Last month saw the arrival of the Android One project here in the Philippines. Since the launch, we have managed to get our hands on another manufacturer’s take on the project, in the form of the Cherry Mobile Uno. It’s the same basic idea: A solid recipe for a smartphone that Google can push updates to for years. Let’s see how Cherry did it.
Google One phones are essentially the same under the hood, so outside is where the individual manufacturers can make changes. The Cherry Mobile Uno has the same basic Android One shape, but with a smooth, silver back case. There is only the slightest bit of branding on the device, with “Cherry Mobile” printed on the center of the back, and “Android One” near the bottom edge. At the top of the rear, off to the left is the main camera and LED flash, and at same spot at the bottom, you’ll find the speaker grille.
The shape, which is pleasantly curvy around the back edges, fits the hand well, though might be a little slippery when handled with damp hands. Much like practically all of Cherry Mobile’s recent offerings, the Uno is solid. Though it’s priced squarely in budget territory, it doesn’t feel cheap in the least. The back case, though plastic, is resistant to the creaking or groaning that is present in some devices in this price range, and the front of the phone is smooth, beautiful glass. Save for a front snapper and a camera, the front of the phone is bare, with just the screen and a large, though not massive, bezel surrounding it. A headphone jack at the top and microUSB port at the bottom round the device off nicely.
The whole point of the Android One project is to come up with phones that are both affordable and practical. The Uno, like other Android One phones, has a 4.5 inch IPS display, and while it’s not the absolute sharpest display in the market, with a resolution of 854×450 pixels, it is more than enough to do the job. The heart of the phone is a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582 processor with 1GB of RAM. You might not be breaking land speed records with this phone, but compared with many of the other devices at the same price point, this phone is much closer to the top of the bracket. It comes with 8GB of storage, but comes with an additional 8GB thanks to a microSD card, and if you need more, it supports microSD cards up to 32GB large.
The main camera on the Uno is a 5MP deal; not exactly top-spec, but more than enough to take snapshots, or catch that creative spark that people might have inside them. It also has a front-facing 2MP camera for video calls. The point of the Android One is to connect the previously unconnected in a way that actually allows them to accomplish more. As such, Google has seen it fit to bake into the phone, all the usual wireless options, from HSPA+, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, all the way to GPS, and dual-SIM connectivity which is so important here and in other developing markets. All this is kept running with a small, but capable 1700mAh battery. It’s a pretty reasonable spec sheet, and one a lot of people can get behind.
User Experience: 3.5/5
I said this about the previous Android One device we reviewed, and the same holds true for this: if you purchase this expecting a flagship device, you might be in for a rough time. If, however, you get this for the role it was intended, that is a “pure” Android experience, with the features to get you started on the path to the wonderful world of smartphones, then you’re in business.
Apart from guaranteed updates from the big G itself, Google’s control over the smartphone architecture means that the software is guaranteed to play nice with the hardware, giving you smoother performance than you’d get from other smartphones with better specifications, and a larger price tag.
Having tried another One phone prior, we had an idea as to what we were getting into. The performance of the Uno is smooth, consistent, and overall very pleasant. Even with 1GB of RAM, apps manage to launch quickly, even with a bunch of them running in the background. The UI, which is stock Lollipop, is true to Google’s material design ethos, and looks great, even on a smaller screen such as the one we have here. It does have a hint of the same pixilation reported in other Android One phones, though unless you are coming from another device with significantly greater DPI, you’re unlikely to really mind.
Of special note is the camera on the device. While it’s only a 5MP sensor, software optimization seems to make the most of the hardware. Colors appear vivid, and the image processor does a great job with HDR, giving the camera decent performance even in dimmer (though not absolutely dark) lighting.
We did have a little issue with battery life. With two sim active lines, cellular data, and Wi-Fi indoors, the battery barely lasted a day. We’re not entirely sure if there was a change in usage habits, the network, or an ill wind in the air, but this was not as good as the results we had in the past. Still, a day without charging is just about what people need, so as long as you aren’t careless with your power use, and remember to plug in at night you should be fine.
Because this phone was made with this in mind, and the execution of the plan was spot on, there is no real choice but to give the device perfect points for value. There are cheaper phones out there, sure, but not all of them perform quite as well. There are faster, phones too, of course, but they may cost you twice this. Others of comparable spec and quality just don’t perform as well, have old firmware, and aren’t likely to get system-critical updates for months, let along two whole years.
Android updates for at least two years
The very heart of the project is great
Battery life isn’t the best out there
Screen resolution is a little low
We just don’t think you can go wrong with this implementation of the Android One project.
– 4.5-inch IPS display
– 854 x 480 resolution
– 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582 processor
– 1GB RAM
– 8GB internal storage (with free 8GB memory card)
– Supports microSD card up to 32GB
– 5MP rear camera with LED flash
– 2MP front camera
– Android 5.1 Lollipop
– WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
– 1,700mAh battery