Meet the Best Smartphone Under 5k?
In a market currently being dominated by low-cost octa-core devices, you would probably dismiss the Cherry Mobile One if you will just base the value of the device on it’s specifications. However after using this phone as our primary device for well over a month we can say without any doubt that this is the best smartphone that you can get for under Php5,000. Google has done a wonderful job with Android One and the best proof is the stellar performance of the Cherry Mobile One smartphone.
Here’s a quick refresher of the specifications before we do the review.
Cherry Mobile One Spec Sheet
- 1.3GHz quad-core processor
- 1GB of RAM
- 4.5-inch TFT capacitive display, Asahi Glass
- 8GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
- 5-megapixel rear camera with BSI
- 2-megapixel front camera
- 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- 1780mAh battery
- SRP: Php3,999
As you can see, it’s not ball-busting or anything. However the level of optimization and efficiency brought about by the Android One program is insane. Read more in our full review below.
Hardware: Looks Amazing and Premium Despite the Price
First up let’s talk about the hardware. Cherry Mobile has done an awesome job with the hardware build and design of the Cherry Mobile One. Up front we have the 4.5-inch scratch resistant Asahi glass display. The bezels aren’t too thick as well (except for the bottom) which helps with the over-all look of the device.
The display quality is also impressive given the low price point. You will only be able to notice the pixels if you really look hard and focus on the screen but otherwise you won’t be able to tell. The color saturation and balance of the device is spot on too. Images, videos, and icons just pop out brilliantly. We did have some problem with it under direct sunlight though even at max brightness (something to improve on with the next model perhaps).
At the back we have the gun-metal colored plastic back plate. This was a fantastic choice on the part of Cherry Mobile because it really gives the phone a premium and classy feel. It also compliments the rectangular shape of the device very well. The Cherry Mobile logo is subtly printed at the center of the back while the Android One logo is proudly located at the bottom (we think though that the logos should have switched places, hehe).
In our hand the Cherry Mobile One was a comfortable and steady fit. The display size was just right to be used with just one hand and we never really had a problem with typing out long text messages (the built-in Google Keyboard was nice). Regardless if we were using it in portrait or in landscape, the build is okay.
In terms of durability, we accidentally dropped the phone a couple of times from different heights during our recent trip to Barcelona for our Mobile World Congress coverage. Surprisingly there were no big dents, scratches, or problems with it so far. We were carrying it without a case or a screen protector.
Considering the low price point of Php3,999, the Cherry Mobile One passes our hardware build and design standards with flying colors. Two thumbs up so far!
Software: Android Lollipop Goodness!
Now we get to the juicy part — the software. The Cherry Mobile One is part of Google’s Android One program which basically means that Cherry Mobile has to conform to hardware standards and use Google’s stock and updated Android Lollipop software. As such the Cherry Mobile One runs Android Lollipop 5.1 and it brings with it all the latest features of this update.
While there are several new visible features, the biggest draw of Lollipop is really the performance upgrade. We barely felt any lag or slow downs with the Cherry Mobile One. This is despite our constant daily abuse with it when it was our primary device for the last 40 days. There were isolated incidents when it bogged down but that was when we were shifting quickly from one app to the other. The smoothness that we got from the Cherry Mobile One was totally unexpected and very much comparable to the quality that you get with smartphones twice or even thrice the price.
Why is this the case? Google apparently worked closely with both Qualcomm and Mediatek to make sure that their software runs optimally on the processors used for Android One phones. Woosah. That’s just awesome, hehe.
In terms of big changes from Android KitKat, the visible ones include the shift to the UI/UX to Material design. The icons, user flow, and typography are all minimally and beautifully designed. It’s so much better compared to the stock icons that you usually get with Android KitKat. One big change that we liked is how they redid the Notifications. It’s so much easier and intuitive. It’s actually kinda a joy to bring swipe down from the top to see it.
To get a better idea of what Android One brings to the table and why we like it so much, watch this short video that we made a few weeks ago when Android One first launched locally.
Cherry Mobile One Will Get Android M
Google confirmed in their press event last month that Android One devices (including the Cherry Mobile One) will get their newest software update, Android M. At least we’re assured that we will get the best and latest Android version with this phone.
Performance Issue with CoC
Now this particular issue had us stumped. For some reason, Clash of Clans kept hanging on us on the Cherry Mobile One. We didn’t have any problem with other games, even the more graphics-demanding ones. However a few minutes into a CoC session the phone would hang. We’re still trying to find out what’s the cause of this but our theory is that CoC doesn’t fully support Android 5.1 Lollipop yet. Hopefully this will get sorted out soon because we know for a fact that there are millions of CoC players in the Philippines.
In terms of Antutu scores, the phone scored a very respectable 19,303. Again, note that this sells for just php3,999.
Battery Life: Slightly Above Average
We got an average of 8 hours usage before we needed a recharge for the Cherry Mobile One. This is with moderate-heavy usage, mostly on social networking, e-mails, calls, texts, and occasional checks on our base in CoC, hehe. Brightness levels were kept at around 40% with data and auto-sync perpetually on.
As we said earlier, the Cherry Mobile One was our primary handset during our coverage of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The dual-sim feature was fantastic because it allowed us to have one local Spain SIM and our PH number in just one phone. Anyway, since it was the phone we had with us often, we turned to it a lot when we would take pics!
Here are some photos that we took while we were on our trip.
Photo quality is really just average but what can you expect from optics in a Php3,999 phone? In harsh lighting conditions, the washout is very evident. In darker environment it does become a little noisy. Over-all though it’s still pretty decent compared to the cameras on board other low-cost devices.
And for the selfie addicts, here’s a sample of a photo taken with the front camera:
Again, not bad right?
Over-all the camera is acceptable. It’s not the best camera at this price point but it’s good enough.
Verdict: Just fix CoC and We’re Good!
So what’s our final verdict?
It’s the best smartphone under Php5,000 because of three major things:
- It’s part of the Android One program. It’s crazy optimized for performance and we can expect regular software updates from Google. That one fact alone sets it apart from all other budget phones in the market.
- It looks good despite the price point. Cherry Mobile did a fantastic job with the hardware build and design.
- It barely lags. Performance is spectacular for the price.
HOWEVER before we can really call this as the best smartphone under Php5,000 they better fix Clash on Clans so that it doesn’t crash, hehehe. If they fix that then we have no problem saying that the Cherry Mobile One is the best bang-for-your-buck smartphone in the market today for under Php5,000.