With the rapid fire releases of new phones, the new Itel S17 almost flew by under the radar. With Itel championing their new “flagship” release on every platform possible, people are keen to know if this is going to be a worthwhile purchase.
The name Itel is not well known. If you live outside the shores of Sub-Saharan Africa or South East Asia, Itel is going to be unknown entity to you and quite rightly so. Itel belongs to a trio of companies own by a Chinese tech group known as Transsion. They are Tecno, Infinix and of course, Itel.
Whilst Tecno and Infinix have gone on to conquer the continent of Africa, Itel specializes in making cheap entry level phones. This has always been their business strategy.
It is not a bad strategy either. Africa and South East Asia are both home to some of the people with the lowest purchasing power in the world. So there is definitely a market for cheap phones in these regions due to the rapid spread of the internet, digitalization and globalization.
Now that we know who Itel are, have they really lived up to their promise? The promise of making cheap and affordable phones for everyone? Well, the answer is both yes and no.
The yes: Itel have consistently stayed in the entry level and made some really decent entry level phones.
The no: These phone sometimes tend to be overpriced. I can imagine some of you wondering “…how?”.
Itel sources and uses very low end parts for its phones. The best displays on their phones are HD (720p) and they mostly use old UNISOC SoCs, only switching to Mediatek SoCs on a few occasions. Their phones are plasticky and the charging port is a typical micro-USB port.
In the past, Itel phones were decently priced. Today, their phones are now tagged as flagships and are sometimes priced higher than better phones in the same category.
Read: Tecno Camon 18 series
The Itel S17
The Itel S17 is built with a plastic body around a plastic frame. It has 2.5D curved edges and has water drop notch design at the front. It comes in three color variants.
The company has completely neglected to mention one of the most important parts of this phone. The SoC is crucial to working of any device. This is not new, Itel always does this whenever it launches a new device.
The speculated SoC on board is widely believed to be the MediaTek MT6580. This SoC is an entry level SoC from 2016. It is a quad core SoC with four Cortex A7 cores running at 1.3GHz. The accompanying GPU is the Mali T820 MP1.
The software on board is Android 11 Go Edition and it has a memory configuration of 1GB RAM and 16GB internal storage.
This phone has a big 6.6″ high definition (720p) LCD display. The pixel density is an okay 266ppi. There is no screen protection on this device.
The key selling point of the Itel S17 is its “smile selfie cameras”. The selfie is only an 8MP module.
On the back, there are three cameras: a main 8MP camera, a 2MP depth sensor and a 0.3MP AI sensor. Only the first two actually work. The third is more likely for aesthetics.
The device is powered by a huge 5,000mAh battery with a standard 10W charge speed.
This SoC is an old one so it only supports 3G/H+ connectivity. There is also Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS and FM radio. The port for connectivity is a micro-USB port and there is a 3.5mm jack for headphones.
The price of this device is N45,000 or $110.
If you look beyond the beautifully designed body and the fancy advertising, there is a lot about this device that is not just good enough.
First off, the processor on this phone is rather old. Five years is a long time in technology so it remains to be seen how this one would hold out. Other companies are releasing entry level phones with more modern SoCs like the MediaTek Helio A20/A22 or the Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 at almost the same prices e.g Redmi Go.
The MT6580 is a dinosaur and would seriously struggle, even with the Android 11 Go. This will become more apparent as the storage space starts to fill up.
The cameras are decent for this price point but are overhyped. The saving grace of this device are its display and the battery. This phone would last for a long time on a single charge.
If you are looking for a second device for call and only call with a little social media on the side, this is okay for you. If you need anything more, I’d suggest you go look for better options.
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