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Itel A56 Pro Unboxing, Review: New Android Go Contender

Should you consider this brand?

Cherry Mobile and Nokia are the most popular brands in the ultra-budget segment of Android Go, though other brands are continually trying to make their mark in the space. New player Itel is looking to make their name in the hyper-competitive market with their new A56 Pro budget phone, giving entry-level users mid-range features like a big battery, a fingerprint scanner, and dual rear cameras. Will this be enough to lure people to this relatively new brand?

Pros:

  • Decent RAM/Storage configuration
  • Incredible battery life
  • A fingerprint scanner on an ultra-budget phone

Cons:

  • FWVGA display
  • Old processor
  • Too much bloatware

Unboxing and packaging contents

The A56 Pro comes in a red box with the outer sleeve featuring a photo of the phone and Itel branding, along with the brand’s 100-day replacement guarantee in case of defective phones. Inside, you have the phone itself, a headset, MicroUSB cable, 5w wall charger, documentation, and a hard plastic back case—which is a nice addition to the phone’s very affordable price.

Big and hefty

Despite being an ultra-budget phone, the A56 Pro is one hefty boi, partly because of its non-removable 4000mAh battery. The polycarbonate back cover has a matte texture, making it more resistant to smudges compared to glossy textured back covers. The back cover is removable, and taking it off reveal slots for two NanoSIM cards and a MicroSD card.

Unlike most Android Go phones, the A56 Pro comes with a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner for more secure unlocks, along with a dual rear camera setup—both being features you normally wouldn’t find on an Android Go phone, especially at its price point.

For the button and port layout, you get the headphone jack on top, power and volume controls on the right side, and MicroUSB port at the bottom.

Fingerprint scanner for cheap!

Aside from its dual rear camera setup, the A56 Pro’s main highlight is its rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. You usually don’t see this with phones under the sub Php 5K segment, as it’s typically removed to cut production costs. Even more surprising is the fact that it’s usable and not at all terrible: the scanner itself is accurate, properly unlocking the phone with our registered fingerprints. It even doubles as a shutter button when you’re taking selfies.

 

Huge display, but the resolution is problematic

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the A56 Pro’s display. The good news first: it’s relatively large for the price, coming at 5.99-inches. The bad news here is that the resolution tops out at FWVGA+, which is problematic given its size. While the display is acceptable for general use, we don’t recommend it at all when you’re watching videos in full screen: the low PPI count results in a pixelated display and washed out colors.

Old processor, but crazy battery life

The A56 Pro’s Unisoc Sc7331e processor is the same chip found on the Nokia C1, and it is an old processor that uses a 28nm process. With the score we got from AnTuTu, the A56 Pro is not ideal for playing games—I tried playing Marvel Future Fight on the A56 Pro, only to end up crashing the game.

Its 2GB RAM and 32GB internal storage make it a decent configuration for an ultra-budget phone. Having more RAM translates to better app multitasking compared to most ultra-budget phones with only 1GB RAM. If the internal storage is not enough, you can still expand that with up to a 32GB MicroSD card.

As an ultra-budget phone, you get a Go version of Android Pie with the A56 Pro. While we appreciate the decision to use Android Go given its modest internals, we’re annoyed at the amount of bloatware it comes out of the box. You can uninstall some, but not all, and we ended up disabling a few stubborn ones that you couldn’t uninstall because they were taking up a lot of resources. We wished Itel kept the amount of bloatware to a minimum, especially with the A56 Pro being an Android Go phone.

Despite having an ancient processor, the A56 Pro’s 4000mAh battery gives the phone long legs. With PCMark’s battery test, we were able to clock in almost 17 hours of battery life, which translates to around two days of moderate use. Topping up the battery is done via its MicroUSB port, and it takes around 3 and a half hours to fully charge it since you are limited to 5w wired charging.

Surprisingly capable cameras for an ultra-budget phone

The A56 Pro stands out from the rest of ultra-budget phones with its dual rear camera setup that comprises of an 8-megapixel main camera and VGA depth sensor. While the VGA depth may sound like it can’t do much, it does help the 8-megapixel main snapper with better autofocus performance and image exposure compared to ultra-budget phones with single rear camera setups. And while low-light performance is a wash (expected at this price point) the A56 Pro performs better than similarly-priced rivals when it comes to photography.

Like with the Nokia C1, the A56 Pro can shoot Full HD video by interpolation, though the addition of a depth sensor helps in exposure and autofocus.

 

Verdict: An ultra-budget phone you might consider

While the ultra-budget segment is dominated by the likes of Nokia and Cherry Mobile, Itel proves that it can be another player worth considering. With added features like a fingerprint scanner, a big battery with long battery life, cameras that perform better than the competition, and a decent 2GB RAM and 32GB internal storage, the A56 Pro is a good beginner Android phone.

Compromises like a very low display resolution, old processor aren’t major deal-breakers, and the rampant bloatware can be remedied by either deleting or disabling them to maximize available RAM for other apps.

The A56 Pro is priced at Php 3,199. If you want something more affordable, the vanilla A56 (which is the same phone but with 1GB RAM and 16GB internal storage) sells for Php 2,899.

Itel A56 Pro specs

  • 1.3Ghz Unisoc Sc7331e quad-core processor
  • Mali-T820 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 6-inch FWVGA+ IPS display; 18:9 aspect ratio
  • 32GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD
  • Dual rear cameras: 8-megapixel f/2.0 main camera; VGA depth sensor; with AF and LED flash
  • 5-megapixel f/2.0 front camera with beautification and LED flash
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
  • Fingerprint scanner, Face Unlock
  • Android 9.0 Pie (Android Go)
  • 4000mAh battery

One Comment

  1. iTel was the phone brand with malware installed, they kinda have a big market share in Africa. Problem with way too cheap phones is that, malware, which can steal more than your money. I’m staying away from this brand and its other siblings Tecno Mobile (which just launched the spark 5 pro via shopee) and Infinix.

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