Monday, June 10, 2013

Unbox/Review: Cherry Mobile Stellar

A couple of months ago the Cherry Mobile Stellar debuted in the market, together with other spectacular Cherry Mobile products. Now, the kind folks at Cherry Mobile decided to loan us a review unit to try and make sense why they’re one of the Philippines’ top local brands.


The Cherry Mobile Stellar is a dual-SIM, mid-tier smartphone running on Android 2.3 with a Qualcomm 7227T 800MHz CPU. It’s perfect for those looking for an performer phone on the Android that is not too shabby and not too expensive.


Read our unboxing and review of the Cherry Mobile Stellar and see if you’ll want this phone on your pocket.


Design


The Cherry Mobile Stellar looks like your typical Android phone. On its face, the Stellar has your standard Android buttons coupled by a flashing LED and light sensors near the earpiece. The capacitive touchscreen panel is as wide as an iPhone’s and is responsive enough for everyday use.


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The back panel is made of smooth plastic and carries the 5MP camera with flash designed with a chrome lining. Here’s also where the Stellar‘s speaker grill  is located. The grill would’ve looked nicer if the alternating dotted pattern was let go and was replaced by a uniform grill. The back panel is easily snapped and contains dual-SIM slots at the top area near the removable battery dock.


The earphone jack and the lock/power button is found at the top of the Stellar. The right panel meanwhile houses the microSD card slot, the shutter button, and the volume buttons. The physical buttons are soft to the press and are nicely located, save for the lock/power button which is very hard to press.


The Cherry Mobile Stellar is very light at 123.3g, already with a battery. Mind you, Motorola’s Droid RAZR weighs at 127g and even Nokia’s latest entry the Lumia 710 weighs at 125.5. With all its lightness, the Cherry Mobile Stellar may seem cheap at first glance.


Display


The Cherry Mobile Stellar sports a 3.5″ HVGA capacitive touch panel (320×480 resolution) with a decent viewing angle. The screen is nothing stellar (pun intended), just what you would expect from a mid-tier Android smartphone (not as ugly as the LG Optimus L3′s display, then again there’s no challenge on that).



The main screen on boot would greet you with a Cherry Mobile tone and logo followed by a Stellar boot screen. If you’re not a fan of company boots with quirky start-up tunes, as compared to clean quiet boots, this phone will irk you every time you turn it on. After the boot, a default Cherry Mobile wallpaper will serve as your home screen BG but is replaceable afterwards.


Most Android users will feel right at home with the user interface of the Stellar. Like most Android phones, you have a set of the most useful applications waiting for you on the home screen. Swiping it from right to left would reveal other apps and widgets such as the weather, calendar, appointments and the like.


If you’re constantly connected to the web, updates from applications such as Twitter would continually be fetched automatically and would be shown in a one-line format in the phone status area. A very nice addition especially if you’re multitasking.


One feature of the 2012 Cherry Mobile Stellar is its built-in SPB3 Shell, a feature which alters the home screen drastically and makes it look like a spinning panel of 3D app cards. At stand-by, each of these cards plays its own unique animation, the one pictured below playing a rotating Earth with green locator lines.



You can add or subtract cards to your heart’s desire. You can even alternate with the normal Android UI while the shell is active. The sad thing is, as it’s only an add-on, the SPB3 Shell fails to automatically load at boot and you have to activate it manually. Then again it’s only a minor annoyance.


Performance


The Cherry Mobile Stellar is great for everyday use, especially if you like to check your email, your Twitter and Facebook stream, and whatever takes place online. The only snag with everyday usage the Stellar hits is in its landscape keyboard feature. There’s only a certain area which the space bar would activate if it’s on landscape. You’ll be lucky if you’ll get a space on one try; the Stellar usually reads my space presses as Cs or Vs. There’s also the occasional accidental period press.


Powered by a 512MB RAM and a Qualcomm 7227T 800MHz processor(also from the makers of the Snapdragon processor), the Cherry Mobile Stellar sails past a barrage of lags with flying colors, as witnessed here while running the all new Angry Birds Space.



Surprisingly, the in-game sounds sometimes come late after the animation and moments later the phone itself would play catch-up and run normally. There’s also this thing with the Cherry Mobile Stellar not loading applications properly, which would lead it to bring to you a Force Close dialog box. Pressing the OK button fixes the problem. You can try and run the application after a force close. Another frequent Force Close recipient is the Google Maps app. For some reason it just crashes on its own.


Other applications such as Fruit Ninja run smoothly on the Stellar. Remember that 2.3 Gingerbread is supposedly optimized for gaming, so there’s that. Aside from that, you’ll have no problem running social networking apps. Oddly though, I can’t find the Temple Run app at the Google Play store while using the Stellar.


Video and Audio


Audio admittedly isn’t one of the strong suits of the Stellar. Music coming out of its loudspeaker, as one way of putting it, sounds “canny”. The whole back panel vibrates as you are playing songs, which of course might give you the palms.


Videos on the other hand, play wonderfully and smoothly, as long as they’re HD. Non-HD vids on the other hand makes the Stellar‘s screen look dated.


Kara playing on YouTube at the Stellar screen

Another issue I had with the Stellar is its lock screen-to-online video screen transition while buffering. If you have a video on buffering and leave the Stellar for a while, the moment you try to play it again you would be greeted by another Force Close dialog box. You have to try several times and press a couple of “Wait” buttons for the video to run again. So if you like watching videos online, just make sure you have a dedicated internet line that can handle such requests quickly.


With an expandable microSD up to 32GB, you’re sure to be able to load up with all the apps, videos, and audio files you can gather.


Camera


Didn’t have a chance to test out the camera as I don’t have a spare microSD. Yes, the camera won’t run, and the Stellar won’t even let you load Dropbox photos if you don’t have a microSD card installed. But with the Cherry Mobile Stellar‘s 5MP camera paired with a LED flash, you’ll be sure to capture enjoyable images even in the dark.


Battery


The Cherry Mobile Stellar would last up to, give or take, 84 hours on stand-by on my tests. This drastically changes if you have background apps continuously running even if you’re not connected to the internet, in this case your battery would go from a hundred to zero in 9 to 10 hours without usage, even faster if you leave your phone connected. The phone would last throughout the day with average use of apps, surfing, videos, etc.


Another interesting feature of the Cherry Mobile Stellar is its battery indicator. Once the battery reaches a low enough level, the battery indicator would blink red. Plugging it to the wall would give the indicator a steady red which means it’s charging; the indicator would turn green when the battery’s full.


Battery is replaceable.


Box


The Cherry Mobile Stellar box contains the phone unit itself, a charger and a USB cable, stock earphones, an instructions manual, and a warranty card. No Cherry Mobile logo sticker here.



Verdict


For P6,999.00 (with a free bluetooth headset), the Cherry Mobile Stellar is really shines against other smartphones in its price range. You can get yourself a Samsung Galaxy Y or an LG Optimus L3, but with a grand more you’ll be able to own the Stellar and ultimately do yourself a favor by avoiding small screens, over-saturated colors, below average pictures, a cramped screen, and an underpowered device.


So there you go. Share this Cherry Mobile Stellar review on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, especially if you have friends looking for mid-tier phones.


The Cherry Mobile Stellar was formerly priced at P9,999.00, now 30% off at P6,999.00.


‘Till my next installment.


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Unbox/Review: Cherry Mobile Stellar