We know that this may be out-dated by all standards but we never really had the chance to do a full review of the dual-core smartphone from Cherry Mobile locally known as the Magnum 2X. Now that we have a review unit from the Philippine-based cellphone manufacturer, we thought to give it a fair airtime.
Weâ€™ve first featured the Magnum 2X October of last year, back in the days when Ice Cream Sandwich was just announced to be the OS of Google’s flagship device. The handset isnâ€™t really a new phone not only because it was released last year, but also because it is a rebranded phone from the Chinese manufacturer K-Touch. The phone was not really initially designed to run on Android. When it was made available in China, it ran on an OS called Aliyun OS. Another handset company, who is based in India, also rebranded the K-Touch W700, and named it Micromax A85.
The Magnum 2X comes in a fairly sized box. The box was simple with all the “need-to-know” about the device printed all over it. Enclosed inside the outer box is another box that houses the phone and its accessories. Sliding it outwards will reveal the Magnum 2X resting on a molded plastic. I only wish that they included a cloth or carved the boxes so it’ll be easier to slide the inner box. Lifting the phone along with the mold will reveal what is to me one of biggest let down of the whole package.
The rebranded black phone ironically comes with White USB cable, white headset and white charger. It’s bad enough that the color of the accessories doesnâ€™t suit the phone, to make things worse the accessories is, in every sense, a definite Apple knock-off. Here’s a couple of pictures of the accessories placed alongside Apple’s accessories.
From the color, to its design, the accessories look exactly like those that came with the iPhone. Weâ€™re not sure if this was intended by Cherry Mobile or this was the exact accessories that came with the Magnum 2X when it was released in China as K-Touch W700. We just wished that Cherry Mobile will not get in trouble for this because as some of us know, Apple has recently been filing lawsuits left and right to companies who they think stole some of their patents.
The minimalistic design of the Magnum 2X fits my liking. Its candy bar design with a tapered top and bottom is similar to that of the Nokia N8. But unlike the N8 that has tapered corners giving it an almost hexagon-like figure, the Magnum 2X’s corners are rounded.
The phone is a bit hefty but I find it easy on the hands compared to other phones which are made of plastic. It looks and feels sturdy especially because of the Aluminum back cover.
The front of the phone sports a 3.8″ screen with four soft buttons right below it. The VGA front facing camera can be found at the top right of the screen just beside the earpiece. The glossy plastic on the front can be a fingerprint magnet, which is a bit of a letdown to me.
On the left side of the phone, the volume rocker along with one of the secure latch of the back cover can be found. The power button which also acts as a sleep/wake button, can be found on the right side of the phone along with the other secure latch that can easily be mistaken as a physical shutter key.
There’s not much going on on the bottom part of the phone. At the top, the 3.5mm audio port can be found along with the MicroUSB port which covered by a removable flap. An eyelet can also be found there.
The 5MP camera of the Magnum 2X is found at the top left corner of the back of the handset. The top (where the snapper is) and bottom part is made up of matte plastic while the back cover is made of stainless steel.
Some of the heftiness of the device can be attributed to the slightly curved stainless steel back panel. Due to its curved structure, users can’t really lay it steadily even on a flat surface as the device has tendency to spin. This can really take its toll on the back cover as the can easily wear off over a short period of time. I only had mine for a week but its already showing some signs of wearing off.
Underneath the stainless steel back cover is where the 1500mAh battery can be found along with the SIM card slot and the MicroSD card slot. Youâ€™d have to remove the battery first in order to replace the SIM card but the MicroSD card can be replaced even without removing the battery.
We really like the design and build of the phone as it doesnâ€™t feel fragile on the hands as compared to other smartphones. The Magnum 2X’s design and build is, in our opinion, one of its best features. Although some of my friends who have held the handset find it too heavy and bulky for comfort, I find the phone snug perfectly on my chubby hands. It’s a good thing that the glossy plastic part didn’t have too much of real estate, thus not being too much of a big deal when it attracts fingerprints.
I’m tossed up with the curved steel back cover of the phone as it provide added rigidity and grip but can be cumbersome at times as it wonâ€™t lay flat on a surface. That and the fact that it’s made of steel which can accumulate more heat as compared to plastic back panels which can literally turn the Magnum 2X into a “hot item”. I only wish that the secure latch could’ve been made shallower as it has a tendency to be accidentally pressed when the phone is placed inside the pocket.
The 3.8-inch screen of the Magnum 2X is just the right size, not too big and not too small. By having the same resolution (480×800) with most 4-incher phones, this handset is able to achieve slightly higher pixel density at 246ppi. This translates to richer and more vibrant colors. The viewing angle is also quite decent. The only problem that we had with the screen was sunlight legibility. At worst case, we can barely see anything on the screen. A little bit of tilting helps the visibility but still not enough for comfortable reading or viewing experience. In our opinion, this phone has the best screen amongst Cherry Mobile handsets so far.
In terms of sound, the Magnum 2X can provide decent sound output on all its available channels (Audio port, loudspeaker and earpiece). The calls that we made using the device were clear and audible. The same can be said when the call was placed on loudspeaker. At its loudest, the phone’s loudspeaker is able to produce sound loud enough for a decent hearing experience. And even at its loudest, the sound quality remains decent with only minimal hissing.
The sound through the 3.5mm audio port is what one may expect out of an average smartphone. And while we donâ€™t suggest plugging in your pricey cans in this handset, a pair of decent earphones (not the one that came with the phone) should give users a pleasant aural experience.
A phone with 1GHz dual-core processor may not be as astounding nowadays as it was last year especially with the release of processors with higher clock speed and more cores. Nevertheless, the Magnum 2X’s performance benchmark test shows impressive results.
The Magnum 2X scored an impressive 4915 in the AnTuTu Benchmark (v2.7.3). Quadrant scored the device 2765 which is a couple of hundreds better than its result when it was running on Froyo. The handset also scored a decent result from the NenaMark2 test besting the LG Optimus 2X by a hair.
Unless youâ€™re really in to processor-heavy apps or planning to use the phone for something out of the ordinary, you wonâ€™t really feel much of a difference between using a single core phone and a dual core one. Case of the statement is comparing the usability and responsiveness of the Magnum 2X and my Nexus S which are both running on the same clock speed. Both phones are equally capable of providing decent performance and are able to handle multitasking quite well. Both phones were also able to run most apps smoothly with no lags and are responsive to tilts and taps.
Our take on this is that it’s a case of a â€œgood to haveâ€ rather than a â€œneed to haveâ€. We can definitely say that there are some things better done in dual core phones, but for the most part a single core handset would suffice.
This dual-core handset initially came pre-installed with Froyo (Android 2.2) but the review unit that we have already has Gingerbread (Android 2.3.4) in it and from the looks of things, may even run on ICS if a future update or hack would be available.
Unlike other handsets running on Gingerbread OS, I am glad that Cherry Mobile decided not to put any annoying skin on the Magnum 2X and retained the same Gingerbread feel. Maybe it’s just me but weird looking skin is just not my cup of tea.
By default, the keyboard of the Magnum 2X is set to TouchPal. It’s a software developed by CoolTek as an alternative input for mobile devices. There’s an option on the Settings to switch from TouchPal to Android Keyboard.
I personally prefer the Android keyboard over the TouchPal for a number of reasons but my main reason is that Iâ€™m more comfortable using the Android keyboard than the TouchPal because it is less confusing.
The Android virtual keyboard of the Magnum 2X is pretty much like the keyboards found in most Gingerbread devices. One of the benefits of having a slightly bigger screen is that it makes typing using the virtual keyboard a little bit more comfortable with more room to fit in all the keys. Even with my chubby fingers, I only find myself mistyping words occasionally.
The 5MP camera of the Magnum 2X is capable of taking decent photos in well-lit conditions. Although it’s not the best that we have seen, the images taken with this dual-core phone is on the positive side. There are also a handful of modes that users can utilize to enhance the photos or cope up with the current lighting condition.
Here’s some sample pictures that we took using the Magnum 2X.
Although we didnâ€™t have that much issue taking stills in well-lit environment, the same cannot be said in low-light situations. The snapper struggles to bring in more light in dim places. As a result, it can be quite tricky to get a focus on a subject and if we were lucky enough to zero in on a subject, the results are far from pleasing. Images appeared dark and the colors are dull.
A built-in flash couldâ€™ve been handy in this type of situation. But sadly, the Magnum 2X doesnâ€™t have one. As a comparison, we also took some sample pictures using Nexus S that has the same megapixel count as the Magnum 2X. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of a couple images taken by both handsets in low-light condition. Those on the left were the pictures taken using the Magnum 2X and on the right is the Nexus S.
Note: The Nexus S’s flash was not used during this comparison.
The front facing camera was actually kinda good considering that it is only VGA. We were a little surprised by how clear the images are taken using the VGA camera. The camera is also works great for video calling. Besides the usual network interference, the overall quality of the call was satisfactory.
Here’s some sample pictures taken using the front-facing camera:
Nowadays, a 1500mAh battery is what youâ€™d typically get along with your mid-range handsets. It normally last for about a day or two with normal use and can even stretch up to 3 days on single full charge without internet connection and with only minimal to moderate usage.
On the Magnum 2X’s case, youâ€™d be lucky to last a normal working shift (8-9 hours) with moderate to heavy use without reaching for your iPhone-ish charger and cable. The phone gulps down on its juice like nobody’s business especially with data access turned on. But if youâ€™re just a casual user and donâ€™t have plans on putting your internet enabled SIM on this handset, that phone should last you a whole day.
Just to let you in on what we did, we fully charged (turned off while charging if we may add) the phone and turned it on to watch a Bob Marley 2012 documentary to see what the viewing experience was like. After discovering that the phone, as with most Android phones, doesnâ€™t have native support for .avi files, we decided to download a third-party video player along with its codec using its 3G connection.
The whole process was done in less than 3 minutes and after checking a couple of emails, weâ€™re off to watch the film. The volume was cranked to its peak, the display set to its brightest and a couple of apps like email, FB and Twitter were running on the back ground and was set to automatically fetch data every 5 mins. 2 hours in on a 2 hours and 53 minutes documentary, we were warned that the battery was at 15% and that we need to charge. We didnâ€™t charge the phone but instead we turned off the data access. We finished the entire thing with the battery status at 7%.
Here’s a screenshot of the battery status that we took after watching the documentary.
The next day, after charging the phone up to a 100% while it is off, we decided to use the phone as Wi-Fi hotspot and left without any apps running on the background.
Here’s a screenshot of how the phone fared as a hotspot.
Overall, we enjoyed our brief time with the Magnum 2X. We really liked the simple but sturdy structure of the phone it doesnâ€™t feel fragile in the hands. We donâ€™t suggest long periods of usage (if you can do that given the battery life) as the phone can really get uncomfortably hot, but nothing really alarming to the point that it can burn you. The just-the-right-size screen has also done well in certain areas but can still be worked on to improve outdoor legibility.
The phone was very responsive and was able to handle almost all of the things that we threw its way, thanks to its dual-core processor. Games along with other tasking apps ran smoothly with only a few but tolerable lags here and there, nothing really annoying. The handset was able to deliver decent sound output, but couldâ€™ve been better if it has a pair of loudspeaker instead of only one.
Given the right circumstances, the 5MP shooter on this phone was also able to deliver good results. Even with the lack of built-in flash, the Magnum 2X is still able to capture decent pictures and videos in well-lit areas. Given the fact that the Magnum 2X has two cores (that we shouldâ€™ve known by now) the battery life is expected to be a little shorter than what weâ€™re used to seeing in other single core phones. But we were not expecting that the battery life is going to be this short.
As weâ€™ve mentioned earlier, the battery life is dependent on how you plan to use this device. But for this phone, we strongly suggest to keep your charger handy for good measure.
Whatever may be your take on rebranded phone is really up to you, but what we have to bear in mind about it is that it enables local brands such as Cherry Mobile to compete with big names in the cellphone industry by giving them an edge in the pricing department. By deducting all the cost of R&D and other expenditures involve in manufacturing a device, companies like Cherry Mobile can sell rebranded units at a much cheaper price as compared with other brand-new handsets from other manufacturers.
When the phone was released late last year, it had a fairly competitive price tag of Php19,999. But even at that price, consumers were still reluctant to buy the handset as some of them would rather prefer a second hand unit or gray unit of the same price and specs than the Magnum 2X.
Around this month though, Cherry Mobile has finally dropped the price of the Magnum 2X to an SRP of Php14,999.
Cherry Mobile Magnum 2X specs:
3.8â€³ capacitive display @ 480Ã—800 pixels*
1.0GHz NVidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor
8GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD (4GB included)
5MP rear camera w/ 720p video recording
VGA front-facing camera
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi hotspot
GPS w/ aGPS support
1500mAh Li-Ion battery
Android 2.3 Gingerbread
Editor’s Note: This is a fairly old smartphone from Cherry Mobile but it still remains the flagship handset by the local company. The upgrade to Gingerbread and the 25% price drop was a noticeable merit for us to revisit it and do a full review. – Yuga