There’s no denying where the inspiration came from for the beautiful design of the brand new Elephone U Pro. The slim bezels, rounded display corners and curved screen edges, as well as the fact that its predecessors were the Elephone S7 and S8, begin to give it away. Also, consider that up until the last minute this release was going to be called the S9.
Amazingly, the Elephone U Pro beat its inspiration, the Samsung S9, to the market by a few weeks. This is a huge feat considering the Elephone S8 was only released in September 2017.
If you’re asking yourself, “who is Elephone and why haven’t I heard of them?”, in Australia to date, you would be forgiven. While Elephone and some other Chinese smartphone manufacturers are widely known in other parts of the world, they are yet to penetrate the Australian market in a big way. But this latest release from Elephone signifies a shift in the direction and intention of the company.
Previously, Elephone and other Shenzen based phone manufacturers have shamelessly ‘borrowed’ facets from the major brands and pumped them out with little fuss in order to keep costs down. Costs were also controlled with the use of cheaper components, like the MediaTek manufactured chipsets used to power previous Elephone models, but you won’t find one of those in the U Pro.
While you may be against the fact that the style and design may well be ripped off the Samsung S8/S9, the reality is that this manufacturer from China is no longer making cheap rip-off phones, they’re just available at a cheaper price.
The Elephone U Pro comes with all the features you would expect, and then some more, and ships with Android 8.0 out of the box.
On the back, you’ll find vertically mounted dual 13MP cameras with a fingerprint sensor neatly incorporated into the same panel.
The U Pro also features face recognition technology made possible with the 8.0MP front-mounted selfie camera, and while it functions well, you won’t experience lightning unlock speeds like you do with the OnePlus 5T. Differing stats are available on the actual speed of the face unlock feature, ranging from 0.08 seconds to 0.30 seconds.
But wait, let’s not move on too far from the Elephone U Pro’s beautiful back cover for now. And it is beautiful. The extremely stylish and highly reflective back cover of the U Pro is made using the latest Gorilla Glass 5 technology, heated to over 700 degrees in the manufacturing process before polishing and plating. Four colours are available – blue, red, grey and black, apparently narrowed down from over 100 different hues.
The Elephone U Pro comes in two models; the 4GB RAM/64GB ROM model and the 6GB RAM/128GB ROM model, oh, and there’s expandable storage on top (up to 128GB) by means of a MicroSD card. Other features packed in include wireless charging compatibility, as well as quick-charge on the 3550mAh battery which is stated to take only 90 minutes to full charge. If you’re travelling or have another phone for work, you’ll also love the dual nano SIM slots, and there’s also an FM radio if data consumption for music streaming is a concern.
The whole thing is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor which is a major step up from previous Elephone models, but still not to the same standard as Samsung, the S8 ran a Snapdragon 835 processor.
Should we talk about the display? The Elephone U Pro has an impressive screen size of 5.99 inches which is larger than the Samsung S9 at 5.8 inches (the Samsung S9+ is larger). The Elephone’s stunning AMOLED 18:9 ratio curved display has a resolution of 2160 x 1080, cleverly manufactured with flexible glass, although I wouldn’t recommend testing its flexibility too much.
One great addition worth mentioning is the fact that the android system has been nicely customised to provide the option for swipe navigation, giving it more of an iPhone X feel, doing away with the navigation buttons using up display space at the bottom of the screen.
In the box you’ll find a screen protector, a rubber feel clear case, the quick charger and an earphone adapter which you’ll need to plug into the charging port to access a 3.5mm jack as there is no 3.5mm jack incorporated into the design. With most modern headphones moving away from cables, this is most likely a move to show some future-thought in the U Pro.
A fun feature in the Elephone’s camera app is the inclusion of preset filters such as ‘negative’, ‘posterize’, ‘sepia’, ‘sketch’, ’emboss’ and more.
Below is an example of the ‘negative’ camera filter function. Excuse the harsh lighting, one downfall of the U Pro’s camera is its ability in low light, but to be fair, any phone would have struggled in this lighting.
Oh, my fiance found out about the camera filters… she seemed to quite like them! Here is an example of the ‘posterize’ filter straight from the camera. Note: the wall frame of Marilyn Monroe was already a posterized looking artwork, which means that it is now posterized within posterized, which is like inception. Sorry, here’s the photo…
So what price are we looking at for the Elephone U Pro? Gearbest is currently selling the 6GB/128GB model for AU$599.75 (black rear cover) and the 4GB/64GB model for AU$507.19.
If you get in quick, you’ll be able to take advantage of an even cheaper offer extended to Cashrewards from Gearbest. Click here to access the special Elephone U Pro coupon code to purchase the Elephone U Pro through Cashrewards for only US$359.99 – that’s approx AU$460. Best be quick, this offer is only valid on a limited number of handsets while promotional stocks last!
The Elephone U Pro in my opinion looks as stylish as the Samsung S9 and includes an array of top-notch features, but the Samsung will also give you features that the Elephone U Pro doesn’t. On the other hand, the Samsung S9 doesn’t include, for instance, dual SIM functionality, so a side by side comparison based on your needs is definitely worthwhile.
When you consider that the 128GB Elephone U Pro is half the price of the Samsung S9, which will sell for $1199 outright in Australia, your mind might well be made up for you.