After spending two weeks using the phone, Mister Mobility shares his experience and verdict in his itel S16 Pro review. Does it make the cut as the best phone for 40000 naira? Grab a drink and let’s find out.

itel S16 Pro is one of the three variants in the itel S16 series of smartphones. As you already may know, itel Mobile makes smartphones for the entry-level market only. Last year, there were two S15 variants.

This year, there are three in the S16 lineup, and the Pro model is the middle variant. It is above the vanilla itel S16 and below the itel S16 Pro 4G.

What does it offer, and where does it fit in your budget and needs? This itel S16 Pro review will help you make a buying decision.

itel s16 pro review homes screen by mobility arena

itel Mobile introduced fingerprint scanner and other more premium features to entry-level Android phones and now, it is a common thing to see a cheap Android phone with those features. The S16 Pro is no exception. It has a fingerprint scanner, Face ID, and a punch hole display with thin bezels.

itel S16 Pro Review: Quick Specs

itel s16 pro review system specifications mobility arena

  • Screen: 6.6-inch, 720 x 1560 pixels, 19:9 aspect ratio, IPS display with a punch hole;
  • Rear Camera: 8MP + VGA + VGA triple camera; dual LED flash; video recording;
  • Front Camera: 8MP; 1080p@30fps video recording;
  • Chipset: Quad-core Unisoc SC7731E;
  • Memory: 2GB RAM. 32GB storage. Dedicated microSD slot for up to 256GB expansion;
  • Operating System: Android 10;
  • Battery: 4,000mAh Lithium-Ion;
  • Connectivity: Dual SIM (3G), Bluetooth 4.2, GPS/GLONASS, Wi-Fi b/g/n, FM radio, microUSB 2.0;
  • Colours: Gradient Green. Dazzle Black.

itel S16 Pro Review: Quick Pros And Cons

Before we dive into the review proper, here is a listing of the major pros and cons of this device.

  • lovely design and good gradient paint job;
  • 8MP selfie camera;
  • solid battery life.

itel S16 Pro Review: In the box

What we find in the box is standard fare:

  • the phone itself,
  • transparent silicone case,
  • USB cable,
  • charging adapter,
  • Solopod Bluetooth wireless headset.
Solopod T1S wireless headphone
Solopod T1S wireless headphone

itel S16 Pro Review: Display And Multimedia

The world wants bigger screens and itel has listened. The display of the S16 Pro is a basic IPS LCD job with 720p resolution, but the size has gone up to 6.6 inches from the S15 Pro’s 6.1 inches. That is a good thing. It is also quite bright.

Once upon a time, punch hole displays were only found in high-end smartphones. itel Mobile has done what it does best and translated it to the low end, and here it is on the S16 Pro. It gives the phone a feeling of being worth more than it costs.

Audio playback is standard fare for a budget Android phone – loud, clear voice but lacking in bass. There is a built-in music player and it offers pretty much all you need to manage your tracks and artistes.

Video playback is good too. I didn’t encounter any problems playing video on the S16 Pro.

Pairing the phone with the included Solopod T1S single earbud was easy, and audio quality through it is good. It is much better than the audio of the phone’s loudspeaker.

itel S16 Pro Review: Hardware And Design

itel s16 pro review bottom ports by mobilityarena

The itel S16 Pro’s body is made of plastic, but it is a beautiful plastic job. We got the Gradient Green colour.

Our hands-on video gives you a good look at the design:

itel S16 Pro Review: Software

itel S16 Pro runs stock Android 10. itel slapped on a custom launcher and pre-installed a handful of apps. I counted at least 15 of them. These apps are besides Google’s own pre-installed apps.

To make matters worse, almost all of them were popping random notifcations and ads. I found this vwery annoying. I am, not sure there isn’t anyone who wouldn’t be irritated too by them.

I found that I could get rid of those notifications and ads by disabling notifications for each of those apps. But even better, I found that i could uninstall 7 of them, which I promptly did. I had no use for them. I understand that there are others who might find them useful and opt to keep them on the phone. That’s fine as well.

I was expecting to see the Go Edition of Android 10 inside the S16 Pro, considering that it has 2GB RAM. The About section of the phone simply says “Android 10”, and all the pre-installed Google apps are not the lighter Go versions.

I wonder what informed itel’s decision to not use Android 10 (Go Edition) here, as that would have improved performance. Or, at least, it should.

itel S16 Pro Review: Network And Telephony

Telephony is good, though audio from the ear piece is a little boxy.

One thing about the itel S16 Pro that feels like a downgrade compared to its predecessor is the lack of 4G LTE. You read that right; the S16 pro is a 3G smartphone. I have had to exhale a number of times over this.

If you want 4G LTE, you have to go for the itel S16 Pro 4G model.

itel S16 Pro Review: Photography

itel s16 pro triple camera review by mobilityarena

On paper, the selfie camera on the S16 Pro is a downgrade from the 16-megapixel snapper on the S15 Pro. Here, what we have is an 8-megapixel shooter. We do know that photo quality is not dependent on megapixel count alone, so that does not necessarily mean that this camera is worse than its predecessor’s.

itel S16 Pro Selfie camera Sample:

itel s16 pro selfie camera sample by mobility arena
itel S16 Pro selfie camera: indoor, natural lighting

itel S16 Pro Main Camera Samples:

itel s16 pro main camera sample by mobility arena review
itel s16 Pro main camera sample; indoor natural lighting, no flash; by mobility arena
itel s16 pro main camera photo sample books by mobilityarena review
itel s16 Pro main camera close-up photo sample by mobilityarena
itel s16 pro review camera sample wall portrait
itel S16 Pro main camera: photo sample; wall portrait, natural lighting, no flash

As is the norm with most phones, the selfie camera produces lower quality photos than the main camera, but the photos are usable. The main camera captures good shots most of the time, and a few passable ones. None of these is out of place in an entry level Android phone.

itel S16 Pro Review: Multitasking And Performance

This is an entry-level Android smartphone. What you get is entry-level performance, and that is okay. The Unisoc processor keeps the phone running as good as any Mediatek or Snapdragon does at this price point. You will be happy to hear that the S16 Pro has 2GB of RAM installed, which means faster and smoother app switching than you get from phones with 1GB RAM.

The non-Pro model has only 1GB RAM, and you will feel the difference in use.

We experienced an issue while using the S16 Pro: when we try to watch a video on Twitter, it makes a noise, then the phone hangs/freezes for a few moments (sometimes as long as 3 minutes), before switching off. We experienced this only with Twitter videos.

It isn’t clear what is behind this phenomenon with Twitter videos, but it is rather annoying.

itel S16 Pro Review: Battery life

The 4000 mAh battery is an improvement over its predecessor’s 3000mAh battery capacity. A bigger display definitely requires more juice to stay running for acceptable times. performs well and delivers more than a full day’s performance on a full charge. Our daily usage pattern: one or two voice calls, mobile data active, one email syncing, and a few Whatsapp messages.

If you don’t push it, you will easily get a day and half of use. If you are more of a heavy user, you will need to top it up at least once during the day.

Charging it is painfully slow; all we have here is standard 5W charging and it takes around 3 hours to fill up the battery from about 5%.

itel S16 Pro Review: Final Words

itel s16 pro unboxing

The itel S16 Pro is a decent entry-level phone. The inclusion of a Solopod Bluetooth speaker in place of standard wired headphones is a lovely touch.

Performance is good for the class it occupies and the cameras pull off decent shots as well. Battery life is solid, though the charging time is a pain. But it can’t be helped; fast charging is yet to trickle down to basic phones like this one.

itel S16 Pro is available in the market for ₦42,000. The price is steep, considering the specs, but smartphone prices have all taken a hike in the last one year and the price is within the range of competing devices with similar specs.


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By Mister Mobility

Nigeria's foremost tech blogger and smartphone reviewer. Call me Daddy.

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