Cherry Mobile credits its success to their vast smartphone portfolio. Their wide variety of offerings, especially on the budget segment, made them the top-selling smartphone brand in the Philippines.
While their low-end and budget-friendly products might be the reason for their success, Cherry Mobile is still open on trying new things in an attempt to further develop their brand. The company has also released other offerings like the Cherry Mobile Flare Infinity, affordable Flare P1, and now — the Cherry Mobile Desire R8.
This new offering from Cherry Mobile is still on the conservative side but at the far edge of the budget spectrum. The question is, does it stand a chance? Does it have what it takes to stand out from the saturated market? Let’s figure that out.
Cherry Mobile Desire R8 Specs
- Android 7.0 Nougat
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby (micro and nano)
- 5.5-inch Full HD IPS Display, 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~401 ppi
- 1.5GHz MT6750T octa-core processor
- Mali-T860 GPU
- 3GB RAM
- 32GB internal storage, expandable up to 64GB
- HSPA+, 4G, LTE
- WiFi, WiFi hotspot
- 13-megapixel + 5-megapixel main cameras with autofocus and LED flash
- 8-megapixel front facing camera with LED flash
- USB Type-C
- Fingerprint sensor
- Bluetooth v4.0
- GPS, A-GPS
- 3,000mAh battery
Design and Build Quality
As what you might expect, there’s nothing too exciting about how the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 looks. The device shares the familiar design that every smartphone seems to have. However, it’s important to note that its rear camera sensors are positioned perfectly at the back, and they look magnificent.
On the bright side, the company shied away from using plastic for this one. And for what you’re paying, you should really expect a premium build. With that said, the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 did well because it has an all-metal, unibody build.
This made the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 relatively heavier, but still comfortably light for its size. It is also noticeably thinner than most devices I have seen in this category. So if ergonomics is a top priority, you can’t go wrong on this one. You might have to get used to typing on its large 5.5-inch screen, but you’re good to go once you get past that.
What we have here is the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 Rose Gold variant, which looks a bit bland. However, I do like how the cameras are being vertically oriented, with the LED flash at the middle. It just screams elegance which is in line with my taste. The problem is, the camera bump here is real. They do stick out a lot, but the circular band surrounding the lens is protruded enough to protect it from surface scratches.
At the top, we have the 3.5mm headphone jack and a built-in microphone. On the right side, we see the lock/power button below the volume controls. The buttons are tactile enough and satisfying to press so there are no problems here.
There’s also the SIM tray on the left side that can either house two SIM cards, or a SIM + a microSD card.
At the bottom, we have the USB Type-C port, an actual speaker grill at the right, and a fake one on the left which I suspect is where the primary built-in microphone is placed. The loudspeakers of the Cherry Desire R8 are decent, it has loud volume, although the sound quality is just average.
And lastly, we have the capacitive buttons and the fingerprint/home button at its chin. The buttons’ order can be customized in the settings menu. On the other hand, tapping (not pressing) the fingerprint scanner mimics the back button. I was annoyed at first when it didn’t act the way a home button should be, but then I realized that you need to actually press the button for it to work properly.
Speaking of the fingerprint scanner, I was able to unlock the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 easily. It had a success rate of around 95%, which is pretty good compared to other smartphones we have reviewed before. It sure is not the fastest of all, but at least I can’t remember the last time I used the lock screen pattern.
Overall, I’m pretty impressed with what the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 offers on the outside. It’s not the best-looking of all, but it still gets the job done.
The Cherry Mobile Desire R8 enjoys a 5.5-inch IPS display, with a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and ~401ppi.
5.5-inches has turned into the right sweet spot for a display size. It used to belong to the phablet category, but considering how enormous smartphones are getting, it looks normal now. With that said, the screen of the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 is perfect to make watching videos and gaming immersive. It’s also good for productivity, although typing on its keyboard requires time to get used to, especially if you’re coming from a smaller device.
And speaking of watching videos, the display quality of the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 is really good. The colors are vibrant, but not saturated. Contrast is also impressive with deep blacks. And of course, sharpness is spot on. You can easily read a zoomed-out article without losing any detail.
Moreover, the screen is also pretty bright when maxed out. This makes it usable even outdoors during daytime. I also have no complaints on its viewing angles.
Hardware and Performance
In an attempt to justify its price tag, Cherry Mobile used a 1.5GHz MediaTek octa-core processor for this one. It has an acceptable 3GB of RAM, a Mali T860 GPU, and a spacious 32GB of internal storage that can go up to 64GB.
The chipset’s overall performance was satisfying. I didn’t experience any major problem or hiccup that made me want to hate it. To elaborate, its gaming prowess was pretty seamless. Partnered with its large and sharp display, I was able to play titles like NBA Live and Stacks immersively, with good frame rates and engaging colors and details.
Moreover, the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 also handled multitasking and day-to-day tasks without breaking a sweat. Sure, it has the occasional stutters which are a norm to Android and MediaTek-powered devices, but there’s nothing too alarming.
Browsing through social media applications, web browser, sending SMS, and going back and forth with each other was smooth.
Local manufacturers have always kept it small and simple. So third-party skins is a no go and it’s just pure, stock-Android goodness. The Cherry Mobile Desire R8 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat — and the interface also looks like it.
Android Nougat is probably the best OS version to ever come out of the company. Well, not until Android 8.0 Oreo was announced. And judging by Cherry Mobile’s reputation, the Desire R8 might not get to taste Oreo at all.
While that might sound really unfortunate, Nougat’s features and stability might still lure you in. It’s clean, light, and intuitive. And since it’s a stock Android experience, everything is where it should be, so you don’t have to go around like crazy looking for it.
Probably my biggest complaint about the CM Desire R8 and in almost all recent Cherry Mobile devices is the advertisement pop-ups. When connected to the internet, it will just throw in an ad right in your face.
The ads will only show up when there’s no screen activity in a few seconds, but it’s still pretty annoying.
Probably the highlight of the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 is its cameras. There’s an 8-megapixel sensor in front for selfies, partnered with an LED flash. But the real star here is the dual cameras at the back. There’s a 13-megapixel primary sensor that’s aided by an extra 5-megapixel one.
The 13-megapixel camera can take decent to average photos. The colors are passable, although it’s sometimes ruined due to its poor choice of white balance. Images would sometimes appear be too blue or too warm.
Contrast is forgivable, but the dynamic range is not that good. Thankfully images taken in low-light are still a bit usable.
And of course, we also have the 5-megapixel camera. Just like Cherry Mobile Flare P1 that we have reviewed before, the company only added a secondary camera for capturing depth information. It doesn’t have a wide-angle or a telephoto lens, hence the low-resolution sensor.
With that, it’s dual-camera setup is only meant for taking pictures with “bokeh” effect. A trendy effect that dramatically blurs the background, providing a professional, DSLR-like image look.
Its benefits sound promising, but no one actually got it perfectly. High-end devices like the iPhone 7 Plus and the OnePlus 5 has this feature, but the “bokeh” images that come out from them still looks synthetic and fake on some occasions.
With that said, you can expect nothing less from a cheaper device like this. The cameras can’t separate the foreground from the background properly, thus, creating that weird and misaligned blurring.
But if you’re able to get the right subject, at the right position, and at the right framing, you’ll get a pretty impressive-looking photo. If the both the foreground and background doesn’t look complicated, the sensors can easily tell them apart.
On the other hand, I also have the same sentiments with the 8-megapixel front-facing cameras of the Cherry Mobile Desire R8. The images are bright, but the exposure is overblown at most times. The colors are okay, but they are a bit dead.
Thankfully, they work well in low-light scenarios. Images are well-lit, but with a more aggressive noise. The LED flash can also come to the rescue, but it’s not dual-tone so it’s not much. Hence, it wouldn’t play nice with your skin tone and it will only ruin the exposure overall if not used properly.
The Cherry Mobile Desire R8 is rigged with a 3000mAh battery to juice it up, which is an acceptable capacity for what it is, but it doesn’t have the “wow” factor during my tests.
During my active use, it only took around 7 hours and 35 minutes before the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 reached 17%. 15%-20% is said to be the optimal battery status to charge recharging. But if you want to stretch it out, that extra 17% can still last you for an hour or two.
But in all fairness, I went really hard with that test. I was browsing through social media apps via LTE, had the WiFi hotspot open most of the time, and playing jams from Spotify.
I also ran PCMark’s battery longevity test on the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 get some official numbers. The benchmark app ran synthetic tasks, non-stop, until the battery percentage reaches 20%. And with that, the Desire R8 took 5 hours and 38 minutes of screen-on time before it reached the mark. Clearly, it is not the best battery performance for the price.
Cherry Mobile puts out a pretty decent deal for the sub-Php10k price tag. Unlike the competition, the Desire R8 doesn’t really specialize in anything. What Cherry Mobile did is to try to make it the best by equally distributing its resources across all parts of the device.
But the thing is, you really can’t do much for an entry-level asking price like this. However, I will give props to Cherry Mobile for doing its best.
Like I said, the Cherry Mobile Desire R8 has a sleek design and solid build. The display is also large and sharp enough to please anyone. The dual cameras have great potential, and the processor has the right muscle to handle pretty much anything.
It would be nice if Cherry Mobile would actually have better after-sales software support. This device would still perform well if it continues to receive software updates. Also, what’s up with the pop-up ads? It’s as if we got the device for free, so we’re obligated to display ads to compensate.
And lastly, the battery performance could have been better. For this price tag, there are a lot of alternatives out there, if battery longevity is the top priority.
Pricing and Availability of Cherry Mobile Desire R8
As of this writing, Cherry Mobile Desire R8 is priced at Php9,999. The device is available in Cherry Mobile stores, kiosks, and other third-party retailers nationwide.
But if the Desire R8 isn’t your cup of tea, there are still a lot of alternatives out there at the sub-Php10k space. For one, you can check out the Doogee Mix with its cool-looking, almost bezel-less design. It also has dual cameras with 2X optical zoom and a bigger 3,380mAh battery. But the downside is, it only has an HD screen. Doogee Mix’s pricing changes from time to time, but they usually go around Php10k to Php11k.
Also, you can check out the new ASUS Zenfone 4 Max. It only has a 720p screen, but it’s hard to say no to its ultra-large 5000mAh battery — so huge that it can literally double as a power bank. It also features dual cameras at the back with a wide-angle lens, a fingerprint scanner, and 32GB of internal storage.
- Solid build quality and design
- Good display
- Usable dual cameras
- Might be stuck on Android Nougat
- Random ad pop-ups
- Not the best battery performance