Cherry Mobile Blaze Review: A Good Deal at Php6,499!
The Cherry Mobile Blaze was introduced to the Philippines last December 24 on the Facebook Page of Cherry Mobile. The phone, as pointed out by some of our readers, is actually a rebranded smartphone from China called the Ming Ren A2 (they have the same design and specs). It doesn’t mean though that the phone is crap. In fact our real world use says otherwise. We’ve had a unit for a week now and we’ve pretty much put it through the paces and we have enough experience with it to give you guys a full review. Before anything else though let’s quickly do a rundown of the specs.
Cherry Mobile Blaze Spec Sheet
- 1GHz Dual-core Mediatek Processor
- 512MB RAM
- 4GB Internal Storage, Expandable up to 32GB via MicroSD
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby
- 4.7-inch FWVGA Capacitive Touch Screen
- 8.0-megapixel rear-facing camera with flash
- VGA front-facing camera
- Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
- 1,500mAh Battery
- Price: Php6,499
As you can see the specifications are very competitive. The pricing is also quite attractive. You get a fairly advanced and meaty device for the price of an entry-level smartphone. Not a bad deal if you ask me! Read on for our full review!
Hardware: Definitely Inspired by the Galaxy S3
As we pointed out in our article “Photo of the Week: Cherry Mobile Blaze and Galaxy S3”, the Blaze has a striking resemblance to the Samsung Galaxy S3. One can only conclude that this was the intent of the supposed original Chinese makers of the phone, Ming Ren. They’ve pretty much captured the basic design elements of the Galaxy S3: the curved sides, rounded corners, plastic build, chrome band, and even the 4.7-inch screen. The only real difference, other than the logo placement and the actual stuff inside the phone, is that the Blaze is thicker and heavier.
If you think about it though the Blaze is like a fourth of the price of the Galaxy S3. To be able to have something that approximates the hardware design of a premium handset at an entry-level price tag is kinda remarkable. Truth be told, you’ll always be amazed with the Blaze if you keep in mind how much you paid for it.
What we found a bit odd though was the placement of the micro USB port. Instead of the usual position at the bottom of the handset, the port is located at the upper left side of the device. Other than this all the other buttons are in their usual places. The Sleep/Wake/Power and headphone jack on top and the volume rocker on the right side. The front-facing camera is just above the display while the 8-megapixel shooter is at the back (backplate is removable for battery, SIM card slots, and micro SD). Below the screen at the front is the physical home button, which again unmistakably resembles the home button of the S3, lol. It’s placed in between two capacitive buttons.
So what do we think about the design over-all? Well if you can get over the idea that this was intentionally made to “copy” design elements of the Galaxy S3 then it’s a pretty good deal, again considering the very affordable Php6,499 price tag.
Display: Big at 4.7-inches but still “entry level” quality
Now this is where it really becomes interesting. Usually when you shell out Php6,000+ for a smartphone, you get a gimped device with a not-so-nice screen. That’s not the case with the Blaze, especially with the display. The Blaze has a generous 4.7-inch screen. The bigger display lets you see more and do more with your smartphone. It’s more enjoyable to play games, watch movies, and browse websites with the 4.7-inch screen. The screen combined with the dual-core processor and the affordable price is the killer combo set that makes the Blaze a compelling buy.
Take note though that the display quality is far from perfect. Animations are not as smooth as they can be and pixel saturation is not that ideal. It’s an obvious step down from the higher end premium devices but it is still a good upgrade for people coming from feature phones or entry level phones from international brands (Galaxy Y, Lenovo A60+, etc).
Android Ice Cream Sandwich and Dual Core Makes a Difference
Over-all user experience on the Cherry Mobile Blaze is definitely one of the best for its class (aka price range). The mere fact that it has a dual-core processor and Android Ice Cream Sandwich already puts it ahead of a lot of entry-level smartphones. It’s not yet at par though with the top devices as there are still occasional lags and delays, especially if you have several apps running in the background or if you have a memory hogging live wall paper.
Antutu Benchmark Test
As per the request of some of our readers we downloaded the Antutu Benchmark Test app and ran it on the Blaze. As you can see in the chart below the Blaze ranks lower than the Galaxy SII but it scored higher than two notable phones as well: the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the LG Optimus X. These numbers basically reflect what we said earlier. If you manage memory usage properly (apps running in background, etc), you shouldn’t have a problem with the Blaze. However if you start multi-tasking heavily then things go south from there.
Games run okay on the Blaze
One of the best things about having a 4.7-inch screen is that you get to enjoy gaming more on your smartphone. We downloaded a couple of games to see the performance and we’re happy to report that for most games available on the Google Play Store, the Blaze delivers. From casual titles like Angry Birds Space, to more graphics intensive ones like Dead Trigger and NBA 2k13, you get a pretty good gaming experience (occasional but forgivable lags).
Cherry Mobile Apps definitely need more improvement
In what looks like an effort to differentiate themselves from local brands, Cherry Mobile put in some custom apps that they made themselves on the Blaze. It’s a good first effort but if they want these apps to make a difference they need to invest more resources into them because quite frankly they’re not that useful. Pre-loaded are the Cherry Fun Club, Cherry Market, and CherryChat. The Cherry Fun Club is a news reader of sorts but the user interface is nothing short of ghastly. Cherry Market, on the other hand, offers free but a very limited number of apps (mostly casual games). CherryChat is their Internet messaging service.
It’s commendable they are doing this but if they want it to be a major selling point then they should come up with better apps.
Dual SIM, Dual Standby
The Dual-SIM, Dual Standby feature on the Blaze works perfectly. There are several options available in the settings that you can tweak like setting a default number when you’re sending out messages. It’s intuitive, easy-to-use, and over-all great to have on the device.
Camera: 8-megapixel doesn’t automatically mean it’s a kick-ass camera
The recent wave of local branded smartphones are bannering 8-megapixel shooters. I was initially surprised when I heard about this but if you think about it the megapixel sensor is just one part of what makes a camera good. There are still a lot of factors to consider like the lens, aperture, etc.
In good lighting the Cherry Mobile Blaze takes considerably good photos. However it’s a totally different story when you’re in low light conditions or when there’s a strong light in the image. In low light it becomes grainy while the exposure kinda goes out of control in photos with intense lighting. The white just bleeds all over the pic.
Here are a few sample shots:
Battery Life: Pwede na, pero bitin.
The Cherry Mobile Blaze has a 1,500mAh battery and in all honesty it’s just not enough. Based on our experience, average-heavy use (a few calls, a lot of texts, 3G on, Facebook/Twitter/Gmail sync, notifications, a few minutes of Dead Trigger) depletes the battery very fast and you’ll have around 6-7 hours before you need to look for an outlet to charge the device. If you’ll use this as your primary phone then you should seriously consider buying a mobile power pack/charger. There are several available in the market today and even Cherry Mobile is offering one for around Php900+ (2,200mAh). –
Verdict: For Php6,499, this is already a good deal.
All things considered, the Cherry Mobile Blaze is an awesome buy for Php6,499. Granted there are issues with the quality of the display and the battery life, these are things you can manage and get by. Remember that this phone is just Php6,499. It’s not a Php30,000 Galaxy S3. The name of the game for this category is value for money and with that the Blaze overly delivers in spades. The Blaze is an awesome upgrade for people looking at getting their first smartphone or those who are upgrading from entry level Android handsets that still run on Gingerbread (aka those who have the Galaxy Y or Galaxy Pocket, lol).
Our only major reservation about this device is the blatant copying of the design of the Galaxy S3. It’s crystal clear that it was the intent of the manufacturer to take advantage of the S3’s popularity so that’s quite a letdown. If this doesn’t bug you though then the Blaze is a sweet deal already. Just make sure you get the mobile charger.