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November 12, 2013

Cherry Mobile Apollo Quick Review

Now that we’re through with the two budget quad-core smartphones (Flare 2.0 & Burst 2.0) from Cherry Mobile, it’s time to look at their mid-range offering starting with the rebranded Cubot GT99 aka Apollo.

cherry mobile apollo

The thing that stands out most with CM Apollo is its 4.5-inch IPS display with HD resolution. There’s not a whole lot of smartphones in the eight grand price point that offers the same display quality, making this smartphone an easy pick from the bunch.

The lack of scratch-resistant glass on the screen maybe a bit of a deal-breaker for some, but if you’re not too particular about that aspect, you’ll certainly be pleased with its stellar viewing angle, fairly bright output and decent outdoor legibility.

CM Apollo

Underneath that 720p display is a rather familiar configuration composing of a quad-core processor from MediaTek with 1GB of RAM, PowerVR SGX544 GPU and a fairly small 4GB of default storage. This kind of hardware setup won’t blow anyone away but should be enough to get you through the basic and intermediate stuff without breaking too much sweat.

Here’s a look at the benchmark results we got from the Cherry Mobile Apollo:

benchmark apollo

AnTuTu: 13,744
Quadrant Standard: 4,040
NenaMark2: 45.6fps

apollo gpu benchmark

CM bills the Apollo as the “BSI Smartphone ng Bayan” because of its 12MP Backside Illumination sensor. In theory, it should yield better results under lowlight conditions compared to non-BSI cameras.

After taking a handful snaps using the Apollo’s rear camera, we noticed that the pictures we took under broad daylight were relatively good.

However, the image quality starts to degrade just as the light source dwindles down. Even with the pair of flash on, we still struggled to get a decent shot out of the handset. Well, it only goes to show that it’ll take more than the average BSI sensor to take good pictures in dim conditions.

Poor battery life has always been the trade-off for having a pixel-packed display, and unfortunately, that holds true for the CM Apollo.

apollo battery life

With moderate use this slight battery impediment may not be that obvious. In fact, its 2,000mAh battery managed to get us through an entire day with a single full charge, sometimes even longer when we decide to turn off the data connection.

However, if you compare our battery test result (screenshot above) with the one we got from the Burst 2.0 (which has an almost identical spec sheet as the Apollo sans the HD display), there’s clearly a significant difference on how these smartphones consumes power.

Summary

At Php6,999, the Cherry Mobile Apollo is a very decent phone which offers a good balance between price and features. Although it’s marketed for its BSI camera, which was a bit overrated, we think that its best feature is its 4.5-inch HD display.

Cherry Mobile Apollo Specs

However, it’s important to note that its strongest suit may just very well be its own undoing as far as mileage is concerned. It’s a bit of a compromise, one that some people will take in exchange for a decent display.

What we liked about it:
* 720p display
* Decent specs for price
* Good image quality in well-lit conditions

What we didn’t like about it:
* Generic design and plastic build
* Weak flash and poor image quality in lowlight
* So-so battery life


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This article was written by Ronnie Bulaong, a special features contributor and correspondent for YugaTech. Follow him on Twitter @turonbulaong.

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