Oppo and Vivo have been making a lot of noise about nearly all of their local offerings that it’s been easy to overlook some great options from other established brands. And one can say that there’s none more established than Cherry Mobile, which currently holds the IDC top spot for most smartphones shipped in the Philippines for Q2 of 2017. One of the best surprises I’ve had from their current lineup isn’t the Taiji, which packs dual screens and is quite a conversation starter on its own. Rather, it’s the relatively inexpensive mid-range Cherry Mobile Desire R8 that has caught my attention so far. Read on to find out why in this full review.
Cherry Mobile Desire R8 Specs
- 5.5″ Full HD IPS display (1080 x 1920 resolution, 401ppi) with 2.5D curved glass
- MediaTek MT6750 SoC
- 1.5GHz x 4 + 1GHz x 4 octa-core processor
- Mali 760 GPU
- Android 7.0 Nougat
- 3GB RAM
- 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD (up to 64GB)
- 13mp + 5mp dual rear camera, with autofocus, dual-tone LED flash
- 8mp front camera, soft LED flash
- Up to 4G/LTE (700MHz supported)
- Dual SIM (Nano + Micro)
- GPS with A-GPS
- USB Type-C
- Fingerprint sensor (home button)
- 3,000mAh battery
- Price: Php9,999
What’s in the Box?
The Desire R8 is on the high end of Cherry Mobile’s midrange offerings, so I was expecting it to come in a more premium box such as the Taiji’s. Alas, it only comes in a regular retail box typical of most of the brand’s smartphones. Inside, you’ll find the following.
- In-ear headset with in-line mic
- 2A output wall charger
- USB Type-C charging and data transfer cable
- SIM ejector tool
- Cherry Play brochure and handset user guide
Build Quality and Design
The Desire R8 adopts the Apple-esque design made popular by the iPhone 6 a few years back. The screen dominates a good ratio of the front of the phone, although there’s still some space for the earpiece, front camera, sensors, and flash at the top, not to mention the physical home button and capacitive navigation buttons at the bottom. The chamfered edges and 2.5D curved glass also help to give the phone that premium feel.
The phone’s back is probably what lends the Desire R8 its distinctive trademark look. The dual cameras are featured prominently toward the top in a vertical alignment to the phone’s center.
The Desire R8 is a nice phone to hold, due mainly to its curved edges and back. So despite its size, most people should have a relatively easy time getting used to handling the phone with extended use.
The Desire R8 features a 5.5 inch Full HD IPS display with 2.5D curved glass for that premium touch. The screen is of reasonably good quality, with good color representation, accuracy, and a good amount of contrast. It’s nowhere near as good as an AMOLED display with truly deep blacks, but you can still appreciate the detail.
Software and UI
Thankfully, most of Cherry Mobile’s latest batch of phones now run Nougat 7.0 out of the box, and the Desire R8 is one of them. It also hasn’t been customized a great deal, so you’re still getting a mostly stock experience. Where it suffers though is the ads, which I’ve mentioned many times with other phones I’ve reviewed for the brand. You can turn them off by disabling Cherry Mobile’s bloatware, although most people won’t know how to do this.
Benchmarks and Performance
The Desire R8 has the Turbo version “MT6750T” under its hood, giving it a little extra oomph in processing power versus the base MT6750. It’s a fairly capable chip too, managing to score about 40,000+ in Antutu. It’s no world-beater, but the MT6750T is more than capable of handling anything that the Play Store might have to offer, including some of the more graphics intensive games.
The modern SoC has just about every wireless connectivity option on it, and the MT6750T is no different. It supports up to 4G/LTE speeds, WiFi a/b/g/n standards, and Bluetooth, as well as GPS, Glonass, Beidou, and Galileo sat-nav options. MediaTek SoCs have typically had weaker signal pickup versus their Snapdragon counterparts, however it’s not as noticeable on the Desire R8.
The Cherry Mobile Desire R8 is a great smartphone overall, but where it really excels is in the imaging department. This is due largely to its dual camera setup. It has a 13mp primary shooter mated with another 5mp shooter to capture depth information. The execution of its dual camera mode is also much better compared to the more affordable Flare P1 Plus, requiring less input from the user to achieve a blurred background that used to be exclusive to DSLRs.
The blurring does tend to be misaligned though, so it’s not completely perfect nor is it comparable to DSLR or mirrorless cameras. Of course, those kinds of cameras are typically worth two or three times as much as the Desire R8 so I won’t be too hard on it. The shots are perfectly fine for social media and have much more drama than your typical flat shot.
Of course, dual camera mode isn’t applicable for every shot. Food shots for example are perfectly fine without them as seen below.
The Desire R8 does struggle in scenes where there’s less than ideal lighting. Sure, there’s flash for that, but I’ve always found such shots to be too harsh and the Desire R8 isn’t capable of much different.
Gaming and Multimedia
Thanks to its large 5.5″ Full HD screen and MT6750T “Turbo” variant SoC, the Desire R8 makes for a responsive gaming device and great multimedia player overall. Its loudspeakers are pretty weak though, which sucks when you’re viewing videos or listening to Spotify without a headset.
So Should You Buy the Cherry Mobile Desire R8?
The Cherry Mobile Desire R8 isn’t the most affordable dual camera smartphone from the local brand. However the execution of the technology is noticeably better. It’s also probably the lowest priced dual camera smartphone that I would recommend, not just because of its camera prowess, but for its premium feeling design and overall great performance for the price as well.