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

Sony-Xperia-Z2

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.