Over the past year, we have tested numerous devices by Oukitel, hailing most of them as being battery beasts. But Oukitel isn't a one trick pony and does offer other handsets in its lineup that don't purely focus on offering high capacity batteries. This time around, the company has released an inexpensive smartphone that aims to deliver great value for money. The C3 is priced at under $60, and is one of the most affordable Android Marshmallow smartphones out on the market., Let us find out whether it can make a name for itself in the entry level space.
As mentioned previously, the Oukitel C3 is a low-end smartphone that lacks 4G LTE and other modern bells and whistles, since those features could add to the cost. It does, however, offer specifications that would have been considered top-tier only a couple years ago. Let us have a look at what the device is packing:
- 5-inch 720p IPS capacitive screen
- CPU: MTK66580A Quad Core 1.3 GHz | GPU: Mali-400MP1
- 1GB RAM / 8GB ROM, micro SD card support up to 128 GB
- 8 MP rear camera, 2 MP front-facing camera
- Li-Po 2000 mAh battery
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- Dual-sim support
- Network bands supported: 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz, 3G: WCDMA 900/2100MHz
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Dimensions: 71 x 141 x 8.8 mm
- Weight: 155 gm
What's in the box?
The C3 offers the same bright orange box that has become synonymous with Oukitel's package branding. Inside the box, you get your standard array of accessories like the power adapter, a USB cable, a getting started guide, a warranty card and a screen protector. Take note however that Oukitel has not bundled a headset with the device, which is quite common with many entry level smartphones.
Hardware & Design
For a price less than 60 bucks, I wasn't expecting premium metal construction or other exotic materials on the C3, but the device's plastic build felt reasonably good and can be considered sufficient in this case. I was provided with an electric blue colored variant, which I personally found too bright and would have been happier with a black or dark blue option. The rear side of the smartphone features a texture, which is said to be inspired by diamonds.
The overall design of the smartphone, apart from the textured back, is quite a standard affair, but the smartphone did manage to catch people's attention due to its color on a few occasions. There's nothing wrong with the simplistic design of the C3, and Oukitel hasn't taken any risk in that department. Even the button placements and location of the camera and the speaker are rather generic. The volume and power keys are to the right of the device, the micro USB slot and the headphone jack is at the top.
A loudspeaker is positioned towards the bottom right corner of the smartphone's back side and a microphone is placed on the bottom edge, while the rear camera is centered at the top with an LED flash next to it. On the front of the smartphone, there is the speaker grill, a proximity and ambient light sensor on one side and the front camera on the other.
The smartphone does not have any physical navigation keys and relies on capacitive buttons placed at the bottom of the screen. It must be noted that the capacitive buttons do not light up, which was a bit of a problem till I got used to the device.
The Oukitel C3 features a 5-inch IPS LCD screen with 720p resolution, which translates to 294 pixels per inch. It is a decent display for a phone in the entry level range, and has decent viewing angles and sunlight legibility.
Most displays on cheaper phones tend to look washed out as the brightness goes up, but that wasn't the case with this one. However, the whites were a little too cold and a color calibration tool could have come in handy. I felt that the company could have reduced the size of the bezels at the top and the bottom, but that wasn't an issue as such. The adaptive brightness feature, which was buggy in Oukitel's last smartphone, worked fine this time around.
Audio & Call Quality
With most phones nowadays, there isn't a lot to complain about with regards to the call quality. The C3's call quality was also decent, but the phone's proximity sensor did not work right on a few occasions and I ended up pressing random dialer buttons with my face.
The loudspeaker's placement at the bottom right corner resulted in muffled sound if held too tightly or left flat on a surface. Even if it wasn't covered up, there wasn't enough loudness on normal settings, but it can be boosted using an internal audio enhancement setting. There are two system level audio enhancements available for speakers and headsets, each with a movie and music mode.
Since there were no headphones bundled in with the smartphone, I tested the audio output using my own headset, and the results were pretty good. Even without the digital enhancements enabled, the sound was clear and loud enough with sufficient amount of bass. A bass enhancer setting is also available for headsets, but I found the sound better without it, as it produced a bit of muffled sound in music that already had a lot of bass.
Like its predecessors, the cameras on the Oukitel C3 aren't that good. Also, they seem to employ interpolation and lack proper image optimization. Having said that, they aren't completely useless but you wouldn't want to use them for capturing special moments.
Shots taken from up close in good lighting conditions also suffered from softness and produced washed out colors. Outdoor photographs of natural surroundings were more challenging for the 8 megapixel shooter.
The colour reproduction on other images is also quite bad and I didn't find it worth to tweak the settings for every other image to get a slightly better one. Although the camera software itself has a lot to offer, I doubt whether these settings can help even the best of photographers to get good pics from the C3.
The output from the 2 megapixel front camera was even worse, with no detail whatsoever and extremely soft images. Needless to say, the phone really doesn't score any points in the selfie department.
Video quality with the highest settings on the C3 was also quite bad. The shooter is capable of capturing videos at 1080p resolution, but clearly the numbers don't tell tell the full story here. For imaging, the device is definitely a no-go.
Unlike most smartphones in its price range, the Oukitel C3 comes pre-loaded with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and it is as close to stock Android as possible. The smartphone's launcher is the only thing that is a bit different from that on stock Android, however, even that isn't an extravagant departure here. Oukitel has brought back the application drawer in the latest version of its launcher, but has retained the MIUI-like icons.
There was absolutely no bloatware in the Android build on our review unit, and it felt really good to deal with only the very basic set of apps. One thing I liked even more was that the company dropped most of the Google apps such as Hangouts, Photos, Play Movies and so on, which I personally never use, leaving me with more space to install my choice of apps for these purposes. The lack of junk on the device was probably one of the reasons that I did not experience any random reboots or over use of resources.
The Oukitel C3 is one of the first smartphones to be powered by the new MediaTek MTK66580A quad core chip. It is clocked at 1.3 GHz and is paired with the Mali-400MP1 GPU. Although the smartphone has just 1 GB of RAM, it was very responsive in all tasks. I was especially impressed by its multi-tasking capabilities as I rarely had to close all applications. For this I am not sure how much of the responsiveness was due to Marshmallow, but the smartphone was really smooth functioning throughout the testing period.
Benchmarks, however, have a different story to tell, and since the CPU and GPU aren't the top of the line, it is understandable that their scores won't be the greatest. In real world usage, like phone calls, texting, IM apps, browsing and casual gaming, the C3 shines, and that's really something for a phone in this price range.
The 2000 mAh battery in the Oukitel C3 isn't a lot by current standards and an additional 700-800 mAh would have been perfect for this smartphone. The device managed to last ~14 hours with frequent calls, close to half an hour of browsing and intermittent instant messaging. On busy days, the mileage was even less as the device struggled to stay up till the evening.
Oukitel has introduced its own Power Saver app, which worked reasonably well in such conditions. I managed to get an extra five hours of standby time after the battery hit 10% using the Power Saver. The app switches off data connections, lowers the brightness to the minimum and disables sync to achieve this additional standby time.
The phone does not support any sort of quick charging mechanism and getting the battery to 100% from zero needs around 2.5 hours. Topping off the battery from 50% is rather fast, but it also drains fast until 50%.
Oukitel has done a good job with the C3 and barring the camera, I don't think there is anything lacking in the smartphone for a regular user. Even though the device is aimed at budget smartphone buyers, it feels a little better than most devices that I have used from Indian manufacturers in the same price range. There could have been a little more battery power in the smartphone, but considering the price there's little to complain about.
The review unit was supplied by Oukitel. If you would like to purchase the device, you can head here to purchase the unit which currently is priced at around $54.89 USD. You can check out more information about the device and other handsets at Oukitel's official product page.