We review the Cherry Mobile Taiji!
While we are bombarded with brands launching phones with dual rear cameras and bezel-less screens, Cherry Mobile chose to do something different. For the Taiji, they added a secondary 4.7-inch E-Ink screen at the back of the phone. Does having a secondary E-ink screen makes sense, or is it a fun novelty to have in this generation?
Cherry Mobile Taiji Specs
- 1.7GHz MediaTek octa-core processor
- 3GB RAM
- 5.2-inch FHD IPS main display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 4.7-inch E-Ink rear display, 960 x 540 resolution
- 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
- 13-megapixel rear camera, AF, LED flash
- 8-megapixel front camera
- Dual SIM
- 4G LTE
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- 2500mAh battery
Premium Nature-inspired design
At the front, you have your 5.2-inch full HD display and 8-megapixel front camera. A 2.5D glass is used for the phone’s front. Those using the Taiji might get confused, however, as there are no labels for its capacitive buttons, save for a breathing light found on the home button.
The sides of the phone have a ridged design that mimics the feel of bamboo, and is made of aluminum. On top of the phone, you have a microphone and an IR blaster, in case you would like to use the Taiji as a remote for most appliances.
On the left side, you have your SIM card slot. Since it is the hybrid type, you have to choose either a MicroSD or a second SIM for its hybrid slot.
You have your volume rocker and power button on the right side.
At the bottom, you have your headphone jack, Micro USB port, and speaker grilles.
At the phone’s rear, you have your 4.7-inch E-Ink secondary display and your 13-megapixel rear camera. The marks on the bottom of the rear panel work as capacitative buttons, just like the unmarked ones on the phone’s front. Because of the addition of an E-Ink display, the rear has a matte finish. While you do not need to worry about fingerprint smudges, you have to be careful still because of the presence of an E-ink display.
A few novelties
Now let’s talk about the Taiji’s unique selling proposition. Its display size is as big as those found in smaller Android handsets, and to be fair, it is very usable even in broad daylight. Despite the limitations with E-ink screens, one can make use of the Taiji’s secondary screen throughout the day in efforts to save battery power. We tried watching a video using the E-ink screen, and it looks pretty impressive, in spite of the nature of E-Ink displays.
Another novelty the Taiji has is that you can use it as a remote using the ZazaRemote app. I tried using it to control our Sony LED TV, and it does the job.
Decent performance for its price range
Considering the Taiji is one of the most expensive Cherry Mobile phones around, we expect quite a lot with it, being positioned as a mid-range phone. In that aspect, it delivers well, with its 1.7GHz MediaTek octa-core processor, paired with 3GB RAM. An AnTuTu test gave the Taiji a score of 44215, which are average figures for a mid-range phone. As a daily driver, the Taiji is snappy, loading web pages efficiently, and being able to handle games like Need For Speed: Most Wanted with minimal lag and frame drops. However, the phone does heat up a bit when used for a prolonged period with processor-heavy tasks.
As for audio quality, the Taiji sports one of the better audio chips in Cherry Mobile’s smartphone lineup. Whether we used the loudspeaker (which is loud enough and is less tinny compared to other Cherry Mobile handsets) or earphones, the sound quality is good enough, we did not need to fiddle around with the equalizer to get the best possible sound setting.
A major downside with the Taiji, however, is the fact that it is stuck with Android Lollipop (5.0). Considering most phones are now running Android Nougat (7.0), or will be upgraded to Android Oreo (8.0) in the near future, we do hope that Cherry Mobile would issue a software update (maybe an update to Nougat) to the Taiji as soon as possible.
A slightly underwhelming camera
Given its price, it is a bit disappointing to see the Taiji equipped with a 13-megapixel, f/2.0 rear camera and an 8-megapixel, f/2.4 front camera, since most phones in the same price range offer higher resolution cameras, with some offering fancy dual-camera setups. Nonetheless, the both cameras in the Taiji gets the job done with good color detail, even when shooting in low light. A minor hurdle we encountered with the Taiji’s camera is the autofocus; we had to tap the screen several times before we got the focus right.
An undersized battery for a dual display phone
Two screens and a 2500mAh battery does not sound like a good combination. Our PCMark battery test revealed a not-so-good four hours and 19 minutes battery life. This translates to half a day of use, which means that you will need a power bank on standby while you are on the go. While we tried to use the E-Ink as much as possible to save on battery power, we do think that the battery is a tad undersized for a device as big and complex as the Taiji.
Verdict: Fun features, but needs a few improvements
We give props to Cherry Mobile for coming up with a phone that is equipped with a secondary E-ink screen for times when we don’t need a color display (like in sending emails and texts, making calls, and reading books). The E-ink screen, in fact is highly usable in viewing photos and photos in spite of its limitations.
However, Cherry Mobile still has room for improvement for this device: a bigger battery, a newer processor, and an updated Android OS is much appreciated in making this phone marketable to people. Other than that, the Taiji is a great niche market phone (currently it is the only smartphone in the Philippine market that has an E-ink display) that can stand out in a crowd of bezel-less phones and phones sporting dual cameras.