The mid-range smartphone market all over the world has seen quite the growth and its all thanks to the upcoming smartphones that are being launched with excellent specifications. Especially in the Asia region, the $150 smartphones are the new flagship devices, packing heavy specifications. Most of these brands that are offering such smartphones are from the China. The country is already on the verge of taking over the world smartphone market.
The China has the highest number of mobile brands, and one of those brands that are making name worldwide is the Oukitel. We are holding company’s flagship device, the U10 with us. After using the device for almost a week, we thought it’s a good time to write a detailed review on this device. Let’s take a look.
The U10 sports a unibody design with an amazing build quality. It might be the most solid design that has been given for a sub $150 smartphone. Even with the large screen size you can hold in one hand and operate. The thickness of the device is 7.8mm, which is fine for a full metal built smartphone with such pricing.
The combination of all metal frame and back makes a good impact on the design language. Moreover, you get the curved 2.5D glass on the front of the device, which makes a compelling argument that it is the best combo you’ll get for the price. The edges are smooth and have curves on them, which gives a wonderful feel in the hand. The thin construction keeps the design elegant and attractive.
On the front, there is a 5.5-inch display with minimal bezels set, as well as the three capacitive buttons on the bottom. Though, the backlight on the buttons is only visible when things turn little darker outside. While during daylight you won’t be able to see those buttons, we don’t know if it was intentionally done by company or not. But it does confuse the users at first. Or this might be the issue with our white and gold variant, we are not sure.
The buttons and ports on the edges around the device seem to be smooth. On the right side, the device has volume rocker keys and power button placement, while they looked squishy but delivered instant clicks. On the left side, there is a slot for dual SIM as well as microSD card support. Remember that you can only put one SIM card and microSD card slot at a time or either two SIM cards, but not all of them together. The top edge houses the 3.5mm audio jack while the microUSB port resides on the bottom edge along with a microphone.
Around the back is the protruding square-rounded camera module with dual-tone LED Flash. Just below the camera module is the fingerprint sensor that is aptly named as TouchID. Company branding is present at the bottom and below that lies the loud speaker.
The display on U10 is quite impressive for a Full HD display and, in fact, it is one of the best you can get in the land of $150 smartphones. Unlike those unresponsive 720p displays that are rolling out in the same price bracket, the display here is quite refreshing to see. Even for the 5.5-inch display, the screen is quite crisp and clean.
The colors on screen sometimes looked over saturated and that maybe because of angles. But most of the time you would like what has been playing on the device. The screen is good for media consumption, so you watch movies, play games or go berzerk on YouTube channels.
The black levels are good as well as viewing angles are fantastic, although, expect some drops in black levels at certain viewing angles. The response time of the screen is great. When an inexpensive phone is offering such display, you don’t tend to complaint a lot.
With 2.5D curved glass integration, it looks like the display is floating on the top of the phone rather being recessed into the frame. That creates an immersive effect and gives some extra depth to the screen. The typing seems to be quite fast on the display, which apparently means the digitizer does its job pretty well. This is pretty much the best 1080p display you can get in the realm of mid-range smartphones. It posed no problem until I was covering this review. Though, even if you expect some slow down, it should get the rhythm back in no time.
Oukitel U10 runs on Android Lollipop 5.1 OS, which is the latest version. More than that phone offers the stock Android experience except for the no app drawer and iconography change. There are very few things that have been changed in terms of appearance, Settings app, and Notification panels are not among them.
Since, the no app drawer has become a trend among the Chinese mobile manufacturers; we didn’t expect it to be any different thanothers. Apart from the icons and all apps being present on the home screen, don’t expect any bigger changes in appearance.
Now that we have told you it’s almost pure Android stock experience let’s move on to the talk of features on the interface. One of the most interesting things on the UI is smart gestures option. This feature might have become nominal on smartphones these days, but Oukitel has improved upon it, as the company offers many smart gestures. Meanwhile I tried to use all of them, but not every gesture is responsive. So, some minus points for that to the OS.
Talking about the pre-installed apps the U10 doesn’t pack bloatware unlike most of the Chinese smartphones. While there are certainly some useful apps that are bundled with the device includes File Manger, Music, Gallery, Wireless Update, Email, etc. Though, you also get some social media apps pre-installed on the device such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. These apps can be uninstalled if you don’t need them necessarily.
The internal storage out of the box on U10 was around 10.58GB, which is quite good considering there is support for expandable storage space up to 64GB via microSD card slot. Moreover, the device also offers the OTG drive support, and we tested that out to be sure, and it was working.
Hardware & Performance
MediaTek is known to offer affordable chipsets in market and thanks to that it made U10 an affordable device but with high-end specifications. The device is powered by an MT6553, which offers great performance when accompanied with 3GB RAM on the device. The Octa-core chipset gets help from Mali-T720 GPU to play heavy graphic games.
Talking more on the gaming part, we played a lot of games on the device while I frequently tested the performance with games like Riptide GP2 and Dead Trigger 2. The gameplay was buttery smooth, as it didn’t lag any frame at all. The Riptide GP 2 is a fast game with scenes changing every moment, so it was pretty amazing to get great gaming experience on an inexpensive device.
Though, the one thing that tried to ruin the experience was the heating. Within the 10 minutes of gaming, the device got hot up to 44 degrees. The more heat can be felt at the display and edges, which made it quite impossible to hold the device. The reason might be the unibody design of the phone and the 2.5D glass surface. It can be the poor management of processing power that resulted in a lot of heat.
Moving on to the benchmark scores on the device, it had overall good performance, but to put things in perspectives we ran Benchmark apps like Antutu and Vellamo. For Antutu the device scored 32110 while in Vellamo app it went ahead of Lenovo A7000 and Meizu MX4 in Metal score with 1155, whereas it was ahead of Asus Zenfone 2 and close to Nexus 6 in terms of Multicore rating at 1556.
The free RAM on the device was quite high at 2GB out of the 3GB RAM on the device. Note it was when no background apps were running on the device. Given the RAM management on mid-range devices, I was quite impressed with U10’s system where the RAM availability was not an issue.
Talking about the fingerprint sensor on the back, setting it up was easy as well as using it. The fingerprint is detected as soon as you touch on the sensor. Moreover, you don’t need to wake up the screen and then unlock. Just keeping your finger on the sensor in the back would unlock the device. So, there’s no need of waking up the screen first. Very Convenient on a large screen smartphone.
Until now we have seen the U10 sporting tons of high-end features, so how company would left out the camera department. The device packs a massive 16-megapixel camera on the rear, which has an aperture of f/2.0. We don’t know if it’s a Sony or Samsung sensor, but the camera seems to be offering impressive imaging results.
I felt company made a fantastic choice as I looked at the color reproduction of images, they were impressive. I didn’t experience any situation when focusing would’ve posed any issue. So, does the camera get everything right? Well not quite fast there. I still have to talk about the low light capture.
The Low-light captured images with the 16-megapixel camera were not quite what you would expect. I mean it’s an inexpensive device, but the camera should justify the hardware capability of the module. Therefore, we tested out the camera in low light too. And was, unfortunately, disappointed about its capability in the dark.
Though, comparing it to other 16-megapixel cameras in the market, I realized that HDR captures lack details over the auto mode. While that is valid only for the low light captures, the HDR captures during daylight were some of the most incredible shots with lots of details. It’s concluded that the camera on U10 is not built for low-light captures.
But for the inexpensive device, the camera is overall quite the charmer. The simple design of camera app makes it easy for users to move around in settings and change what they want to. It has some of the most interesting modes like Live Photos, Face Beauty, Motion Tracking, Multi-Angle View and the Panorama Mode.
Talking about the front facing camera on the device, it was not at all worthy of the 8-megapixel count. The quality isn’t even comparable to the 2-megapixel images that come out of the front camera on U10. So, it seems we haven’t got the great combination of cameras, but instead only rear shooter is worthy. I suggest you part away with this phone if you are a selfie lover. Even with beauty mode the captures don’t look as good as they should.
The battery capacity on this 5.5-inch device is 2850 mAh, which is quite low considering the large size of the device. The reason I was disappointed by the battery life was because at 18% charge left I got little more than three hours of screen-on time. A mark that does not exactly says out loud that it has a good battery life.
You cannot swap the battery on this device because the back panel is sealed. So, there goes your one chance to get device powered quickly, since you know there is no quick charging facility here. The device takes almost 2 hours to get charged from zero to hundred.
The connectivity option on the U10 includes 4G LTE, thanks to the 64-bit MediaTek processor. The mobile data on 4G was working properly as expected. You get blazing fast network connectivity wherever you go.
The device doesn’t have NFC, but it comes with a similar feature named HotKnot, mostly found in mid-range devices, it is the cheaper version of NFC but works almost in similar manner and speed. It allows the exchange of files by touching the display’s of device on each other. It’s good for exchanging small files quickly.
The Oukitel offering something that we thought was not possible on a mid-range smartphone. A fantastic phone with full metal body, 2.5D Glass or immersive experience, almost stock Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box, a fingerprint sensor that works correctly more often than one expect and is incredibly fast when it comes to apps.
And let’s not forget the excellent camera on the U10, which is the charmer in daylight. At this price point, one could hardly argue for the better things. The price range comes with some negatives such as limited LTE bands support and low battery life.
At this point, you have to ask whether I go with a branded $150 device with low specifications or shall I get a device that is offering high-end specification? Well, it’s quite simple; just get a device according to your need. If you don’t care about branding, then Oukitel U10 is a great option.
Currently, the mid-range smartphone packs the highest crowd and U10 is among those devices that offers more than you could ask for the inexpensive pricing. Of course, you have to sacrifice a couple of things, but if you’re in for that sacrifice, then it’s worth every penny.