When the Cherry Mobile One was announced along with another Android One device for the Philippines, I’ll admit to being a bit mehhhh about it. Sure it was running as close to stock Lollipop 5.1 as you could get, but it was an entry-level device for crying out loud! Why couldn’t they also include higher end smartphones? If the Cosmos One Plus was an Android One device, I’d buy it in a heartbeat! Alas, that’s what the specs were, and I knew if I would end up with a review unit, I’d probably be super grumpy at having to “make do” with the Cherry Mobile One’s performance. Oh, never have I been so wrong.
Of course, I probably shouldn’t get ahead of myself. I did end up with a review unit, hence my Cherry Mobile One review. Want to know why I’m crazy about it? Read on, Alice in Wonderland style, from beginning to end.
What’s in the Box?
The Cherry Mobile One comes with different-looking box art than I’m accustomed to. Of course, the actual contents are still what you would expect from a typical Cherry Mobile offering:
- headset with in-line mic
- USB transfer cable
- 1A wall charger
- removable 1,780mAh battery
- quick start manual
Build Quality and Design
The Cherry Mobile One isn’t a premium smartphone by any means, but it does come off as being more expensive than it really is. The front of the device is clean and spartan, lacking even the typical capacitive navigation buttons.
You won’t find any hardware controls or features on the left side of the device.
However, on the right you’ll find both the power/lock button and volume rocker.
On top is the 3.5mm headset hack, which is CTIA compliant by the way.
On the bottom is the micro USB port.
On the back, you’ll find the camera and its LED flash toward the top, the Cherry Mobile branding toward the middle, and the loudspeaker and Android One branding toward the bottom.
The Cherry Mobile One features a 4.5 inch FWVGA IPS display. With a pixel density of 245ppi, it’s still sharp enough that it can preserve a lot of detail and won’t appear pixelated. The viewing angles are also excellent, which is to be expected of any decent IPS panel.
Underneath the hood of the Cherry Mobile One beats the heart of a MediaTek MT6582 SoC and its 1.3GHz quad core processor. This SoC should be familiar to a lot of budget smartphone enthusiasts as it has powered many of the entry-level quad core smartphones that hit the market in 2014. Thanks in part to the relatively low resolution of the Cherry Mobile One’s display, the MT6582 performs quite well on this phone and it can handle just about any app that you can throw at it, with the exception of the heaviest games. Here are some benchmark results from Antutu, as well as Vellamo’s Multicore and Metal tests.
Software and UI
If there’s anything you should get the Cherry Mobile One for, it’s the software. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and because it’s under Google’s Android One initiative, it benefits from the latest Android updates much in the same way that Nexus and Google Play Edition devices do. Think of it as a Nexus smartphone for the masses.
Navigating through the UI is smooth as butter, mostly thanks to the mostly Vanilla software. However, the Cherry Mobile One isn’t exactly free of bloat. Rather than the typical bloatware you expect from Cherry Mobile smartphones, it’s Google that’s shoehorning their services in. Google Books, Music and Movies come pre-installed, and if you’re wondering where the Gallery and File Manager went, there’s Google Photos and Drive for that.
Telephony and Wireless Connectivity
When it comes to basic phone functionality, such as texting and calling, the Cherry Mobile One ticks most of the boxes. Reading text messages isn’t a problem as the screen is spacious enough. However, texting is a little cramped in portrait mode because it’s a sub-5 inch screen, so you might want to switch to landscape mode when composing those messages.
With calls, the phone’s size is an advantage because it’s easier to grip. It’s also much lighter than the 5 inch and above smartphones that some of you might be accustomed to, so you don’t look like a complete dork when making or taking calls in the company of people. The earpiece was sufficiently loud and as long as there wasn’t too much ambient noise, I could easily understand the person at the other end of the line.
As for other wireless connectivity options, you get up to HSPA+ download speeds, WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS thanks to the MT6582 SoC that has all of this built-in. The only thing lacking is LTE, but honestly, it’s a premium feature that will only make sense once our telcos have rolled it out nationwide.
The Cherry Mobile One features a 5mp autofocus camera with LED flash on the back and a 2mp fixed focus camera on the front. Naturally, don’t expect the One to be a perfect point-and-shoot replacement, but you can make do with it if you don’t have a decent camera with you. Check out some of these sample shots.
Obligatory Food Shots
Low Light: No Flash, With Flash, and HDR
One thing I like though is that Google’s Photos app, which just so happens to be the Camera app’s built-in gallery viewer, comes with a wide range of editing options. Unfortunately though, the camera itself doesn’t capture a lot of detail. Still, it’s pretty acceptable for when you don’t have a dedicated point-and-shoot lying around.
Entertainment and Gaming
While the quad core MT6582 processor is still quite capable, it’s not for serious gaming. You’re making do with a rather dated Mali 400 GPU and the FWVGA resolution of the screen leaves a lot to be desired. I ran GFXBench’s T-Rex test to see how well the Cherry Mobile One would perform. Here’s a screenshot from the Elife E7 Mini to give you an idea of what the test looks like.
And here are the results.
Unfortunately, the Cherry Mobile One only achieved a frame rate of 9.3fps in this test. Most MT6592 octa-core smartphones will score anywhere from 12-15 depending on whether it’s equipped with an HD or Full HD screen. Of course, it’s not a fair comparison, but this is just to set the expectation that this is not a gaming smartphone.
The Cherry Mobile One is powered by a 1,780mAh battery, which is decent enough for its size. I tend to use my phone in quick bursts, checking notifications on my social media accounts and reading news feeds. My average battery life per complete charge was 17 hours and 34 minutes. According to the GSam Battery Monitor app, which is what I use to track battery usage, the phone would be active 6 hours and 16 minutes of the time while the screen would be on for 2 hours and 26 minutes on average.
As long as it exceeds 13 hours, I’m generally satisfied. After all, if you have a 9 hour shift including lunch break and have a 1 or 2 hour commute either way, 13 hours should be enough to last you throughout your work day and get home in time to plug your phone back into a charger.
Of course, I do understand understand that a lot of you may have heavier usage habits than I do. So here’s a quick test for battery life while gaming using GFXBench’s battery test. The Cherry Mobile should be able to last 2 hours and 32 minutes when playing games non-stop.
So Should You Buy the Cherry Mobile One?
To be clear, the Cherry Mobile One isn’t the most powerful smartphone you can get for its price. Even at just Php3,999, there are actually a few devices that are better-specced. However, when you buy an Android One device such as the Cherry Mobile One, you’re not getting it for the hardware, but the software. It runs the latest version of Android right out of the box and will get updates almost as soon as Google Play Edition and Nexus devices. If you’re one of those smartphone owners who would anxiously wait anywhere from 3 to 6 months until your phone got updated — if at all — well, that ends with the Cherry Mobile One.
Cherry Mobile One Specs
- 4.5″ FWVGA IPS display
- 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6582 quad core processor
- Mali 400 MP2 GPU
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB internal storage
- 5mp autofocus rear-facing camera with LED flash
- 2mp fixed focus front camera
- WiFi b/g/n
- GPS with A-GPS
- 1,780mAh battery
- Price: Php3,999