Let’s get this straight: I wasn’t the biggest Cherry Mobile fan out there. Yes, I’m impressed by how they’re able to push prices down insanely low while still maintaining decent specs. But I’m critical of the quality that may accompany such low numbers. Cherry sent over one of their Pulse units for review and I got to see whether this octa-core mobile is as cheap as its price tag. Spoiler: it’s not.
Operating System: Android 4.4.2 KitKat
Processor: Mediatek MT6592 1.7GHz octa-core
Screen: 5-inch HD IPS Dragontrail Glass
Resolution: 1280×720 pixels; 294 ppi
Cameras: 13MP primary camera with LED flash;
5MP front camera
Internal Memory: 1GB RAM; 8GB storage microSDexpandable up to 64GB
Battery: Removable Li-Ion 2000mAh
Connectivity: Dual SIM regular (HSPA+) and micro(EDGE); Wi-Fi; Hotspot; Bluetooth 3.0
There’s no mistaking that the Pulse is a thick phone, coming in at about 7.5mm at its bulkiest. However, it’s not uncomfortable to hold thanks to its unique wedgeshaped design that has the mobile’s back side going thinner towards the bottom, with the sides tapering outward to give it a distinct style. Viewed from afar, the phone actually looks like it loses thickness towardsone side. I’d go as far as calling it the smartphone equivalent of a body builder who skips leg day.
Its back doesn’t come off like a usual slap-on plastic cover. Rather, its back pops off as a whole, leaving just the screen. Underneath is an, ahem, “unique” arrangement that sees the micro SIM and microSD slots sitting atop the regular SIM slot. It’s a spacesaving feature unlike anything I’ve seen.
You have your usual buttons and ports where you’d expect them. Power on the right; volume on the left; microUSB port and 3.5mm headset jack up top; and the speaker grille and 13MP camera with LED flash sitting at the back. The front side has the display with the 5MP camera on its top and the capacitive buttons below it.
At its price point, the phone’s hardware straddles the line between “adequate” and “not quite there.” On the latter point is the phone’s plasticky build that, while not cheap, leaves a lot to be desired. Given this, I flicked the back panel a couple of times to see how solid it felt and luckily, it’s not as flimsy as what you’d expect from a phone at its price point. As long as you won’t treat this one like a ragdoll, it’ll survive your daily bumps and grinds.
Its specs are top-notch on paper and there’s really not that much to say about its processor-GPU combo, and cameras except “Wow!” If I had any quips, it would be with the RAM which, while generous enough, could’ve been amped up just a bit more to take advantage of all that power on tap. 2GB of RAM would’ve really made this phone shine. Oh, and FYI, the screen’s a giant finger print magnet. Better invest in a matte screen protector if you want a smudge-free display.
User Experience: 4/5
I love me some pure vanilla Android and the Pulse delivers well on that front. Besides the obligatory Cherry-themed apps installed, the mobile gives a very pure KitKat experience. Being an octa-core, I tested it the only way I know how: with tons and tons of games and multi-tasking.
I installed various CPU and GPU intensive games such as GTA San Andreas, Gangstar, and Asphalt 8, as well as reaction-based ones like Tower Breaker and Don’t Tap the White Tile. Playing through them all, I experienced no major game-breaking hiccups. The screen was responsive, response times were spot on, and I was even able to switch back and forth seamlessly between the titles. Having them all run at once was a whole other matter though, with some processes crashing because the RAM couldn’t keep up. Keep in mind though that you probably won’t have as many apps running at the same time as I did, so the 1GB RAM won’t be a total deal breaker.
Besides gaming performance, another major element I look for in a smartphone would be its cameras. Sadly, the 13MP and 5MP tags raised my hopes a little too high as the shots produced were wanting. Under bright conditions, they performed okay, but most of the time, they produced washed out, dull images. They had to cut corners somewhere, right?
For a wallet-breaking (kidding!) price of PHP 6,499, you’ll get a truly powerful phone which will leave some phones at a higher price range weeping. The underwhelming camera performance was quickly outshined by other intensive tasks such as gaming, watching HD videos, and multi-tasking. When the pros heavily outweigh the cons, as is the case here, you’ll know you’ve got the most out of your comparatively minimal cash out.
Cherry, you’ve made a believer out of me.
– Octa-core on the cheap
– Performs better than most similarly priced
and some higher priced phones
– Raw camera shots were underwhelming