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Cherry Mobile Cosmos 3 Review: Affordable Power

Cherry Mobile’s first outing with MediaTek’s Helio X20 deca-core processor didn’t go very well. The M1 had a variety of problems that kept us from enjoying the full power of MediaTek’s deca-core darling. It didn’t help that the M1 was visually underwhelming, a plastic-bodied phone at a time of affordable metal-bodied phones.

Fast forward to this year, and the Cosmos 3. The Cosmos 3 is the second Helio X20 powered phone from the brand, and from the looks of things they’ve managed to address many of the problems that were present in their fist attempt. The result? A phone that’s fast, powerful and stylish that’s priced well below the SRPs of more expensive brands.

Cherry Mobile Cosmos 3

  • MediaTek Helio X20 deca-core processor
  • Mali-T880MP4 graphics processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 5.7-inch FHD IPS display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 32GB internal storage, expandable up to 128GB via microSD
  • 13-megapixel rear camera, BSI AF, LED flash
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 4G LTE, 700MHz ready
  • WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, A-GPS
  • USB Type-C
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 3500mAh battery

A stylish metal phablet

Possessing a screen that’s 5.7-inches big, the Cosmos 3 definitely falls under the classification of phablet. And if its looks are any indication, it’s the nicest phablet in the local brand’s stable right now. The sides and back of the phone are made out of metal, and is colored gold. The top and bottom of the device is made out of plastic, which is typical for phones that are in the same price range of the Cosmos 3. That’s where the antennas are, and for cost reasons those panels are usually made out plastic.

The rear of the phone holds the 13-megapixel rear camera which is flanked by the dual tone LED flash. Right underneath that lies the fingerprint scanner.

The sides of the phone have chamfers, though the frame transitions to plastic at the top and bottom. The power and volume rocker is located on the right side, while the microSD/SIM slot is located on the left. Surprisingly enough, the Cosmos 3 uses micro SIMs rather than the usual nano SIM that we expect from phones in its price range. The top holds the 3.5mm jack, while the bottom holds the USB Type-C connector and speaker grilles.

The 5.7-inch display is full HD and has 2.5D glass layered on top of it, though the curve doesn’t really show up all that well, unfortunately. At the top of the display is the 8-megapixel front camera as well as a front-facing LED flash.

Display quality is good, though we found that sunlight legibility challenging as the panel simply isn’t bright enough under the noonday sun, which can be a problem. Color reproduction is good as well, and the viewing angles are wide and plentiful.

The overall size of the phone is close to the size of the 5.9-inch Huawei Mate 9, which isn’t too bad. One handed use is difficult but not impossible though there’s no one-handed mode available, unlike other big-screened phones that we’ve tested before. Despite its price the phone feels solid and weighty, though we’d probably invest in a case and a screen protector to keep the phone protected at all times.

Helio X20 is fast and unencumbered

MediaTek’s Helio X20 is one of the fastest chipsets that the Taiwanese chipmaker produces, and is aimed at customers that want the maximum bang for their buck. If you need a refresher, the Helio X20 chipset is built off of a 20nm process, and uses three core clusters: two four-core Cortex A53 clusters running at 1.4GHz and 1.85GHz and a dual-core Cortex A72 cluster running at 2.3GHz. These three core clusters are patterned off of the gears of a car – the first two quad-cores are supposed to run light and medium loads, while the high-performance dual cores are designed to run heavier loads. The deca-core processor is paired with 3GB of RAM, and a Mali-T880MP4 graphics processor.

Does the X20 processor make the phone feel fast? Yes – compared to MediaTek’s other offerings, the X20 makes any phone feel quick and snappy. Apps and games open relatively quick, and we were getting excellent performance with NBA 2K17 on high settings (with the crowd off). Like Cherry Mobile’s other phones, the Cosmos 3 runs a relatively stock version of Android out of the box, with a few other software (AKA bloatware) thrown in.

One thing that we were really annoyed with was the fact that the screen will display an ad if you unlock it after being idle for a while. That’s quite a problem obviously, since the last thing we’d want to see on a phone that’s just a peso shy from the 10K mark are advertisements whenever we unlock it. Cherry Mobile, please fix this.

Speaker quality is okay, though sound tends to become more distorted at higher volumes. Calls made to and from the phone are clear and crisp. LTE and GPS had no problems. The fingerprint scanner is quick and relatively easy to use.

Camera is okay, but not the best

The Cosmos 3 has a 13-megapixel rear camera that’s paired with a dual-tone LED flash. Image quality is okay but not stellar, as even with bright shots it’s obvious that there’s a lot of software processing to get final shot. Low-light photos aren’t the best, and there’s a lot of noise in them so try to take photos in bright environs if you do decide to get the phone. The short version is that the camera is acceptable for regular use and social media. Anything else is out of the question.

Battery life is good, but could be better

The biggest issue that we had with similarly-specc’d Cherry Mobile M1 was battery life. It had terrible battery life, and was barely able to last us a day on a single charge. Does the Cosmos 3 suffer from the same problem?

The short answer is no, it does not. That 3,500mAh battery is able to get us through an 8-hour workday plus a 2-hour commute with barely 10% left in the tank, but that’s to be expected from a phone that has a that much battery. We were honestly expecting more from the phone with moderate use – clearly the X20 is a battery hog, but at least you can theoretically get through a day’s use without needing to top up.

One thing we did notice was that it charged fairly slowly. We typically use Tronsmart’s 5-port charger to charge our review units, which charges phones slighty faster because of its higher amperage and VoltIQ tech. Not the Cosmos 3 though – it charged fairly slower than most of the other phones we test (including Cherry Mobile’s other phones) even with USB Type-C, which is a little unusual.

Verdict: A fast phone for less

It’s fair to say that Cherry Mobile’s second Helio X20 phone is a definite improvement over the firm’s first foray with the chipset. At slighty under five digits (10K), the Cosmos 3 is a solid phone on its own right, but it does come with it’s fair share of niggles. It’s hard to beat the value proposition that it presents – a big-screen phone that has a powerful processor that’s priced at just Php 9,999 is hard to argue with.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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