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itel VISION 3 2GB/32GB Review - Big screen, fast charging, budget price tag!

OPPO
Huawei
Aiming to make a dent in the budget smartphone market, itel launched the VISION 3 series to the Philippine market early this April.
Meet itel VISION 3

To those who missed it, itel first arrived on the Philippine smartphone scene last 2019. It is a global player under Transsion Holdings which also carries mobile brands like TECNO and Infinix.

One of its newest VISION 3 smartphones in town is the vanilla itel VISION 3 with a starting price tag of PHP 3,999 for the 2GB RAM/32GB storage version up to PHP 4,699 for the 3GB RAM/64GB variant.

At this price point, the device is boasting an interesting set of features which includes a 6.6-inch HD+ display, UNISOC S9863A chip, and a large 5,000mAh battery.

To make it even more interesting, itel added a micro USB 18W fast charging support—a first at this price point.

Anyway, we have its PHP 3,999 version with 2GB RAM with 32GB storage.

Is it worth it? Here's what we think about it. 

Unboxing/Accessories

Box of the VISION 3

TheVISION 3 arrives in a red box with nearly everything you need from a first smartphone purchase inside.
Everything inside the box

The first thing you will see inside the box is a smaller carton that contains the SIM ejector tool on the outside and the FREE hardcover case along with the paper documentation inside.

Next is the phone itself and we noticed that it even has a pre-installed screen protector.
18W power brick
18W power brick, not all brands are including a fast charger in the box

After that, you will see the 18W USB power brick, long USB-A to micro USB data/charging cable, and the FREE 3.5mm in-ear earphones with a mic and single button control.

Build Quality/Design

The back design of the VISION 3
The back design of the VISION 3

In terms of materials used, the device features a polycarbonate backplate and frame, a glasstic camera island, and a glass front.
Triple tray slot
Triple tray slot

For an entry-level smartphone, it is nice to see that its SIM card tray even has a red rubber gasket which indicates that it is somehow protected against accidental water splashes. But, note that this has no IP rating so do not try to wet in on purpose.

The panel has no mention of glass protection as well, but thankfully it has a pre-installed screen protector.

By the way, itel is also boasting that it is resistant to light drops as well.

Fairly attractive design for an entry-level device, not bad!

Design-wise, the VISION 3 followed the back panel look that is starting to become common in the entry-level category.

The unit that we got arrived in a Green colorway (also available in Blue and Black), with a 3D curved model and a micro-engraved textured finish for a gripper hold and avoid unwanted fingerprint smudges as well as light scratches.

We also noticed that its finish has a two-tone gradient color from light to darker shade with sunlight-like rays surrounding the camera island.

By the way, the camera island design is not that protruded so the phone won't be too wobbly when touched on a flat surface.

Lastly, you will see that it has a rear-mounted fingerprint reader found on the upper-center part of its backplate.

If you have a big hand, the fingerprint reader will be easy to reach. However, if your hand is small, you might need to effort a little just to tap the scanner.
Front view of the device
Front view of the device

In front, you will see the large 6.6-inch display of the device. it is 2.5D curved and has a waterfall-like notch to house its selfie camera with the earpiece above it.

The bezels on the top and the sides are slim, but the chin is a bit thick.

itel also is claiming that it has a 91 percent screen-to-body ratio, but its bezels are noticeably a bit thicker than a lot of mid-range phones with over 90 percent screen-to-body ratio that we tested.

We are just nitpicking though. This is still among the thinnest at this price point.
Top, bottom
Top, bottom

There's nothing on top. Below, you will find the 3.5mm headphone jack slot, microphone hole, micro USB port, and the single speaker grille.

Personally, it would have been better if itel used a USB-C reversible port instead of a micro USB one. But, we should all remember that this is a sub-PHP 5K smartphone, not a mid-ranger. It is understandable.
Left, right

On the left, is where you will see tiny hole access to the triple slot tray. On the right, you will find the power key along with the volume up and down keys (volume rocker).

In general, this is a well-built phone that is not too thick. Using both hands might also be needed when typing as this is not a small smartphone.

At 192 grams, it is a bit hefty. But that's understandable as it is using a pretty large battery capacity.

This should last for quite a while with proper care. Using the FREE case included in the box might also in prolonging its lifespan.

Multimedia Experience

IPS display!
IPS display!

As mentioned, itel used a large 6.6-inch large LCD (IPS) display with an HD+ resolution of 1612 x 720 pixels with a decent 267 ppi.

Thankfully, despite having an HD+ resolution only, the real-life performance of its display is respectable. Actually, it is considered "good" at this price point for us.

We would have liked it better if it has a 1080p resolution, but we may be asking for too much on a budget device.

Pixels will only be visible to the naked eye when you pixel peep or take a photo of its screen using a high-resolution camera.

For general usage, it won't be that noticeable. Plus, thanks to its IPS panel, colors are near accurate as well. Viewing angles is okay too.

Brightness levels are enough for indoor use but may struggle under direct sunlight. It is a little reflective as well. There is no light sensor here, but it has Smart brightness adjustments which automatically optimize the screen brightness according to your habits and it works.

In the Display settings, it has the usual features like the Dark theme, Eye care, and adjustments for Colors & contrast.

The display is quite good for the price!

We surprisingly enjoyed it enough when watching some of our favorite clips on YouTube and even some Netflix and iQIYI shows. Just note that it only has Widevine L3, so the maximum Netflix playback is just 480p.

In total, it has 5 points of touch, so the typing and swiping experience is decent generally. 
Nice display for the price
Nice display for the price

For audio, it highlights a single down-firing speaker. It is reasonably loud (average for the price) and decent sounding. Distortion is also not bad even at max loudness. But of course, bass response is not that deep and the separation of the instruments and vocals won't be that good.

Via the 3.5mm headphone jack, the result will be better especially if you own a pair of good-sounding earphones. It can even drive some multi-driver in earphones at around 60 to 70 percent loudness. However, it will be thinner sounding versus higher-end smartphones with better DACs. This is more than acceptable at this price point.

Despite having just a single microphone, the VISION 3 delivered satisfactory results for the price. Just make sure that you are in a quiet place when you do calls or recordings.

Speaking of calls, it has a decent-sounding earspeaker allowing its users to hear the voice of who you are talking with quite well.

Cameras

Dual cam at the back
Dual cam at the back

At the back, the handset is equipped with a single 8MP shooter with an f/2.0 aperture size and a VGA camera for depth effect. There is the 3rd hole for another camera, but it is just a design. There is also an LED flash for low light shots.

The camera UI is simple to use and easy to understand. It has the usual modes like Photo, Portrait, Low light, Panorama, HDR, and even a Pro mode with controls for ISO 100 to 1600, EV, contrast, focus, and white balance presets. It has filters, AR stickers, and AI beautification as well.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight 1x
Daylight 1x

Autofocus is fast, but the camera UI is a bit laggy. Shutter speed and image saving time have a bit of delay as well. This is a common issue on budget phones.

A good shooter for daylight shots!

In daylight, despite having a slightly narrower field of view, results are better than expected. Shots have plenty of details and are punchy in colors. Exposure is also just right and even the clouds are still visible.
Daylight 2x zoom
Daylight 2x zoom

Interestingly, it even retained a good amount of details with minimal noise even when we tried to do up to 2x zoom.
Daylight against the light
Daylight against the light

For a slightly against the light shot, the output will be a bit dimmer even if you use the HDR. But still, this is not bad for a budget smartphone.
Daylight close-up
Daylight close-up
Indoor close-up
Indoor close-up

For close-ups, it struggled a little. Our shot is a bit overexposed and not that crisp. 
In indoor close-ups, it is softer as well.
Indoor Portrait shot using the main camera
Indoor Portrait shot using the main camera

We also tried its Portrait mode and it delivered shots with ample background blur effect. Except for some messy parts of my hair, its edge detection is mostly alright.
Indoor shot
Indoor shot

Indoors, the results are acceptable most of the time. The colors are natural-looking as well. We just noticed that grain is starting to become visible. It has some issues handling the exposure to light sources as well.
Low light shot
Low light shot

In low light, we liked that shots didn't lose many colors. The exposure is also not dim. But, the results are mostly soft and a bit grainy. This is acceptable on budget devices.
5MP selfie cam in the notch

For selfies, it uses a single 5MP snapper with an f/2.0 aperture size. Most of the camera modes are similar to the back camera except for the Pro mode.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight vs beauty selfie
Daylight vs beauty selfie

By default, the itel VISION 3 will take beautified images using its AI face beauty tech.

They are reasonably sharp but made our skin whiter and softer than usual.

If you don't like it, you can manually turn that off to achieve more natural-looking selfies. Your shots will be more detailed that way especially in daylight as well.
Indoor selfie bokeh
Indoor selfie bokeh

For indoor selfies with Portrait mode, the out is quite good with nice edge detection as long as the lighting in your area is sufficient.
Low light selfie

In low light, it will struggle even if you use the screen flash.

For taking videos, it has up to 1080p for both the back and front cameras. It has an option to shoot Short 10 seconds videos and Time-Lapse videos. 

Similar to most budget smartphones we tested in the past, it has no stabilization, so expect shots to be shaky.

The shots from its rear camera has could misfocus occasionally as well.

But, in a well-lit lighting condition, it could still take usable clips.

Performance

AnTuTu, Geekbench
AnTuTu, Geekbench

Powering this device is the 
28nm 1.6GHz UNISOC S9863A octa-core processor based on the Cortex-A55 cores paired with the PowerVR GE8322.
PCMark Work 3.0 and 3DMark
PCMark Work 3.0 and 3DMark

As mentioned earlier, the unit that we are testing is the 2GB RAM and 32GB variant with Android 11 (Go edition) OS. So, we will be focusing on it as the performance of this is likely different from the 3GB RAM with 64GB storage with the full Android 11 OS.
CPDT
CPDT

itel VISION 3 benchmark scores:

1. AnTuTu - 98,688
2. Geekbench - 131 (Single-Core), 478 (Multi-core)
3. PCMark Work 3.0 performance - 4,244
4. Sling Shot Extreme - 461
5. AI Benchmark - 11.4K
6. CPDT - 59.87 MB/s (Sequential write speed), 151.73 MB/s (Sequential read speed)

For a budget device, itel VISION 3 performed reasonably well with minimal lag when navigating the OS and switching from one app to another even if it only has 2GB RAM.

This is likely due to the Android 11 (Go edition) and the company's optimization to ensure that it has recent performance even if it has some of the most basic specs.

Opening apps will have a bit of delay, but again that's understandable for a budget smartphone.

Generally, we never had issues running light applications like Facebook Lite, Instagram, YouTube, and even streaming apps like iQIYI and Netflix.

The storage is a bit small at 32GB, so we suggest that you buy a microSD card to store more files like photos and videos.
Playable settings at Call of Duty: Mobile
Playable settings at Call of Duty: Mobile

For gaming, it was able to run Call of Duty: Mobile smoothly under the lowest settings possible. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is also playable.

Since it is still based on the 28nm manufacturing process, we expected it to struggle a little when it comes to managing heat. But thankfully, that is not the case and it only gets warm while playing games with 4G LTE turned on.

For connectivity, it has WiFi 802.11ac, 4G LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, and dual SIM slots. All of them work quite well. 4G LTE is up to Category 7, so it is faster than some older types of 4G.

We also discovered that it even has VoLTE support which allows users to make clearer phone calls via LTE. This also means that it is compatible with the country's 3rd official telco player DITO aside from Globe and Smart.

For security, it has a fingerprint scanner at the back and a face unlock tech aside from the usual Pin and Pattern codes. The fingerprint reader at the back worked 5 out of 5 tries even with just a light touch.

Face unlock works even in the dark as itel added a "Screen light function". However, there is no lift to wake feature and you will need to press the power key before it works first.

By the way, this also has an Anti-Theft Alarm which will activate an alarm when someone unplugs the charger without unlocking the phone.
PC Mark Work 3.0 battery life test result
PC Mark Work 3.0 battery life test result

The other highlight of the device is its large 5,000mAh battery capacity. Using the PC Mark Work 3.0 battery life test, it managed to register 14 hours and 34 minutes score.

We also used it from 8 AM to 10 PM and we are left with 30 percent in the tank. itel also claimed that it can last for almost 6 hours of straight gaming and they are correct as long as the brightness level is not too strong and you will not use the speaker of the phone.

Legit long battery life for a budget device!

This also allowed us to watch K-dramas on the go via iQIYI for hours, play games occasionally without worrying that it'll eat a chunk of its battery capacity, and use the phone for a longer number of hours versus other phones with smaller battery capacities.

The battery performance of this device is quite strong even if it is using an older and power hungrier 28nm chip.

Pretty fast charging for an entry-level device!

The main highlight of this handset for the price is it supports up to 18W fast charging—a rare feature on budget smartphones. In our test, it can charge the device from 0 to 45 percent in an hour and 0 to 100 percent in 2 hours and 20 minutes.

This is still far from the "fast" that we are used to. But again, for the price, this is faster than all brand new sub-PHP 4K smartphones we know.
The UI
The UI

For software, we are pleased that itel kept it simple. It runs with Android 11 (Go edition) with itel OS 7.2 skin. It has a few bloatware, but most of them are removable. We also like that except for the notifications, we are not seeing ads popping randomly here unlike other budget phones.

It also supports gesture navigation aside from the usual Android touch button.

There is also a pre-installed AI Gallery app with tools that can help you easily select Dark, Blur, Similar, and WhatsApp images to delete, resize images, turn them into a collage, hide them, and even share images via XShare software.

We also like that there is a customizable Smart Panel when you hold your swipe from left or right to easily access your favorite apps and functions as well as the Social Turbo with support for beauty mode for WhatsApp video calling and more.

It also has the so-called "Darwin Engine" designed to improve the screen performance, improve battery life, and offer a smoother gaming experience by hiding notifications, and parental controls.

Pros - Almost smudge magnet free design, decent large display, strong battery life, fast enough charging, decent cameras in daylight, Android 11 (Go edition)
Cons - The fingerprint scanner might be hard to reach for some, its use of a micro USB port could be an issue for picky users

itel VISION 3 Specs

Display: 6.6-inch 2.5D curved LCD (IPS) screen, HD+ 1612 x 720 resolution at 267 ppi
CPU: 28nm 1.6GHz UNISOC S9863A octa-core processor
GPU: PowerVR GE8322
RAM: 2GB/3GB
ROM: 32GB/64GB expandable storage via microSD card slot
Back Camera: 8MP f/2.0 + VGA + LED flash
Selfie Camera: 5MP f/2.0
Battery: 5,000mAh Li-Po w/ 18W fast charging
OS: Android 11 (Go edition) w/ itel OS 7.2 (2GB/32GB), Android 11 w/ itel OS 7.2 (3GB/64GB)
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11ac, 4G LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, proximity, sound
Others: Rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, micro USB, Colors: Blue, Black, Green
Weight: 192 g
Price: PHP 3,999 (2GB/32GB), PHP 4,699 (3GB/64GB)

Verdict

At PHP 3,999, the 2GB RAM/32GB storage Android 11 (Go edition) version of the itel VISION 3 is quite competitive for the price.

For a budget phone, it has a sturdy-looking build, a nice big display, an alright performance, good daylight cameras, and a strong battery life with rare fast-charging support.

Some of the phased-out phones released last year that you can no longer buy still have stronger specs, but it is as good or better in terms of specs than several recently released phones in the sub-PHP 4K range. As most know, there is still a global chip shortage, a reason why nearly all brands are having a hard time delivering devices with upgraded components.

Anyway, this should be a good first smartphone for those who are transitioning from a brick phone to a smartphone but do not want to spend a lot of cash. It could also be a reliable phone for those who are looking for a secondary device.

Build/Design - 4
Multimedia Experience - 3.75
Cameras: 3.75
Performance - 3.85
Average - 3.83/5
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