There’s really no stopping Cherry Mobile in saturating the local tech market. We have seen them release new devices after new devices, from new line-ups, to independent devices; the company is going all-out this year.

Last September, Cherry Mobile, together with Intel, held an event that announced the new breed of devices that possesses both of the companies merchandise; budget-devices, with a capable processor. These are the MAIA series, a new line that compromises the MAIA Fone i4 smartphone, and the two new tablets, the MAIA Pad, and the one we have here, the new MAIA Smart Tab.

Out of the bunch, the MAIA Smart Tab is probably the cream of the crop. Why? For starters, the device runs on both Android and Windows; a hybrid that is just gaining traction in today’s market. Although, considering the Php4,999 price tag, how did they able to pull this off? Were there had been a lot of compromises in other areas of the device that made this possible? Let’s figure that out.

Cherry Mobile Maia Smart Tab Specs

  • Android 4.4 / WIndows 8.1 (Dual-boot)
  • 8″ Wide Screen, 800 x 1280 resolution
  • Intel Atom X3 1.8GHz quad-core processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB Internal storage (expandable up to 64GB)
  • WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • 5MP Rear / 2MP front-facing cameras
  • 3800mAh battery
  • Price: 4,999

Hardware

As what I have already said, the Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab runs on both Windows and Android – something that is surprising for its rock-bottom price tag. And because of that, it is expected that Cherry Mobile made some compromises on other departments of this device. And one of those areas that may have been left out is the device’s build quality. The device is entirely constructed with plastic, with the buttons on the sides also made from the same material, but still surprisingly tactile. The front face is also covered with a glass that’s not scratch-resistant, which is really prone to scratches and marks. A screen protector is highly recommended.Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review-20

But if there’s one benefit that plastic delivers is its weight, which made the MAIA Smart Tab incredibly light. I have compared it to a similar 8” tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and the difference in weight is easily noticeable.Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review-15

The MAIA Smart Tab is also slightly narrower, thanks to its aspect ratio of 16:10; an unusual shape compared to the standard 4:3 and 16:9 that we see in other tablets. You’ll be the judge whether the screen ratio is good or bad, as it would really depend on your preference. But as for me, the 16:10 is the right balance between having the productivity perks that the 4:3 has, and the cinema-like experience that the 16:9 offers. The MAIA Smart Tab is comfortable to use for reading, but still wide enough to deliver immersive media experience like watching movies or playing games. For a perspective, standard YouTube videos are played in 16:9, thus, when played on this device, there are black bars on both the top and bottom of the screen; but these bars aren’t as large as what you’ll see on other 4:3 displays.Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review-16

Speaking of displays, the Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab has an 8″ HD 1280 x 800 resolution display and189ppi. Just by looking at the figures, it is pretty obvious how sharpness is on this device.  Texts looks a bit dull, and a hard to read when zoomed all the way out; Colors are also a bit dry as both of the saturation and contrasts performance kinda fell short. Viewing angles is also limiting, as the panel doesn’t emit that much backlight; also, together with the second-rate glass that is covering the display, outdoor visibility is very lame.

The edges of the device is wrapped with this particular design touch, which increased the ergonomics when using the device. The sides is where you also wanna play your hands as the device starts to overheat. It saves you from that irritating feeling.Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review-17

Taking a tour we do also have a 2-megapixel front-facing camera on top of the display, sitting next together with the LED notification indicator, which can also show how second-rate the materials were used on this device as the light bleeds on the corners and back of the device.

Then we have the Windows button situated solely at the chin of the device; which also works as a home button when you switch to Android, that’s accompanied with the on-screen buttons. The right side has the lock/power switch and volume controls, while the left only has the microSD card slot.

The bottom is clean, while on top we have the ports for the microUSB and the 3.5mm headphone jack.Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review-9

The back has the 5-megapixel primary camera and the loudspeaker, which performed unexpectedly great. It delivers acceptably clean sound, and the volume is appropriately loud. Despite being placed at the back, the driver’s performance still made it very usableCherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review-5

Software

Now to the highlight of this device. The Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab both runs on Windows and Android. Nope, not simultaneously, dual-boot. To start, you can switch from Android to Windows by tapping the OS Switch from the drop-down menu, then the device shall restart to switch operating systems. On the other hand, you need to open the Android switcher software  from the Windows Desktop to switch back to Android. Switching between operating systems will only take a minute or so.Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review-18

But it is not always clear skies on this department. Despite sporting two operating systems; the Android counterpart has a pretty outdated version. We’re dealing with Android 4.4.4 Kitkat. An almost century old Android version, considering the clichéd existence of Android Lollipop, and the upcoming circulation of Marshmallow 6.0. The software version is so aged that the interface feels so nostalgic to use. From the yearning app icons, drop-down menu, app drawer, lockscreen, etc.

But nevertheless, Kitkat is still what we have known and love. Everything is still fast and fluid, without any visible shenanigans. Cherry Mobile’s homemade applications are also nowhere to be seen on this one. There are no Cherry Mobile Play, Fun Club, and any other bloatwares that I think nobody actually uses.

On the other hand, we can also run Windows 8.1 on this device, out of the box. But unlike the Android counterpart, you can update to Windows 10 on this one to your heart’s content, as the update is now available.  And with that, for future-proofing, I have already converted the Smart Tab to the newest version of Windows. The process was hassle-free, as the device will prompt and really encourage you to update as a pop-up will appear from time to time.Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review-18

For those who are unfamiliar, Windows 10’s interface came from both Windows 7 and 8’s footprint. The Tiles feature, that is designed for touch is still present, but on this one, they are now all tucked-in in the Start menu, which is making a comeback in Windows. Alternatively, you can switch to Tablet mode to have all the tiles appear right in your face for easy access.

With that having said, the Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab attains all the perks of having the latest Windows operating system. The well-praised Microsoft Edge browser is here, and it is blazingly fast and efficient. Also, other than the comeback of the nostalgic Start menu, Microsoft also made things better by replacing the useless Charms tab with the new Action Center; a new tab that  can now actually display your recent notifications, plus, it also houses some quick-toggle buttons like switching to Tablet mode, VPN, Locations, etc.Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review

Probably the best thing about Windows 10 is its virtual assistant; Microsoft’s take on Siri, Cortana. Although, the intelligent software isn’t available yet in the Philippines, but you can still manage your way through by changing your PC’s region to United States, or any other compatible countries. Going back, as what I have said, Cortana is Siri’s Windows counterpart; and with its performance, this virtual assistant can really stack-up with the likes not only with Siri, but also with Google Now. You can train to Cortana to only respond to your voice, which can also help it easily understand what you’re saying by studying your speaking voice.Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review-3

Windows also offers us a month free trial of the new Microsoft office; which is, if paired with these wireless peripherals like I did, made the experience with the device more PC-like.

Performance

The Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab, as what I have said earlier, is part of the company’s new line-up that are packed with Intel chipsets. That said, we do have an Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor, which has a clock speed of 1.8GHz, 2GB of RAM, and an Intel HD Graphics card.

Overall performance have been satisfying. On Android, games ran relatively well. Titles like Need For Speed: No Limits, Mortal Kombat X and Sim City are easily playable, without any noticeable frame drops or jitters. Windows programs also stretched nicely on this one. Although, expect some casual overheating. Throwing a lot of heavy lifting on the device can cause the chipset to drive too hard, thus, the increase in temperature. The heat can be annoying to touch, but, as what I have stated earlier, the design touch at the sides can contribute to avoid the fiery surface.

Check out these benchmark test results:

While multitasking is also satisfying; although I have seen other devices with 2GB of RAM had it better. Shifting from different application can sometimes cause the previous one to restart; a scenario that is only forgivable to devices with 1GB of RAM.

Overall, processing performance have been excellent. With your expectations set straight, this device can really serve you well. And these benchmark tests can attest to that.

Camera

And just like in any other Tablets, the devices’ dimensions doesn’t permits use to be taking too much pictures with it. It just looks plain weird and awkward. But with this device, it is not the device’s size that makes snapping with it awful; it is camera quality itself that is limiting us from enjoying its 5-megapixel primary sensor, and a 2-megapixel front-facing one.

The shooter at the back is something to be expected. Everything is washed-out. There are a lot of visible noise, even in daylight. Color reproduction is also failing with the saturation being dull, and the contrast being so low. What makes things worst is the absence of auto-focus.

While the front-facing camera is sure okay for video calls on either Skype and what not, but being too trigger-happy in taking selfies is cautionary. The subject is visible enough, even at scenarios with bad lighting, but details and colors are disappointing.

Overall, the device’s camera sensors are just made for casual use. It can cover the necessary, but nothing beyond that.

Battery

The device has a 3,800mAh battery; a capacity that is pretty standard in today’s Tablets — also, in this price range. Some device can easily sport a 4,500mAh to 6000mAh, but with the Smart Tab’s budget asking price, it is really hard to complain.

With that said, battery longevity is something to be expected. Screen-on time lasted for only three to three and a half hours; that’s a test that consisted of uninterrupted gaming and streaming videos online.Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review-101

While light to moderate usage like casual web browsing, social media surfing and some laid-back gaming, lasted the device for almost eight to nine hours. I have also switched from Android to Windows, and vice versa, during that test.Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review-6

Recharging time is also not the fastest; the quite bulky charger that comes with it can refill the Smart Tab’s juice for almost two to two and a half hours, from 15% to 100%. (Note: 15% is the ideal battery capacity to start recharging your device.)

Verdict

The Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab is definitely not for everybody. The whole MAIA line-up were designed to cater those buyers who are on a budget. These devices offer entry-level performance on the cheap. But as with the Smart Tab, Cherry Mobile is really targeting the millennials — the students; people who are looking for a device that can cope up with their daily needs and activities, that is also worth every penny from the allowance they have savedCherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab review-3

Dual-booting Windows can aide the user’s professional needs; from creating research papers, up to making presentations. On the other hand, Android is an entertainment powerhouse, which offers exclusive applications like some games, productivities, and of course, social media applications like Instagram and Snapchat. The Smart Tab is the best of both worlds. Plus, together with its cheap asking price of only Php4,999, makes this device an essential for today’s millennials.

But then again, to be able to execute those, the company had to make some compromises. The second-rate build quality, poor camera performance and battery longevity may be a stumbling block to some who are thinking of considering this. But then again, Cherry Mobile wants to only cater what is important for its target market — and with that, they did a great job.

Video Review

Pros

  • Compact, Lightweight
  • Dual-boot Android and Windows
  • Windows 10 compatible
  • Capable processor
  • Budget-friendly pricetag

Cons

  • Basic build quality
  • Unappealing camera performance
  • Middling battery life



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