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Cherry Mobile Thunder Review: New King of Budget Smartphones

Cherry Mobile Thunder Review
Cherry Mobile Thunder Review

Cherry Mobile Thunder

Competitively specced and aggressively priced, the Cherry Mobile Thunder screams value for money. For just Php4,999 you get a dual-core, dual SIM, nice looking Android smartphone with a 4.5-inch screen. We’ve been using the Cherry Mobile Thunder as our primary smartphone for the last week now and we’re pretty happy with the results. Before we jump into the full review though let’s quickly go over the specifications.

Cherry Mobile Thunder Spec Sheet

  • 1GHz Dual-core Processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 4GB Internal Storage, expandable up to 32GB via microSD
  • 4.5-inch FWVGA Capacitive Touch Screen
  • 5-megapixel rear-facing camera
  • VGA front-facing camera
  • Dual SIM, Dual Standby
  • WiFi, WiFi Hotspot, 3G, GPS, Bluetooth
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 1800mAh Battery

In case you guys missed our unboxing and initial impressions, click here to read it. Now let’s go to the full review!

Form factor: Solid, glossy, and elegant

IMG_3509

We’ve reviewed a lot of Cherry Mobile devices already here in Unbox and we can definitely say that the Cherry Mobile Thunder is the nicest looking one among all of them. The smooth and glossy candy bar chasis is simply gorgeous! We daresay that this is the most aesthetically pleasing device we’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing that’s priced under Php5,000. πŸ˜€

IMG_3508

The phone is mostly black with silver/chrome buttons. All the usual ports and controls are there: microUSB and headphone jack at the top, volume rocker and power lock at the sides, and capacitive buttons below the screen. The “Cherry Mobile” and “Thunder” branding, just like with other local phones, is at the back of the device.

cherry mobile thunder

Speaking of the back of the Thunder, what we found weird was the abnormally big sensor for the 5-megapixel camera. It’s just a 5-megapixel shooter and yet it reminds us of the sensor of the Nokia Pureview 808, lol.

Display is decent

Unlike the Flare or most phones in this price point, the Thunder has a 4.5-inch screen. This means you have a bigger surface to view your content on — regardless if it’s social networking, gaming, videos, web browsing, or video calling.

Cherry Mobile Thunder display quality/resolution is okay but viewing angles not so much
Cherry Mobile Thunder display quality/resolution is okay but viewing angles not so much

When it comes to display quality, the Thunder has FWVGA resolution which is remarkable given the amount you’re paying for the phone. While over-all quality of the images that appear is good, what’s a bit frustrating though are the viewing angles. Just tilt it a little and it becomes darker. Just be mindful of this when playing Temple Run 2 or else you might accidentally jump off a cliff or something, lol.

As smooth as you can get with a Dual-core CPU and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

When it comes to software performance, keeping in mind the price, the Cherry Mobile Thunder delivers in spades. The Antutu benchmark results show that it has a rating of 6,805. That puts it above the LG Optimus 2X and almost at par with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Just so you have an idea, the LG Optimus 2X sells for around Php11,800 in online stores. That’s more than double the amount you’re paying for with the Cherry Mobile Thunder.

Antutu benchmark score
Antutu benchmark score

By the way, just in case you don’t know what the Antutu benchmark is, it’s basically a tool that we use to gauge over-all performance of the device. The app runs a full test on the smartphone including memory performance, CPU integer performance, CPU floating point, 2D/3D graphics, SD card reading/writing, and database input and output. The result is a score which is then compared to other phones that went through the same process. It’s not 100% accurate but it gives us an idea of how the phone is compared to others.

Score compared to others
Score compared to others

So how do these numbers translate in real life usage? After a week of using the Thunder we can say it’s kinda sweet.

Core functions

For the whole week we ran a live wallpaper on the Thunder (Galaxy Pack) together with Nova Launcher. Transitions and animations, for the most part, were smooth. Despite the live wallpaper it still managed to hold its own and lags were very minimal especially when we had a memory booster app running and we were managing memory with task killers. It does have limits though as it really bogged down once we started opening and running several apps all at the same time.

Apps, apps, apps!
Apps, apps, apps!

Telephony, messaging, social networking, reading blogs/sites via RSS (Pulse or Flipboard), and browsing were all okay. Definitely an improvement over the Flare since this time we have a bigger screen to play around with. Also, don’t forget that the Cherry Mobile Thunder is dual SIM, dual standby and that their implementation of that feature is very intuitive and customizable.

Gaming

Now to the fun part! Games! Good news: casual games run fine. Better news: graphics intensive titles are playable! Woot. It’s truly amazing that a Php4,999 phone can run games like Dead Trigger, NBA 2k13, and even Gameloft’s Zombie (currently my fave).

Gameloft's Zombie game. We alternate this with Dead Trigger for our zombie killing urges
Gameloft’s Zombie game. We alternate this with Dead Trigger for our zombie killing urges
Temple Run 2 works well but be mindful of the viewing angles. It might get you killed!
Temple Run 2 works well but be mindful of the viewing angles. It might get you killed!

Note though that it’s not the smoothest experience especially when we go for graphics intensive titles. It will lag especially if there’s a lot of activity going on in the screen.

Media Player

The benefits of having a larger screen though truly comes forward when we talk about watching videos. Viewing our favorite TV series or checking out random fun videos on YouTube is much more enjoyable with the 4.5-inch screen. By the way if you’re looking for a video player app, we highly recommend MX Player Pro. It can run pretty much everything you throw at it and it has an elegant user interface.

For music you seriously need to invest in getting a good audio player app because the stock one on Android absolutely sucks. We suggest you go for Poweramp. There’s a free trial version but the full one is well worth every peso.

Camera is… so-so.

Our review has mostly been positive so far but unfortunately something has to give. There were compromises made to keep it at Php4,999 and they are most evident in the 5-megapixel shooter. To be fair it does take decent pictures in good lighting but forget it if you’re in a dark room especially since it doesn’t have an LED flash.

Here are sample photos:

Gambas from Rocky's Cafe in Amorsolo Building, Rockwell Center. Sarap.
Gambas from Rocky’s Cafe in Amorsolo Building, Rockwell Center. Sarap.
Obligatory photo of our cute cat, Tiffy.
Obligatory photo of our cute cat, Tiffy.
One more Tiffy shot please. Hehe.
One more Tiffy shot please. Hehe.

Just so you guys have a point of comparison, here’s a photo with the same subject and lighting but with the camera of the Asus Padfone 2.

KYYYYYUUUUTTTT!
KYYYYYUUUUTTTT!

As you can see it has less noise, better colors, and more detail. Then again this camera is on a phone that sells for over Php30,000. πŸ˜›

Battery Life

The Cherry Mobile Thunder thankfully packs a 1800mAh battery which is a decent improvement over the usual 1500mAh batteries we see in other local branded smartphones. From our testing the 1800mAh battery was enough to power a full workday of use with moderate-heavy usage. The battery drains like crazy though if we play games so if you’re going to use this regularly as an entertainment device make sure you bring your charger with you.

Verdict: It’s a Steal at Php4,999

Panalo 'to.
Panalo ‘to.

EVERYTHING considered, including price, the Cherry Mobile Thunder is a STEAL. Like what we said at the start, the specs alone on paper scream value for money and we can attest to that after one week of using it as our primary smartphone. We’ve tested almost all the smartphones of Cherry Mobile and we can say without a doubt that this one is THE ONE when it comes to value.

If you’re interested in buying the Cherry Mobile Thunder it’s exclusively available on Lazada for Php4,999. If you don’t have a credit card no need to worry since they have cash on delivery. πŸ™‚

Click to go to the listing of the Cherry Mobile Thunder on Lazada
Click to go to the listing of the Cherry Mobile Thunder on Lazada

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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4 Comments

  1. I was about to check-out the Cherry Mobile Thunder when i found out that payment through over-the-counter bank deposit / Dragonpay is not available anymore. Only cash-on-delivery and credit cards are available. And btw cash-on-delivery is now available nationwide. But I still prefer to use Dragonpay because I dont have a credit card, I live in a building where all parcels are collected by the guard on duty and I don’t want to give cash to the guard on duty. I hope they will bring the Dragonpay option back…. πŸ™

  2. I also bought my CM Thunder last Saturday Feb 16, and so far it’s very worthy, from its cheap price of 4,999, the performance is the best. I like the design of this phone, But there are time’s that i really need to bring my charger in the office everyday. I almost compare it with other big time smartphones like sony xperia, samsung etc. I’m still looking forward for stable performance after using it for a month or 2. (y)

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