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Cherry Mobile Razor Review: Sharp as a Katana or Dull as a Mcdonald’s Plastic Knife?

Our full review of the Cherry Mobile Razor!
Our full review of the Cherry Mobile Razor!

The Cherry Mobile Razor is arguably one of the most talked about local branded smartphones in the country to date. At Php6,499 it offers specifications and features that you would usually see in smartphones that are priced at least a few thousand pesos more. The moment we heard of the price though we seriously thought that there was a catch to the price. Were there any compromises made to achieve the breakthrough price tag? You’ll find out in this full review!

Again, before anything let’s quickly go over the specifications.

Cherry Mobile Razor Spec Sheet

  • 1.2GHz quad-core processor
  • PowerVR SGX544 GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage, expandable via microSD Card
  • 4.5-inch qHD IPS display (540 x 960, 245ppi)
  • 8.0-megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus
  • 2.0-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Bluetooth, WiFi, WiFi Hotspot, GPS/aGPS, 3G, HSPA+
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • 1750 mAh non-removeable battery
  • SRP: Php6,499

Unbelievable for the price right? Let’s move on to the review!

>>> SEE ALSO: Cherry Mobile Razor Unboxing and Initial Hands-on

Beautifully Designed

Very thin coming in at 7.7mm
Very thin coming in at 7.7mm

The Cherry Mobile Razor is one of the most beautifully crafted smartphones below Php10,000. It measures just 7.7mm thick and the part of the back is made from solid metal. This gives it some heft but not too much. Just enough to reassure you of the quality of the build and the materials.

The 4.5-inch display and the thin form factor makes it easy to use with just one-hand. It’s kinda like a slightly bigger iPhone 5. That said, it’s more of a smartphone meant for communication and social networking than a phablet for media consumption and playing games. Of course you can still use it for watching videos and gaming but it truly shines as a compact, thin, and mobile communications device.

It has the best back eveeer! Metal FTW.
It has the best back eveeer! Metal FTW.

All the ports and buttons are neatly situated along the sides of the device. The back cover is NOT removable so you’ll have to open the trays to insert the SIM and micro SD cards. The 8-megapixel camera can be found at the back together with the external speakers. Up front is the 2.0-megapixel camera. There are no physical buttons, just capacitive ones making it an all glass panel.

All the ports and controls are neatly located on the sides
All the ports and controls are neatly located on the sides

When it comes to the form factor and the over-all aesthetics of the Razor, we have no complaints. It truly is a stunningly gorgeous smartphone with a very affordable price tag.

However… We Did Encounter Some Hardware Issues

Before we did the review we asked feedback from existing owners on the Cherry Mobile Razor Facebook Group about the device. There were two hardware related complaints: responsiveness of the screen and the substandard front-facing camera. We’ll get to the camera in a while but we can definitely confirm 100% the responsiveness issue. I’m not entirely sure if it’s because of the glass that they used or if it’s a software thing but you might have to press a little harder than usual. It’s still very useable mind you but you’ll have to get used to pressing down a little bit harder otherwise you might get frustrated, hehe.

Performance is good, can potentially be fantastic

Antutu Benchmark Scores are in!
Antutu Benchmark Scores are in!

When it comes to software performance the Razor delivers the usual quad-core experience. Transitions and animations all ran smoothly. We encountered some problems with the app tray loading up but we solved that by just loading up Nova Launcher Prime, our favorite third party launcher for Android. In case you’re wondering, we’re using that together with the iOS7 theme pack. That’s the reason why the screen of our Razor looks like an iPhone, hehe.

We’ve read reports that rooting and optimizing the phone even further can make the phone even faster and more fluid. We’re inclined to believe that since a simple launcher change already helped tons and there is a big noticeable improvement versus the stock Cherry Mobile custom Android ROM. If you’re not techie or daring enough to root then the least you can do is get a launcher and play around with the different downloadable theme packs. That’s one of the most exciting things about Android — customization. The good thing here is that you are actually rewarded with better performance the more you optimize the Razor.

Most apps useable
Most apps useable

When it comes to apps, most of the usual stuff that people download from the Google Play Store will run without any major issues on the Cherry Mobile Razor. We tried a variety of them including live wall papers, camera+, Wunderlist, Evernote, 3D weather widgets, MMDA, Sulit, and a bunch of games.

Gaming on the Razor

Time to kill zombies!
Time to kill zombies!

Speaking of gaming, we did encounter a slightly longer loading time with some apps (especially for Zombie Wood, one of our testing games). There was also some stuttering with Minion Rush but after a few seconds it went away. That’s the worst thing about it already. We haven’t encountered crashes yet or restarts so that’s a good sign.

Note though that some games will not work on the Cherry Mobile Razor. Gameloft’s bestselling Asphalt Heat 8 won’t install which is kinda sad because that’s one of the best racing games in the Google Play Store, hehe.

Media Playback

Watching Snake Eyes in GI Joe while Snake Eyes watches me watch his movie. Lol.
Watching Snake Eyes in GI Joe while Snake Eyes watches me watch his movie. Lol.

Using the Razor as a portable media player is an okay experience but of course when it comes to videos, phablets rule. The 4.5-inch might be a little too small especially if you’re used to bigger displays. You can play pretty much anything on the Razor though just make sure you get MX Player Pro (free app but there’s a paid version that does away with the advertising). It’s our favorite video player app on the Google Play Store and we highly recommend it.

Primary Camera is Decent, Secondary is Weird

Now we get to the camera. The primary shooter is decent but definitely several steps lower than your BSI-equipped shooters. In natural lighting we were able to take good shots but it struggled with indoor and harsh light environments. Good macro shots is also only possible if you have very good light. Otherwise it becomes too grainy.

Here are sample shots using the primary (rear-facing) camera:

IMG_20130917_001927

IMG_20130917_122938

IMG_20130917_123109

IMG_20130917_123132

IMG_20130917_123153

What completely baffled us though is the front-facing camera of the Razor. If you’re the type that uses the front-facing camera to take selfies, you won’t be able to take any good ones with the 2MP snapper on this device. Images just look dark and to noisy even if you have decent light.

Here’s a shot using the secondary (front-facing) camera:

Not so good quality.
Not so good quality.

Snake Eyes took a selfie and he kinda got pissed after seeing it, hehe.

Battery Life is Average

The Cherry Mobile Razor runs on a 1,750mAh battery. The big question that a lot of people ask if that’s enough to power it for a decent amount of time considering it has a quad-core processor and a 4.5-inch qHD display. Here’s our realistic answer: if you’re going to use it like a PSP then of course it will run out of battery in 3-4 hours. If you’re going to use it more like a smartphone — making calls, sending messages via 3G and SMS, checking out social networking sites, and taking photos here and there, then it should last you at the very least 5-6 hours with heavy usage. With moderate usage you can extend this to 8.

If you’re a moderate-heavy user and you’re going to use this as your daily driver then we recommend you invest in a power bank as well. You’ll never be sorry if you always have one in your bag.

Verdict: Hmmm

Still two thumbs up!
Still two thumbs up!

If it weren’t for the responsiveness issue of the display we would probably flat out say that this is the best smartphone you can buy in terms of value for money. However that can be potentially a big issue for people so we can’t make that reco based on our review. That said, the Cherry Mobile Razor still offers great value for money. It looks fantastic, for the most part it will run smoothly, and it can play almost all the apps on the Google Play Store. All that for just Php6,499.

Advice to Cherry Mobile: Optimize the responsiveness of the display and this will be a smash hit best selling smartphone.

So to answer the question we posed in the title “Is it as sharp as a katana or dull as a Mcdonald’s Butter Knife”? It’s a katana but not yet that sharp. One more round of refining and upgrading with the blacksmith and this can be masterpiece sword. (Parang Ragnarok lang a… clang clang SUCCESS!)

Carlo Ople

Carlo is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Unbox.ph. During daytime he’s the Managing Director and Partner of a Digital Marketing Agency in the Philippines and by nighttime he’s living out his passion as a gadget enthusiast and story teller through Unbox.

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13 Comments

  1. It’s not just the responsiveness issue. The part where the selfies you take with the front cam are blurry as heck is a dealbreaker, too.

    CM Razor has awesome specs for the money but in practical use it seems to fall short.

  2. Thanks for the review! The best thing is to test the unit in the store if I can tolerate the hard to press screen. Regarding selfies, you can learn by practicing taking shots using the back camera. If CM will not come up with a better alternative from now to Christmas, then I will have this by then. Thanks!

  3. Games like asphalt 8, batman dark knight rises,nba 2k13,nova 3, modern combat 3, the amazing spiderman, gta vice city, justice league , max payne and wild blood were all installed on my cm razor. All of them are working fluidly and smoothly without lag. Am using a 16g external microsd card thats why i have a lots of games…

    1. nag install ako ng nba2k13..pero hndi sya nagwowork sa razor???what’s the problem..compatible ba tlga ung game na un sa razor or not compatible!!!please answer me!!THANKS

  4. Help ! 3mos pa lng ung razor ko, ngayon ayaw na mag open.. nung matulog ak0 10percent pagkagising ko patay na sya kala ko empty batt lang pag charge ko ayaw na mag open.. Anong dapat kng gawin?

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