Itel has good brand loyalty with fans praising battery life and durability especially

Leonard Sengere Avatar

It’s still surreal to think about just how the mobile phone has become an indispensable tool in the modern world. It’s almost impossible to function without one, in an urban setting especially. We need our phones to keep in touch with family and friends, obviously, but with electronic transactions becoming the default, a phone is much more than a communication tool.

So, it is always interesting to find out from people what the primary reason for getting their phone was. The smartphone allows users to do pretty much whatever they want but what do people actually do with them?

That usually informs on which particular phones people end up purchasing. Of course, budget plays a major role in those decisions too.

We talked to some people who recently purchased some itel phones to find out what factored into their decisions to get those phones. It was a small sample size but we got some interesting answers.

Why did they get the phones?

As you would expect, most want smartphones to be able to use social media apps, with WhatsApp and Facebook being the most cited ones. The second most popular reason was online research/ lessons, both for work and school. Only a few said their primary use was media and entertainment.

There’s nothing surprising about those answers. What is more interesting however is, with so many options to pick from, why did they pick the Itel brand?

Why Itel?

There are those among us who love dunking on Itel and so the brand is not high on most people’s lists. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its fans, it’s just to say Itel owners often have to explain that their phones are actually not bad.

Itel phones are competitively priced and so it is no surprise that some cited that as the reason why they settled on Itel. However, that was not the main reason for most. Battery life and durability were the two most popular reasons.

I expected that to be the case. Some Itel models are packed with humongous batteries and for the most part, their plastic constructions are solid.

Good reception, plenty storage and accessories

The reasons I found interesting were; good reception and accessories in the box. Why are people praising Itel’s network reception? It’s not as if Itel uses superior modems or anything.

I think it boils down to what the Itels are being compared to. We do have a lot of Samsung imitations and other less dependable Chinese phones on the market. It is these phones that are the only real competition for Itel in their price range.

With those particular phones, you do find a lot of cases of the phones just failing to stay connected. So, I think those praising Itels for their strong network reception are comparing them to those ‘Dubai Samsungs.’

One person had an interesting one, said “the Itel P38 Pro allows me to transfer software and files with ease from a computer.” I know where they are coming from, those Dubai Samsung’s sometimes come without USB drivers and you won’t be able to download them.

The same goes for those praising the Itels for having plenty of storage space. I know for certain that that’s not really Itel’s strong point. However, when coming from the funny brands that sometimes claim to have 64GB whilst having 4GB in storage for example, an Itel that claims to have 16GB and actually has that is a blessing.

When it comes to accessories in the box, the same applies. Itel has an official presence in Zimbabwe and when one buys an Itel phone brand new they get a sealed box with all accessories intact. That’s not the case with some other budget brands. Resellers have the habit of opening the boxes and selling the accessories separately.

Those that go the second-hand premium brand route know not to expect accessories.

Itel has some brand loyalty

The snobs can say what they want but it turns out those that actually use an Itel are likely to stay with the brand when the time to upgrade comes.

A good number of those who were purchasing Itels were coming from other Itels. No one sticks with a brand that disappoints them and so Itel is meeting its customers’ expectations.

One of the people we talked to bought the same model they had before, the P17 Pro 4G. I totally get that. I’ve had devices that I loved so much that if something had happened to them I would have replaced them with the same exact model.

The most popular model was the P38 Pro 4G which retails for $117, but one could snag one for $114 in September. Its party piece is a massive 6000mAh battery. It has a UNISOC SC9863A CPU, clocked at 1.6GHz, that is not too powerful and so is not too power-hungry. That means the battery life on this phone is pretty good. You won’t be depleting it in a day.

Its 64GB storage space will be enough for most people too. As these phones will also be used for research the huge 6.8-inch screen comes in handy.

It all sounds good but would I pick it over a refurbished Galaxy S10e that has a much more powerful processor, better cameras and a better screen? I don’t think I would, especially considering that I can get that S10e for $110.

That’s just me though. The P38 does look good.

Have you used an Itel?

What has your experience been with an Itel? I think the bad perception of Itel is tainted by those that get the cheapest ones available that are guaranteed to give a sub-par experience.

Android has been streamlined over the years but it’s still not quite nimble enough to run satisfactorily on processors that are only listed as 1.3Ghz Quad Core and only 1GB of RAM. You won’t get the best of experiences with that setup but it beats not having a smartphone at all so the $55 A33 has its uses.

I’m curious, what do you consider when choosing which phone to buy? I imagine battery life has been moving up the priority list with the never-ending power cuts in this country. What else is important to you and do you have a ceiling on how much you are willing to pay for a smartphone? Let us know in the comments below.

Also read:

Itel Home. From smartphones to blenders

Half of all smartphones sold in Africa are Transsion brands. How did itel, Tecno and Infinix’s parent get so dominant?


What’s your take?

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  1. Mike

    I migrated from Samsung s9 in January after i broke the screen and bought a itel p36 as a quick replacement bt to be Frank i haven’t even thought of fixing my Samsung i am yoo in love with the battery life and to me it is all i want in a smart fone , battery, screen size

    1. Curious

      May I ask, what android version did your s9 run and was it upgradable to at least android 10?

      1. Leonard Sengere

        The S9 is upgradeable to Android 10. That’s the last major Android update it got.

        1. Curious

          Thanks Leonard, that was really helpful. These small details really make a difference to us ‘power users’. Before I buy a new smartphone I always check if it’s at least 4G/LTE and if the android version is younger than 5 years.

          1. Leonard Sengere

            Cheers. I would also not buy anything without 4G or at least Android 10.

    2. Leonard Sengere

      I relate to that. I had a Note 3 for a long time that had deteriorated in battery life terribly. When I then moved on to something that had good battery life, I felt like I was seeing in colour for the first time. Quickly forgot about the Note 3, even though I loved that phone.

      1. Tendayi

        Come mek we put Android 10 on that Note 3

        1. Leonard Sengere

          It’s on Android 11 as we speak. Even have the Android 12 ROM downloaded but the battery is done now, all swollen and ready to burst. So, once I replace it I’ll be installing an Android 12 ROM.

  2. Mai Victoria

    The most important things on my itel are internet access, battery life, storage and reasonable screen size.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      And the Itel offers those at a good price. If I may ask, what were you using before you bought the Itel?

      1. Mai Victoria

        I was using a Samsung s21 imitation (in my case FAKE). When I saw the real Samsung s21, I was shocked, I almost had a heart attack. Now I’m using an itel p37 pro. At least itel doesn’t pretend to be what it’s not, you get what you buy.

        1. Leonard Sengere

          Exactly. The imitations almost always give a bad experience. An Itel that delivers on what it promises is infinitely better.

  3. 3man

    I had stuck with my Samsung Galaxy note 3 for over 6 years for reasons best known to me which were line of work related until I couldn’t make it charge. I then had a quick replacement with an Itel A58 just to get by. I have grown to love it though I kind of miss my Galaxy. The Galaxy had slipped from my hands and hit the floor countless times but never had a scratch on the screen over the years. Now with my Itel I have so far picked 1 big crack that runs from across from the top left corner to halfway on the right side of the screen in just 5 months.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      I have the Note 3 as well and that thing is a tank. Dropped mine countless times too but you wouldn’t be able to tell. So I guess those praising the Itels’ durability are coming from even less durable phones. It could be that it’s not that Itels are particularly durable but it all depends on what they are being compared to.

      However, comparing the results after dropping phones is not a science. They don’t fall the same way and so you may have just gotten unlucky when you dropped the A58 and had it land in a way that would have led to any screen on any phone cracking too.

  4. Rodrick

    Where can I get the refurbished Galaxy S10e ?

    1. Leonard Sengere

      On ebay. I’ve added the link to the article.

      1. The Empress

        That’s not a fair comparison!
        The itel takes 2 wins
        (1)wins on being new and coming with a with all the accessories in the box ie USB cable, charger and headphones
        (2) The near legendary battery life
        Then proceeds to get completely obliterated by every other metric you care to use.
        You should have used a similar specced phone in the comparison.
        And I’m not sure if you can even use P38 pro 4g on the Liquid(ZOL) network because it doesn’t seem to support the 40/41 bands used by Liquid.

        1. Leonard Sengere

          It kind of is fair though. We’re looking at what someone with enough cash to get a P38 Pro can get instead.

          I used the S10e because personally if I have around $110 for a phone, I’m not looking just at new Itels and budget Samsungs. I’m more interested in what I can get in the second-hand flagship space. So, I found a Samsung flagship I could get for the price of the P38 Pro and that happened to be the S10e.

          If one can take on the risk of getting a defective phone, I find older flagships to be better than brand new budget phones. Even mid-rangers sometimes. All for the same price.

          1. The Empress

            I agree that a good second hand flagship is a much better option although it may come with a risk.

            1. Leonard Sengere

              I guess that’s where your tech savvy point comes in. If you cannot tell whether a 2nd hand phone is good or not then you’re better off getting a brand new Itel.

  5. wokenman

    My mother used to call me for tech support weekly for her phone until she got her Itel P36 pro in December 2020. It just works, no issues. She’s someone who indulges in habits that I consider bad for a phone – using it while on the charger which destroys the charge port, keeping the screen on at max brightness which chows battery and thereby increases your charge cycles, stuffing the device tightly in a handbag full of other random stuff which can make it overheat. But it’s just going strong, still works perfectly fine. These phones are just fine – snobs needs to let others just enjoy the phones of their choice in peace. It even had more features than the Samsung A10s which my girlfriend bought in March 2021 – USB OTG and wireless Screen Casting are unavailable on the Samsung but offered on the Itel yet when these devices were new, the Samsung was about $30 more expensive. Today my girl’s Samsung has constant storage issues no matter how much you delete coz Samsungs have this thing of filling your storage up with system files you that can’t find and delete – and nowadays the battery sometimes just refuses to charge. She will put in on charge, it will sit there at the same percentage for an hour – and then on another day it will just shut down and refuse to switch on for hours. It also feels slightly bloated physically – the back cover just doesn’t feel as flat as it was when it was new. My girl has pretty much the same bad habits as my mom. Her Samsung’s charge port though is way more loose than the one on my mother’s itel; on my moms phone it’s the cables that wear out but when you put a new cable, the port still has a firm grip while on the Samsung it’s the actually charging port that has become loose. Even if you use a newer cable it’s just not as tight as on the itel.
    These were two highly popular phones and I can objectively say that at that price range itel DID make a better phone. Sure you don’t get updates on the itel – but those updates on the Samsung still didn’t deliver OTG and Screen Casting – and have done nothing to address the storage problems so what’s even the point? Itel is a decent brand – these phones have proven themselves in the market, are well suited to the clientele that they target and really don’t deserve the hate.

    1. ilov3makonn3n

      Solid review man. As long as it gets the job done that’s all that matters.

    2. Leonard Sengere

      It is comments like these that will help others when they make their decisions. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      It has been the case for a while that if you’re not particular about having Apple or Samsung badges you can get some good phones for the cheap. Just look for the features you want and pick the phone accordingly.

    3. Jong

      comparing Itel with Samsung should be illegal, yes Samsung might be a bit expensive but they are other brands like Huawei, honor etc who are better in specs but priced the same as itels.

      1. Mai Victoria

        Huawei phones are great but their lack of support for Google services terrify me. I don’t really like most of Google’s practices but I can’t live without Google services and apps. So I would buy a Huawei phone for entertainment purposes only.

      2. jackjohnny

        Samsung is not holy bro – if two devices are at the same price, they WILL be compared feature for feature. No sacred cows – people used to think that about Nokia and Blackberry – now how did that work out for those companies? Its a dangerous philosophy and I think even Samsung is wise enough to not indulge that type of thinking.

    4. Mitesh

      On the ussue if updates, i bought an itel p38 in early July. So far i have received 1 updates from the manufacturer and 2 security patches from Google. itels’s preinstalled apps get frequently updated through the google play store and they get better every time. The updates are conserving battery life significantly. As for the bloatware, i removed it legally using the Android Debug Bridge. The phone is so convenient and the battery life 8s awesome. I drain it after about 30 hours and i also do some gaming on the phone. Its 2Gb ram is enough for my daily tasks.

      1. Anonymous

        Does it play FIFA 22 ?

    5. The Empress

      That phone is now a fire risk when the battery swells up like that the liklihood of your battery exploding or catching fire gets quite high.

    6. isaac mwanyisa

      Uuuuumh you really took your time to write this review

  6. Simon

    lf they add better specs and ram i think they might challenge the big boys.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Better specs would mean higher prices and I don’t think they should go that route. If one wants better specs I believe that’s where Itel’s sister brands Tecno and Infinix come in. Somne of those compete with the big boys in the mid-range space.

      1. The Empress

        Ah yes I had forgotten about those…. Maybe they will be good option

  7. ilov3makonn3n

    Solid review man. As long as it gets the job done that’s all that matters.

  8. Sam

    Does FIFA 22 play on Itel phones ?

    1. Mai Victoria

      I seriously doubt that because FIFA games are huge and require lots of ram. Most itel phones have 2 – 3gbs of ram and FIFA 22, if available on android may require at least 8gbs of ram. So expect to play FIFA 22 only on the top tier flagship phones.

      1. Ping

        I hv got FIFA 22 on my Huawei honor that has got 2g ram it plays smoothly no problems.

  9. TkAyZ

    What I consider when buying a phone

    I go for screen type and screen protection:
    Amoled Screens
    Corning Gorilla

    Battery which Itel is also good at:
    Not less than 5 000 mah

    Processor type:
    Snapdragon is the best on processing power but battery hungry though

    Its always Octa for me

    Clock speed:
    2.3 upwards

    64 gig and above

    OS type:
    Android not those Android Go found in Itel phones

    Not less than 6 gig

    All in all there is something about cameras but lets not talk about it

    I once used an Itel A36 i can give it a 6/10 if i am not considering the bloatware found in Rom that will keep posting notification if you are online

    1. Leonard Sengere

      I’m with you on most of these. I prefer the Snapdragons as well, not just because they are powerful but also because they are supported well. I need a phone that’s future proof and by future proof I also consider ease of installing custom ROMs when official support is dropped.
      I don’t go so far as to check the clockspeed of the processor like you though. But I guess I don’t need to because I only go for ones with flagship Snapdragons.

    2. The Empress

      Android Go is like alcohol free beer it tastes the same but it is not really the same

      1. 3man

        Kkk, then it’s beer if it’s alcohol free, probably it’s ale.

  10. Lieventy

    Your phone is a reflection of you and your background period

    1. Leonard Sengere

      True. Your phone says something about you, whether you like it or not.

  11. The Empress

    Facts are facts
    Itel is people who are (extremely?) budget conscious and those who are not tech savy and get easily impressed by looks not capability.
    I don’t deny that itel phones have some very good points
    (1) They’re cheap
    (2) They have large batteries which are beyond excellent when compared to most phones in the market
    (3) I have heard but can’t confirm that they take better pictures of black skinned people than most of the competition aka Samsung
    (4) And……that’s it
    Itel phones are like tissue paper it is use once and throwaway…. I’m not hating it’s just the truth.
    After all how many places have you seen selling secondhand itel phones?

    1. Leonard Sengere

      😂 Hanzi Itels are like tissue paper. It’s harsh but I get you’re coming from. It is telling that there really isn’t a 2nd-hand Itel market. They fall off in performance so bad.

      I don’t think one can dispute the points you raised.
      Itels are affordable and that’s really their claim to fame.
      Your point about Itels being for those who aren’t tech savvy is interesting. Like my example, I would choose a 2nd-hand flagship that’s 3 years old over an Itel any day. I’m not swayed by getting to open a sealed box myself. I know what having a UNISOC processor vs a Snapdragon means.

    2. wokenman

      People are now buying itel kettles and TVs coz of how they have come to trust the brand based on their experience with the phone. That’s hardly a “throw away” brand. They are showing everybody how to win in Africa – others like Nokia, Motorola, Realme will do well to actually copy. Its’s dangerous to judge the company based purely on their cheaper more low end devices – do you judge Samsung based on the A02 Core? Itel has a wide price range – starting at $35 going all the way to $130. But in a price-for-price, apples-to-apples comparison with the established brands, they absolutely do not disappoint. The current p38Pro is just objectively the best phone you can buy brand new, non refurbished for $120. But you can’t then take that $120 itel and stand it up next to a $250 Samsung and then declare it tissue paper, we have to be realistic. The people in those price brackets have know this for years and that’s why itel didn’t go the way of Karbonn, Vodafone, ZTE, Lenovo, our own Astro and others who tried the super budget segment before itel. You don’t see them second hand because people keep using them or hand them down – these are low income buyers remember – they don’t just throw away a phone.

      1. The Empress

        Nope I stand by my tissue analogy.
        If itel phones were not throwaway phones then they would be a thriving secondhand market, I mean if second hand socks and underwear sellers are doing alright then the fact that there is no market for itel phones given the says a lot.

  12. Tawanda

    If your business on your smart phone is just to talk to friends via WhatsApp and other social media apps then Itel is for you. But if your run your business via WhatsApp with over 40 groups that have high traffic then try the big boys like Samsung etc.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Yep, if you know that you will demand a lot from your phone then Itel is not for you. Move up to Tecno and Infinix or even to Samsung etc. If you’re one of those people on whose phone the only third party installed is WhatsApp then you can get by with an Itel.

  13. Sly

    I hated that tortoise 🐢 speed on surfing using itel. I migrated from itel A57 pro to Samsung A10s and it was like kubva muka Hond fit ndichipinda muMB V12☺️☺️☺️

    1. Leonard Sengere

      The speed difference cannot be denied. Itel is more about access at an affordable price. The experience may disappoint but it’s better to complain about WhatsApp taking 30 seconds to open than not being on WhatsApp at all.

  14. Know

    How effective is using eBay in Zimbabwe for buying a phone from America?

    1. TkAyZ

      Not effective just buy the ones arimuno

    2. Leonard Sengere

      I have bought phones on ebay and in my case it worked out great every single time. However, it’s much easier and less time consuming to just get one locally but you will have to deal with high markups tagged on the price.

      1. The Empress

        But how bad was the duty/shipping?
        I mean did it significantly raise the cost?

        1. Leonard Sengere

          Not proud of it but it was only one time that I had to pay 40% in duty. However, it was still cheaper than buying the same model locally.
          When it comes to shipping I usually go for sellers offering free shipping, though I know they would have factored that in the cost. Failing that, shipping may run you back $20-35. Depending on the value of the phone, that may be a non-factor.

          1. The Empress

            Thanks for the info.

  15. Walter

    I have an itel and a samsung note9…i must say the itel is not bad…it works all what i want to do…i find myself depending on it after i mess up my note 9 on custom roms..its always there working 100% with my files and entertainment

    1. Leonard Sengere

      In the end if your phone does what you want it to do, what more do you need? Yes, there will always be those that perform better than yours but that’s how life works. I tinker with customer roms as well and they can be temperamental, so if the itel provides the safety net, I say, good for it.

  16. Itel You

    Itel seems to be doing a good job serving its niche. Transsion did its market segmentation well. I still think i’d stretch myself a bit more and go for the best Nokia C3X or Nokia GXXX series phone I can get. It will look a bit ancient and feel ultra cheap, but I know even if they are (very) late, I’ll still get at the very least a couple years worth of security updates and similar if not superior specs to the p38.

  17. Damn It

    Really Itel I can’t, network speed, picture quality, own animation, graphics and display, freezing issue, it not working after having a crack 🍘 ishh

  18. Emmanuel

    Itel was my very first gadget that makes may day p36 battery is good to me in every way i hope soon we will have a 5g itel device in affordable prices

  19. Chasura

    I think itel phones are for Primary kids and not for adults cos they are slow and the screens are pathetic processing power is so slow when opening an app.
    The phone downloads games on its own thus very expensive on the wallet when you have data.
    I would never tell people to buy that rubbish of a phone.

    1. Anonymous

      It depends on which itel ure using any itel with 1gig ram and below is very slow for sure

  20. 2434

    I’ve had 3 MI phones over the last 6 years.usually in use for 2 yrs and sell off with the buyers themselves using for another year or 2. My current is Poco x3. In january it will be 2yrs.i have to say with the slow down in upgrades I’m gong to keep this one longer as the battery is holding up very well and there’s no real gain in upgrading. It just works perfectly and I’m still getting software came out with Android 11 and it’s on 12 now. On another note I can’t live without fat charging now. It’s mandatory

  21. 2434

    The main the reason i bought the phone was for battery even after 2yrs its still last over a day and quick charges 40min. Truly amazing

  22. The Last Don

    What’s this I hear about browsing speeds and what? I’ve been in Zimbabwe for about a month now and so far both Econet and NetOne are offering 2G speeds on their networks including in the CBD. It was only in Zimre Park where I got to see 19 Gbps on NetOne.
    From the comments about this Itel brand I see it’s better to have it if you mostly use your device for communication only ( a few voice calls, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc) because most people can’t use phones to their limits because of the astronomical tariffs prevailing here. I don’t know about the video and photo quality but because of the tariffs can most afford to download 1080p videos like we do in SA? I think those who are bad-mouthing this brand are doing it as a show off because the network quality here won’t allow us to us premium phones to their limits. It’s like driving a Lamborghini in our pothole riddled roads. A Honda Fit or Vitz will overtake you because it has better clearance. At the end of the day it’s a waste of money to buy the latest 5G Samsung when we are still using Edge and 2G speeds disguised as LTE.
    I am using a 2Gig ram ZTE after failing to get a battery for my Hisense but I’m not seeing the difference here in Zim.
    With the current loadshedding I suggest battery capacity is better than having a flagship which drains quickly and keeps you out of touch.

  23. txxt

    However…itel devices produce low quality photos.

  24. Anonymous

    Processing power is too small for a smart phone…it’s like they opted for mbudzi processors..I used Itel A16 sometimes I felt as if that 1.3GHz quad core was running on single core they failed to run smoothly….what’s worse is that that phone was preinstalled with Go version the lighter end but it throttled and even restarted on its own….I have upgraded to Redmi 9A with 4 x 2.0G Hz and 4 x 1.5 GHz …the experience I have is great…..wat I got from Itel A16 was like throwing my 55 dollar into a dustbin