If you’re looking for a cheap Android phone, buying from China can get you much more phone for your money. The Elephone M2 is one such example, and at £104.53 from Elephone Store it’s unlikely you’d find the same deal on the UK high street. The price includes free worldwide shipping, but one thing you have to watch when shipping it to the UK is that if your parcel is picked up at customs you will have to pay import duty. Plus there are some other risks involved when you buy from abroad, such as the ease with which you can return a handset if something goes wrong.
For a circa-£100 phone, the Elephone looks much better than what you might get for the same money in the UK. For a start it’s not plastic, and this metal-framed phone features a smart unibody design that adds rigidity. That does mean the 2600mAh battery is non-removable, but a tray on the phone’s right edge lets you add a microSD card or a second SIM.
The build is entirely metal, save for the glass display and two black plastic panels that sit top and bottom at the rear. These tend to be used to improve the cellular signal with metal smartphones, and we didn’t find they detracted from the design. However, on our review sample the bottom panel doesn’t run quite flush to the metal, which results in a slightly less premium feel than Elephone presumably wanted to achieve.
In other respects the build quality is good. Our ‘black’ model is more a gunmetal grey, and a gold version is also available. Despite being a phablet, the M2 isn’t overly large or unwieldy, measuring 75x155x7.35mm (pretty thin for a budget phone) and weighing in at 165g. We also like the 2.5D curved glass used on the phone’s front, which makes the transition between the metal frame and glass screen feel less noticeable in the hand.
In our tests the 5.5in fullHD IPS display was sufficiently bright and clear, with a pixel pitch of 400ppi. Viewing angles are excellent and colours are good. If you’re looking for a mobile display on which to watch video, this one won’t disappoint.
The bezels to the left- and right edges of the screen are reasonably slim, though a fair amount of space is found top and bottom. This is partly used to house the camera, speaker and sensors at the top, and back and recents touch buttons at the bottom, which sit either side of a physical home button with a fingerprint scanner built-in.
Now that’s something you won’t find in a £100 UK phone. This type of biometric security is still only as secure as your password or PIN, since either can be used to bypass the fingerprint scanner, but when it works well it can be a convenient way to quickly unlock your handset without having to tap in a code.
Pleasingly, the fingerprint scanner works with a touch- rather than swipe-style input method, although you do need to ensure you cover the entire home button with your thumb- or fingertip. Elephone says it works in half a second, and in our tests we found no reason to question this.
So many of the Chinese phones we review reverse the Micro-USB charging slot and headphone jack, with the former at the top and the latter at the bottom. Elephone doesn’t do this, which