One of the recurring frustrations of most smartphone owners is battery life. Whilst the underlying components of modern smartphones are more efficient than older models under like for like conditions, we are using our devices more than ever. Like for like isn't enough; battery capacities are broadly on the rise, these changes have not been able to keep pace with the demands we place of our smartphones. We have seen an entire cottage industry of third party battery chargers spring up, whereby a customer can recharge their mobile device through an external battery pack. These can be a workable solution but aren't as convenient as a smartphone with a battery life of several days. For many devices, we must either accept a compromise and turn off various features of our smartphone, or even turn the device off.
Over the years, we've seen various manufacturers taking a stance on battery life, for example the Motorola's MAXX range of devices stand out as a product line with, at the time, big batteries. However, if you are tired of battery life woes, Oukitel have an answer in the shape of the K10000. This device packs a huge battery: under that steel shell, the device has a 10,000 mAh battery. The K10000 follows very much in the footsteps of the Oukitel K4000 and K6000, except for a larger chassis and battery. Oukitel reckon that the K10000 can replace your existing charger device as well as smartphone and having spent some time with the device, I'd say they are right - providing none of the compromises are deal breakers.
During this review, battery life is something of a focus for the K10000 and I'll be referring back to this as it really does dominates the K10000. Other than the battery, the K10000 is an unremarkable lower to mid-range Android smartphone. It's missing some features, sensors and capabilities that are found on other mid-range models, but the replacement is a huge battery capacity and the ability to charge other devices.
If you are reading this review wanting to know if the compromises are worth it, and are thinking about jumping to the conclusion, the answer to the question really depends on what you need from your smartphone. The K10000 offers an solid and functional Android smartphone experience with no major surprise apart from battery life, where I was easily seeing a working week to a charge.
Oukitel's specification list for the K10000 is similar to the smaller K4000 and K6000 models.
MediaTek MT6735P System-on-Chip, 64-bit, 1.0 GHz, quad core ARM Cortex-A53 processor built on a 28nm processor size, backed up by 2 GB of RAM and ARM's Mali-T720 GPU.
16 GB of internal storage. MicroSD card slot, shared with a SIM slot, supporting up to a 32 GB card and tested as such.
5.5-inch, 7,20 by 1,280 resolution IPS LCD for 267ppi sharpness.
Rear mounted 8MP camera, front-facing 2MP camera.
10,000 mAh battery complete with fast charging and the ability to charge other devices. Claimed battery life is ten to fifteen days of normal use and using the included fast charger, goes from empty to full in under four hours.
Dual MicroSIM support, one offering 2G, 3G and 4G LTE and the other offering 2G. There's no Cat. 4 LTE support here either and the K10000 is limited to LTE bands 1, 3, 7 and 20. Another point is that the 3G radio only supports the 1,900 MHz and 2,100 MHz frequencies.
802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS.
157.5mm by 76.5mm by 13.8mm thick, weighs approximately 320 g.
In The Box
Oukitel have given the K10000 a particularly smart looking black box that contains a fast charger, OTG lead, a SIM tool and a spare screen protector to go along with the one already on the box. The 'phone arrives in a plastic case, shown here, with a small set of instructions.
The Oukitel's 5.5-inch display features a 720p resolution, which in these days of 1080p or 1440p screens, sounds disappointing. However, this IPS display is a commonly used component across several Chinese smartphones and the reality is that it's perfectly serviceable but not to the same standard as the more expensive screens used in flagship models. I didn't have an issue with the screen: get close enough and you will see individual pixels, but from a normal range the screen is perfectly sharp to my eyes.
As we have grown to expect with IPS panels, this one has wide viewing angles although color reproduction is a little muted compared with the best displays out there. It is sensitive, however, which not all lesser priced smartphones can boast. Overall, the screen does what Oukitel set out to achieve without any flourish.
Hardware, Design and Build
Compared with many of today's slimline, minimalist smartphones, the Oukitel K10000 is different. It's constructed from a mixture of stainless steel, glass and plastic and it's thick, at over half an inch. It feels a very solid and bulky in the hand at first, but after a short period of time the device mostly feels comfortable to handle although there is one caveat, which I'll come on to later. To put things into perspective, the body isn't quite as large as a Nexus 6, but it's considerably thicker and heavier.
Oukitel have given the handset an interesting, industrial-looking design rather than a slab sided smartphone. There's a faceted design theme running through the build, something which is also prevalent in the software interfaceand I'll write more about this later. The device did get quite a bit of attention in my testing, mostly people commenting on how large and heavy it is, but also that it's interesting to look at - and that was before I explained it has a battery bigger than Apple's new big iPad Pro.
The device has a lock button towards the top of the right hand side as you look at it, and under this there is the volume rocker switch. The headphone port is at the top of the device and the SIM, memory card slot is at the top left hand side of the handset. At the bottom, we find the speaker grills and MicroUSB port, which is slightly deeper compared with the standard. This means that whilst most MicroUSB leads fit, the tiniest of nudges means that it drops out of place. The supplied MicroUSB and OTG leads from Oukitel are slightly longer than standard and so don't have this issue, but it's an annoyance nevertheless. This is a trait that some other devices also share.
It's difficult to convey the size of the device in photographs without referencing random objects in the same shot - but suffice to say, this isn't a device to have if you wear skinny jeans or as a lady, if you have a small clutch bag as it fills it! Also, with the handset being so massive, this is the first time I've found the need to swap hands during a long call because of fatigue. This is the only time the device felt uncomfortable, but it did take a long call first.
Steel is an unusual material for a smartphone to be constructed of; it's not the lightest nor strongest of materials, but it is inexpensive and feels good in the hand. It's also a respectable conductor of heat, so the device feels cold first thing in the morning and after a period of time on the fast charger, hot. Oukitel also know how to build a smartphone, too: there are visible screws on the sides, but the device is very well put together. There are no rattling noises from the metal buttons, absolutely no flex whatsoever in the device and no gaps or sloppy construction. It might not be built from an exotic material but it's certainly well made. I wouldn't like to drop it for fear of cracking the pavement, either.
Performance, Memory, Multitasking, Benchmarks
The MediaTek MT6735P processor doesn't sound like much these days on paper. MediaTek have several variants of the MT6735 and the "P" family have a lower clock speed across the board, from the application cores and the graphics processor engine. In the case of the K10000, the device's entry level System-on-Chip uses the quad core 1.0 GHz variant of the chipset. The chipset is based around the 64-bit, ARM Cortex-A53 application processor and is supported by the ARM Mali-T720 GPU, clocked at 400 MHz. There's 2 GB of RAM, giving the device respectable memory headroom. Whilst this configuration isn't impressive, to sum up performance in a few words, I would say this: it's much better than expected.
Moving about the operating system and various core applications, The K10000 is fluid and responsive, moving through applications reasonably well. If you've had time with a more powerful device, you can tell that the K10000 has less powerful hardware: web pages take longer to render, large and complicated Google Sheets take a moment to recalculate and switching between applications can sometimes cause the device to pause as it shuffles around memory contents. This is more obvious when multitasking, such as downloading and installing applications or updates from the Google Play Store, but the K10000 is better optimized than some other handsets running the same chipset.
The device doesn't score well in 3D gaming benchmarks thanks to their demanding nature and the lower end 400 MHz Mali-T720 chipset. However, because games automatically scale their settings to suit the hardware being used, they run much better than the benchmarks might otherwise suggest. For review purposes, I installed a number of games such as XCOM The Enemy Inside, a title from a few years ago based around the Unreal engine. The device handles the title reasonably well, but can be sluggish during the first few minutes of gameplay. This could be sluggish memory access compared with higher powered models. After a few minutes of playing, the K10000 becomes more responsive and thanks to that massive battery, it's possible to spend many hours gaming on the device. One point to add is that I did experience difficulties installing games larger than around 1.5 GB, as any file download over this amount became very slow indeed.
MediaTek's chipsets have traditionally performed well when it comes to heat output and in this respect the K10000 is somewhat disappointing. The steel chassis is a great heat sink and the K10000 gets noticeably warmer under modest use. The earpiece and top of the screen gets warm during a call. The fast charger that's included with the device does charge the handset quickly but it gets hand hot. Fortunately, the K10000 doesn't exactly need charging often, but all the same it's something that is particularly notable. When using a normal USB charger, the device doesn't run warm.
One final point is that I noticed the Oukitel was less keen to synchronize data via either the mobile or Wi-Fi network; quite often, my other device would receive a notification a couple of minutes before the Oukitel received it. However, this was not a consistent issue, as sometimes the device would work as quick as the others and sometimes not. It came and went during my testing of the Oukitel and was not repeatable.
Oukitel have used a speaker assembly at the bottom of the device, nestling two grills around the MicroUSB port. This is a better solution than mounting the speaker at the back of the device but isn't as great has having the speakers at the front of the handset. It's a workable solution and alarms, ringers and alerts are audible, but for listening to music, videos or gaming, if you are used to front facing speakers you'll miss them with the Oukitel. Sound quality is indifferent from the speaker; it can crackle at high volume and sounds tinny.
Oukitel's software includes an earpiece enhancement technology, which removes the flatness of listening to music or video through the headphones. There's also a volume boost feature for the device speaker and an artificial surround sound feature. I can understand why the surround sound feature is optional (as it doesn't sound great) but for the volume and sound quality features, these make the device much better to work with. I do listen to a lot of music and found that the Oukitel was perfectly fine but nothing special, however I typically listen to music in relatively busy, noisy environments where there's little advantage in having better quality audio from the device. I also listen to music with the device paired up with a wireless Bluetooth speaker and apart from some issues with Bluetooth, the quality was absolutely fine.
It's also an obvious point to make, but the huge battery, 4G connectivity and MicroSD card are all useful for streaming or downloading music.
Cellular Data, WiFi, Bluetooth
The Oukitel's dual MicroSIM set up provides one SIM with LTE compatibility and unfortunately, the other only has a 2G radio. The handset comes with plain onboard Wi-Fi with none of the high-performance refinements of flagship devices. It also comes with Bluetooth 4.0 rather than the more modern 4.1 standard, but for many people, Bluetooth 4.0 is absolutely fine.
In use, the device behaves as though it has a sensitive 4G LTE radio but a somewhat less sensitive 3G radio. After a call in an area with good LTE coverage, the K10000 promoted the connection back up to 4G very quickly. Unfortunately, whilst the LTE radio is sensitive the 3G radio is less so and I found in areas of poor 3G coverage, the device would either drop to 2G much more readily than other handsets (on one carrier I tried) or would show no service (with the other carrier, which does not offer their own 2G network and only allows partner roaming in a few locations). The K10000 does not support the 900 MHz HSPA frequency, which one of my test carriers has, but this did not seem to make a material difference.
The 2G radio works just fine, but as experienced smartphone users will testify: doing anything online over a 2G GPRS or EDGE network is painful. I am also aware that my home has poor 3G coverage with all carriers and limited 4G LTE with one carrier; it's a difficult environment for a smartphone. Nevertheless, the device did show "no service" on the screen more often than alternative smartphones at home with the same carrier.
Device Wi-Fi works as expected, but I had some unusual issues with Bluetooth. Whereas many modern devices using Bluetooth 4.0 are able to handle concurrent Bluetooth connections, the Oukitel struggled with this. Quite often, my Android Wear smartwatch would show as disconnected from the device, the Fitbit Flex I wear wouldn't synchronize, the Bluetooth tether to my tablet would stop working, or the connection to the Bluetooth speaker would fail. And yes, I do use several Bluetooth devices but whereas most other handsets can cope, the K10000 struggled.
The Oukitel K10000 is a mixed bag when it comes to making and receiving telephone calls, partially because of the signal issues I've experienced especially on a 3G network. With the carrier that lacks a 2G backup network, as the signal deteriorates so too does voice quality to the point whereby the other person cannot understand what I am saying. Unfortunately, the device lacks a noise cancelling microphone and callers often explained that they could hear background noise, although providing the signal was good enough this was not serious.
When signal is good, sound quality is respectable if a little too quiet through the earpiece. Using headphones relieves this issue. Perhaps a little bit of 3G modem tuning could go a long way here, but I did not notice any death grip issues whereby holding the device on one side reduced the signal. The speakerphone is also a weakness as it isn't especially loud or clear; it's usable in quiet environments but in a moving car it quickly becomes a very frustrating experience.
Overall, there were moments when I struggled to use the K10000 as a 'phone, especially at home and struggling with indifferent signal. Day to day, the device is usable as a 'phone but it is not the best.
Oukitel have given the K10000 an 8MP rear facing camera that with software interpolation, behaves something like a 13MP unit. On the front there's a 2MP camera, which with the same software interpolation appears as a 5MP unit. This is why you'll see the device advertised as having 13MP / 5MP camera set up. For the less expensive devices, often smartphone manufacturers can save a few dollars by picking less good camera units. And with the K10000, this is also the case. In short, the K10000's cameras work as expected, but my expectations were not very high. As with almost all smartphones, the benefit of the camera is more about having it with you almost all of the time rather than taking the best quality of shots.
Depending on your expectations from a smartphone camera, you'll either simply not use the K10000's cameras unless absolutely necessary, or you'll accept the limitations and acknowledge that they're fine for social media and sharing funny moments with friends. Here's a Google Photos gallery of some sample shots I took of the Oukitel during my time with the device.
As a headline, if you use your smartphone for three hours of screen on time a day, with an hour of calling, using around a gigabyte of data over 3G and LTE networks a day, tether to other devices via the Wi-Fi hotspot, and avoid playing any games then the Oukitel should give you five days to a full charge. Or, putting it another way, take your device off charge on a Monday morning and you won't need to put it on charge until Friday night (or the small hours of Saturday!). These test conditions include the K10000 spending plenty of time in an area with poor coverage. If you have better coverage, the battery life should be better.
If you happen to have access to Wi-Fi, battery life is noticeably better. With the device sipping its battery over Wi-Fi and for testing purposes, I decided to play XCOM on the handset and use the Wi-Fi network wherever possible. After twenty-three hours of screen on time and a weekend with the device on standby, the battery was sitting at 8%.
Oukitel have given the device other battery management systems. In addition to the Intelligent power saving standby mode, customers also benefit from two deeper power saving modes: Smart power saving and Super power saving. Smart power saving disables data radios, location and vibrate on the device but all applications still work, whereas Super power saving only allows calling, texting and contact management for extreme power saving. Oukitel have also given a Power Monitor feature, which checks up on potentially misbehaving applications that could be using more power than they need.
The Intelligent power saving standby is an undocumented feature many Chinese manufacturers are incorporating into their ROMs. It appears to work in a similar way to Android 6.0 Marshmallow's doze function, by shutting down certain synchronization features when the device is idle. I did not notice a meaningful difference in battery life with the feature enabled, but given the time between charges it is difficult to notice a difference.
The Smart power saving helps prolong battery life and here I notice a difference, as it reduces the battery consumption especially when the device is idle such as at night. I did not necessarily feel the need to turn this option on before going to sleep then to disable it when I woke up as the device is not short of battery without the feature. The Super power saving mode also makes a difference. This type of power management feature was introduced in 2014 by HTC and Samsung for the One M8 and Galaxy S5 respectively, and disables many features of the device in order to extend battery life. It does, however, convert a smartphone into a dumb 'phone.
Another feature of the Oukitel is the ability to recharge other devices via the OTG lead. To operate this, insert the OTG lead and before plugging your device into the lead, click the button. The K10000 may then be used to recharge other devices. Using this feature does shorten battery life, but could mean carrying one less device with you. Oukitel claim that the device can recharge the iPhone 6 Plus three times and still have 10% battery remaining.
To summarize, with the out of box setup, the Oukitel is capable of impressive battery life. There are some additional features and refinements that may be used to extend battery life, but it must be said that for many people these are unlikely to be necessary. The caveat to having a week to a charge in a single device is that it's bulky and heavy.
Software and Features
Oukitel have used a stock user interface with a number of improvements under the skin, some of which I've already covered such as the power management functions. However, the device comes with additional features such as Gesture Motion, Gesture Unlock, Float gesture, a Scheduled power on and off feature and something called "Smart somatosensory," which is essentially a means of controlling various applications by waving ones hand in front of the screen or otherwise performing actions such as lifting the handset to the face in order to call somebody. Some of these features work better than others: lifting the 'phone to the face to call somebody works great, but trying to switch through pictures in the gallery requiring putting my hand about an inch in front of the sensor was less successful.
The Gesture Unlock feature includes the ability to launch applications straight from a locked screen by drawing a character on the glass. This works well with the caveat that it takes between two to three seconds to launch the application, so is slower than unlocked the device and tapping an icon if it is on your home screen. Luckily, Oukitel have given the K10000 the double tap to unlock function and if you want to use the character unlock and launch application feature, you can pick from most installed on the device.
Float Gesture is a software feature that superimposes a dot above the user interface with a number of commands such as floating video, gesture recognition (another means of launching favorite applications via a pop-up notepad where you draw a character), pop-up music commands. You can also launch Game Mode, which locks out the home and back buttons, and a Reading Mode, which prevents the screen from turning off. Some of these features add more value than others and if you don't want the dot on your screen, you can disable this feature completely.
Good LTE signal
Ability to recharge other devices
Size and weight could be an issue
Limited US frequency support
The Oukitel K10000 is an interesting handset dominated by that massive battery and the promise of several days to a charge. There are some compromises: size, weight and 3G signal issues where there is poor 3G coverage. The handset can be used as a smart battery charger, for Netflix binges, for listening to a lot of music or as a traditional smartphone where for a light user, it could see a couple of weeks before needing recharging. Furthermore, the device has a retail price of $200 but is available for a little less. This is a lot of usable smartphone over a week for not so much money.