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March 13, 2014

Cherry Mobile Cosmos Z2 Review

You saw how its octa-core chipset fared in our usual benchmark tests. We also gave you a quick tour of its physical attributes. Now it’s time for us to take a closer look at the Cherry Mobile Cosmos Z2 and see if it’s worthy of your buck.

The first time we laid our eyes on the Cosmos Z2 during its launch, the thing that jumped out at us was the resemblance the phone has with some of the older Sony Xperia smartphones like the Sony Xperia S.

Design & Construction.

This faint design similarity is mainly attributed to the Cosmos Z2’s rectangular form factor with slightly rounded edges, as well as the thin strip of plastic that runs across the bottom portion of the handset’s chin.

When we laid the phone on its sides, we get to marvel at the Cosmos Z2’s thin waistline which only measures 7.59mm at its thickest. It’s not thinnest handset in the lot, but it’s up there among the ranks of the Xperia Z and the iPhone 5.

Cherry Mobile Cosmos Z2

The Cosmos Z2 has a relatively straightforward button layout which comprises of the Power button on the top half of its right flank and a pair of buttons for the volume control on the other side. The audio jack is situated at the top, while the USB port is located at the bottom.

Apart from the 18MP rear camera and the adjacent built-in flash, the other major components of the phone are nicely tucked underneath the handset’s removable back cover. This includes the MicroSD card slot, a pair of SIM card slots of different sizes (Micro for SIM2 and Regular for the other) and the Cosmos Z2’s 2000mAh battery pack.

Display and Multimedia

Five-inch screen with full-HD resolution is something we’ve come to expect from flagship phones, and the Cosmos Z2is no exception to that. But in addition to its crisp, pixel-packed display, the manufacturer of the phone has also utilized a bunch of other screen technologies, such as One Glass Solution (OGS) and In-Plane Switching (IPS), to keep the thickness of the screen at a minimum and for improved viewing angle.

Cosmos Z2 philippines

These said screen technologies certainly helped the Cosmos Z2 in producing respectable output which bodes well when the phone is used for watching movies.

Unfortunately, when we did use the phone as movie player, we often find ourselves using an earphone/headphone because the sound coming out of its inbuilt speakers were a little too soft for comfortable listening.

CM Cosmos Z2

In addition to the aforementioned screen technologies, the Cosmos Z2 front panel also offers some level of protection against scratches courtesy of the Asahi Dragontrail glass.

Now we’re not entirely sure how much beating the screen’s protective coating can withstand, but we think that it should be able to handle light scratches.

OS, UI and Apps

As with most Android devices currently in the market, the Cosmos Z2 ships with Android Jelly bean pre-installed on it. The good thing though is that CM stated that they will be rolling out an Android KitKat update for the Z2 which will be released this month or on April. Let’s just wish they commit to that promise.

Cosmos Z2 Homescreen

Now let’s get down to the specifics of the Cosmos Z2’s software. Just like most other devices that come before it, their new octa-core smartphone rocks a skinned version of Android. But mind you, this new custom UI is unlike we’ve seen before.

I can’t begin to express how relieved I was for not having to put up with the horribly-designed icons that the company used on their older handsets. Instead of a somewhat toyish look, CM’s new and improved custom UI now has a minimalist feel to it which also extends to other sections of the phone’s UI, as well as on some of the native Android apps.

Native apps

We’re not saying that we like the new layout, but it’s definitely better than the company’s previous attempts to differentiate their offering from other Android devices in the market. The only gripe we have with this revamped UI is that the messages, call logs and pictures in the gallery are not arranged according to the time it was received/placed/taken.

Other than that though, we have to give it to Cherry Mobile for taking the time to refine their custom UI. It’s far from perfect, but hopefully these little issues will be fixed when they roll out the Android KitKat update.

Performance and Benchmark

Before this long-overdue review (sorry for that folks), we’ve already shared with you the results we got from the Cosmos Z2 when we ran our usual synthetic benchmark tests on it. In case you missed it, here’s a recap of the Cosmos Z2’s benchmark scores:

AnTuTu: 22,911
NenaMark 2: 56.9fps
Quadrant Standard: 16,169
Vellamo: 1,901(HTML5)/630 (Metal)

Now as far as real-world use is concerned though, the Cosmos Z2 is not as lag-free as we hope it would be. We’re not sure if it’s the custom UI or something else, but we’ve experience more than a handful of stutters and random reboots during our time with the handset.

We also noticed that the smartphone has a tendency to get really really warm, especially when we’re running resource-heavy apps or whenever we’re using it as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Cosmos Z2

It’s not an isolated case though as we’ve seen other Android devices exhibit the same trait whenever its innards are pushed to its limits. Add the fact that the handset has an 8-core processor, then there’s a big chance that things can get a little toasty when you hit the gas pedal a little bit too hard.

Camera

Based on our previous encounters with its siblings, we didn’t expect much from the Cosmos Z2’s 18MP rear camera. However, as soon as we started reviewing the pictures we took using the handset’s main camera, we we’re surprised with the quality we got out of it.

It’s not, by any means, groundbreaking to a point that it can replace your point-and-shoot camera, but it’s certainly better compared to other Cherry Mobile we’ve reviewed in recent times. The autofocus is quick and, most of the time, is accurate and the images have a respectable sharpness and contrast to it.

In addition to its commendable performance in the stills department, the video quality is also pretty decent. The camera at the back can shoot 1080p clips at 30fps which is something we’ve come to expect from mid-tier and high-end smartphones.

Audio and Call Quality

As mentioned earlier in the Display and Multimedia section, the audio output of the Cosmos Z2 leaves a lot to be desired. Not only was the volume coming out of its speaker a bit lacking, the quality was not that great either.

Luckily, the handset’s earpiece doesn’t suffer from the phone’s rather poor audio performance. We were able to place voice calls without any problems and we were heard loud and clear by the people we’ve talked to using the Cosmos Z2.

Battery

Now here’s the part most of you have been itching to know – the battery life. Well sad to say, but it seems that the Cosmos Z2’s 5-inch, 1080p display and its octa-core processor proved too much to handle for the handset’s measly 2000mAh battery pack as it struggle to give us a decent mileage per charge.

Cosmos Z2 battery usage

And Cherry Mobile knows this too, which leads us to think that they intentionally changed the layout of “Battery Usage” (seen above) under Settings so users (and the reviewers for that matter) will have no access to the actual time the handset is left on. Instead, users can only see a pie graph which shows all the apps which used up the juice and how much of the total power each of these apps consumed.

To give you a perspective of how much the battery lasts on a single charge, we’ve put the Cosmos Z2 through our usual battery which involves looping a 1080p clip while the handset is set to Airplane Mode and the volume 0% and the brightness set to 50%.

Cosmos Z2 back

As you’ve probably guessed, the result was nothing to write home about. It only gave us an average of 3.5 hours of continuous full-HD movie playback on a single full charge. On a typical use, however, the Cosmos Z2 can last around 6-7 hours with casual use and with the data connection turned on.

Conclusion

By and large, the Cherry Mobile Cosmos Z2 is a pretty respectable handset despite some of the shortcomings we pointed out in this review. It’s got most of the things you’d typically look for in a high-end smartphone, but it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to own one.

Cherry Mobile Cosmos Z2 specs:
5-inch fHD IPS OGS display @ 1920×1080 pixels, 440ppi
Dragontrail Glass
1.7GHz MediaTek MT6592 octa-core processor
2GB RAM
Mali 450MP GPU
Expandable 16GB internal storage
up to 64GB via microSD
3G/HSPA+
Dual-SIM, Dual-Standby
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
FM Radio Tuner
GPS
USB On-The-Go support
18MP BSI rear camera, LED flash
1080p video recording @ 30fps
8MP front-facing camera
Li-Ion 2,000mAh battery
Android 4.2 Jellybean
upgradable to Android KitKat
145 x 69.8 x 7.5mm

However, should you be persuaded to buy one (that is if you can still find one), we highly recommend sparing a few extra hundred and invest on a decent Power Bank, because with the kind of mileage we saw on the Cosmos Z2, you’re always gonna have to look for an available power outlet whenever you’re out in the field.

The Cherry Mobile Cosmos Z2 is now available in the country and currently retails for Php12,999.

What we liked about it:
* Decent display
* Thin and lightweight frame
* Revamped UI
* Affordable price
* Fairly large internal storage

What we didn’t like about it:
* Underwhelming battery life
* Sound output coming from its built-in speakers
* Octa-core is still not fully optimized
* Light leak between the capacitive buttons and plastic chin

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Cherry Mobile Cosmos Z2 first impressions

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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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