We go hands-on with the Cherry Mobile Touch XL 2!
VR is getting more and more traction lately, and it’s not surprising that more and more mobile brands want to lower the barrier of entry to the hot new tech. The fastest and easiest way of getting VR on the cheap is Google Cardboard, but the biggest barrier that most people face isn’t the VR headset – it’s their phones. Not all devices have the necessary sensors to get VR up and running, so Cherry Mobile decided to release a budget 6-inch phablet that’s bundled with a VR headset to address that. The Touch XL 2 is probably the biggest budget phone they have in their lineup and today we’ll be unboxing it to see if it delivers on the promise of affordable VR.
Cherry Mobile Touch XL 2 specs:
- 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6580 quad-core processor
- 1GB of RAM
- 6-inch HD IPS display, 1280 x 720 resolution
- 8GB of expandable storage
- 8-megapixel rear camera with AF and LED flash
- 2-megapixel front camera
- Dual SIM
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
- 3000mAh battery
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Packaging and contents:
Just like Cherry Mobile advertised, each purchase of the Touch XL 2 nets you a free VR headset. The box for the actual unit is pretty standard, as far as Cherry Mobile phones go – you’ll get the phone, USB charger, USB cable, earphones and documentation.
Once you open the box for the VR headset, you’ll see the cardboard headset, along with garterized straps for those long VR sessions.
The overall construction is quite similar to Google Cardboard, and there’s a QR code on the side that calibrates the headset to your phone.
Initial impressions: impressive size and build for the price, but the VR experience is basic
We haven’t seen a truly affordable phablet from Cherry Mobile for quite some time, so the Touch XL 2 is a nice surprise for people looking for a budget, big screen phone. At 6-inches the Touch XL 2 is definitely a phablet, dwarfing many devices in the local company’s Flare lineup by a large margin.
With the display off, you’d probably mistake the front of the Touch XL 2 with Huawei’s Mate 8, though once you power up the screen you’ll see the thick, black bezel surrounding the phone from all sides. The physical Android navigation keys are located right below the display.
The frame and back of the Touch XL 2 is plastic, though the removable back cover has a faux brushed aluminum finish to it that adds a bit of visual flair to the otherwise flat, featureless slab. The 8-megapixel camera with LED flash is located near the top.
Once you take off the back cover, you’ll see the 2 dual SIM slots as well as the microSD slot. Both USB and 3.5mm jacks are on top, while the volume rocker and power button are on the right side of the phone. On the bottom you’ll see the lone grille for the single speaker.
One of the biggest draws to the Touch XL 2 is the promise of affordable VR via the included VR headset in the package. Does it deliver? Well, kind of. The VR Headset looks sturdy enough though again, it’s made out of cardboard so it probably can’t take too much abuse before disintegrating.
It has a QR code on the side that allows you to calibrate it via the Google Cardboard app. The Touch XL 2 fits comfortably inside, and there’s garterized straps to allow you to strap it on your head for longer VR sessions.
We encountered a couple of issues right out of the bat for the VR Headset. One is the lack of a button on the top or the side that allows you navigate through the Google Cardboard app. That rules out using the VR Headset in apps and games that require user input, though you can probably get past this limitation by either jury-rigging a copper switch (plenty of instructables around) or pair the Touch XL 2 with a Bluetooth mouse or gamepad.
The biggest problem is hardware related – there’s a reason why most manufacturers rely on devices with very high ppi counts for VR experiences, and that’s pixels. Since the lenses on the VR headset essentially magnifies the display, it’s incredibly easy to pick out the individual pixels on the HD panel as you’re using the cardboard headset.
The Touch XL 2 is still a phone of course, and because of its budget leanings it sports a MediaTek MT6580 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of expandable storage, along with Android Marshmallow on board.
We could really see the phone struggling to drive the 6-inch panel, and we experienced severe stuttering while we were doing our initial setup for the phone, downloading all the apps that we typically use on a review device. Because of the limited RAM, we advise anybody buying this phone to continually close unused applications for the best performance.
Our initial gripes with the phone aren’t a big concern for people on a tight budget though, since at Php 3,499 it’s one of the most affordable 6-inch devices in its class. No other phablet offering even comes close to its price tag, even without the VR headset bundle thrown in.