The mobile phone market is going through something of a transformation currently, as phone buyers are keeping their devices for longer, and they aren’t as keen to splash out on the big-ticket new releases.
On top of that, they’re also looking to buy phones that have a specific purpose, rather than models that do most things in a mediocre jack-of-all-trades fashion.
The Chinese phone makers are perfectly poised to exploit these emerging niches and deliver low-cost products to a mature phone buying public. Oukitel is one of these Chinese brands, and with the WP2 the target audience is those who like a little adventure in their lives away from the big cities.
The Oukitel WP2 is a phablet design that sports a 5.99-inch display and IP68 certification for less than $300.
Which begs the question: is this specification and price point just too good to be true?
The WP2 is a big slab of a phone that tries to enhance its adventure credentials by having chamfered corners and visible Torx-head bolts. The review model was completely black, but this phone is also available with gold highlights for those who are easily impressed by a bit of bling. Aesthetically, it says ‘I’m tough’ in a voice that would make the dulcet tones of Thanos seem squeaky.
We initially assumed that this construction and appearance was merely window dressing. However, reading a long warning sticker attached to the rear revealed that if sent to an Oukitel authorized service provider, this phone can be opened and the battery replaced.
Weighing in at 365g, this isn’t the heaviest phone we’ve reviewed, but you wouldn’t want to drop it on your foot, rest assured.
The Oukitel approach to keeping dust and water out of the internals is decidedly old-school, in that each open channel is coved with a rubberized plug. That includes both the USB Type-C charging port and the SIM card tray.
One curiosity is that the fingerprint reader is on the right-hand side of the handset, just below the power button, rather than on the back, or placed just under the screen as is traditionally seen. That effectively dictates that the opening digit is the right thumb (unless you are left-handed).
Where you might normally expect that sensor at the center of the rear cover is a strip of four white LEDs (under a defusing strip) which are used for flash photography or as a flashlight. The two camera lenses are above this, and they’re mounted vertically, not horizontally.
Given the sheer physical scale of the WP2, it’s most certainly aimed at those with larger hands, and probably not suitable for a child. It’s comfortable enough to hold, and the shape has enough hard edges to stop it being dropped too easily.
But then, being dropped is unlikely to cause this design much of an issue, depending on how far the device falls.
Specifications and features
Chinese phone makers have obviously done some market research about what turns off customers when it comes to phones from brands they’re not familiar with. We say this because almost all the models we’ve seen recently from this region have the same policy regarding Android, in that they provide an almost vanilla experience.
The WP2 runs Android 8.0 Oreo with only a few extra or enhanced apps, and the experience is generally a very good one. Our only complaint about the Android implementation is that the default background graphic is one that first appeared on the Nexus 4, which might give the false impression that this phone is using older tech.
Much of the positive Android experience can be explained by the hardware that Oukitel chose to put in the WP2, and it’s a familiar spec to any seasoned phone reviewer.
The SoC inside is the stalwart octa-core MediaTek MT6750T with associated ARM Mali T860-MP2 GPU, and on this phone, it is paired with 4GB of LDDR3 RAM. This is an identical platform to the Blackview BV6800, amongst others, with a Mali GPU that runs at the 650MHz baseline clock.
This hardware was on flagship Chinese phones a year ago and has now migrated down to higher volume products across a wide range of makers. Compared with the Samsung Exynos chips it doesn’t excel, but for the less demanding user, it has more than enough performance for typical phone use.
Storage is a healthy 64GB, of which about 55GB is available initially. You can bolster that with a microSD card that goes in a SIM card slot, if you are willing to use only one mobile SIM, and not the two the phone can handle.
For us, the standout technology in this phone is the 5.99-inch 2,160 x 1,080 resolution screen that uses IPS technology for good viewing angles. We’re confident that this is an LG-made panel that we also saw in the Doogee S80, and it is very clear and reasonably colorful.
The performance of the MediaTek processor is the Achilles heel of this device, as it is quite lackluster given the eight cores at its disposal.
As we’ve mentioned before the configuration of this SoC – with four 1.5GHz cores and four 1GHz cores – might make power management better, but does little for the performance of either a single demanding task, or one where all cores are utilized.
It also tends to pull the clock speed of cores down aggressively to save power, causing minor pauses when selecting an app or clicking on a control. You often feel like the phone isn’t quite ready for you, even if you’ve just woken it up.
We should say that this is a very subtle thing that many users might not notice. It’s also worth noting that this handset plays games quite effectively, which you might not expect.
Our benchmarking didn’t produce any great surprises, and the results were entirely in line with previous devices built around the same hardware.
The battery is a strong point, with 10,000 mAh of capacity meaning that this phone can handle even the busiest working day and leave you with power to spare. Using the battery sparingly could easily extend the operational life to much longer periods.
One aspect of the WP2 power system we must salute is that this is an OTG implementation of the Type-C connector, and therefore it can be used to power/charge other items if needed.
This sort of flexible thinking could be a lifesaver if you get isolated in the wilderness and need to consolidate battery power. Sadly, wireless charging was omitted, undoing some of the good work with the OTG connection.
Likewise, the camera appears to be a slightly missed opportunity. With many phone makers using Sony sensors, we were surprised to find that Oukitel went with a Samsung S5K2P7 16MP camera sensor on this phone, and combined it with a much smaller 2MP support camera for creating background blur if required.
The pictures it takes (see the two images above, and one below) aren’t exceptional, but they’re not abysmal either. Available capture modes on the almost stock app include HDR, Panoramic, QRScan, Child, Beauty, Watermark and ‘SLR’.
Those who want more control can find a wide number of free apps on the Play Store, but for basic snapping the preinstalled app is workable.
If this sensor combination has a weakness, it is that the second sensor doesn’t appear to help low light shooting, and the Samsung S5K2P7 tends towards very grainy results once the light levels drop.
We’ve already mentioned that Android is almost stock on the WP2, but Oukitel did pre-install a few extra apps that are genuinely useful. Collected under the ‘Toolbag’ app, these include a compass, picture hanging utility, gradienter, height measurer, magnifier, protractor and a plumb bob tool.
These utilities are nothing ground-breaking, but they are better than some of the free apps we’ve seen from other manufacturers.
The mobile phone technology in the WP2 handles the four basic GSM frequencies (800, 900, 1800 and 1900MHz), both 3G (900 and 2100MHz) and five 4G LTE bands (800, 900, 1800, 2100 and 2600MHz).
Regrettably, these aren’t the ranges that most US cell phone services use, though they are commonly used outside that region in Europe and Asia.
The Oukitel WP2 is a mixed bag where some features are as good as better-known brands, and others fall quite short. The lack of US frequency bands negates its use in the Americas and Canada, and it is too heavy to be an everyday device.
But if you intend to hike, surf or travel off the beaten track, and you don’t fancy taking an expensive top-tier phone with you, then the WP2 is practically ideal.
It’s robust, has great battery life, can handle water immersion and can take a decent picture in good lighting conditions.
The WP2 might not be great at much, but for the asking price, it represents excellent value.
- We've also highlighted the best rugged phones of 2018