Over the years, Google has been becoming more and more serious about making Android the best mobile operating system. Its open-source nature makes it easy to spread out and it attracted lots of manufacturers and partners around the world.
But manufacturers want to their phones to have an identity. They want to look different. This surged the coming of Android/OEM skins that aims to differentiate their handsets over the competition. Companies developed Android to their liking, customizing the looks and adding features stock Android doesn’t have. There are pros and cons about this. The consumers are often confused because of how different Android looks from one brand to another, making it less enticing for people to make the switch because of the learning curve. But on the good side, it gives the smartphones their own character that can make them stand out.
Google wants everybody to experience their own unadulterated flavor of Android and that has been one of the key roles of Nexus devices throughout the years. They are fairly affordable when compared to flagship smartphones but it’s still on the high side. Google wants everyone to experience the power and fluidity of stock Android Lollipop. By partnering with several OEMs, Android One was born. Now, economical Android One handsets are available in developing countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and the Philippines.
There are two handsets released in our country: Cherry Mobile One and MyPhone Uno. They are very similar to each other except on the design, internal storage and price. The CM One is the cheaper among the two, selling for a price of only Php3,999. It also has a bigger 8GB storage as well.
Cherry Mobile One Specs
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- 4.5-inch IPS LCD (480×854 FWVGA), ~218ppi
- 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582M processor
- Mali-400 MP2 GPU
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB internal storage
- microSD support up to 32GB
- 5-megapixel main camera, with LED flash
- 2-megapixel front camera
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Dual SIM with dual standby
- 3G HSPA+
- Li-Ion 1700mAh battery
The design of the Cherry Mobile One is extremely reminiscent of the 2013 Nexus smartphone, the Nexus 5. It has rectangular sharp edges and the iconic circular earpiece on top sits along with the notification LED. Physical and capacitive buttons are not present, as Google prefers on-screen buttons. The back has a silver color and is smooth instead of the matte on the 5. It’s got a Cherry Mobile and Android One branding as well.
The right side houses the volume rocker and the power button while the left side is empty. The charging port is at the bottom and the earphone jack sits on top.
The Cherry Mobile One looks way expensive that it really is. Its dual color setup is pleasing in the eyes and elegant at the same time.
The hardware configuration of the One is not something to get excited about, but that’s not the attraction of the device anyway. But in case you’re wondering, it’s powered by a Mediatek MT6582 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and Mali-400MP GPU. Plenty of storage is also available with its 8GB built-in storage that’s also expandable up to 32GB of microSD card. The One has a 4.5-inch display with FWVGA resolution – nothing mind blowing, but good enough for entry level users.
Cherry Mobile included a fairly decent 5-megapixel shooter at the back and a VGA front-facing camera in front. The lone speaker at the back produces loud audio that can be adequate for a group to enjoy music/movie. A 1780mAh removable battery is used to juice up the device. Two micro SIM ports are also present at the back.
Software – Android Lollipop, bitches
Android iterations has come a long way ever since its first release to the public. To be honest, I’ve only been a user of Android since the 2.1 Eclair days. Looking back, it’s completely a different beast now. Back then, Android was clunky, slow and ugly (yes, even with launchers).
Fast forward to 2014-2015, Google announced the latest iteration – Android 5.0 Lollipop. Now, comparing Kitkat to Lollipop is like comparing apples and oranges. Kitkat is laid back and simple, while Lollipop is flashy and colorful. Material design is just stunning.
At first I was a bit disappointed because there is too much white. My first thoughts proved me wrong though. After initially installing a CyanogenMod 12 ROM on my Galaxy S5, I fell in love with it. Yes, the ROM was unstable because it’s still in the early stages during that time, but the design really attracted me. The animations are beautiful and feels very smooth compared to Kitkat. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Kitkat too, but this one’s on another level. Using the Cherry Mobile One reminded me of those times and its performance really shocked me as this one’s an excellent performer for its price point. There’s very minimal delay (if there’s any) on basic and regular operations. In fact, I could go on and say that it works as fast as other phones with 4-5 times its cost. The only limiting factor is the paltry 1GB of RAM because of the redraws and mediocre multitasking. But it’s easily negligible if you’re not a super heavy user.
Everything has been redesigned – from settings, messenger, phone, lockscreen, etc – it’s new. With the introduction of ART as the new runtime to replace Dalvik, everything just feels faster and smoother. This holds true even with this budget smartphone. Google has done a magnificent job at optimizing their new software for low end devices.
The battery optimizations are also impressive because the battery of the Cherry Mobile One was able to last a long time on a single charge. I’m a power user and I use my phone a lot but I was still able to squeeze in a full day of use out of this phone. I have 2 SIM cards activated on the Cherry Mobile One all day constantly receiving calls and texts on both, WiFi almost always on, Youtube browsing, and a couple of snapshots – the handset was able to last for 13-15 hours of usage (battery saving mode automatically activated at 15%). When gaming, I was able to get 3-4 hours of continuous play time before the battery runs out.
At this price range, a good camera should definitely not to be expected. Cherry Mobile One is not an exception, but it’s quite decent. The camera can take pleasing photos outdoors or when there is nice lighting but it falls off on low light conditions. Google camera app, the one included in the One is really annoying. The user interface is confusing as it doesn’t bring up the options clearly. I understand that it was done for simplicity but it’s really bad – even the Kitkat app was better. If you’re not familiar with it, it can take a while before you to get a grasp of it. Shooting photos aren’t that fast and you should hold your position for a second or so to make sure that it won’t get blurry.
The front camera can give beautiful selfies when on a good lighting condition. The photos from the rear camera look pale and washed up but it can be helped because they need to sacrifice some aspects to meet this price point. If you would ask me, I’m actually surprised at how well these cameras do. You could test it on a kiosk and see it yourself.
Check out our sample photos below.
Cherry Mobile One might not have top tier specifications, but it can still run HD games without any problems. Games like Asphalt 8, Modern Combat 4/5, and Clash of Clans ran really well on this device. The first two may have some hiccups here and there, but it’s mostly because they’re really on the heavy side. For the casual gamers, this handset will probably suffice all your Candy Crush, Zombie Tsunami, and Mmm Fingers gaming. MT6582 has plenty of muscles to handle the demanding apps and games that are available on the Google Play store.
Telephony, Call Quality, Messaging, Connectivity
The device comes with the latest Google messenger app that looks cartoon-y ‘cause of its colorful UI. That’s not bad though, and I like it a lot. Different contacts are assigned with different colors for each thread and it makes things interesting. Meanwhile, your own messages are all housed in a white bubble. I really love this new messaging app and I now use it across my other Android smartphones as well. If they could combine it with the Hangouts app – that would be great.
Call quality isn’t great but often good enough that we were able to hear ourselves even if there is significant noise on each line. The volume can stretch up really high so there’s no problem hearing people’s voice. For me, I tone it down to half volume as it can get too loud most of the time. My only gripe here is the lack of simple features in the call settings.
I would just like to note that there is a slight lag on the phone app when bringing up the dial pad. The good news is this is the only lag that I encountered on this phone. Cherry Mobile works seamlessly on any other application and there’s just very short waiting time on heavy tasks.
Cherry Mobile One has dual-SIM support and both SIMs are capable of 3G connectivity.
Feature Spotlight – Guest Mode, Smart Unlock, Notifications, Device Sharing
Google has definitely stepped up their game with the launch of Android 5.0 Lollipop. The software is not perfect and it’s been hurdled with bugs along the way. Thankfully, Google fixed most of it with the release of updates up to version 5.1.
Device sharing is a nifty new feature that allows consumers to freely share their handsets with others without exposing their private data, apps, and settings. It enables users to create profiles which can set up their own configuration of the unit. This feature is available on phones but I see it to be extremely usable on tablets. Tablets are usually shared within the family and having someone log in and out of your social apps and browser can be bothersome. This also goes with apps and games so each user can save their progress accordingly. Unfortunately, I’m having troubles configuring it and I hope Google sends an update soon to fix this up.
Cherry Mobile One also has the Smart Unlock feature which can be useful if you have a smart accessory that you pair your Android phone to. If you have a smartwatch, you can set that as a trusted device so whenever it is in range and connected, your handset’s security lock will be disabled and it will be much easier for you to navigate quickly.
Aside from the extra features, one of the most notable reimagined designs of Android Lollipop can be seen on the pull down notification area. The quick toggles got a fresh look with the shades of dark blue and white. With the combination of material and gorgeous animations, it’s easily the best change they’ve ever done.
Android has matured very well over the years and it’s certainly in its best form right now. Lollipop is the biggest shift in design since 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. I got to say, it’s miles ahead – Google has absolutely outdone themselves on this one.
But despite all the improvements, I kinda feel like it’s still lacking when compared to OEM customizations. TouchWiz Lollipop for one, offers lots of really useful features that aren’t found in stock. And no, I’m not talking about the bloatware. If you’ve been a long time TW user, you’d know what I’m talking about. All in all, though, the faster and smoother performance of Google’s Android 5.1 Lollipop reigns supreme among others.
Cherry Mobile One’s software definitely puts the phone on top of my list for budget smartphones and I highly recommend it for those who are looking for a solid handset at an affordable price. It can do all the smartphone things you would want and then some. Cortex A7 1.3GHz quad-core CPU, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, and 2 years of Android updates straight from Google – what more can you ask for?
Cherry Mobile One is the perfect budget smartphone.