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Budget Phone Face-off: Cherry Mobile Aqua S9 Max vs POCO M3

While it seemed that POCO went in for the home run with the incredibly-priced M3, local brand Cherry Mobile is up for a good fight with the Aqua S9 Max. Cherry Mobile,’s new hero phone is the brand’s most feature-packed model to date, boasting features like a quad-rear camera setup that is led by a 48-megapixel camera and a Helio G90T processor.

Armed with its Php 6,999 promo price until November 27, the Aqua S9 Max is set to challenge the initial sales of the M3. How does the Aqua S9 Max stack up against the M3? We run through them in this comparo:

Design

Both phones go for an all-plastic build, though the M3 stands out more with its unique camera bump design and leather-like back panel texture. It looks modern as well, as it comes with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. 

If the M3’s design is not your cup of tea, the Aqua S9 Max has a less polarizing design with its centrally-placed cameras and rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. 

Display

Both phones have roughly the same display size at 6.53-inches, and they offer serious value for money as they boast a Full HD+ resolution and a relatively modern teardrop notch. Despite that, the M3 has a slight advantage of offering stereo speakers and Widevine L1 certification for watching Netflix shows in Full HD. 

Cameras

Things go interesting in the camera department, as both the Aqua S9 Max and M3 come with a 48-megapixel main camera that is paired with a pair of 2-megapixel sensors: one for macro shots, and one for depth sensing.

The Aqua S9 Max has an edge on the hardware side, as it has an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera and an IMX582 sensor—while POCO did not disclose what sensor was used for the M3’s main camera, though reports say it is a Samsung GM2. Aside from better camera hardware, the Aqua S9 Max lets shoot shoot 4K video, while the M3 is limited to Full HD video recording. 

The same goes for selfies: the Aqua S9 Max’s 32-megapixel snapper is vastly better than the M3’s 8-megapixel selfie snapper. 

Internals

With both phones equipped with 4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage, they have interesting choices when it comes to the processor. The M3 uses an 11nm-based Snapdragon 662 processor, while the Aqua S9 Max goes for a 12nm-based Helio G90T processor. 

While the Snapdragon 662 offers better battery life with a newer manufacturing process, the Helio G90T is the better processor with its higher-clocked CPU and GPU cores.

 

Battery

While both phones offer 18w wired charging (via USB-C of course), the M3 comes with a big 6000mAh battery. The Aqua S9 Max’s battery is no slouch either, as its 5130mAh cell is slightly bigger than the current industry standard.

Price

Here’s where it gets interesting: the 4GB/128GB variant of the M3 sells for Php 7,990, while the Aqua S9 Max retails for Php 9,999 for the same RAM/Storage variant. However, both brands are going for the offensive by slashing prices for the first few days of official sale.

Cherry Mobile is giving a big Php 3,000 off on the Aqua S9 Max until November 27 via Cherry store, while POCO is giving a Php 1,000 off on the M3 until November 28 at the Xiaomi official global store in Lazada.

Aside from having a more aggressive promo, the Aqua S9 Max has a slight advantage when it comes to delivery times—the M3 will be coming from China, so it might take a while before you actually get your hands on one. 

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3 Comments

  1. My personal opinion is I’m in favor with Xiaomi Poco M3 with its value for money or bang for buck phone. It has more pros compared to the cherry mobile Aqua S9. I’m glad to hear and learn that Cherry Mobile is keeping the fight inspite of losing its glitter of the past. The Lazada sale of. Poco M3 midnight on Nov 27 was a hit like the proverbial selling like hot cakes. Sold out in a matter of 1 hour for 20k phones. Incredible feat by this new phone.

  2. The problem with Cherry Mobile, even with putting out a good phone like (atleast on paper) is software support. Just like Lenovo, which also does not provide software support (unless you are buying a flagship) seldom offer it. That’s why anyway you look at it, people would buy Xiaomi, Redmi or Poco. The support you’ll get in the long run is worth it, also, this S9 Aqua shouldn’t be compared to the Poco M3, a good match would be the Redmi Note 8 Pro which was released last year.

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