Here’s why I’m in love with the GTeL SL 5.5 Xtra

Cliff Makanda Avatar

A couple of months ago, local phone brand, GTeL, launched its flagship smartphone, the GTeL  A 760 SL 5.5 Xtra. Lots of noise was made when the phone was launched, something that shows how GTeL is setting a very high standard for product launches for local brands.

The name GTeL is also everywhere these days, showing how the company is also honing its brand building skills. It’s something that ought to help its case as it navigates the Kenyan market and every other country that will become GTeL/Airtel territory.

After cutting through all that pomp and fanfare that comes with gadget launches and GTeL marketing, we took a closer look at the device.  For purposes of benchmarking on several aspects of the device, we stacked it up against the iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, the two devices that GTeL insists on regarding as easy-to-beat competition.

Well, GTeL’s flagship phone clear indicates that the companies new era is an antithesis of the GTide era. Over the years, GTel has learned that Zimbabweans are willing to part with their dollars for a high-quality phone rather than buy a cheap low-quality phone that needs to be replaced every 6 months. This is evident in the series of phones they have released over the years and notably the A760 SL 5.5 Xtra.

Design and First Impressions

GTel went back to the drawing board to redesign the whole phone and addressed a couple of problems that its previous flagship phone had. According to GTeL, these included overheating, and the general feel of the previous designs that made it prone to slipping out of a user’s hand.

The design of the SL 5.5 is unique. The phone is clearly distinct from everything else that’s currently on the market. It has grooved edges inspired by the structure of railway lines.

When it comes to thinness, the SL 5.5 rules. At 5.5 mm, It is one of the slimmest devices in the world and silences familiar favourites like the entire Samsung Galaxy range or the iPhone 6.

In a lot of ways,  aspects of the exterior design have its roots in the iPhone design. The locations of the charging port, speaker, and earphone jack are similar to those on the iPhone 6.

The groove makes it easy to handle the SL 5.5 by providing a convenient grip. On the other end, the back of the phone is completely flat, with a non-protruding camera (That’s a lesson for the Samsung Galaxy S6 right there). The corner position helps bring out the flat design.

The volume buttons and power/lock button are all on the right side. Using the buttons will seem intuitive for most right handed people. Left handed phone users might find the positions of the buttons a little annoying. It will take time to get used to long pressing the power button.

So how does the battery handle ZESA?

Like in the previous GTel device, the battery is irremovable. Which means a substitute battery is not an option and you have to rely on a power bank for extra moto when you are traveling.

Besides relying on dark color themes to save power (this turned out to be a huge advantage) the phone comes with a 2750mAh Long Life battery, which is a pretty decent unit when you compare it to the iPhone 6 (1810mAh) and Galaxy S6 Edge (2600mAh).

These numbers don’t always mean much to the average Zimbo phone buyer, though. With power cuts galore this side, the best way to “measure” the battery performance is to look at how it saves power after that one single charge that might come at the office, or late at night.

Fortunately, the phone comes with an extreme power saving mode. GTeL did something right with this addition. It allows you to only make important calls and stops you from using power consuming apps. This ensures that the phone stays charged for more than 48 hours.

WiFi seems to drain the phone’s battery, something that will frustrate those of us that now frequent places like Chicken Inn for a TelOne WiFi connection.

Screen and Camera

One of the worries that come with buying a high-end smartphone is breaking the screen. The SL 5.5 comes with double gorilla glass screens. This greatly increases the lifetime of the phone screen.

However, the double gorilla glass screens makes some trade offs. The brightness of the screen is limited reducing the quality of pictures and videos on the Amoled screen. This screen isn’t as sharp, resulting in less clearer images.


The SL 5.5 has an impressive 13 MP rear-end camera and an 8 MP frontal camera. While it’s great that the A 760 5.5 Xtra has more megapixels than other  but this does not mean it  has better images. The iPhone 6 rear-end camera only has 8 MP. A good combination of quality sensors and a good camera app that tweaks things behind the scenes makes the iPhone take greater shots than the SL 5.5 Xtra.


The 8 MP frontal camera take is good for taking selfies and skyping.

The User Experience

The SL 5.5 runs on Android version 5.0, popularly known as Lollipop. This gives it the familiarity of most Android phones.

The screen interface feels like that oF the Nexus phone, from the navigation features to integrated apps.

The SL 5.5 Xtra comes with a ROM memory of 16 GB and a 2 GB RAM memory. The memory is inextensible as the phone does not support a memory card. If you prefer watching movies on the phone, you will have to carefully manage the memory.

In terms of processing power, the SL 5.5 has a 1.7 GHz Octa Core. This results in a sleek experiemce using apps as there are very few restrictions when using apps. l was able to efficiently run multiple apps at the same time.

GTel also took another page from Samsung with its Chameleon feature. Like the Samsung Edge 6, Chameleon allows one to assign contacts to a specific color. When a contact calls, the phone rings with the assigned color theme and immediately know the identity of the caller.

To buy or not to buy?

The effort GTel’s product development team put into the phone is definitely commendable. The phone comes at a cost of US$ 495. For a high-end smartphone, this is a fairly reasonable price.

The SL 5.5 Xtra is a revolutionary phone for a company Straight Outta Zimbabwe. GTeL is slowly establishing itself as a regional brand, judging from devices like this, one day its phones will be worth the name.


  1. Shephard

    Gionee Elife S7
    Gionee Elife S7

    Technology GSM / HSPA / LTE
    Announced 2015, March
    Status Available. Released 2015, April
    Dimensions 139.8 x 67.4 x 5.5 mm (5.50 x 2.65 x 0.22 in)
    Weight 126.5 g (4.48 oz)
    SIM Dual SIM (Micro-SIM, dual stand-by)
    Type Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
    Size 5.2 inches (~79.1% screen-to-body ratio)
    Resolution 1080 x 1920 pixels (~424 ppi pixel density)
    Multitouch Yes, up to 5 fingers
    Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3
    – Amigo OS 3.0
    OS Android OS, v5.0 (Lollipop)
    Chipset Mediatek MT6752
    CPU Octa-core 1.7 GHz Cortex-A53
    GPU Mali-T760MP2
    Card slot No
    Internal 16 GB, 2 GB RAM
    Primary 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
    Features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, HDR
    Video 1080p@30fps
    Secondary 8 MP
    Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
    Loudspeaker Yes
    3.5mm jack Yes
    – DTS sound
    WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, hotspot
    Bluetooth v4.0
    GPS Yes, with A-GPS
    Radio FM radio
    USB microUSB v2.0, USB Host
    Sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
    Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Mail, IM
    Browser HTML5
    Java No
    – Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
    – MP4/H.264 player
    – MP3/WAV/eAAC+ player
    – Photo/video editor
    – Document viewer
    Non-removable Li-Ion 2750 mAh battery
    Talk time

  2. macd chip

    It really looks like a good phone besides being harnessed by Zimbos.

    I would love to see if l can hack it and install Ubuntu mobile OS on it.

    What is the warrant on it?

    What other durability test was done on this phone, like dropping it or splashing water on it?

    What is the maximum storage it can take?

    How easy is it to change parts like batteries or broken screen?

    What level of support do GTel give for this phone?

  3. are you sure

    are u sure GTEL designed this phone, do they have the ability to design phones. i quote “GTel went back to the drawing board to redesign the whole phone and addressed”

  4. Terry

    Under the camera section, you posted 2 sets of photos. Im assuming you were comparing the picture quality of 2 phones by taking pics of the same place then comparing them side by side. It would have helped to label each pic according to the phone used.

    1. Nigel Gambanga

      @Terry if you are reading the article from a mobile phone, you should be able to see the labels at the foot of each pic. If it’s from a desktop, You can see the labels when you hover the cursor over the image.

  5. That one dude we call bullshit. you where obviously paid for your article. first econet, now this?

    1. ConcernedNetizen

      People like you are the ones driving Zimbabwe to the ground. What’s wrong with supporting a local Zimbabwean company ? If you don’t like the phone, go ahead and start your own local cellphone company !!
      On the “bullshit part”, there is nothing wrong with Gtel using foreign contractors to design a smartphone. You are right on Gtel opting for the same design as Gionee Life. If it’s too good why not incorporate it ? And good luck on your attitude, bro.

    2. Mafirakureva

      So what? What hurts you, allow the dude to do his job, whats the fuss. Was he advertising Nokia or Samsung? Evenryone is paid for a certain task, ko you want him to do it for free? Dont embarrass yourself on public.

  6. Sean Roko

    It’s no longer a secret that Gtel phones are made by Gionee or are Gionee phones.The only problem I have is for them to pass them off as they design and come up with the concept.They only brand the phone and the writer please tell your friends at gtel to look at the upgrade of software on their branded phones.

  7. Avbob

    Wow…Gionee Elife S7 reincarnate….or simply relabeled. Nice phone though, good specs, nice review. It’s not like anyone believed that Gtel actually designs their phones anyway.

  8. Leopold Marteningo

    Duuuude…when you’re doing a review get a model with nice hands to hold the device. Whose hands are those? Nigel? Garikai? Those giant bear hands stole the show. Guuys…..

  9. obester

    i hate mediatek chips

  10. Anonymous

    I still have just one problem with Gtel: they’re freaking liars …they continue to lie in commercials on radio that this phone is the slimmest in the world (…seriously Gtel…) just like they did with its predecessor… isn’t there a law that allows us to sue or something…

  11. proudly zii

    That Gtel doesn’t match S6edge n i4n6 take a close look at the specs,u should take it down 2 i4n5,S5,lumia 830,LGG3 somewhere there

    1. Slimmest User

      My friend with a Samsung S6 edge envies me neGtel slimmest yangu. This fon is unique believe it or not. What can u say if u dont use it.

  12. proudly zii

    Gtel nvr made the worlds slimmest 4n but it made 1 of the worlds slimmest 4n.Last tym i checked the top 10 list n it wz not surprising that Gtel wasn’t on the list but putting their claims on the list…it would sit on #4…..But i hv 2 say their lies r very convincing

  13. vee

    U guys don’t comment on anything u knw nothing bwt.i myself I am a GTel fan.Gtel produces the most durable phones.I’m actually planning to buy this SL 5.5 X-tra.personally I saw it its one of the very slimmest phones in the world,very light and very cool.

  14. Maponda victor

    Am a gtel fan and i tell u thats the slimmest phone and very light that is the very phon that iam using

  15. Bernhard

    Gtel is cool

  16. Bernhard

    Good innovation

  17. cyber

    I think some people really are having serious disorders over in their “upstairs”,an impairment of their brain cells somewhere in their so-called retarded brains.anyway let not the blame be to them because they simply dont know what they say. Thats why we,as zimbabweans for instance can’t actually depend on our own and rise up from our current state,why?, well because whosoever tries to do so,meets the same kind of idiots who do not appriciate what other people do but instead,would try their best to discourage them…take it or leave it the difference is all the same because if Gtel managed to launch itself to its current heights without you,well it will still reach to its destiny without you..copy that

  18. Fortue

    I bought it. Its user friendly and everyone envies it and they always ask how much it is… Where they can buy it… e.t.c. Mind u I’m not in Zimbabwe. I definitely show off with it & my mates are soo jealous. Havent faced any problems yet even though its been almost a year with it.

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