Oukitel U20 Plus Review

24 December, 2016, 16:58:27

Oukitel is definitely putting the majority of its efforts into its budget U series of smartphones. The latest offering by the manufacturer is the U20 Plus, which reveals that the company is tempted by the idea of making a smartphone with two rear cameras. This wouldn't be such a fuss if we weren't discussing a 100$ device here. Yep, the U20 Plus is very budget-friendly, so let's check what you'll get for your bucks.
The review unit has been provided by Oukitel

Specifications

Oukitel U20 Plus has a 5.5-inch IPS display with GFF lamination, 2.5D curved glass and a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels. The model's hardware is based on a MediaTek MT6737T chipset that includes a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU and a dual-core Mali-T720 MP2 GPU clocked at 600MHz. They are combined with 2GB of LPDDR3, single-channel RAM clocked at 740MHz and 16GB of internal memory. The latter is expandable. The smartphone features a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor with advanced capabilities, which is accompanied by a dual camera setup on the back of the device. The first rear shooter packs a 13-megapixel Sony IMX135 Exmor RS sensor with a 5-element lens. The second one has a 0.3MP GalaxyCore GC030A sensor and a 4-element lens. The main function of the second camera is to create a blurred background that imitates bokeh, when the camera shoots in SLR mode. The front-facing snapper is equipped with a 5-megapixel GalaxyCore GC5005 sensor. A 3300 mAh Li-Ion battery keeps the lights on. It is non-removable and coupled with a regular 5V/1A charging adapter. The smartphone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and supports 4G LTE Cat. 4 networks, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, etc. A complete list of the specifications of Oukitel U20 Plus can be found here.

What's in the box

Unlike previous Oukitel models, which were packed in white boxes with orange lids, the U20 Plus arrives in a black rectangular box that has the model's promo photo printed on it - the three available colors on a black background. On the back, as usual, there is some information about the specifications and certifications of the device. Inside the box you will see the smartphone itself, a USB cable, standard 5V/1A charger, a transparent silicone back case, warranty card, a quick user guide, and a pin for the SIM tray.

Design and build

With the U20 Plus Oukitel returns to its roots of knowing how to make an excellent build. The very first impression is that this is an excellently built device and this impression lasts. The body is made of hard polycarbonate and is made in such a way as to create the feeling of a unibody design. The frame and the back plate are connected so seamlessly that you will think that the body is forged out of a single slab of material. The seam is less than a hairline thin and nearly invisible. The back plate is non-removable, so is the battery. The front and rear edges of the frame are gently rounded and this improves the handling experience, indeed. The frame tightly surrounds the hard plastic lining of the display unit, which is covered with a 2.5D curved glass, so the touch experience is improved as well. The device is heavy for its class, but its 195 grams also mean that no materials have been spared and no quality has been compromised. The rest of the dimensions are pretty average for a smartphone with a 5.5-inch display and a 3300 mAh battery. The device is 77.5 mm wide, 154 mm high and 8.4 mm thin. It is available in three colors: rose-gold with a white front, champagne gold with a white front, and grey with a black front. We are reviewing a grey unit with a black front.
For the U20 Plus Oukitel has opted for separate volume buttons, which together with the power button, are placed on the left frame for a change. On the right frame the dual SIM card tray is positioned. On the top frame you will see a 3.5 mm jack and on the bottom one there is a centrally positioned USB 2.0 port, with two speaker grilles on both sides. The left actually covers a microphone that faces only one of the holes. The right one covers the single speaker. On the back of the device, in the upper left corner are positioned the two rear cameras with a single LED flash to their right. Further below, centrally along the vertical a round fingerprint sensor is placed. The cameras module and the fingerprint one are rimmed with a silver-colored glossy ring. The Oukitel logo is imprinted towards the bottom. On the front, above the display, from left to right, you will see the earpiece, front camera and LED notification light. Below the display there are hardware, capacitive buttons, with the menu button placed to the left of the home one, and the back button - to its right.

Display

Oukitel U20 Plus has a 5.5-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels and GFF lamination. GFF (glass-to-film-to-film) lamination means that the screen contains a glass layer and one or two sensor layers. Entry-level smartphones usually have one sensor layer. They are thinner, brighter, cheaper, and easier to produce. The display is covered with a 2.5D curved top glass layer. The screen is made by Sharp. It is very responsive, but we've noticed that our review unit has a bug. The screen tends to multiply the last line of the content it displays and when this is text it looks smudged at the bottom. Our review unit showed a good peak brightness of 480 cd/sq.m. This might not be enough for comfortable viewing under direct sunlight, but is bright enough. The white values remain relatively high at 75% and 50% of brightness, but drop significantly at lower levels, especially at 0%. It is exactly at this level that the display demonstrates a contrast ratio of 1000:1. At all other brightness levels it is around 2000:1. The temperature of the white point is extremely high - more than 12000 K at any brightness level. This is quite obvious even without using measuring equipment. High temperatures of the white point are typical for Oukitel devices and in the case of U20 Plus this is not a surprise.
Brightness White luminance Black luminance Contrast Color temperature
100 % 480.176 cd/m2 0.257 cd/m2 1868 : 1 >12000 K
75 % 462.25 cd/m2 0.230 cd/m2 2010 : 1 >12000 K
50 % 326.676 cd/m2 0.169 cd/m2 1933 : 1 >12000 K
25 % 182.315 cd/m2 0.089 cd/m2 2048 : 1 >12000 K
0 % 28.144 cd/m2 0.028 cd/m2 1005 : 1 >12000 K
The display covers a bit less than 100% of the SRG color space. The CIE diagram shows a minor deviation in the blue color range. In addition, it is obvious that the screen cannot display the full red and green color range. Its sub-pixel geometry is striped. The viewing angles are fine as long as it concerns color reproduction, but there's a significant loss in brightness when you look at the device from aside.

OS, UI and software

Oukitel has decided to abandon its customized UI and go back to its roots of installing almost pure Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The software is fast and since you're most probably already familiar with it, there's no need of adjusting to the UI. The lock screen is a standard one with the left shortcut leading to the voice search and the right one – to the Camera app. After unlocking with a swipe you land on the home screen, which contains a row of docked apps – Dialer, Contacts, Messenger, and default Browser, with another row of the most favourite apps above it – Camera, Music, Play Store, and Settings. On the second screen appear the rest of the apps installed on the device. All newly installed apps will appear after those and on successive screens. If you decide to uninstall an app, simply drag its icon to the recycle bin icon that appears, once you touch and hold it. The Task Manager is accessed by tapping and holding the home button. It contains an All Clear button and a voice search toolbar. The Notifications and Quick Settings are standard, the only different thing is that the user management icon in the Quick Settings is actually active and you can choose how to use the smartphone - as an owner, or by adding a guest or a user, if someone else has to use it. The Volume and Power off shades are traditional as well. The only difference is that in the Power off there's a Super saver option, too. The Widgets menu's looks are different, but the options are familiar – you can choose from several wallpapers, widgets, screen transition effects, and icon alignment grid. You can also choose from several UI themes.
The Settings menu holds no surprises and contains four major groups of settings. The first is the Wireless & networks one with options for setting up your SIM card(s), wireless networks, Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot, HotKnot, and Bluetooth connections, Data Usage monitoring, etc. The second group is the Device one. It starts with the Display menu from where you can tweak the dynamic contrast and color saturation via the MiraVision options, set the Daydream function (screensaver), change the wallpaper or font size, as well as activate the Cast screen function. It is equal to the Wi-Fi Display functionality. Then the Sound & notification settings follow with four pre-set sound profiles, app notifications management, DND mode and Bes audio enhancement.
The rest of the Device settings include Apps, Storage, Battery and Memory ones. The Apps menu allow you to preview all apps installed on the device and access the settings for every single one of them. You can manage the app permissions and links, draw over other apps, and optimize some of them in terms of saving battery power. The internal storage and battery are discussed in the corresponding sections of this review. The third major group of settings is called Personal and contains Location settings as well as Security ones. The latter are quite extensive and contain options for the type of lock, lock screen message, phone encryption, device administration, etc. The fingerprint settings are the third sub-group and contain more options than average. You can choose from four functions that correspond to a long press on the sensor and four other functions that correspond to a click on the sensor. You can also apply a fingerprint ID to application locks. The rest of the Personal settings include the Accounts and Google ones, Language & input, Backup & reset.
The fourth and last group of settings is named System and starts with the Date & time options. They are followed by the Smart Accessibility options. From here you can schedule the power on & off, activate smart wake toggles of selected apps by drawing a simple letter on the screen, when the device is locked and the screen is off. There are three other smart toggle options, including flip to mute, answer call when phone is to your ear, and making screenshots with three fingers. Finally, there's a non-touch operation option for the music, gallery and switch in launcher. These settings are followed by the standard Accessibility ones and Printing services. The device arrives with the Developer options open. There's an About Phone section as well, which besides all standard information, contains data about the basic specifications. From the Quick Settings you can also activate the System UI Tuner.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow on U20 Plus is as clean from app clutter as possible. You get all the standard apps such as Dialer, Contacts, Messenger and default Browser as docked ones (appearing at the bottom on every screen with apps) as well as the Music, Camera, Settings, Calendar, Clock, Calculator. There's a standard Radio app as well as an Updater app. Actually, the latter is the only way to check whether your OS is up to date. During our review of the device there were no updates available. The Sound Recorder is the one built-in Android M and provides options for the quality of voice recording and choice of recording modes. Of course, there are the usual tools such as File explorer, Email, Downloads, Gallery. The smartphone arrives with Google Play services pre-installed, including Play Store, You Tube, Maps, Gmail, Google, Voice Search.

Networks, calls and connectivity

Oukitel U20 Plus has a dual-SIM card tray with a micro-SIM and a nano-SIM card slot. The latter may also be used with a microSD card in case you need additional storage. One of the cards supports only 2G GSM networks, while the other works with quad-band 2G GSM (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), dual-band 3G WCDMA (900, 2100 MHz), and penta-band 4G LTE-FDD (800, 900, 1800, 2100, 2600 MHz) networks. The 4G down- and uplink speeds are Cat. 4 ones. According to MTK Engineering Mode, the supported WCDMA bands include 850, 900 and 2000 MHz. As long as it concerns wireless connectivity, our review unit showed a very strong and stable signal even in areas, where reception is weak. It Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, cast display, and Bluetooth 4.0. The smartphone has a micro-USB 2.0 port and works with GPS/A-GPS and GLONASS satellite navigation systems. From the very start it managed to detect quickly a good amount of satellites from both coupled with excellent accuracy. The device also supports HotKnot, which is MediaTek's equivalent to Qualcomm's NFC technology.

Performance

The smartphone is based on a MediaTek MT6737T chipset. This is a 64-bit system-on-chip manufactured after the 28nm process that typically powers entry-level devices. It is also meant to be power-efficient and the T variant of the SoC is its most powerful one. Expectedly, the U20 Plus does not score high in benchmarks. Its AnTuTu result is 40312. Compared to the Oukitel K7000, which is based on an MT6737 SoC, it shows significantly higher results, while the difference in the CPU clock rate is only 200MHz and in the GPU - 140MHz. U20 Plus even scores twice as high in Basemark X - 8107 points compared to 4614 points for the K7000.
Comparing the benchmark results from 3DMark's and PCMark's test shows pretty much the same picture - a slight increase in the CPU and GPU clock rate leads to a higher than expected benchmark result. In PCMark the model scores almost 3000 points, which can easily compare with the results of smartphones based on a Helio P10 chipset. U20 Plus is equipped with 2GB of single-channel, LPDDR3 RAM, clocked at 740MHz. If you install many apps on the device, you might robably discover at some point that 2 gigs are not enough, but for basic every day usage this is enough. The memory measures 16GB and can be expanded. Its type is not explicitly specified. The chipset does support eMMC 5.0 and the Androbench scores convey to thinking that this might be an eMMC 5.0 type of storage, but no official data confirms that. Of 16GB of on-board memory 11GB are available to the user. The model packs the standard group of sensors, including accelerometer, light, and proximity one. The rear-mounted fingerprint sensor is fast and reliable. It can be used not only for unlocking the device, but also for answering calls, takinga a photo, making a screenshot, or going back to the home screen (after a long press) and starting the video or music player, going back (after clicking on the sensor).

Cameras

The camera app is quite standard, but besides all else includes an SLR mode. When it is on, both rear cameras shoot at one and the same time. Both make separate photos, which are then merged by the software into one in order to create a blurred background. The final result is not a convincing one. If you check out the sample SLR photos below, you will see that a circular central area of the photo is focus and the rest is blurred. The border between the two areas is rather stark and the blur effect is very far away from what a real bokeh looks like. None of the devices with two rear cameras that work in a similar fashion has managed to make a convincing bokeh, so we're not surprised by the result of the U20 Plus, however, this is an entry-level smartphone. The other modes include Beauty, which allows you to adjust five beautification parameters, Panorama, Video and Photo. Of course, the app provides a standard HDR and LED flash options. The camera settings (for both shooters) include options for the photo and video size, exposure, white balance, ISO, video EIS, etc. For the rear camera there's an anti-shake option as well.
The front camera has the same modes except for the SLR one. It shares the same filters with the rear shooter setup. The filters menu includes a ‘normal'option, list of the filters themselves and an option to return to the previous screen. You also have some basic editing options for photos that are already taken. You can apply a filter, add an effect, adjust the position, tweak the saturation, contrast and other parameters. Of course, you can access the exif information of the file, rotate, crop, delete, or print them.

Primary camera

The first rear camera of the U20 Plus is equipped with a 13-megapixel Sony IMX135 Exmor RS sensor, coupled with a five-element lens. The same sensor is used in the primary shooter of the Elephone S3. It makes photos with a resolution of 4160 x 3120 and FHD videos at 30 fps. The second rear camera has a 0.3MP GalaxyCore GC030A sensor.
SLR off
SLR on
HDR off
HDR on

Secondary camera

The front-facing snapper packs a 5-megapixel GalaxyCore GC5005 sensor. Its photos are with a resolution of 2592 x 1944 pixels and 640p videos at 30 fps. The same sensor is used in three UMi smartphones we have reviewed: the UMi Super, UMi Max, and UMi Plus.

Audio

The Music app is the default one found in Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It offers four types of sorting audio files - according to the name of the artist, album, file or playlist. The main screen of the player for a specific file offers access to the equalizer and its settings, options for shuffling the audio files, and looping the playlist.
Our review unit of the U20 Plus showed an average audio result. It excels in frequency response and is only good at THD + Noise. The other six parameters are rated as Very good and the overall result is the same. The audio test are performed by using the TASCAM US-2x2 audio interface and the RightMark Audio Analyzer software. As a separate audio component the speaker of the model is worse than average.
Test Value RMAA rating
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.08, -0.06 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A) -93.3 Very Good
Dynamic range, dB (A) 93.2 Very Good
THD, % 0.0061 Very good
THD + Noise, dB (A) -80.7 Good
IMD + Noise, % 0.0099 Very good
Stereo crosstalk, dB -75.7 Very good
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.016 Very good
General performance   Very good
Frequency response
Noise level
Dynamic range
THD + Noise (at -3 dB FS)
Intermodulation distortion
Stereo crosstalk

Battery

U20 Plus is equipped with a 3300 mAh Li-Ion battery from SCUD. It is non-removable and arrives with a standard 5V/1A charger. The battery management tools are standard Android 6.0 Marshmallow one. From the Settings you can access the Battery menu, which includes a monitor that provides information, which hardware consumes the most power. There's a toggle for the standby intelligent power saving mode and a second for displaying the battery percentage. As a separate option you get a battery saver and battery optimization. The Schedul power on & off function is on board as well. Several apps have special battery saving options, such as the Location for example, which functions in three basic modes, each depending on the amount of power the device would consume.
As usual, we display a graph that demonstrates the time needed for the battery to charge from 0 to 100% and the battery temperature during the charging process. The latter is flat, because the device does not provide such information, so we're left with data only about the time. It is obvious that charging happened with a steady pace from the beginning to the end. After an hour the battery reached 30% of its charge. At the second hour it reached 60% and 90% were reached after yet another hour. The whole process needed 3 hours and 15 minutes. After several takes on the PCMark Work 2.0 battery test, which happens to be quite buggy lately, we managed to get a result, which showed 5 hours and 13 minutes, and this is not a very good score for a 3300 mAh battery.

Final thoughts

Oukitel U20 Plus could be the ideal smartphone for budget-conscious users and first-time smartphone ones. It is a well-made device with all features, needed to have a normal experience. Priced at around USD 100, it would totally correspond to this price, even if it didn't have two rear cameras. The clean OS, good built and satisfactory performance are quite enough.