Best Budget Device? – Elephone Trunk – Review

The Elephone Trunk is my first ever Snapdragon device, with pretty budget but modern specifications. How well will it perform as my daily driver?
The Elephone Trunk is a 5 inch Snapdragon 410 device running on 2GB RAM, and 16GB ROM. It comes out of the box with Android 5.1. It also has an 8MP rear camera (interpolated to 13MP), and a 2MP front camera. It also has LEDs for the home, menu, and back buttons, and although similar to the Elephone P6000’s, the home button LED does not function as a notification LED.

As a daily driver, it performed pretty well. In fact, I would consider using this as my daily driver until I get a new phone. Let’s take an in-depth look at the various factors that make up the phone.

Aesthetics

Firstly, I would like to mention that while most of my previous devices are 5.5 inch devices, the Elephone Trunk instead has a 5 inch screen. This however did not impede daily usage, as the design of the phone makes it really easy to hold and use.

On the first look, it would seem like the Elephone Trunk is actually a premium device, due to the back cover’s really nice rubberised feel. Holding the device also feels really great, although it may feel a little slippery at times. The home button also stands out, as this device is one of the few that have a really nice holo circle as a home button.

The button and port placements are also one thing I would like to mention, as they provide ease of use. Just for a note too, the buttons are all on the right side, while the ports are all on top.

The rear camera also protrudes, like most devices in the market now, but the only difference here is that it does not protrude that much, and only pops up slightly. The ELE logo on the rear is also some kind of engraving, which makes it look pretty nice.

Battery

As this device is not a MediaTek device, it does not suffer from the heavy screen-on battery drain MediaTek chipsets face. The 2100 mAh battery could easily last 2 days, with a whole day of moderate usage leaving me with about 50% to 60% of battery left. While the battery is small, the Snapdragon 410 inside the device manages power consumption well, despite being a 1.2GHz quad-core chipset. The software can also be said to be optimized for the battery.

Camera

While most other aspects of this device are impressive, the camera does fall behind quite a bit. The rear Samsung shooter does not perform well, and while giving photos with good colour reproduction, the interpolation means that photos don’t really look good when on a computer, and that when taking photos in fullscreen you can only go up to 5.8MP. The stabilization is also quite off, as the slightest movements can cause motion blur. The front camera on the other hand seems to be doing pretty okay, as it provides a good shooting angle for selfies. The colour reproduction of the front camera is also good. However, being only 2MP means that the photos will be quite small.

Camera samples:

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Connectivity

The 4G LTE connectivity offered by the Snapdragon 410 chipset performs actually really well. Even in the most unstable conditions (i.e. Being in a moving train), 4G connects just fine, and when switching to 3G, the switch is almost seamless. I also experienced almost no data drops on 3G/H+, as most of my previous devices had.

WiFi on the Trunk also works fine, although it did not manage to pick up any of my 5GHz networks. The WiFi did not experience any drops when I was using it.

The GPS on this device outperforms most other MediaTek devices I’ve owned. The lock is fast and accurate, even in moving vehicles. Here we have a video demonstrating the GPS connectivity in a moving car:

Unfortunately though the Elephone Trunk does not come with any HotKnot or NFC connectivity. OTG is also not supported.

Performance

While only being a quad-core 1.2GHz processor, the Snapdragon 410 performs pretty well. As the software is also optimized for the balance between the battery and performance, it means the device hardly experiences any lags. Gaming is also a pleasure, as the touch input delay is almost not noticeable. However, when the ‘Blur Effect’ feature is turned on, the lockscreen will experience noticeable lag.

Software

The default Android 5.1 ROM for the Elephone Trunk works perfectly fine in terms of being stable. However, there are a few things to note too, one being the default ELE Launcher that was included. The ELE Launcher has in fact had a history of distributing adware, and while I did not experience that, I still prefer the Google Now Launcher or Nova Launcher over the ELE Launcher, as the ELE Launcher has a really odd interface that does not correspond to the Material Design guidelines.

The stock ROM also has a few odd parts too, such as the Recent Apps screen having two jarring Gingerbread era buttons on top (that actually work though), and the Profiles icon on the power menu being of a really low resolution (and again) Gingerbread era icon. Whether or not the ROM was built by Elephone is still unknown, as the build number does not suggest so.

Recently too, an OTA was dispatched, however, I was not able to update it, as the OTA package apparently detected a flaw in the modem partition of the device (which I did not and cannot modify).

Despite those aesthetic flaws, the software still works fine and I experienced no problems during usage.

Now here comes the fun part: custom ROMs! Being a Snapdragon 410, custom ROM building is almost entirely possible (although sources still have not been released). Somehow though, Cyanogen OS is available for this device, thanks to XDA member NFound. You can grab it, plus a few other ROMs over at the original post. It seems to be a port from a Wileyfox device, though it works perfectly fine and is actually slightly smoother than the default stock ROM.

CyanogenOS running on the Trunk

CyanogenOS running on the Trunk

Overall

The Elephone Trunk is one device that Elephone has done right. While it was really unexpected to find a working stable version of CyanogenOS directly compatible with the Trunk, the whole experience of the phone was still something worth mentioning. The general feel of the device isn’t too bad too. I’d use it as a daily driver if I were on a budget, even without any hesitation.