Tech reviews

This Rs 6,799 phone looks like it was designed in California | Technology News

When it comes to smartphone design, Apple’s iPhones have become the golden standard that many other brands attempt to emulate. Some take subtle cues, adopting a feature here or design element there to enhance their own devices. Others opt for a more obvious “borrowing” of style that toes the line of a full-on steal. But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Today we’re reviewing the all-new itel A70 so that you can decide where it falls on the imitation spectrum and whether it’s worth the money.

Right off the bat, you realise the itel A70 is trying so hard to replicate the latest iPhones – specifically the iPhone 15 Pro Max – that you want to let it have its moment. There’s a triple camera setup on the back – or at least it’s made to look that way. The actual lens count is two, with the main 13MP sensor and a 0.08MP auxiliary lens. The “third camera” is just a flash to complete the illusion.

itel a70 review Dual camera setup at the back. (Image: Zohaib Ahmed/The Indian Express)

Things get even more deceiving when you slap on the included black case. The phone’s flashy back gets hidden for a more mature, iPhone-esque look – it even fooled one of my gullible buds into thinking I bought a brand-new iPhone fresh off the assembly line. Adding to the iPhone vibes is the MagSafe-style charging ring on the case, even though wireless charging is obviously not supported given the budget price point.

itel a70 review This is about as iOS-like I could get the software to look. (Image: Zohaib Ahmed/The Indian Express)

But flip the phone over and the similarities with the high-end iPhones end immediately like waking up from a good dream. The display is flanked by thick bezels all around, particularly on the bottom, though they aren’t bad considering the price tag. And up top there’s a waterdrop notch instead of the fancy Dynamic Island (though itel has a sneaky trick up its sleeve for this lacking – more on this later).

itel a70 review The notification LED is one of my favourite features of this handset. (Image: Zohaib Ahmed/The Indian Express)

Besides the iPhone copycat factor, the itel A70 is a good-looking and feeling phone with a very sturdy in-hand feel that belies its plastic build. The back is a dazzling light show of thousands of glittery lines that look like shooting stars. Weirdly though, itel seems particularly obsessed with the word “awesome” for some reason and has printed it on the back and 7 times on the case as if trying to hypnotise you.

Festive offer

iOS Go Edition

Hardware similarities aside, the itel A70 also packs some software tricks lifted right from iOS. The phone may have a simple teardrop notch but itel has still managed to make it behave Dynamic Island-style. A slick animation expands the notch into the display to show handy details like battery percentage when charging, face unlock info, call info, and more. You can tweak these behaviours from Settings > Special Function > Dynamic Bar or turn them off entirely if you don’t dig them. ‘Dynamic Bar’ may seem gimmicky at first, but the utility and silky smooth animation growing the hardware into the software will eventually win you over.

itel a70 review The ‘Dynamic Bar’ as itel likes to call it. (Image: Zohaib Ahmed/The Indian Express)

You’d expect a phone that looks so shockingly iPhone-like on the outside to feature an iOS copycat skin on the inside as well, but that’s not really the case. Besides the fact that the skin has a split Control Center and notifications panel and some of the system widgets look suspiciously iOS-inspired, there wasn’t much in the way of resemblance.

I wasn’t thrilled with what I was given and was determined to transform the phone into an iPhone clone. In my quest to do so, I came across the ‘Aestheticism’ theme on the phone’s built-in theme store. None of the themes listed gave any hint of being iOS-inspired but Aestheticism clearly took a lot of cues from it – and got surprisingly close. So you know I just had to switch to it.

itel a70 review software A heavily customised Android 13 Go Edition. (Express image)

With the icons out of the way, there was still one glaring hole that needed to be filled to complete that iPhone look. I had totally forgotten about the wallpaper – how could I be so dense? A few taps later and I got about as close as I could to an iPhone on an Android handset without using any sketchy hacks – and I was quite proud of myself for pulling off this little project.

Other stuff

What about the other aspects of this phone? Well, the 6.6-inch 720p display is quite crisp and gets plenty bright. For photography, the itel A70 has a dual camera setup at the back with 13MP and 0.08MP sensors and an 8MP front snapper. These cameras are what you expect for the price with decent output during bright daylight but exhibit considerable noise and grain when shooting in low-light conditions.

itel a70 review (Image: Zohaib Ahmed/The Indian Express)
itel a70 review sample (Image: Zohaib Ahmed/The Indian Express)
itel a70 review (Image: Zohaib Ahmed/The Indian Express)

Meanwhile, the front camera turned out a little better than expected and can capture some decent Instagram-worthy selfies, although I’d advise turning the beautification off to use the camera to its full potential.

itel a70 review (Image: Zohaib Ahmed/The Indian Express)

An entry-level Unisoc T603 octa-core chip powers the A70. It handles basic tasks like web browsing, social media, and YouTube smoothly. But if you try anything more demanding like gaming, especially complex 3D games, you’ll quickly realise the processor simply isn’t built for such intensive applications. The 5,000mAh battery meanwhile easily lasts for a day and a half of moderate use before needing a recharge to keep the faux iPhone illusion alive.


Considering the Rs 6,799 price tag, any complaints that you can possibly have with this device are immediately nullified – not that I had any in the first place. Sure, some might shake their heads at the blatant iPhone copycatting, but I appreciate itel’s playful take in a budget phone segment riddled with cut corners.

itel a70 review The itel A70 weighs 184 grams and measures 8.6mm in width. (Image: Zohaib Ahmed/The Indian Express)

If you are looking for a cheap, quirky handset that attempts to head in a different direction, the itel A70 won’t disappoint your thriftiness. However, if you feel itel went a bit overboard with the quirks, there are plenty of options you can pick up for around the same price like the Samsung Galaxy M04, Redmi A2, Poco C55, and Galaxy F04. Just don’t expect a discount iPhone experience from them.

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Zohaib is a tech enthusiast and a journalist who covers the latest trends and innovations at The Indian Express’s Tech Desk. A graduate in Computer Applications, he firmly believes that technology exists to serve us and not the other way around. He is fascinated by artificial intelligence and all kinds of gizmos, and enjoys writing about how they impact our lives and society. After a day’s work, he winds down by putting on the latest sci-fi flick. • Experience: 3 years • Education: Bachelor in Computer Applications • Previous experience: Android Police, Gizmochina • Social: Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn … Read More

First uploaded on: 15-01-2024 at 12:00 IST


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