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HomeTech NewsItel A70 review. So much hype around this $89 smartphone.

Itel A70 review. So much hype around this $89 smartphone.

Itel A70

So I pulled out the Itel A70 and my cousin who just finished grade 7 immediately identified the phone. “This phone is getting so much hype at my school” were the words she said and I was not even aware of its existence up until the point when I got it for review.

This is the Itel A70 and as much as most of the hype is around the attainable and budget-friendly price of US$89 from stores like the Pindula Marketplace, it’s another impressive parts selection and design process by Itel.

Looks pretty good, nails the essentials

It’s a very elegant design that looks pretty sparkly, the plastic, of course, it’s got a power button mounted fingerprint scanner and a pretty spacious 6.6-inch display. It’s a very nice panel too when it comes to color reproduction though its peak brightness falls a bit short in the blaze of the African summer sun.

As a package, the Itel A70 nails the essentials. I mean look, it’s US$89 so you need to manage your expectations here. It’s not going to be a spec fest in any sort of way. They nailed storage with the base model starting off with 3GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage all the way to the top-spec 4GB RAM and 256GB of storage.

Something I want to point out is that the storage stress that a budget smartphone like the A70 experiences is far less than the storage stress that a top-spec flagship smartphone will face. So if you were to use the Itel A70 and let’s say a Tecno Phantom X2 Pro the exact same way.

Taking the same photos and videos, using the same apps, the more expensive phone will fill up its storage much faster than the budget-friendly Itel simply because the hardware of the phone is not cut out for producing or consuming super high-quality media and apps.

In a roundabout way, I am saying a base storage of 128GB on the Itel A70 is very generous. And also very necessary because one of the demographics this phone is finding massive traction is the youngest of youth in primary school who are starting their smartphone ownership journey. And we all know no one is more media-heavy in their smartphone usage than those little kids.

Battery is solid

They fitted it with what is now a standard-size battery, 5000mAh which was a reasonable performer in our endurance test. It managed to lose 35% of juice after an hour each of gaming, video recording, and video streaming which for the kids in primary school might just make it through the day but for a business person looking for a business contact phone that just does some WhatsApp and calls, it’s a phone that can go well into the second day without needing a socket.

Standby time is also pretty good. I left it idle for 3 days with its only activity being a Wi-Fi connection and it lost 4% of juice within those 3 days. I have no reference point as to how it compares to other devices but it seemed quite impressive that it can go for over 2 months before the battery runs out if you just leave it on and forget about it.

Light OS, pretty skin but a bit laggy

Itel A70 is running the Go edition of Android 13 with its own Itel OS 13 skin on top. The Go edition of Android is a skinned-down version of Android that is lighter than the full-fat Android. It’s made for budget devices with limited horsepower so that the OS does not get bogged down by a basic processor sweating with stuff like the dialer.

It’s got a couple of nifty tricks, one that I really liked was their Dynamic Bar which, as you might have guessed, is Itel borrowing Apple’s Dynamic Island concept. That said, I do love its utility and implementation. It makes good use of the area that the selfie camera digs into the screen for notifications like the phone being connected to a charger. The graphics are also clean and pleasing.

OS Android 13 Go Edition
ItelOS 13
CPU Unisoc T603
Octa Core
GPU PowerVR Rogue GE8322
Display 6.6″ 1612×720 pixels
HD+ IPS
60Hz refresh rate
Rear Camera 13MP main camera
1080p video recording
Front Camera 8MP
Storage 3/4GB RAM+5/8GB MemoryFusion
128/256GB Internal
MicroSD card support
Connectivity Dual Sim
2G, 3G, 4G
Bluetooth 5.0
Sensors Accelerometer
Step counter
Battery 5000mAh
35% power drain after 3 hour endurance test
Price US$89

That said, the experience with the performance of the A70 was sluggish, as you would expect with a device in this price range. There is always a hint of delay when opening apps or navigating the UI which most comes from the budget chipset. Coming from a flagship, there is a bit of adjustment needed to adapt to the hint of delay. Even unlocking the phone takes a brief moment so definitely a bit on the sluggish side.

This does not necessarily affect the smoothness of animations though. Once the input has been processed everything else runs smoothly. Light arcade games run like a charm, streaming videos on YouTube is a piece of cake and even the camera performance is decent. Really the rule of thumb here is, just have budget smartphone expectations and you’ll be fine. Maybe even a bit impressed.

Selfie camera might be better than the main camera!

On the Itel A70 you have a selfie flash-assisted 8MP front camera and a dual flash-assisted 13MP rear camera. It might look like there are 2 cameras on the back of the Itel A70 but the second one is just for looks.

The selfie camera is very capable as we have come to expect from Itel devices. It almost feels like they spent more money putting on a higher-quality selfie camera and going for an average rear camera. It takes very clear selfies with better sharpness and detail than the rear main camera and lower noise level in challenging lighting. It’s a really decent selfie camera.

The rear camera takes decent pictures in excellent lighting. The colors are rich and the detail is quite decent. It struggles a bit if the environment is a bit too bright. The highlights tend to get blown out and it just does not have enough data from the imaging sensor and processing horsepower to resolve extreme variances in exposure within an image. Give it ideal scenarios and it produces very usable images.

When the light levels begin to drop, it drastically loses its image quality. You start to see hectic graining all across the image even in the lighter parts that feel like they could have managed without the graining. It just bumps up the ISO and the sharpness so high so soon, again, because the hardware has a low tolerance to challenging shooting scenarios.

Where the Itel A70 saved a few bucks

So we have seen where the A70 made the right choices to put money into. Now where did they cut some corners to save a few bucks?

A 720p display spread over 6.6 inches feels a bit grainy. Yes, it’s a good-looking panel with rich, punchy, and vibrant colors but it does look a bit grainy when viewing stuff with fine lines which ruins the experience slightly. But this is something a person like me would notice. Most people can’t tell the difference.

While on the subject of display, it also does not support adaptive brightness. So you can only adjust the brightness manually in the drop-down menu. Surely adaptive brightness can’t be that expensive to add to a phone.

The cheaper chipset was giving off a hint of lag when using the phone which is not that bad once you adapt to it. But it is there whenever you are navigating the UI or when the keyboard is summoned. It’s also limiting the camera’s performance in more challenging lighting scenarios.

It’s a solid package for the $89 price tag

As a package for $89, the Itel A70 is a solid collection of specs and features for the price. It was a pleasant surprise seeing that Itel is now sending monthly security patches to their devices making them just that bit more easier to recommend. No word on major Android updates though but we take what we can.

It supports a Liquid Home WibroniX SIM card for those who are curious and unlike its bigger sister, the S23+, it still keeps the headphone jack and the hybrid tray with bays for 2 SIM cards plus a memory card.

This one is targeting these sort of people:

  • First-time smartphone users
  • Smartphone users with low demands like just calls and very light social media
  • Business individuals looking for a cheap work phone with a good battery and can do basic social media.

For these groups of people, this Itel A70 is perfect. I also love the matte black pouch included in the box. If you want to get one you can on Pindula Market for $89 and if you are a civil servant you can get it on credit. Click here to buy it now.

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