Author: We’re giving one Cherry Mobile Sonic away to our readers. Just scroll down to the end of the article to find out how to join.
Cherry Mobile has been on a roll lately, releasing a lot of solid mid-range phones in quick succession to offer the budget-minded Pinoy more bang for their buck than they thought possible. However the local phone brand certainly hasn’t forgotten its roots, and they still have some very good options when it comes to entry level phones. One of them is the Cherry Mobile Sonic, a 4 inch budget Gingerbread smartphone for just Php2,999! At that price, it’s perfect as a bridge device for people transitioning to their first smartphone or perhaps as a secondary phone for commutes. So what can a peso shy of Php3k get you these days? Find out in my Cherry Mobile Sonic review.
Update: We’re giving one Cherry Mobile Sonic away to our readers. Just scroll down to the end of the article to find out how to join.
What’s in the Box?
The Cherry Mobile Sonic comes with your typical retail box from the local phone brand. There’s a user manual, charger, micro USB cable, headset, and of course, the unit itself.
Build Quality and Design: Built Like a Brick
My first impressions of the Cherry Mobile Sonic is that it looked almost like a Flare, but with a white back cover. Whatever shortcomings it might have when it comes to specs, it certainly makes up for it in the looks department. I generally expect entry level Android smartphones to look like toys, but the Sonic certainly didn’t. I wouldn’t have even guessed that it was actually a Gingerbread phone. That’s not to say that it looks gorgeous, just pleasantly decent considering the price.
The Sonic has a black face and a white back cover. Above the 4 inch screen you’ll find a small slit for the earpiece, front camera and proximity sensor. At the bottom, there’s the four capacitive navigation keys: home, menu, back and search. The bezel at the bottom of the screen is noticeably thicker compared to the top.
On the left of the device, there’s the volume rocker, while on the right, you’ll find the microphone pinhole toward the bottom.
At the top is the micro USB port and power/lock button, while on the bottom, there’s the 3.5mm headset jack. There’s also a small notch next to the headset jack to make it easier to pry open the back cover with your fingernails.
Flip the Cherry Mobile Sonic over and you’ll find the 2mp camera and loudspeaker at the back, along with subtle branding of the Sonic and Cherry Mobile logos.
I like that the Sonic is really well-built. There’s no creaking, regardless of where I press against the body of the device. The placement of that microphone is a little weird because left-handed users will have to tilt the bottom of the phone more toward their mouths if they want to be heard properly. The headset jack is also a little weird, but when you think about it, there’s no more need to flip the phone in hand before putting it inside your pocket if you have a headset attached.
The Chipset: Single Core Workhorse
The Cherry Mobile Sonic is powered by a single core MediaTek MT6575 ARMv7 processor coupled with the PowerVR SGX531 GPU. This is a familiar configuration on a lot of entry-level phones and was even the standard configuration on a few mid-range phones from one or two years back. It’s still very snappy on the sonic and could probably handle some decent multitasking if it wasn’t hampered by just 256Mb of RAM. It’s a bit of a shame, but then that’s just one of the compromises you get when you buy an entry-level phone.
The Screen: 4 Inch HVGA
The Sonic’s screen is large, but it’s also about as basic as you can get. It’s a spacious 4 inch 2pt touchscreen display, but the resolution is stuck at 480 x 320 (HVGA), resulting in a pixel density of 144ppi. In comparison, the original Samsung Galaxy Y had a pixel density of 133ppi, which is obviously worse, but not by much.
Software and UI: Gingerbread With a Touch of ICS
The Cherry Mobile Sonic runs Gingerbread 2.3.6 out of the box. For the most part, the UI hasn’t been changed that much except for a few superficial things like the lockscreen, stock icon set and wallpapers. The icons look like they were shamelessly ripped from older versions of TouchWiz but at least have a universal appeal to them. The lockscreen on the other hand is similar to ICS than the sliding locker of Gingerbread.
Telephony and Network Connectivity: Everything But 3G
For a budget smartphone, the Cherry Mobile Sonic covers many of the basics. You get Bluetooth 2.1 and WiFi b/g/n and 2G connectivity. No GPS and 3G though, but those are the corners that have to be cut if you want to keep the price.
Imaging, Entertainment and Gaming: Poor Man’s iPod Touch
If you’re going to get the Sonic, it won’t be for its imaging capabilities. You’ll only get a 2mp fixed focus primary camera and a VGA front camera. Also, you’ll only be able to record in QVGA at 30fps. It does however come with a basic entertainment suite of apps. These include the FM Radio, the stock Music player and Video player. You’ll get away with using it as a poor man’s iPod Touch replacement, just don’t expect images and movies to look any good.
As for gaming, the PowerVR SGX531 GPU is pretty capable, but it’s limited by the Sonic’s 256Mb RAM. It was able to run Temple Run 2 smoothly, to my surprise, but only after freeing up some RAM using a task manager. It should be able to run most casual games, but don’t push your luck with any of the higher end HD games.
Battery: Just Good Enough
The Cherry Mobile Sonic is powered by a 1,200mAh battery, which might seem small compared to the 2,000+mAh batteries we’ve been seeing lately, but is actually just right considering the rest of the specs. In comparison, the Cherry Mobile Flare has a 1,500mAh battery, but there are a couple of reasons the Sonic should equal the Flare’s battery life, if not better it. First is that it has a single core CPU, which won’t suck up as much battery as the Flare’s dual core processor. Then there’s the HVGA screen that doesn’t require that much processing power from the GPU. The battery life should be comparable to the Galaxy Y, which isn’t too bad and should last the day.
Should You Buy the Cherry Mobile Sonic?
The Sonic is a nice little budget Android smartphone, but it isn’t for everyone. GPS and 3G are the main compromises, and those are a pretty big deal to the savvy smartphone user. I would recommend it for people who are just transitioning from dumbphones or feature phones to their first smartphone. It’s also great as a commute phone when you don’t want to risk your Samsung Galaxy S4 or HTC One for fear of snatchers and the like but don’t want to give up the functionality of Android either.
By the way, Cherry Mobile provided the unit featured in this review and I’ll be raffling it off. Want it? Join the raffle below
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