Oukitel U16 Max Review

24 March, 2017, 10:39:05

Oukitel U16 Max is the first smartphone from this manufacturer with a 6-inch display. A real representative of the U series of Oukitel, the U16 Max sports a big screen and a big battery, which are its main selling points along with the enhanced smart features of an almost stock Android 7.0 Nougat on board. The model goes on sale globally via AliExpress on March 28th at a promotional launching price of USD 109.99. After that, it will go back to the regular USD 148.64 tag. Below we have put the U16 Max to our usual tests, which will give you unbiased information how the device performs on all levels.
The review unit has been provided by Oukitel. Here's more information about the Oukitel U16 Max global launch tomorrow.

Specifications

Oukitel U16 Max packs a 6-inch IPS display from Japan Display Inc. (JDI), with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels and a Low Temperature PolySilicon (LTPS) panel. It is covered with a 2.5D curved glass and graces an aluminum alloy all-metal body, available in space gray or champagne gold colors. Under the hood ticks a MediaTek MT6753 chipset with a 1.3GHz octa-core Cortex-A53 CPU and a 450MHz tri-core Mali-T720 MP3 GPU. They are coupled with 3GB of single-channel, LPDDR3 RAM, clocked at 666MHz and 32GB of expandable storage. The camera department includes a 13-megapixel ON Semiconductor AR1335 primary shooter with a dual-LED flash and an f/2.2 lens. The front-facing snapper features a 5-megapixel GalaxyCore GC5005 sensor and an f/2.0 lens. A 4000 mAh non-removable battery keeps the lights on and arrives with a 5V/1.5A charger. In terms of connectivity, the model supports 2G GSM (900, 1900, 2100 MHz), 3G WCDMA (900 and 2100 MHz) and 4G FDD-LTE (800, 900, 1800, 2100, 2600 MHz), Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Cast display, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and GLONASS, micro-USB 2.0 with OTG. The smartphone runs on Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, which is enriched with several smart features and additional customization options. Here are the complete Oukitel U16 Max specifications.

What's in the box

Most Oukitel smartphones are packaged in bright orange boxes with the company's logo imprinted on the top and some basic specifications and certifications on the top. The U16 Max is no exception and you'll find it located in the top level compartment inside the box. Below the smartphone, you will see a quick guide, warranty card, micro-USB 2.0 cable, 5V/1.5A charging adapter, SIM tray pin, and a transparent silicone case for protecting the back.

Design, build and controls

If you have seen or used other smartphones from Oukitel you can always tell whether a new smartphone is made by this company or not. We have reviewed a number of devices from this brand, and though they might not be top-notch flagships, they are always very well-made and reliable mobiles. Oukitel U16 Max is no exception. Its all-metal body is made from a single slab of aluminum alloy that has been cut with utmost precision by using the CNC process. The only areas that are covered with hard plastic are the antenna areas on the back. The caps have a horizontal striped texture. On the front, the 2.5D curved glass covering the display seamlessly bonds with the plastic casing of the screen unit. The frame starts with a chamfered edge a millimeter or two below the top edge of this casing. This three-step profile does enhance touch experience. The rear edges of the frame are chamfered, too, while the vertical sides of the back are slightly curved for improved handling. As long as it concerns dimensions and weight, the model is slightly larger and heavier than other smartphones with a 6-inch display and a 4000 mAh or larger battery. More specifically, it is 83.3 mm wide, which with minor exceptions, is one of the widest devices in this size class, the narrowest ones being 80 mm. The same is valid for its height of 165.5 mm, with the shortest model measuring 156 mm and the highest - 175 mm. It's a tad heavier and thicker, too, with a weight of 222 grams and a depth of 9.15 mm. When you hold it, the device is very proportional and feels neither heavy nor thick. It is quite elegant for a mobile of that size, actually, and more importantly - it is solid. The model is available in space gray with a black front and champagne gold with a white front. We are reviewing a gold unit.
Oukitel U16 Max has a traditional layout. On the front above the display, the selfie camera, LED notification light, earpiece, light and proximity sensor are positioned in that order from the left to the right. Below the display, a capacitive navigation bar is placed. On the back below the top antenna area, centrally along the vertical, you will see a square camera module with a metal rim and rounded corners, a dual LED flash to its left and a square fingerprint sensor with rounded corners below the camera. Above the bottom antenna area, the Oukitel logo and website are imprinted. On the top frame you will see a 3.5 mm jack, while on the bottom one, from the left to the right, there are a microphone hole and two speaker grilles surrounding the centrally positioned micro-USB 2.0 port. Only the right grille actually covers a speaker. The hybrid, dual-SIM tray is located on the left frame. It opens not with a click, but simply by pulling it out with the pin. On the right frame, the volume and power buttons are positioned. Both are made of metal, offer good travel, do not wobble, and do not protrude much.

Display

Oukitel U16 Max packs a 6-inch display with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels and an IPS LTPS panel made by Japan Display Inc. (JDI). LTPS (Low Temperature PolySilicon) panels receive a wide adoption among Chinese smartphone manufacturers, especially with displays with high resolutions and pixel densities. Though this might not be the case of a high resolution, this technology offers a number of benefits that make it a logical choice in many situations. Compared to the amorphous silicone technology, it provides a significantly higher carrier mobility. As a result display panels can be made more compact, thinner, more power efficient, and bright. Finally, this tech reduces productions costs. The display of U16 Max is covered with a 2.5D curved glass. While using some sort of a tempered glass for protection is a standard in the industry, there is no mention of any specific glass that guards the display of this model from scratches. The display bezels are some of the thickest we've seen. LTPS displays are usually brighter and with a peak brightness of 466 cd/m2, our review unit of Oukitel U16 Max proves that. The display is readable under direct sunlight with the brightness set at 100%. It's a good thing that when lowering the brightness level to 75% and 50%, the white value does not decrease twice or even more, like in average displays, but remain relatively higher than that. AT 75% the white value is above 380 cd/m2 and at 50% it measures 267 cd/m2. Black values are not bad either and the smartphone has a very good static contrast ratio of around 1700:1, which is consistent at most brightness levels. The only exception is the at the 0% brightness when the contrast ratio is 946 : 1. Most of the Oukitel smartphones, we have reviewed, have an extremely high temperature of the color point and the U16 Max's display does, too. At all brightness levels, the temperature exceeds 12000 K, meaning colors are significantly colder than standard. For comparison, colors with acceptable temperature are achieved at around 6000-7000 K. This wouldn't be that bad if the software included some sort of a reading mode or another color tweaking tool that would make longer reading more pleasant. After all, people using big display smartphones choose them precisely because they will read and browse more comfortably.
Brightness White luminance Black luminance Contrast Color temperature
100 % 465.628 cd/m2 0.271 cd/m2 1718 : 1 >12000 K
75 % 381.642 cd/m2 0.216 cd/m2 1767 : 1 >12000 K
50 % 266.756 cd/m2 0.153 cd/m2 1744 : 1 >12000 K
25 % 147.548 cd/m2 0.081 cd/m2 1822 : 1 >12000 K
0 % 20.801 cd/m2 0.022 cd/m2 946 : 1 >12000 K
Our review unit covers a color space that is very slightly larger than the sRGB gamut. The CIE diagram demonstrates deviations in all three main areas and that the display covers more colors in the blue-violet, green-yellow, orange-red areas. The display panel has a striped sub-pixel geometry. The shot of the viewing angles shows that from vertical and horizontal lateral view there's a significant loss in brightness.

OS, UI and software

U16 Max arrives with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. The usual Oukitel clean take of the OS is quite pleasing. There's no bloatware, all software features work perfectly, and while achieving a clean appearance, the UI does offer a number of customization to enhance your experience and reflect your preferences in how you interact with your smartphone. The lock screen is standard with a shortcut to the Voice Search and Camera app. You unlock either with a swipe, or a fingerprint ID if you've already setup one. The home screen by default contains two rows of apps - the favorites one that contains the Camera, Music, Play Store, and Settings, and the docked one with the Dialer, Contacts, App Tray, Messenger, and Browser. The Task Manager is accessed by touching the Menu button from the navigation. In addition to a Clean all button, it contains a button that opens a list, from where you can lock selected apps so they won't be cleaned from the Task Manager at all times. The Volume and Power off shades are standard.
The Notifications in Android 7.0 Nougat are largely redesigned. For starters, they span from side to side and have a truly flat appearance. You can view them in a collapsed and expanded state. Tapping and holding on a specific notification opens the corresponding System UI settings. The Quick Settings have been redesigned as well. In this case, they appear on two screens and in order to access the second one you have to swipe to the left. The Users settings icon and the Settings cog appear on the right-hand side of the screen. Below them is the brightness level bar. You have the possibility to edit the toggles by adding and removing services from the Quick Settings list. For some of the toggles, such as the Bluetooth one, there are extended options, not just a switch on/off function.
The Widgets menu is quite extensive and resembles the one of the Blackview BV7000 Pro, which we reviewed a day or two ago. It includes a choice of beautiful wallpapers, standard widgets with redesigned appearance, transition styles, themes, a shortcut to the Settings menu and an option to hide selected apps. The most interesting feature in this menu is called Preferences. From here you can choose to add or remove a search bar, that appears on the home screen. If you want the screens to loop infinitely, there's such an option, too. You can switch between two styles of launchers. The default one includes an App Tray, which opens a list with pre-installed apps that are vertically scrolled. You can choose for them to appear on successive swipeable screens. The second launcher style removes the App Tray and the apps are accessed directly from the home screen by swiping to the left. Again, the Preferences include a link to the Settings menu.
The Settings menu is a typical Android N one. It starts with a list of suggestions, which you can remove or simply collapse. There's the burger menu in the top left corner, which offers an alternative navigation through the settings. Most major menus are followed by snippets of information of the status of the most important feature in them. The list of suggestions is followed by the four main groups of options, the first being Wireless & networks. Besides the usual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options along with the SIM card(s) management, data usage, and networks settings, it includes the HotKnot feature for sharing. The second big group is called Device and starts with the Display settings. From these the most interesting ones are the LED notification light options, Display size (a new feature in Android 7.0) and Cast display. In Android N the Notifications and Sound settings are separated and the options within them are re-arranged. From the three sound enhancement features, only the one for the speaker has remained.
The Device group of settings continues with the Apps menu, which in Android 7.0 has undergone changes, too. They include the usual App permissions, list of default apps, and Special access settings, from where you can access Battery optimization, DND access, Draw over the other apps, Modify system settings, and other features. The Storage, Battery, and Memory are familiar. The Battery will be discussed in the corresponding section of this review. These settings are followed by the Users one, which in Android N also include Emergency information and a list of contacts that should be notified in case of emergency. The list of menus goes on with 7 different features that provide alternative ways of navigation and interaction with the smartphone. The first one if the Float gesture, which is a floating dot appearing on every screen and providing shortcuts to Reading mode (meaning the screen is always on, not warming up colors), Game mode, Lock screen, Float music, Float video, Clean tasks, etc. You can also create your own gestures and associate apps to them. The second feature is called One hand FloatView. To open it, swipe diagonally from the bottom right corner of the display. This action opens a shade in the shape of a quarter circle. It contains three options - a list with recently open apps (Task Manager), FloatView with a Clean tasks function, Scanner, Screenshot, Screen recording, Settings, Float video, Float music, Gestures, and Lock screen. The third option is called Toolbox, but includes the usual Quick Settings toggles: Airplane mode, Bluetooth, Volume, Brightness, Torch, AutoRotate, Wi-Fi, GPRS, GPS, etc.
Smart somatosensory is the third group of features, which allow you to interact with the device by air gestures. Activating the corresponding options, you'll be able to list photos in the gallery, audio/video files in the music/video player, capture photos, unlock the smartphone, etc. The fourth group is Gesture motion and includes two subgroups - Telephony motion (answer a call by swinging the device and smart switch between earpiece and speaker) and System motion (three points to take a screenshot, double tap to lock the screen, and others). The fifth group is Gesture Unlock and contains toggles for various gestures associated to features and apps installed on the device. For example, if you draw an "O" on the screen when it is off, this will open the YouTube. Oukitel has wisely included a One-handed mode for a smartphone with such a big display. It works like a charm - simply swipe from left to right at the bottom of the display. To expand the screen back again, swipe in the opposite direction. The last and seventh feature under the Device group of settings is called Parallel Space. It is duplicated as an app, so it will be discussed in the section about applications below. Personal is the third major group of settings and includes the usual Location, Accounts, Google, Backup & reset, Languages & input. The latter includes the new Android 7.0 feature to add more than one primary language. The Security and Fingerprint settings are separated. The Security menu includes the usual Smart Lock and features, while the Fingerprint one contains more extended options. Besides unlocking the device with a fingerprint ID, you can also unlock associated apps and use the fingerprint sensor as a method of additional interaction. You can choose to use it as a back function for one level up, to play/pause an audio file in the Music app or a video file in the Video app, take a photo, access the Task Manager, answer a call. System is the fourth and last main group from the Settings menu. It contains Date & time options, Printing, developer options, Schedule power on & off, System UI Tuner (if activated), About phone and Accessibility. The latter includes several new features that have appeared with Android 7.0 Nougat - physical keyboard settings, display size, and mono audio.
Oukitel U16 Max arrives with a standard set of applications and several additional ones. No bloatware at all. As we've already explained above, you can customize the way your apps are accessed from the Preferences option in the Widgets menu. The standard applications include the Dialer, Contacts, Messenger, Browser, Calculator, Calendar, Clock, Downloads (with the Nougat design), Email, File manager (with the old design), Gallery, Radio, Sound Recorder. From Google's services, you'll find Gmail, Google, Maps, Voice Search, YouTube. You also get a System Updater, which is the only tool on board for checking for, downloading and installing OS updates on the device.
Among the additional applications is the AppLock one, which allows you to setup a lock pin for selected apps and from the fingerprint settings you can also choose to unlock such apps with your fingerprint ID. Personalize is another application outside the standard set. It gives you a choice of online and offline wallpapers and themes. There's a Power Saver app, too, but it will be discussed in the Battery section of this review. Finally, there's the Parallel Space app, which also exists as a menu in the Settings. It allows you to maintain two separate logins for select apps in one device. Ultimately, this is useful in case you want to separate your business from your personal life.

Networks, calls and connectivity

Oukitel U16 Max is equipped with a hybrid, dual-SIM tray. The first slot is for a micro-SIM card and the second can house either a nano-SIM, or a microSD/TF card. The device works with 2G GSM (900, 1900, 2100 MHz), 3G WCDMA (900 and 2100 MHz) and 4G FDD-LTE (800, 900, 1800, 2100, 2600 MHz) networks bands. The 4G up- and downlink speeds are Cat. 4 ones. Call quality with our test unit is excellent. There haven't been any issues with the Wi-Fi connection or for any other supported type of connection for that matter. The model supports dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, Cast display, Bluetooth 4.0. It features a micro-USB port with OTG support and works with both GPS and GLONASS satellite positioning systems. It was quick in detecting satellites from both and its location accuracy is excellent with a distance of up to 2 meters.

Performance

Oukitel U16 Max's performance relies on a 64-bit MediaTek MT6753 system-on-chip. Built after the 28nm process, it has eight Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.3GHz. Graphics are handled by a 450MHz tri-core Mali-T720 MP3 GPU. The same chipset is found on another Oukitel smartphone we have recently reviewed - the U13 as well as the Oukitel K6000 Pro, Leagoo Shark 1, THL T7, UMi Touch, and Elephone S3. U16 Max scores 38694 points in AnTuTu, which is a very good result for a device with a MediaTek MT6753 SoC. It actually outperforms most of the other smartphones mentioned above and the only device that is it on par with is the UMi Touch. Oukitel U13, on the other hand, is the only smartphone that scores higher with a result of 40807 points. It looks like the manufacturer has learned how to take the most out of this chipset. In addition, Oukitel U16 Max scores surprisingly high on the Basemark OS II test and the Basemark X result outclasses the results of the other models. Geekbench and Vellamo results are a mixed bag, meaning that sometimes the device scores higher and sometimes lower than the rest, but these differences are marginal.
It is the same with the 3DMark and the PCMark tests. The only device that has the same system-on-chip and can actually compete with the U16 Max is the U13. Oukitel U16 Max arrives with 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM. It is single-channel, clocked at 666 MHz. This amount of random access memory is fine for a device with clean OS and no bloatware. You also get additional software features such as a white list, which contains apps protected from being cleared from the Task Manager, whenever you want to free more RAM by doing so. The on-board storage measures 32GB and can be expanded. Of those 24 GB are available to the user. The exact type of built-in memory is not specified, but we guess it is eMMC 5.1 because of the Androbench results of reading from/writing to the memory. This model has only the most basic sensors: proximity, light, and accelerometer. It does feature a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor made by Microarray. Besides for unlocking, it can be used for opening locked apps, play/pause music/video in the corresponding apps, serve as a back button or a camera shutter, as an access point for the Task Manager or for answering calls.
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Cameras

Oukitel U16 Max arrives with the default Android Camera app, which includes a normal, beauty and panorama mode. The latter is available only for the main camera. The modes appear on the top of the camera screen, while to the right you will see the HDR and flash options, along with the switch between the front and rear camera. The shutter and video button are placed centrally at the bottom next to each other. To their left is the settings icon. The camera settings offer nothing new. You can change the white balance, exposure, scene mode, ISO, picture size, video quality, etc. The photo editor is also a standard one with options for adding filters and effects, cropping, rotating, mirroring the image, adjust the autocolor, exposure, contrast, shadows, highlights, saturation, vibrance, and other photo attributes.

Primary camera

Oukitel U16 Max packs a 13-megapixel ON Semiconductor AR1335 sensor coupled with an f/2.2 lens and a dual LED flash. The same image sensor is found in the main camera of Oukitel U13. However, it is clearly visible from the sample photos and video of both devices, that the camera of the U16 Max performs far better than the one of the U13, despite them using one and the same image sensor. The shooter makes photos with a resolution of 4160 x 3120 pixels and captures FHD videos at 30 fps. This CMOS sensor has a 1/3.2" size and uses advanced 1.1µm pixel BSI technology.
HDR Off
HDR On

Secondary camera

The secondary camera of the model uses a 5-megapixel GalaxyCore GC5005 sensor. This sensor is used in a number of smartphones we have reviewed: Ulefone Gemini, UMi Super, UMi Max, and UMi Plus and in the Oukitel U20 Plus. It has a 1/5" size and a 1.12 μm pixel size supporting up to 640 x 480 videos at 30 fps. The photos are with a resolution of 2560 x 1920. As it is seen from the sample photos of all these models, the GalaxyCore GC5005 in Oukitel U16 Max performs better from most, if not all, other devices with front cameras using the same sensor.

Audio

Oukitel U16 Max uses the default Music app in Android, which offers several ways of sorting audio files, along with a standard equalizer that is switched off by default. The equalizer provides several pre-set audio profiles and stereo effects.
The audio test has been performed by using the TASCAM US-2x2 audio interface and the RightMark Audio Analyzer software as usual. All audio enhancement features are disabled. The results do not take into regard the speaker. U16 Max has an Excellent score in frequency response and a Good score in THD + Noise and Stereo crosstalk. The rest of the parameters score Very good and so is the overall result. These scores mean that the audio quality of the U16 Max is like on any other average smartphone. The same applies for the speaker, though in its evaluation we are subjective. The speaker does sound loud, when its enhancement is switched on from the Sound settings, but this increases the noise as well. If you don't use the enhancement, the speaker is not that loud, but actually voices come out clearer and more understandable.
Test Value RMAA rating
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB -0.06, -0.19 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A) -94.1 Very good
Dynamic range, dB (A) 94.0 Very good
THD, % 0.0066 Very good
THD + Noise, dB (A) -80.6 Good
IMD + Noise, % 0.010 Very good
Stereo crosstalk, dB -74.8 Good
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.018 Very good
General performance   Very good
Frequency response
Noise level
Dynamic range
THD + Noise (at -3 dB FS)
Intermodulation distortion
Stereo crosstalk

Battery

Oukitel U16 Max couples the standard Android Battery settings with a special Power Management app. The settings include the usual toggles for the Standby intelligent power saving mode and displaying the battery percentage. Typical for Android 7.0, the Battery Saver is listed as the third option under them and is followed by the status monitor. The additional settings now contain the Battery Optimization only. The PowerSaver app contains two toggles for two modes: Power-saving mode and Smart-saving mode. There's a third toggle for Power Monitor and a list with apps that are protected from being killed, while the device is in one of the selected modes.
Oukitel U16 Max is equipped with a 4000 mAh Li-Pol non-removable battery with a 5V/1.5A fast charger. All battery tests below are developed by us and performed with the screen of the device being calibrated to 200 cd/m2. Battery saving features are disabled. The 5V/1.5A charger is not super-fast and this is clearly visible in the graph above. The accumulator manages to charge from 0 to 100% in 3 hours and 50 minutes. Charging starts off with a steady speed, which is maintained till the capacity reaches 80% after 2 hours and 25 minutes. At that moment the process slows down and the next 10% take 25 minutes to complete. After that charging slows down even further and the final 10% need a whole hour to be charged. The battery temperature measures 27°C at the beginning and after 5 minutes reaches 35°C. It continues rising gradually to 38°C and after that - to 39°C. This temperature is roughly maintained for an hour and then starts to decrease till it reaches 27°C at the end of the charging process. Oukitel U16 Max scores great in the browsing test. Its battery drains from 100% to 0% in almost 8 hours! That's 7 hours and 56 minutes, to be exact. The discharging process keeps a steady pace from the start till the end. The only exception is at the very end, when the device stays at 1% of battery for 10-15 minutes. The battery temperature during this process does not fluctuate much. It starts from 29°C and after an hour reaches 35°C. Till the end of the process it gradually increases to 37°C. Video playing battery life is also quite good compared to other smartphones we've tested. For this test a 1080p video at 30 fps with a ~20Mbps rate is used. It takes 10 hours and 25 minutes to drain the battery in full. The straight line reveals a steady-speed discharging throughout the whole process. The battery temperature is quite stable and not high. It starts at 29°C and after half an hour reaches 33°C, which is maintained till the end with only short peaks to 34-35°C. The 3D Graphics/Gaming test uses the Epic Citadel's tech demo in its Guided Tour mode. The battery is completely depleted in 5 hours and 31 minutes. The discharging pattern is very much like the one of the browsing test - a steady speed from start till the end, and only 10-15 minute delay when the battery reaches the last 1% of its capacity. Battery temperature starts from 27°C and after half an hours reached 40°C, then gradually increases till at the end of the process it measures 43°C.

Final thoughts

You will always know an Oukitel smartphone when you see one. Of course, this is not a high-end model, but it is definitely a serious competitor to other smartphones with similar specs and low price of around USD 150. U16 Max is one well-made and reliable smartphone with the latest Android OS and smart features. It provides a very good battery life and a big screen. Its camera sensors perform better than the same ones installed on other devices and the manufacturer has taken the most out of the chipset's power, so you will enjoy videos and browsing more. It would be nice if the display were with an FHD resolution, instead of HD, and had software features to enhance readability in various environments, so this stays as a recommendation for future improvement.