picking colors from the scene.

Gionee Marathon M5 camera

The 13-megapixel rear camera on the Marathon M5 does a pretty good job in daylight. There's plenty of details and the color reproduction is great. Indoors though, the pictures tend to get a bit of noisy. The M5 takes good macro shots while the HDR mode gives crisper and more accurate photos, although the image processing gets slower. In low light though, the M5 struggles often. There's plenty of noise, and the colors are unbalanced.

The front-facing, 5-megapixel camera is decent but since it lacks auto-focus, the selfies aren't the sharpest, although satisfactory for a phone in this price segment. Also, the Marathon M5 captures full HD videos, which are pretty decent in good light conditions.

Gionee Marathon M5: The bottom line

The Gionee Marathon M5 is a good enough smartphone, and despite a few misses, performs quite well for a phone at this price point. The highlight of the device — battery life — is clearly not a gimmick and a solid proposition for potential buyers.

Available in black, white, and gold colors, the Marathon M5 comes at a price of ₹17,999 in India and 2,299 RMB in China.

Should you buy it? Probably

Gionee Marathon M5 is a pretty good option on the table in the sub-$300 smartphone category. It's built like a tank and is heavy, and if you can look past that, the three-day battery life is a good enough reason to pick this one up if you frequently suffer from battery anxiety or are out and about in the field for work through the day. Granted it's not the best display in business and the camera is average, but the Marathon M5 performs as good as any other smartphone in the category.