Wiko Ufeel Fab review — big screen, big battery

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With smartphones becoming necessities, it is no surprise to see new brands mushrooming to take a bite out of the lucrative pie. Established back in 2011, it hails from France, a place that has never been known for their contributions in fashion than technology. But yeah, Wiko is a French company, and today we will be reviewing the Wiko Ufeel Fab, a 5.5″ phablet. Oh là là!

Unboxing

The Wiko Ufeel Fab came in a very compact package, with very no details aside from a made in France sticker on the front. It is a lot more colorful than your average smartphone packaging though, and is sure to catch your attention in a shop display. A line of highlights is printed onto the side and back, with the color options available printed onto the back.

Lifting the lid of the box reveals the Wiko Ufeel Fab, with a sticker covering the display letting you know the highlight features again. Beside the phone itself is a compartment where you will find the charger, USB cable and earphone, with more included stuff under the smartphone itself.

This is the entire package. It is really comprehensive, and kudos to Wiko for including SIM adapters for those who are on newer SIM form factors. You get a plastic screen protector, soft clear case and the usual documentation. The USB charger is a 5V@1.55A unit. No idea why they didn’t just throw in a 2A one.

Appearance

The Wiko Ufeel Fab features an entirely black front for our aptly named True Black variant. The earpiece, front facing camera and LED flash are placed really close to the top edge, while on the bottom bezel you will find the fingerprint sensor. The 2.5D curved glass helps it look a bit more premium here. There is no oleophobic coating to speak of, but that’s a feature even certain flagships lack, so the omission is pretty acceptable.

The back cover mainly consists of plastic, with a metal plate embedded into the middle section for a better feel in hand. The dark grey metal offers nice contrast against the black plastic at the top and bottom, and the chamfering detail around the inset camera is a nice touch, offering a classy look while also protecting the camera lens. Right beside the camera lens is the secondary microphone hole.

Thankfully, the 3.5mm jack has not been forgotten, and has its place at the top of the device. You can see the chamfering around the camera better here.

Meanwhile the microUSB port is over on the bottom edge, along with the primary microphone. Here you can notice the device is really quite thick, most probably to accommodate the rather substantial 4000 mAh battery.

The right edge is home to the volume rocker and power button. The power button is textured to help you easily distinguish the buttons by touch. It was a really nice touch and I seriously didn’t expect this at this price point.

Specifications

CPU: MediaTek MT6735 (4 x A53 @ 1.3 GHz)
RAM: 3GB
GPU: Mali-T720
Display: 5.5″ HD (720p) IPS
Storage: 32GB + MicroSD up to 64GB
Camera: Main Camera
13MP f/2.2, single LED flash
Front Camera
5MP f/2.2
OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP
LTE Cat 4
SIM: Dual-SIM (micro SIM)
Battery: 4,000 mAh non-removable

Performance

The most popular benchmark in the market, Antutu tests the overall performance of the device, with an emphasis on the GPU performance. The Wiko Ufeel Fab doesn’t do well here, but that’s to be expected from the entry-level Mediatek chipset in it.

The single core Mali-T720 supports OpenGL ES 3.1, but just barely. With these scores, do not expect the highest graphics on the Wiko Ufeel Fab. Do not misunderstand me though. You can game on the Wiko Ufeel Fab, as most games will automatically select a suitable graphics level for your device.

Geekbench tests the CPU performance. Here the MT6735 shows an apparent disadvantage with fewer cores than the other devices and low clock speeds.

PCMark Work 2.0 benchmark tests the performance of the Wiko Ufeel Fab in work-related tasks like opening PDFs, editing photos and videos. The Wiko Ufeel Fab doesn’t do particularly well here either, but it isn’t that far at all from the next device in our chart here.

The Wiko Ufeel Fab has pretty decent specifications that promise some really nice battery life. You get a huge 4000 mAh battery and fewer cores than commonly found in recent smartphones. And yeah, it delivers in this area. Running 543 minutes into PCMark’s battery life test, the Wiko Ufeel Fab is definitely one for endurance.

Moving on to the real world battery life, I use Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram pretty heavily, and my Mi Band 2 is always connected via Bluetooth. I listened to some music on Spotify with my Sudio Vasa Bla connected over Bluetooth too. I would say the nearly 6 hours of on screen time to be pretty good, although it could have been better if a newer chipset based on the 1x nm manufacturing processes was used here.

User Experience

It has been quite some time since I last saw a device with a removable rear cover. With the current trend to opt for metal designs even at the lower price points, removable rear covers have gone the way of the dodo. However, Wiko still sealed the battery in the body, which means no replacing the battery without voiding the warranty. I see no reason to stop end-users from removing the battery, as the Wiko Ufeel Fab is actually quite thick and can definitely fit a removable battery. The Wiko Ufeel Fab features two dedicated microSIM slots, and none of that hybrid SIM/microSD crap that is quite popular among manufacturers.

The Wiko Ufeel Fab offers a pretty comfortable grip with its curved back, and is just heavy enough for you to feel it in your hands, but not too heavy until it tires you. The plastic sides offer good grip, and while the bezels are not the slimmest around, using it with a single hand is still acceptable.

The home button which doubles as a fingerprint sensor is alone here, as there are no capacitive keys flanking it. The fingerprint sensor is pretty fast, and you can wake the device simply by resting your finger on the sensor. It can actually work as both the back and multitasking keys by swiping it sideways and long pressing the home button, which is quite cool to have. With this arrangement, you get the full screen area to use, but now you can’t use Google Assistant. Which is a real pity because Google Assistant is a surprisingly usable voice assistant. If you want to use Google Assistant, you will have to enable the on screen buttons, which looks incredibly silly with the hardware home button there.

Aside from that, the user interface of the Wiko Ufeel Fab is actually pretty good. Wiko didn’t slap on a heavy skin, instead opting for a mostly vanilla look. However the home screen can get pretty inconsistent with them throwing a frame around certain icons, and not around others. The launcher follows the trend started by Chinese smartphone brands of not having an app drawer, but there is an icon that leads to an app drawer despite you being unable to remove the app icons from the home screen. The rest of the user interface is mostly just borrowed directly from Google. There are a few nice additions to enhance the user experience like Smart Gesture and also fingerprint shortcuts, but they aren’t visible enough and can easily be overlooked. That can be taken in a positive light too, as people who prefer the stock experience can live with the device without a care for these add-ons. My general experience with the device was pretty smooth, but apps can take a moment to load. Scrolling through Facebook or heavier pages in Chrome may lead to some stuttering too, but it’s nothing too severe.

Taking a look at the pre-installed software, there are quite a few redundant apps. I spot two music players, two gallery apps, two email apps and even two “one-tap cleaners”, one from 360 Technology and another from Wiko themselves. A word of advice to all smartphone manufacturers, save your time by not developing apps Google already has released, and focus on releasing timely OS updates. Bloatware is minimal, with the 360 Security app being uninstallable.

The rear camera is a standard 13MP one, with a 5MP fixed focus camera in front, each aided by a single LED flash. Yeah, the Wiko Ufeel Fab features a front facing LED flash for your selfies in darker environments. The user interface is simple, with a large shutter key, a video recording key above it. Quick access to toggles are proffered on the other end of the display while a swipe up or down will give you the settings or various modes of the camera. The professional mode is actually pretty usable, with control over the ISO and focus, but drops shutter speed control. Taking a quick look at the settings, I noticed that the Wiko Ufeel Fab is only capable of 720p video recording, a serious drawback in 2017.

Image quality out of the rear camera is decent, but feels a little outdated. The output can turn out grainy in sub-optimal lighting conditions, and even in good lighting you may find your shots a little less detailed than you would expect. There are hints of oversharpening here and there, which mars the overall image quality. However these flaws are only really noticeable if you zoom in. The front facing flash definitely helps illuminate your face, but the 5MP camera doesn’t deliver a lot of detail despite the decent resolution. Flash helps to keep the ISO low here, but the light isn’t spread evenly enough. Keeping it in torch mode helps to get a more evenly lit selfie.

The display is a 5.5″ 720p IPS panel, which is really antiquated in 2017. Brightness is okay but not spectacular, with the display getting slightly washed out under direct sunlight. Colors look okay, but with the low resolution, text look noticeably less sharp than on more recent devices. The problem is exacerbated by the poor icon quality in Wiko’s stock launcher, making the display look worse than it actually is. The trade off is longer battery life, but that isn’t really necessary when we are talking about a quad core CPU powered by a 4000 mAh battery.

The loudspeaker is sufficiently loud, having no issues waking me up every morning. Quality on the other hand is rather poor, without any hint of bass and is just generally uninteresting. Use it for notifications and the random Facebook video, nothing more. The 3.5mm output is nothing great, but is acceptable for most but the most discerning audiophiles out there.

Conclusion

The Wiko Ufeel Fab is an okay device, with a few surprises here and there like the gesture controls and also the multi-functional home button. The lackluster performance and video recording capabilities limited to 720p are definitely cause for concern in 2017, and the low resolution display is really a downer. The general user interface could also do with a bit of polishing for more consistency. I like the almost-stock look very much. The camera and battery life are pretty good though, which are the Wiko Ufeel Fab’s redeeming points. Also, despite the subpar scores in the benchmarks, the user experience is still acceptable. Wiko is asking for RM799, which is pretty steep considering the drawbacks as well as offerings from the competition, which is rather intense at this price point. I hope Wiko has more cards up its sleeve, as the Wiko Ufeel Fab is far from a game changer now.