Highlight - OUKITEL has actually done a pretty decent job at building a phone that feels like it would cost more than $75.
Many Chinese smartphone brands offer devices in the entry-level tier and these can be offered at extremely competitive price points, like this budget-friendly OUKITEL C5 Pro which will cost you about $75 to get started. OUKITEL is not a well-known brand outside of China but they are a fairly good sized smartphone brand in China, and they actually produce quite a few different devices, the most of recent of which that we’ve reviewed here being the C5 Pro. With this being a budget device, there aren’t going to be the best of the best specs and hardware inside of the phone, but it can still be a decent phone for the value. Is the C5 Pro from OUKITEL worth the entry-level cost though or is would you be better off putting that money towards something that costs a little bit more. Let’s take a look.
The OUKITEL C5 Pro as stated comes with a collection of entry-level hardware, and that’s to be expected when it comes in at under $100. For that price though, you’re still getting decent enough hardware for the cost. It has a 5-inch HD display with a 2,000mAh battery inside, and it features a MediaTek MT6737 processor which is paired with a Mali-T720 GPU for the graphics processing. It comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage space and it supports expandable storage via the microSD card if 16GB isn’t quite enough. The phone supports Bluetooth 4.0 as well as Wi-Fi b/g/n, and it also supports GPS and GLONASS, and it comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow software on board. The primary camera on the back is a 5-megapixel sensor with LED flash and autofocus, while the secondary camera on the front is a 2-megapixel camera for selfies and video chat.
In The Box
Not surprisingly, the C5 Pro comes with at least one extra in the box like many of the other Chinese smartphones that we’ve reviewed. First things first, inside the box when you open it up you’ll find the phone on top, and on it you’ll find the clear case that comes packaged with the device, which is the extra freebie that OUKITEL has packed inside along with this phone. Even though this is a budget handset, little extras like the case give the phone a better value. Along with the phone and the case you’ll also find the micro USB charging cable and the wall adapter, and of course the manual/quick start guide, and that’s about it.
Hardware Design & Build
While the OUKITEL C5 Pro may be a very inexpensive handset, it doesn’t necessarily have to have a build quality to match the price. OUKITEL has actually done a pretty decent job at building a phone that feels like it would cost more than $75. The C5 Pro comes with a metal frame with chamfered edges, and a thin plastic battery cover that you can remove for swapping out the battery as well as inserting the microSD cards and the SIM card. There are visible antenna lines on the top and bottom of the device, with a mic on the bottom, and the charging port as well as audio port both on top. OUKITEL has chosen to place both the volume rocker and the power button on the same side, and you’ll find that both sets of buttons are on the right side of the phone while the left side is free of any buttons or compartments.
The C5 Pro only has one speaker and it sits between the bottom right corner and the middle on the back of the device which means you won’t completely cover it up when holding it in landscape or portrait mode for games or videos, something that would have been much more unavoidable if OUKITEL placed the speaker on the bottom. Also on the back you’ll find that the camera and LED flash sit in the top left corner, and OUKITEL has given the battery cover a somewhat strange yet also unique looking design to add some flair to the overall style of the phone. In addition to the pattern on the battery cover, there is also a very slight texture to it which seemed to help with grip. Flipping the phone over to the front, you’ll find capacitive navigation keys for the home button, back button, and the button that brings up the options for wallpapers, widgets, and your number of home screen pages. It’s odd that OUKITEL has chosen to use this button for those particular functions when you can simply long press on the home screen and get the same thing, and instead of using the third button for the recents screen, OUKITEL has placed this function in the home button when you long press it instead of tap it, but we’ll get more into that in the software section. Up in the top bezel of the display you’ll find the front-facing camera to the left of the earpiece, while the ambient light sensor is to the right.
Like just about every single other budget Chinese device, the OUKITEL C5 Pro has a display that is not really terrible but it’s not a shining beacon of excellence either. If you’re someone who hasn’t really had a smartphone before then you will likely not be disappointed with what’s on offer here, but if you’re usually used to higher-end devices that don’t skimp on hardware then you may find the display on the C5 Pro a little bit lacking.
In my personal experience, the display was just fine for the week or so of use, but I am also more accustomed to Full HD displays as the last few personal daily drivers I’ve have had all came with Full HD displays, and there is less of a difference between those and the HD display on the C5 Pro. That being said, there is still a noticeable difference in clarity and sharpness, and it won’t take very long to spot. Other than the lower amount of clarity though, the OUKITEL C5 Pro has an OK display when it comes to brightness, as well as color contrasts. The colors were nice and mostly accurate, though they certainly won’t compare to the likes of an AMOLED display. Viewing angles were decent and the screen was mostly easy to see in direct sunlight. Where the display does end up lacking a little bit is with the black levels which aren’t as deep as I’d like them to be, but for someone who isn’t too worried about color accuracy and contrasts, this probably won’t matter too much. The responsiveness of the display was actually quite good for the price point of this phone, and for something that comes in under $100 you would think there would be at least some issues with the digitizer. On the contrary though, the digitizer is just fine, and the display had no problems responding to presses fairly quickly. Overall the display on the C5 Pro is just ok, but it’s nothing that should turn away anyone who just wants a cheap smartphone that will function as it's supposed to.
When it comes to the performance aspect of the C5 Pro, it performs well in some areas and falls just a tiny bit short in others. As far as multitasking goes it didn’t seem to have much of an issue with handling multiple open apps at once, but it did tend to lag just a little bit when some of the apps that were running in the background were a little more demanding of the resources. With an entry-level MediaTek chip inside the performance can only go so far, and there was a noticeable decline in how smooth the device felt when you try to use too many apps at once with one or two of them being fairly resource intensive. This isn’t just about the processor though as the C5 Pro does only have 2GB of RAM, and many of today’s devices are carrying double that amount.
Another area where the performance seemed to take a little bit of a dip is with high-end games like Implosion: Never Lose Hope, and racing games like Need for Speed No Limits, which didn’t feel quite as smooth as they have on other devices we’ve tested in the past. It isn’t all bad though, as the device is more than capable of playing some games just fine and one of these just so happens to be the new Fire Emblem game from Nintendo that was released last week. This has been my guilty pleasure on the mobile gaming front since the game launched, and the C5 Pro had no issues with it whatsoever during my time with it, which is great considering the amount of time I spent playing it. For less intensive tasks like web browsing, reading, and even watching videos, the performance was just fine and there were no noticeable issues to speak of. If you want something that always feels buttery smooth, this may not be the device for you, but if you’re main concern is cost and you’re ok with a slight dump in performance, then the C5 Pro will be just fine.
I wasn’t able to test the wireless connectivity here due to my personal carrier service being Project Fi, but like many of the other Chinese smartphones we’ve tested in the past the device does support 2G and 3G wireless connectivity for GSM networks like T-Mobile and AT&T, so the device should have no issues connecting to either of those services as the phone is unlocked and you can simply slide your SIM card right in without issue. Unless of course your SIM card is the wrong size in which case you would need to update it. The phone does take a micro SIM though, so most users should be fine as there are likely few people out there with phones old enough to still support the old regular sized SIM cards. The C5 Pro is also a Dual SIM phone which makes it great little device to carry with you for travel if you need a spare device. In regards to the wireless networks that it supports you can find the supported frequencies below.
4G LTE: 800/1800/2100/2600
I was actually more impressed with the sound quality than I thought I would be, but that being said the speaker is still a far cry behind some other devices. The good news here is that people who are shopping for a device in the price range where this phone resides likely aren’t going to notice too much, and those that will can easily plug in a pair of headphones or connect a Bluetooth pair and get better sound quality in an instant. While the speaker does get fairly loud, louder than was expected at the highest volume, it starts to get a bit tinny and blown out the higher the volume gets and it’s really noticeable when you get a just a little bit past the halfway mark for the volume slider. The good thing is that the sound is plenty loud just before that for any normal situation where there isn’t a whole lot of extra background noise, but if you’re in an open space where there is ambient noise and you want to play the music through the speaker, it can get drowned out if the volume isn’t high enough, and when you compensate for this by turning the volume up, you’ll unfortunately come across the lower quality sound of the audio.
While the OUKITEL C5 Pro performs ok in real world situations, on paper things look a whole lot different. The C5 Pro provided some rather low scores when it comes to the benchmark tests. The good news is that benchmarks aren’t everything and are only meant to provide a look at how the device might perform. For the benchmarks we ran the C5 Pro through the usual tests which includes Geekbench 4, AnTuTu, and then 3D Mark for the graphics. If you’re interested in seeing the scores that were achieved, you can view the screenshots below.
Battery life was just about what I expected from the C5 Pro. With only a 2000mAh battery inside there isn’t a lot of juice for the phone to draw from, but with the lower-powered processor as well as the lower resolution HD display compared to a Full HD or Quad HD screen, 2000mAh didn’t do too bad. I was able to get about 4 or so hours of screen on time with the phone and an average time of around 7 or 8 hours of use throughout the day. When putting the phone through the PC Mark battery life test, screen on time was 4 hours and 50 minutes, which is just a little while longer than what I got personally. Mileage will vary of course depending on how you use it, so those who don’t use their phones as heavily would get a little more than the 4 hours I had personally.
If there’s one downside to the software experience on the C5 Pro it’s that it’s literally the same as a handful of other Chinese smartphones that aren’t from OUKITEL, and while this is great perhaps for someone who likes to jump between devices often enough, and it would be completely feasible with how much these phones cost, for someone who wants something a little more custom to a specific brand and that brand only, or for anyone who wants a more stock Android experience, the C5 Pro just doesn’t deliver in this area. Like many of the other Chinese smartphones brands, OUKITEL is utilizing the “no app drawer approach” with the C5 Pro and while some people prefer this, most users on Android at least in the states and in other western countries are used to having an app drawer. With the C5 Pro this is non-existent and any apps you install just end up on the home screen immediately after installation is complete. This is disappointing if you want a more clean design to your device out of the box, but if it’s bothersome enough the launcher can easily be replaced by something like Nova Launcher as the Play Store is available on this particular phone. That being said, the software does look like stock Android in a couple of areas like the notification shade and the settings menu so at least these areas will feel familiar.
There aren’t a lot of software extras to look forward to, but there are a few nifty software touches that have been added. Turbo Download for example is a present feature that is nice to have if you’re trying to download a larger file, app, or game as it will let you utilize the Wi-Fi network you may be connected to and the cellular network at the same time for downloading, meaning it will use both connections to push the download and get it going at a faster speed. The C5 Pro also has a few gestures available which can be enabled from the settings menu, which include Main Screen Slide, Gallery Slide, and Music Switch. The first two gestures basically just let you cycle through the home screen pages and the gallery of images by swiping upward on the screen without having to touch it. While this is nice if you hate getting fingerprints and smudges on your screen to gunk it up, I found that the feature was kind of wonky and didn’t really have a good response time, while sometimes it wouldn’t work at all. As for the Music Switch gesture, it doesn’t seem to work in the same way as the other two gesture features and I wasn’t able to get it to work at all. For the most part the software is an OK experience. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either. My only complaint is OUKITEL's use of the left-most capacitive key for bringing up the wallpapers and widgets options, as long pressing on the home screen does the same exact thing on the C5 Pro and that extra button could have been used for the recents page, instead of requiring the user to long press on the home button to open up all the recently used apps. It just feels more complicated than it has to be.
While the OUKITEL C5 Pro was an OK device in a few respects for a smartphone that only costs $75, the camera area is easily the weakest point of this phone. Pictures are low quality in just about every aspect and are generally just bad for a smartphone these days. The image quality in low-light situations is beyond terrible and even in good lighting the pictures leave quite a bit to be desired. Most images came out looking somewhat grainy and with what seemed like off colors compared to other devices near this price range. Shutter speed was generally disappointing in most respects but to be completely fair there is a toggle to turn on zero shutter lag which did help some, but not much as the camera was still relatively slow at snapping a photo. If there wasn't enough light you could leave the phone's flash on to compensate, but this more often than not simply made the phones worse. When it comes down to it the sensor used in this device just doesn't let enough light in as is, and there's no way around the sensor being a bad sensor.
Camera software was pretty basic and the UI was nothing to write home about, and is about what you would expect from a $75 phone. There are three basic modes to choose from which include Face Beauty, Panorama, and Normal Mode. Where the camera does offer a little more is with things like the color effects, letting the user choose between filter type effects to apply to their photos as the camera takes them like Sepia, Monochrome and more, and you can adjust things like exposure and white balance, so there is at least some control over a few settings. Overall though, the camera is not strong point of this device, and if you’re looking for a good camera on a budget, you will want to look elsewhere.
Digitizer had good response
Pretty good build quality and feel for the price
Display was decent overall
Battery life was ok
Poor camera experience in most situations
Sound quality was not great
No app drawer
When it comes down to it there were a few areas where the OUKITEl C5 Pro was lacking, and it was a bit of a let down, but then you have to remember that this is a smartphone that costs only $75, and for that price OUKITEL deserves some praise for what they have achieved in a device at such a low cost. To be completely honest, the phone doesn’t look half bad when it comes to the design (although some people are likely to not care for the pattern design on the battery cover) and the overall feel of the phone is not bad. It doesn’t feel overly cheap, and you’d think that it would for the cost.
Should you buy the OUKITEL C5 Pro?
This all depends on what you’re looking for. At $75, this is an extremely budget handset, and you will notice this in a few areas, the camera being the most noticeable. If you want a good camera experience for a smartphone, then this is not the device for you. If cost is your absolute main concern, though, then you could certainly do worse when comparing things to the OUKITEl C5 Pro.