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Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 Review

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Cherry Mobile is taking big steps lately. These folks have joined some conventions worldwide and even opened a branch in Germany. These healthy maneuvers aren’t really surprising, considering how well the company is doing right now.

One good evidence of Cherry Mobile’s stability is its strong relationship with other big brands. For one, there is Microsoft, a prominent name in the tech industry, but not necessarily on the Mobile OS realm. Last June 2015, the company was in COMPUTEX event at Taipei, to showcase not only its new devices but also the initial devices that are equipped with Windows 10 mobile; the Alpha Primes.

The line-up have two devices under its shed, the Alpha Prime 4 and Alpha Prime 5. Both are very identical with each other in terms of specifications, but with the Prime 5, obviously, just a bit above in numbers pricey-er than the Prime 4. And after more than a year, these devices are now available in the market.

And after almost a year, the Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5. For only Php3,999, is finally jumping to Windows’ really worth taking the risk? We’ll see.

Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 Specs

  • Windows 10 Mobile
  • Dual SIM, Dual Stand-by (2x micro SIM)
  • 5″ HD IPS display, 720 x 1280 resolution, 294ppi
  • 1.1GHz Qualcomm MSM8909 Snapdragon 210 quad-core processor
  • Adreno 304 GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage
  • expandable via microSD up to 32GB
  • 8-megapixel autofocus rear-facing camera with LED flash
  • 2-megapixel front camera
  • 4G LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth,
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • 2100mAh battery
  • Price: Php3,999

Video Review of Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5

Hardware and Build Quality

It is seldom that we see a visually appealing device at this price range — with the price that low, companies are forced to compromise in a lot of areas to minimize the cost. The Alpha Prime 5 isn’t made with top-notch materials; there are no fancy metal or glass that were incorporated on the device’s construction, as they are only limited with the use of cheap plastic. But the thing is, there’s something about this device that makes its looks very much okay. The Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5, just like any other Windows phone, has a refreshing look — these devices always separates themselves from the crowd.Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 Review-3

Its curvaceous nature and some design accents make it up for its use of second-rate materials. The rounded corners and the back side of the device did not only made it attractive, but it also boost the ergonomics when holding the device; something that we cannot achieve on devices that have sharp profile, say the Cherry Mobile Flare S4 Plus. The Alpha Prime 5 sits perfectly and comfortably in my hands.

Another benefit of using plastic as a primary material is its ability to make any device lightweight. The Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 is, definitely, lightweight. However it is not feather-like, especially when compared to other similar devices, but still, it can be used for hours without causing some stress in your hands.

I also loved their attention to detail. The sides of the device, despite being made with plastic, is tinted to make it look like metal. I know it is pretentious, but if it looks good, then I approve it. We also like the geometric shape of the speaker grill, and the embossed hump at the top of the camera, that accentuates the microUSB port.Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 Review-4

Taking a tour, we have the 5″ IPS HD display at front; together with the earpiece, 2-megapixel front-facing camera, a built-in microphone that sits unobtrusively at the chin of the device, and the capacitive buttons. The arrangement of these buttons are not too different from the layout that Android has. First, we have the Back Button, which doubles as the Recent Apps button when you press and hold it. Right next to that is the Windows Key, which is basically a Home Button that takes you back to the desktop, and can also works to activate the One-Hand feature, which we’ll talk about more at the Software section. And lastly, the Search buttonCherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 Review-6

The left side is clean while the right side has the Volume Controls and the Lock/Power switch. These buttons aren’t the most tactile of them all, but still satisfying enough to press.Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 Review-10

The bottom is also empty while the top has all the ports for your microUSB and a 3.5mm Headphone Jack. Having all the ports positioned at the top is quite a bit odd, and annoying for us. Using the device while there’s a wire plugged in adds a some weight in the device, which causes it to tip over, or just generally irritating to use.Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 Review-13

At the back we have the 8-megapixel camera with LED flash; some Windows Phone and Cherry Mobile branding, which is, in our opinion, adds some character to the device. We also have the loudspeaker in here, which has a pretty decent quality in my opinion. Not the loudest of all, but loud enough to be useful in a tiny room, or having it playing in the background while you’re chilling in the livingroom.Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 Review-11

Popping-out the back cover reveals the removable 2100mAh battery, the slot for a microSD Card (up to 32GB), and two slots for micro-SIM cards.

The CM Alpha Prime 5 has all the essential hardware, except for one that’s missing. The LED Notification Indictor have been opted out, which is really not a big deal, but still worth noting.

Display

The Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 has 5″ HD IPS display, which means it has a 720 x 1280 resolution and has a 294 pixels-per-inch. Thankfully, 720p panels is now the standard to low-end devices, thanks to the existence of mobile displays that has gazillion number of pixels.Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 Review-15

Quality wise, colors are lame, contrast is also not the best of all. Sharpness is something to be expected on a 720p device, details aren’t clearly visible until you zoomed all the way in. But despite its flaws, it is still good to see a 720p panel, rather than the usual 480p screens that we see before under the 5k price tag.

There is also a large-sized screen bleeding at the sides of the display, which isn’t really visible unless it is displaying a pitch black scenario. This bleeding helps to add lighting in the display.

Related: Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie

Speaking of brightness, the screen is fairly visible outdoors. The display panel booms decent amount of backlighting to fight the bright sunlight. However, the glass that is covering the device is prone to too much glares and reflections, which may block the things that the screen projects.

Performance

Cherry Mobile towed in a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor on this thing. But despite the lavish nature that the chipset brand has, this particular version isn’t really the best out there. For a perspective, Qualcomm’s current flagship is the Snapdragon 820, which are seen in most high-end devices like the LG G5 and the Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge.Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 Review-16

And with that said, the processing performance on this thing is pretty disappointing. The 1.1Ghz quad-core processor with only 1GB of RAM and an Adreno 304 GPU delivers expected results. Everything feels choppy and bugged down. Browsing through the drop-down menu, App drawer, and almost anywhere in the interface has some noticeable stutters. It is unclear whether it is the software’s fault or the processor itself, considering that Windows 10 is still a bit unriped.

Same goes with gameplay. Demanding titles like the Asphalt 8: Airborne shows a lot of frame drops, and the graphics look nasty. However, casual games like Cut The Rope and Fail Hard ran relatively well, as it can barely expose the processor’s flaws.

The 1GB of RAM also exhibits its weakness evidently. Switching between apps aren’t seamless and doesn’t even meet the lowest of standards that I have set for this device.

Software

Here we are to probably the least exciting part of the review — or probably the best part, depending who you are. Well, considering that you’re reading this review, you are most definitely thrilled for this part since we see this review mostly appealing to Microsoft/Windows fanboys.

The Alpha Prime 5, just like all of the Alpha devices from Cherry Mobile, runs on Windows Mobile. However, the Prime 5, is one of the first smartphones to operate under Windows 10 Mobile, the latest from Microsoft.

The Windows 10 on Desktop is probably the best Microsoft has offered in a long time. It is aesthetically beautiful and functional; a trimmed down Windows 8, leaving only the essentials. And the Mobile version takes away a lot of its characteristics — a touch-friendly adaptation. Everything is now Android-like, which is a good thing rather than bad. Things are now easier to access, toggle, and control.

The thing that strikes me the most is the notification panel above the notifications tab, which is altogether called as Notification Center on Windows. The design cues of the buttons came from the Desktop version, only with different sets of buttons that are only present on mobile. The notifications tab is also now more useful. You can interact with each notifications right at the tab itself, without the need to open the corresponding application.

Another thing to love is the on-screen keyboard. The keys are a bit tall and slim, but I was able to adopt it easily; which is quite surprising as it really takes time for anyone to adjust when using an unfamiliar keyboard. There’s also a One-Hand feature, which works like the one we see on iOS devices, which cuts the display in half; rather than slimming down the entire display, which is something that I would really prefer.

But Windows 10 is still far from perfect — and quite possibly an enough reason for any Android-lover to switch over. The long-standing issue of people with Windows mobile is the negligible number of available applications when compared to Android, and even iOS. But Windows is trying to cope up slowly, or at least Facebook is trying to help them because of the release of a dedicated and improved Facebook and Messenger app; and a beta version of Instagram, which actually works really well considering that it is in its early stages. But still, today’s trendy apps like Snapchat, top-caliber game titles, and even a real YouTube app is still nowhere to be found.

Overall, considering all its flaws, the Windows 10 Mobile software is still capable and utilitarian.

Camera

We have an 8-megapixel primary with LED flash on this thing. With such cheap price tag, you can expect that the camera sensors can produce uninspiring photo quality — and the result is really something to be expected. I have seen a lot of devices with 8-megapixel cameras that performed better.

Sharpness is really failing — it seems like subjects are misfocused, but they are not, everything just looks so soft on this thing. There are also a lot of noise, even in scenarios with good-lighting. Color reproduction is also lame. And the dynamic range is also terrible. Dark areas can go pitch black while the bright areas can go complete overblown. The camera also struggles to focus a lot of times.

It can also record 720p videos, but the quality is exactly the same with the stills. Also, with a single built-in microphone attached to the device, video recordings only have mono audio on them.

The 2-megapixel front-facing camera can take decent selfies, but you don’t wanna go trigger-happy on taking self portraits. However, it can really serve you well during Video Calls. You can do Skype calls on ill-lit places, and not worry about the person on the other side not seeing your face. Image is bright enough, but tons of noise and grains are present.

Connectivity

The Prime 5 holsters all of the necessary antennas to support your daily busy lifestyle. We got Wifi b/g/n on tow, together with  Bluetooth 4.0. The two SIM Card slots also holster the ultra-fast 4G connectivity, something that we don’t usually see on budget device like this.

Both the Wifi and Bluetooth performed well as expected. I was able to get very good to decent signal anywhere in my house while connected in our home network. The device didn’t also encounter any choppiness while playing music through a Bluetooth speaker.

Related: Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab Review

The 4G networks were also speedy during my tests. Considering that your location is under 4G coverage, you can get impressive network speeds.

Battery

The device has a pretty mediocre battery capacity. We’re only dealing with a 2100mAh battery, which is substantially larger than 1800mah that we see in worst case scenarios.

Longevity has been decent. This thing can surely last you a full day, with casual web browsing and sending/receiving SMS. You surely have to recharge it every night. While light to moderate usage still passed our four-hour passing mark, that’s hours of gaming and streaming videos online.

Verdict

So there you have it, the Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5. This device is clearly not the best option for its price tag, but I still see people considering this one. But these people aren’t the standard consumers — these are the people who are die-hard Windows fan. People who love, not only the Software’s brand, but also everything that only Microsoft can offerCherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 Review-9

The Alpha Prime 5, together with the Prime 4, are the cheapest Windows 10 devices that you can get today. But if the Operating System doesn’t really matter, there are tons of Android alternatives  that can justify the money you’ll be paying. You can try the Cherry Mobile FLare XL, which has a larger display, an octa-core CPU, and 2GB or RAM — for the same exact price tag.

But at the end of the day, it will still go down to what you need the most. If your blood runs the Windows culture, the Alpha Prime 5 is worth checking out.

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