OUKITEL WP1 Review - Rugged, Reliable, Affordable

The WP1 is a well-made introduction to OUKITEL’s mid-range rugged handsets.

OUKITEL is a relatively prominent smartphone manufacturer that excels at engineering budget-friendly devices that are rugged and solidly made. Its latest gadget, the OUKITEL WP1, doesn't necessarily break any molds on that front but does add one or two features that are noteworthy. For starters, this handset includes wireless fast charging. That's uncommon in any low-spec Android handset and means this IP68-rated smartphone is a bit less of a hassle than prior OUKITEL devices when it comes to charging. At the same time, the build quality remains as high as any previous device from the company and the design will be familiar to anybody who's considered buying one before. The battery capacity is also high, although that isn’t uncommon for devices from this company, and allows for hours upon hours of screen-on time. There are one or two minor quirks in the camera and materials used and this smartphone won’t work in every region. It is, nonetheless, worthy of consideration for anybody who needs a rugged device that’s solidly built.

Specs

OUKITEL's WP1 is a mid-range handset that ordinarily costs around $237.74, shipping with a 5.5-inch HD+ panel with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 720 x 1440. Just above that display is a 5-megapixel selfie-shooter with FaceID unlock features while rolling the handset over reveals a Sony IMX135-based 13-megapixel primary snapper with a 2-megapixel secondary sensor. Underneath that, and driving Android 8.1 Oreo OS, is a MediaTek-built octa-core MT6763T clocked at 2.0GHz backed up by a Mali G71 GPU with a clock frequency of 2.7GHz. Processing is backed up by 4GB RAM and 64GB of expandable storage -- minus the storage that’s taken up by the OS -- up to 128GB via microSD card. A 5,000mAh battery powers that package enabled with ‘quick charge’ at 9V/2A. Wireless Qi fast charging works too, at 10W. OUKITEL claims that powerhouse can be charged up via the former method in as little as two hours and ten minutes while the wireless method takes just an hour longer.

Connectivity is available over Wi-Fi via 802.11 b/g/n/ protocols as well as via A-GPS, Glonass, and GPS for location tracking. Bluetooth 4.2 or OTG cable allow for local connections or data transfers. OUKITEL also includes a fingerprint scanner on the back. The aluminum, PC composite board, and TPU frame encasing all of that measures in at 158.6 x 75.8 x 15.4mm. The weight for that IP68-rated frame and case -- providing dust, water, and shock resistance -- comes in at 257.8 grams. Consumers can pick the WP1 up in a configuration that's just black or with either orange or green accent lines.

In The Box

The contents of the box the WP1 ships in are fairly standard compared to other Chinese manufacturers. The handset itself comes with a screen protector pre-installed and there’s a wall adapter for Type C sockets as well as a USB Type-C cable for charging. A SIM needle is provided for swapping SIM cards while an OTG cable adapter for data transfers and another USB Type-C cable adapter for headphones are included. Finally, a starter guide for the smartphone rounds out the contents of the package.

Hardware and Design

There's not a lot about OUKITEL's design that changed over the past several releases but that doesn't mean it's any less appealing for those who really need a rugged smartphone. The TPU edges are embedded with aluminum side-rails for added durability and the use of that material extends to the buttons, camera surround, and branding near the lower portion of the back. In between the rear cameras and the brand is comprised of a plasticky material that tends to attract dust, lint, and other debris. Underneath that is a symbol showing that wireless charging is enabled on this handset. T-type screws hold the metal plates in place and TPU covers all of the ports in thick slabs to prevent water and dust damage.

As to build quality, aside from the plastic backing, the rest of the phone feels very durable. That particular portion of the device feels as though it’s going to scratch very easily and we did notice some small abrasions forming just from wiping it down to keep it clean. Similarly, the fingerprint sensor at the back is responsive but feels somewhat sluggish compared to those found in other mid-range devices -- including those from OUKITEL. On a more positive note, all of the buttons feel super clicky and ports are all very snug, showing no sign of wiggle at all. This handset also feels very solid in-hand, having just enough weight to feel well-made without being bothersome to hold onto.

Display

The display on this handset is, as with almost every aspect, about average. That is to say that it is very responsive and doesn't show much latency. The screen resolution seems a bit low on paper but concerns about that don't seem to bear out in the real world. While it isn't nearly as nice as some of the panels found on much more expensive devices, it's serviceable and should be good enough for the vast majority of users. As with the back panel, at least with the in-the-box screen protector installed, that does happen to get dirty quickly and smudge easily but nothing about that should really be a deal-breaker in this price range. With a decent glass or well-made film screen protector, that issue should disappear immediately. Brightness is another plus since, although the figures aren't listed by OUKITEL, the panel seems more than bright enough to use on even very bright sunny days without problems.

Performance and Battery Life

Benchmarks aren’t a perfect measure of how a given smartphone or any other electronic will perform under real-world circumstances but they do serve as a good baseline. The results from GeekBench 4 for the WP1 were, as might be expected, not too encouraging from a performance perspective. Instead, they showed a handset standing in the middle between high-dollar flagships and the budget-focused low-end of the Android spectrum -- leaning more toward the budget side. That’s not necessarily a problem since this OUKITEL smartphone is meant to be competent at nearly any task but more specifically for those that need a rugged phone with a big battery. That’s where the benchmarks really shine through, showing just a minute shy of 7-hours screen-on time. That’s with auto-dimming turned off, screen brightness at the maximum level, no battery savings turned on, and internal components pushing to just under 80-percent of their maximum capacity. That’s impressive in spite of the highest scores posted to the benchmark by flagships because, in most cases, those tests show devices with those battery life extenders activated.

Our real-world testing lined up with those results fairly well and the life of the battery could definitely be improved by turning on power-saving features or activating auto-brightness settings. Charging times were similarly noted as being within just a few minutes off from the claimed figures whether charging wirelessly or via cable. This is one of the least expensive devices ever made that ships with wireless fast charging. In fact, the feature is not often seen outside of flagships or upper-mid-range smartphones. So it is definitely noteworthy that OUKITEL chose to include it here. On the performance side, all except the most demanding games seem to run without any latency or drag on the hardware. Whether the WP1 can handle a given title or intensive app is going to depend on how the app was coded to run -- whether it relies more heavily on the GPU or CPU and how the code is written. With that said, it appears as though this particular device will run the majority of apps without incident and we didn’t notice any input delay or problems with the underlying firmware or its UI.

Connectivity and Audio

Aside from lacking bass punch and sounding slightly tinnier, the OUKITEL WP1 is on par with other handsets in the budget and mid-range categories. That's not to say the sound is great. Listening to music for those who enjoy a balanced tone or bass will want to invest in some decent headphones or a Bluetooth speaker to go with this smartphone. The sound is plenty loud enough for alarms, notifications, and ringtones but simply isn’t going to be anything near amazing for music and other bass-rich media.

On the connectivity side of the equation, things are much more solid. All of the built-in radios perform as well as can be expected but it is worth pointing out that there's no NFC connectivity with this smartphone. On the other hand, we also weren’t able to test a 2G, 3G, or 4G connection due to incompatibility with our test carrier in the US. The quality of the earpiece and speakerphone was tested using a call over Wi-Fi. Both audio devices and the microphone performed as well as nearly any other smartphone in any price bracket. But prospective buyers will want to check the bands below to ensure compatibility with their service provider before making a purchase.

2G: GSM 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz

3G: WCDMA Bands 1, 2, 8

4G LTE: Bands 1, 3, 7, 8, 20

Software

OUKITEL has gotten rather good at keeping its devices as close to stock Android as possible. The WP1 is running on Android 8.1 Oreo and users should expect a similar starting experience here, prior to installing apps after the fact, as might be seen with any other Android handset. In fact, although there’s no app drawer to speak of or any apparent way to turn one on, there isn’t much pre-installed at all. Google’s services are present in their own folder on the home screen, as is the Google Discover feature previously known as Google Feed -- with a swipe to the left from the left-most home screen. OUKITEL has also kept with its traditional use of metallic, rugged-looking icons for its rugged devices. But the only extra apps here are a compass, FM Radio, and a Wireless Updater that delivers firmware improvements direct from the manufacturer. Everything else is as stock as it comes. That's a good thing because it equates to a very smooth experience since there's not anything extraneous running in the background, weighing the system down.

Camera

The camera hardware used in OUKITEL's WP1 is relatively common for smartphones in both the budget and mid-range categories but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible. Sensor technology has come a long way over the past several years, with even cheaper cameras performing pretty well. Color capture here is pretty accurate and remains so even in fairly poor lighting conditions but we did notice some serious oversaturation at the other extreme. There is, of course, still plenty of noise in low-light snaps but not to such a degree as is often seen at the lower end of the market. Those shots won't be nearly as bright as those captured with most flagships but it is good to see that there is some improvement there. Focusing is also a bit quicker than typically seen in the price bracket and the UI is generally very smooth.

With regard to specific features, OUKITEL includes all of the standard flash, HDR, filters, Panoramic mode, blurring (listed on this devices under “SLR”), and pro settings that are typically found in Android AOSP camera software. It’s worth noting that the blurring feature is not the same as a “bokeh” effect, as the software will accomplish that on its own. However, the company also splits the automation in "Beauty" for more manual control over adjustments. Some of those are, at least in name, somewhat disconcerting -- such as the option to 'whiten' skin tone, enlarge eyes, or 'slim' down facial features. But it may be useful for some users who want more fine-tuned control over their selfies. Moving past that, this camera is capable of shooting up to 40-shots in rapid succession and that's accompanied by the thoughtful addition of a feature allowing the volume keys to act as hardware-based shutter buttons in the settings menu.

The Good

Wireless fast charging is enabled

Rugged to IP68 rating with added protection against drops

Consistent but refined design from previous OUKITEL rugged devices

Solid build

Battery life is great

The camera performs better than most budget handsets in low-light

The Bad

The camera sometimes fails to capture color accurately under bright lighting

Strong backlighting causes pretty severe washout in images

Speakers could use some work on the bass-end

Back panel smudges and scratches easily

The fingerprint scanner is noticeably slower than most other handsets

Conclusion

There are certain aspects of the OUKITEL WP1 that stray far from perfect. The camera, material used in the rear-panel, speakers, and fingerprint scanner could all stand to be improved. None of those is really a deal breaker either. The fingerprint scanner works but will be noticeably slower for those who have used the technology before. Meanwhile, cosmetic damage to the back plate isn’t likely as big a concern as real damage for those looking into purchasing this type of handset. The kinds of issues seen with the camera and speakers are at best easy to overcome and at worse a minor nuisance. In fact, the performance, features, and really almost everything about this handset is well-aligned with typical expectations for a device in the sub-$250 price range. On the other side of that coin, OUKITEL has really outdone itself to include wireless charging here and the WP1 is worth a look for anybody in the market for an affordable but rugged smartphone.

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