The Pros and Cons of Buying itel Smartphone

Written by Ananda Ganesha M

itel officially entered the market in 2020, introducing two budget-friendly smartphones: itel Vision 1 and itel Vision 1 Plus. Despite its unique name, itel shares a corporate lineage with Infinix and Tecno, all of which are subsidiaries of Transsion Holdings.

Similar to the other two brands, this Chinese manufacturer is dedicated to delivering quality products that won't break the bank. The specifications of itel's smartphones are worthy for entry-level, providing excellent value for money.

The appealing combination of affordability and quality makes itel a popular choice in the market. However, the budget-friendly pricing, it's important to manage expectations regarding perfection. For a more comprehensive understanding, read the following article discussing the pros and cons of itel.

Pros of itel

Overall, itel offers numerous strengths that set it apart in the entry-level class. It wouldn't be overstating to consider it as the champion in the category. So what distinguishes Itel? These are the main aspect.

1. Affordable Price with Superior Specs

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Itel typically competes with Infinix Smart and Hot series in the same price range, offering extremely affordable Android smartphones. Importantly, its affordability doesn't compromise the quality.

Some of its models have impressively powerful specifications, for instance, itel Vision 3 Plus and itel S23, which use the Unisoc Tiger T606 SoC. This chipset includes the ARM Cortex A75, equipping the phones with the ability to handle intensive tasks, like gaming.

Even its lower-priced models come with alluring specifications. For example, the itel P40 features a mammoth 6,000 mAh battery, while the itel Vision 3 Plus offers a 6.8-inch display.

Interestingly, there's an even cheaper itel model called the A06s. This smartphone provides 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which is quite unusual for entry-level phones. Thus, itel truly ensures that its users receive the best bang for their buck.

2. Generous Storage Capacity

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Despite their incredibly affordable prices, itel smartphones often come with generous RAM and storage capacities for their class. Take the itel S23, launched in 2023, as an example. Priced within the entry-level range, this device surprisingly comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

Such a large capacity of RAM is usually found in mid-range phones from other brands. This makes the S23 an excellent choice for beginners, enabling smoother daily operations without draining their wallets.

Additionally, this smartphone includes a dedicated slot for external memory. Another valuable type is the itel P40, which, despite being an entry-level phone, provides 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, a big improvement over competitors who usually only offers 32GB or even 16GB of storage at the same price.

However, not all itel phones can match the impressive performance of the S23. Yet, this represents a promising beginning for itel, and this brand is worth paying attention to. In the future, itel could potentially continue this trend by offering more devices with large RAM capacities at budget-friendly prices.

3. Loaded with Extra Features

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itel phones consistently offer a variety of additional features. For example, regardless of the device's price, itel includes a fingerprint scanner for added security, as seen with the A27, which has a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.

Moreover, most itel phones are equipped with an external memory slot (either separate or shared) and a 3.5 mm audio jack. These two features are significant because they save users from relying on True Wireless Stereo (TWS), which may quickly drain the phone's battery, and they provide a specific space for multimedia files, leaving the internal storage primarily for games and apps.

However, it should be noted that these smartphones often lack crucial sensors, such as the light sensor and compass. Even gyro sensors, which improve aiming capabilities in shooter games, are frequently absent.

However, considering their price ranges, itel's rivals frequently don't provide these sensors as well. These weaknesses are therefore excusable and reasonable.

4. Modern and Uniquely Refined Design

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At first glance, the itel S23 easily removes the stereotype of an entry-level phone. Its rear design is modern, unique, and high-end, showing no traces of an inexpensive device. Interestingly, the phone even exhibits a color-changing effect under sunlight.

The camera module is designed as a circle, complemented by visual accents of rounded corner rectangular planes with a reflective metal effect. Similarly, the itel P40 features a textured design with diagonal lines to improve the grip experience, coupled with an elongated, blade-shaped camera module concept (resembling the POCO M5).

For the P40, the rear fingerprint sensor is subtly integrated into the design for a neater appearance, rather than standing out. This highlights that itel is a brand that consistently values aesthetic design.

5. Complete Box Package

Upon examining the S23 sales box content, it's clear that itel includes all necessary accessories. Most notably, this includes the vital charging head and cable. So why is this detail important?

It's because some other brands, such as Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi, have either discontinued or still persist with the policy of not including chargers in their sales boxes. The reasons for this vary, but the most commonly mentioned explanation is an effort to reduce carbon emissions.

By removing the charger, the size of the sales box can be minimized. This allows for more products to be accommodated in a single container during distribution. As a result, more units can be transported in one journey, improving fuel efficiency.

Another justification provided by some brands is that they assume users already have a charger from their previous smartphone, thus enabling them to use the old one instead of purchasing a new one. Hence, the inclusion of a charger in the itel S23 box is admirable. This spares buyers from spending additional money on a separate charger, especially if their old charger is worn out, damaged, or lost.

The S23 box also comes with wired earphones – an accessory often not included by other brands. Furthermore, a clear case is provided to safeguard the phone from accidental bumps or drops. Therefore, if you're in search of a smartphone with a complete sales package, itel should be on your list.

Cons of itel

It's also important to be aware of the potential drawbacks of itel for a balanced perspective when making your choice. Will the following limitations be deal-breakers for you?

1. Still Much to Prove

itel P40

itel is a relatively new player in the market, particularly when compared to other more established and reputable brands, making it less competitive.

Furthermore, most consumers tend to evaluate a smartphone based on its exterior aspects, including its brand name. Only a few are aware that itel is part of the same family as Infinix and Tecno, under Transsion Holdings.

While gadget enthusiasts may have a more open-minded approach towards this brand and be willing to try its products, itel still faces a significant challenge in changing the broader public perception of its brand.

Potential strategies to overcome this might include aggressive marketing, collaborations with popular related brands, or possibly even rebranding with a new name. In addition, itel needs to demonstrate the durability and reliability of its products over a long period, proving that they are not prone to damage.

2. Low-Quality Cameras

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While the battery life and display quality are satisfactory, and even though the performance is relatively fast for an entry-level phone, the camera capabilities, unfortunately, don't measure up.

Don't get me wrong, the average phone camera does provide sufficient quality for daily use. However, these phones clearly aren't targeted for photography enthusiasts as they hardly feature an ultrawide camera.

You will encounter numerous secondary cameras branded with "AI" functions. The quotes are intentional, as the term "AI" can be somewhat misleading in this context. AI's application in smartphone photography is typically within the chipset's Image Signal Processor (ISP). There's no requirement for a dedicated "AI" camera.

The practice of adding such "AI" cameras (or under other names like QVGA) is common in entry-level phones. The goal is to give the impression that the phone has multiple cameras when, in reality, only one is truly functional. The others serve as decorative features to enhance the phone's marketability.

Typically, itel phones tend to perform poorly when shooting in low-light conditions. Despite the itel S23 featuring a night mode, the final photo quality still left behind other brands, particularly vivo and OPPO.

3. Uncertainty Around Updates

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Like Infinix and Tecno, itel is part of Transsion Holdings, a company that has a tendency to overlook the software aspect. While itel's interface is relatively user-friendly for its price range and offers unique, useful features to improve the overall user experience, there's an unfortunate lack of clarity around software updates.

Purchasing an itel phone often leaves users feeling like they're taking a gamble, given the uncertainty regarding if and when the device will receive the next Android update. Regular software updates are crucial, especially in terms of security. The absence of consistent updates might put user data at risk.

In addition, users may miss out on modern features and designs found in the latest versions of Android. This can be particularly problematic for those who plan on using their phone over the long term.

4. Overly Specific Product Segmentation

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Compared to its sibling brands, Infinix and Tecno, itel's product segmentation appears to be overly specific. Infinix has a range of series like Hot, Smart, Note, and Zero, each serving various price segments. Tecno offers the Camon series specializing in cameras, the Phantom for flagship models, and the POVA for gaming.

Itel has different series names such as the Vision, P, A, and S. However, from what I've observed, these series tend to occupy closely priced segments. Moreover, the naming conventions for models like the P40 and S23 seem to be inspired more by Huawei and Samsung's flagship series rather than representing distinct segmentations.

While itel's focus on the entry-level market price point isn't necessarily a problem, it does limit certain user expectations. For example, users who want to play high-performance games like Genshin Impact on an itel phone might be disappointed due to its less competitive performance against higher-end models.

This focus on budget-friendly products may also impact itel's brand perception, as it might be solely recognized as a provider of inexpensive smartphones. A brand's hesitation to broaden its product segmentation may cause problems in its ability to adapt to future market trends and demands.

For itel to thrive, it would be beneficial to explore opportunities in higher price segments, giving consumers a more diverse range of options to select from.

In fact, it's possible that if itel decides to introduce products in a more premium segment, it could spark more intense price competition. This could trigger rival brands to respond by providing affordable products with high-quality specifications, unwilling to be outmatched by itel's offerings.

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