Unboxing and Review of the itel P38: A Budget Phone With Average Performance

The itel P38 is an impressive smartphone with fast charging, a large battery, a large display with impressive colors, and average performance.

itel Mobile Uganda early May 2022 released a new handset for consumers, the itel P38 series which becomes the third handset the company has released this year after the itel A58 (Launched on Feb. 8th) and itel P17 (Launched Apr. 5th) and comes in two versions, the base, and the pro versions.

The main highlight of the phones as we have seen is the Fast-Charging capability making it the first smartphone from itel Mobiles to come with fast charge. The fast-charging feature does show that the company is gradually adapting to smartphone trends that not only are we seeing on mid-range and high-end devices. Fast charging is a good upgrade on itel smartphones since consumers need to have their phones charged as fast as possible.

The other key selling points other than the fast-charging the company highlighted are the large battery (5,000mAh), upgradeable fashionable design, and the performance.

The itel P38 and P38 Pro are available for purchase starting for UGX330,000 and come in Nebula Black, Galaxy Blue, and Spruce Green color options. The phone is available in all itel shops and authorized smartphone dealers across the country.

itel Mobile Uganda sent to PC Tech Magazine the itel P38 version for a hands-on review, and we got the Spruce Green version.

Unboxing the itel P38

The packing is no different from all the handsets we have received from the company for review. The box weighs about 200g and comes sealed and the company has cautioned consumers not to buy the product that has a broken seal. On breaking the seal, the itel P38 handset seats on top with its accessories including the standard 3.5mm earphones in a red color, a fast-charging 18W brick, and a micro-USB Type-B cable that can be used for charging and data transfer. The user manual, a 12-month warranty, and other documents are soft copies that come within the phone documents when the phone is powered on they can be accessed in the phone’s documents.

Having had the phone for quite a while, this is our review;

Design, Display and Build
The design and build of the itel P38 have been changed to our expectation — there’s so much difference and we do applaud the company on taking this step to indeed produce a better version of the predecessor. Fashionable as advertised, the phone is all plastic built including the frames, and has a glass front.

The rear cover of the phone is not detachable — prior you had to remove the cover for you to be able to insert your SimCard and microSD card. Now the phone comes with a SimCard and microSD card tray that appears on the left side of the phone and can be accessed with an injector pin.

itel also removed the speaker from the back of the phone placing it at the bottom next to the earphone port, microphone, and micro-USB port. On the predecessor, the itel P37, the earphone port was placed on top which was inconvenient because the earphone wire comes on top of the display and you literally have to hold it from the back not to get on the display — and therefore placing it at the bottom was the right call.

On the right side of the phone is the volume and power buttons. Another change we noticed, the fingerprint scanner now appears in the same housing as the rear cameras. The dual AI cameras (8MP main camera + QVGA) are separated by a LED-flash light.

The itel P38 feels comfortable when held. It fits well in your palm unless you have small hands.

Looking at the display, it is a water-drop design, with a 6.6-inch IPS LCD screen size and a screen resolution of 720 x 1612 pixels. The company kept the same display design we saw on the itel A58. The resolution gives a clearer and more immersive visual experience. The screen is bright enough and can be adjusted according to the ambient light. It is very good indoors and is quite legible outdoors in direct sunlight. The phone’s display also supports a wide color gamut. You will surely enjoy your entertainment on this device, the colors are well presented for an entry-level budget phone.

Software, Performance, and Battery
The itel P38 comes with Android 11 (Go edition) mobile OS and comes with pre-installed GO apps that are lite to run smoothly on the 2GB RAM. A phone of this kind should run smoothly with lite version apps installed to avoid lags, phone freeze, or slow performance. The phone is powered by a 1.3GHz Quad-core processor and you can use the included i-boost 1.0 software to further enhance the performance of your phone, for a smoother experience. The onboard storage is 32GB of storage gives you fairly enough space for your apps and media (videos and photos). The storage can be expanded with a microSD card to get more space.

While testing the itel P38, we did receive good results for a phone in its category. The performance was average — we didn’t overwork the processor so to avoid freezes/lags or slow performances. Therefore we recommend using the phone with lite versioned apps or apps that are less than 1GB in size for a better user experience.

There were minimal results on multitasking [if apps didn’t consume half of the phone’s memory] with slightly heavy apps in the background and bad results giving numerous lags while using heavy apps

For battery life and charging;

The phone is powered by a non-removable 5,000mAh battery [same as its predecssor] and it did a commendable job across all test scenarios including; video playback, calls, web browsing, and demonstrated long-lasting standby performance. The phone is equipped with an AI Power Master to intelligently optimize the phone’s battery life. The battery can get 2 extra hours on power-saving mode and up to 10 days in the ultra power-saving mode on a single charge.

The best part of the phone is that it does support fast charging [first of its kind in the line of itel smartphones]. It takes nearly an hour and 45 mins to get a full charge thanks to its 15W charging brick.

Camera, Photo, and Video Quality
The itel P38 comes with a 5MP front-facing camera which is housed in the water-drop notch. And dual-rear AI camera with 8MP+QVGA sensors. The photos and videos you get from the cameras aren’t of the best but average for an entry-level phone. With good lighting, mostly in daylight settings, the photos, and videos were good.

Photo Quality;

Generally, the photos are averagely fine —the contrast and saturation are good for an entry-level phone, the noise doesn’t show if not zoomed in, and the excellent colors stay true to reality. The images aren’t sharp but remain good enough for a phone of its category. We noticed that the camera is set to automatically focus to take the photo, thus you have to be steady to take good shots to avoid blur.

So for photogenic, your photos with minimal or no edits will still look good and can be sharable on social networks as they are usually downscaled during the upload.

The selfie camera does produce good photos, with a ton of resolved detail, accurate colors, and high contrast.

Overall, the photo quality is okay.

Video Recording;

The video resolution for both the front and rear camera max out at 720p, nothing like 1080p — though the footage from both cameras is quite good. You have to be stable enough to have well-taken videos because there’s no stabilization feature. With good lighting the video will have the colors remain accurate, they might be a blow in the highlights but the videos you get should be good enough for a phone of this type.

Our verdict
The new itel P38 is powered by Android 11 Go Edition and has a strong focus on the fast charging feature. For a phone under USD$100, it is very impressive to see 15W fast charging paired with its 5,000mAh battery capacity. Overall, the itel P38 with its large display that shows crisp images, impressive colors, and an immersive experience for any type of media consumption is a good pick for an entry-level handset. We do believe itel consumers will be happy to try out this phone.

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