Quick Review: Cherry Mobile One

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I recently sold my secondary phone, an Asus Zenfone 5, to get a cheaper, lower-spec-ed handset. It turns out the timing was perfect as Google announced that a couple of Philippine phone brands were releasing Android One devices: MyPhone with its Uno and Cherry Mobile with the One.

I went with the Cherry Mobile One, primarily because it had 8GB for internal memory compared to 4GB on the Uno. In addition, the One costs less at PhP3,999 versus PhP4,599. I’ve spent several hours with the phone at this point, so here’s a quick review.

Cherry-Mobile-One_Android-One_review_frontPros:

  • Lollipop 5.1 out of the box
  • Snappy stock interface
  • 8GB internal memory
  • 1GB RAM
  • Bright 4.5-inch display
  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Loud and fairly clear speakers
  • Camera is not terrible
  • No branding on the phone’s front face, which allows for a cleaner design
  • Bang for buck at PhP3,999 including a free 8GB microSD card

Cons:

  • Quick settings’ lack of customization
  • Bundled microSD card is a slow class 4
  • Can be slow when booting up
  • Only available with the black front and silver back

Overall, there’s really not much to complain about when it comes to the Cherry Mobile One. The display is great, the design is fine by me though I’m pretty sure others will call it bland (come on, it’s in the sub-4k price point, guys), it’s got stock Android, and the internal memory is the most among the current crop of Android One phones.

I believe this is a rebranded Mito Impact phone (another Android One device), and looks the same. I’m not familiar with rebranded phones’ build quality, but this looks like it will withstand some minor drops. Better get a case (these are not available yet) and a screen protector at the first opportunity, though.

The curved design makes the phone easy to hold. I think this hits the sweet spot as far as size is concerned. I currently use a Sony Xperia Z2 as my daily driver, and while it’s designed well enough to allow single-handed use most of the time, the smaller phone sits easily on your palm.

The interface is stock Android Lollipop 5.1, with basic Google apps pre-installed and I think just one CM app (eWarranty), so there’s basically zero bloatware. The OS should be updated at least through Android M, and I hope the phone gets popular enough to get some modding.

Cherry-Mobile-One_Android-One_review_backAt the moment, I don’t think there’s a way to fully customize the Quick settings dropdown (accessible via a second downward swipe from the notification bar). Instead, the icons that appear there are based on the last ones used. Hope this gets tweaked in a future update.

The Cherry Mobile One comes with an IPS screen of 854×480 resolution. The screen’s pretty bright already even at around 30% brightness, and this can only help battery life. I don’t tend to use my phone in awkward positions so I generally don’t comment about viewing angles. The screen is a fingerprint magnet, though.

Camera performance is fairly good, but I haven’t really tested it in low-light situations. One thing, though: it takes a while for the camera to focus, so make sure you account for this time delay when framing your shots.

About gaming performance, I probably wouldn’t use this phone to run a PlayStation emulator. I only ever play Brave Frontier on mobile these days, so it’s more than adequate for such games.

Okay, what else? I don’t really have any complaints about the Cherry Mobile One. At its price point, you really get quite a lot. I’m extremely satisfied with it, and I’ll consider it a huge success if it can last over a year in my care.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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On FUPs and mobile Internet charges in the Philippines

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These days, we’ve got high-speed Internet, and we live in the age of streaming HD video. Spotify is a hit, digital downloads (from ebooks to movies to console games) are all the rage, and let’s not get started on BitTorrent. Yet, it seems like telcos in the Philippines, for all their effort trying to look like they’re able to provide even a shred of cutting-edge mobile connectivity, just can’t seem to keep in step.

TL;DR – Philippine telcos charge subscribers A LOT for so little bandwidth at comparatively slower speeds, when you stack them up against what people in other countries enjoy as far as mobile connectivity goes.

In this sense, the Philippines is as third-world as you can imagine, despite how soon we’re getting the latest iPhone or how fast one telco is able to roll out the next generation of mobile telecommunications technology. With antiquated concepts embedded in things like a ‘fair use policy’, it’s obvious that telcos just can’t keep in step with the latest developments.

Don’t get me wrong; having an FUP doesn’t mean a telco sucks automatically. It’s the conditions stipulated within said FUP that matters, and which I believe are indicative of the sad state of the Philippine telecommunications industry.

For example, a 3-minute YouTube clip at full HD resolution could easily take up several tens of MBs in bandwidth. What if you’ve got a subscription to a digital content service like Netflix? What if you download movies through the Google Play store? I won’t even mention the elephant in the room, which we’ll call by the nickname ‘BT’ (incidentally, I believe this one falls under FUP violations).

Telcos take pride in putting power in the hands of consumers. They make it fairly easy for people to avail the latest flagship phones with all the bells and whistles. But why can’t they give you the best experience? It’s because their policies shackle what you can do with your brand-spakin’-new gadget.

I recently got into an exchange with a telco’s Twitter rep (one among an army of Twitter accounts, I reckon) though I was only responding to my friend, who was the one actually complaining about the FUP. I said I’ve given up on complaining about telcos and their exorbitant Internet rates and policies. The Twitter rep asked if I know about the telco’s FUP.

Dude.

I didn’t even bother to reply. It would only be a waste of a Tweet. I clutter Twitter enough already, and wasting several more characters in an inane conversation that won’t get me anywhere just isn’t worth the trouble. Not like these Twitter guys can influence decision-making by higher-ups. Not like these Twitter guys can do more than echo spiels handed out to them. I’m not blaming them, but let’s get real. These are CSRs armed with Twitter accounts instead of headsets.

The change needs to come from the telcos and their decision-makers. Do they just want to keep getting richer while suffocating their consumers, or do they really want to make good on their promises and provide subscribers with the best service possible?

Unfortunately, I think we all know the answer to that question.

Divergent sucks balls.

Based on a number of rave reviews I’ve been seeing across various platforms, I picked up Divergent by Veronica Roth. The book is yet another book of the YA/dystopian persuasion, and it’s been compared favorably to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. That latter point clinched it for me; while the first book of Collins’ trilogy wasn’t perfect, it was pretty tight overall, so I really expected Divergent to at least be a solid read.

Boy, I should have set my expectations way lower. Right from the get-go, the world in which Divergent takes place just was not believable. The faction system just sounds stupid, and the world is not fleshed out enough to at least solidify the impression that this was really the setting of the book. In case you decide to read Divergent yourself, know that you will need to suspend your disbelief in ways you probably never have before.

How the people from the factions act, how they live their lives, their dynamic with the other factionImages–all these are some of the things you will need to take at the author’s word as they appear contrived. Heck, Roth can’t even use parallel construction to name the five factions. [And I’ve read a Cliff-Notes version of the second and third book in the series; what I’ve read as far as explaining this whole setup does not excuse such haphazard worlding.]

A few points I remember having:

  • Some people can develop advanced simulation serums, but no one can come up with a way to make that goddamn train stop
  • The training part really dragged
  • FFS, Tris just stop thinking
  • This faction is stupid. So is that faction. And that one. And that one. And that one.
  • How can anyone let this be a society
  • By the end, I just can’t see how anyone can say this book is better than The Hunger Games. Seriously. HOW. THE. FUCK

The main character, Tris, is alright, but I often found myself wanting to skip over whole paragraphs of her thoughts. I understand that she is a 16-year old girl with a lot happening around her, but damn. In the end, despite the many things she found herself concerned with, it was really hard to care at all for the character.

Even the romance bit seemed a bit forced. So Tris always notices Four’s arm muscles, but apart from that, there’s just nothing there to sell me that either one is starting to fall for the other. Motivations be damned!

To be fair, the book does pick up pace in the latter quarter; there’s a lot of action going on and sequences move in machine-gun fashion (or maybe that was just me skipping some paragraphs again; I really just wanted to get to the end). However, the developments and my curiosity for why all these things are happening weren’t enough to coax me into reading the next two books. Based on the abridged version, it wasn’t such a bad choice. The only downside is I won’t get to properly review Insurgent and Allegiant.

Transitions (a.k.a. Obligatory First Post, a.k.a Obligatory New Year Post)

happynewyear_2013

Cheetos and Coke—the perfect combo to waste away a fine non-working holiday.

This should probably be the last time I do this. After all, I promised to run again and get back to much-neglected physical fitness activities. It’s not exactly a new year’s resolution, since I’ve been saying that for God-knows-how-long, but yeah—2013 is going to be a better year.

Not that 2012 was bad; I learned a lot of things, I’m still alive, I have my family, I’ve got my friends, and I’m still with my girl (5 years and counting). The past 365 or so days have been all about transition for me, though.

For starters, I worked for a bunch of different companies throughout the course of the year. I left what was my first job after 3 years and 8 months, then lasted several days in what passed for my attempt at an ad-agency career. I freelanced a bit for a few months after that before signing with another BPO’s marketing department, before leaving for a new job just this December.

In 2012, I learned a lot and made what I thought were some of the more adult decisions I’ve made my entire life in the process, and I learned where my priorities really lie. There’s really no room for excuses; you just get up and move forward.

With 2013 upon us, I’m looking forward to more permanence in my life. I’m cooking something up, something major for me. It might not be realized next year, or even the year after that. Rest assured, however, that I’ll be working hard to make great things happen. That’s not exactly a resolution, either—I think, bottom line, we all want what’s best for us.

Time for me to finish the last third of this bag of Cheetos. Maybe I’ll watch a movie or draw again after posting this. Anyway, I sure hope 2013 is going to be awesome for all of us.

Eat a lot, love a lot, and be happy—it’s the f***ing new year!

 

P.S. Pardon the image. It’s been weeks since I last touched my pen-tab. By the way, that’s supposed to be Lucky Me pancit canton, of which I expect to eat a lot later when the clock strikes midnight.