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Cherry Aqua GR Review

Cherry Mobile is making its comeback into the Philippines smartphone market. At first, I was expecting the same old stuff as before – budget friendly, barebone smartphones that worked decently as, well, as a phone. However, it seems they’re changing their approach with the launch of the new Aqua Series this 2024.

Cherry Aqua Gr 4

Today, we’re taking an in-depth look at the more powerful version of the Aqua Series – the Aqua GR. With a retail price of PHP 11,999, it’s a bit more expensive compared to Cherry Mobile phones of the past. But, it does come packaged with a “108MP” camera with 4K video, a 120Hz AMOLED display, 5G connectivity, and more.

Cherry Aqua Gr 3

Needless to say, I was surprised to see the new changes Cherry Mobile made to their lineup. But given how competitive the smartphone market is now, is the Aqua GR a phone you should consider buying? Well, I suggest you read on.

Design and Construction

One of the biggest changes Cherry Mobile made when it comes to smartphones is the new design language. Instead of following the trend of having the camera setup located at the upper left corner of the back panel, the triple camera system of the Aqua GR is found at the top center with a rectangular housing.

It even comes with a unique layout with the main lens at the center while the other two lenses are on the left and right. Meanwhile, the flash is a small thin strip right below. The layout itself helps the Cherry Aqua GR look distinct compared to other phones in the segment and even in the market.

Cherry Aqua Gr 5

Instead of going for red accents to match the Cherry Mobile brand, the Aqua GR features a minimalist design. The review unit we have features an all black design, and aside from the distinct camera housing, you get a small Cherry logo at the lower bottom.

The back panel itself adopts a matte finish which sparkles when hit by light, giving it a premium look. Because of the matte finish, this makes it less prone to smudges and fingerprints. However, the frame itself isn’t as smudge or fingerprint-resistant since you can easily find fingerprints on it with its metallic finish.

Speaking of the frame, you might mistake it for metal. However, it is made out of hard plastic which feels very sturdy and premium. Although, I would still recommend taking care of the phone from drops especially when you’re using it without a case.

Cherry Aqua Gr 6

On the right side, you’ll find the volume rocker and the power button which are positioned well. This makes it easy to use even with just one hand. At the top, you’ll find a secondary mic for noise cancellation.

At the bottom, you’ll find the dual-sim card slot, but it does not come with a slot for microSD expansion. Beside it is the USB-C port and a single downward-firing loudspeaker.

Cherry Aqua Gr 2

Overall, I like the new design language found on the new Cherry Aqua GR. Not only does it help distinguish the phone, but it also elevates the styling by making it look a lot more premium. It’s nice to hold too thanks to the curved edges, and it is slim too making it easy to fit in your pocket.

Display and Multimedia

Flip the phone over, and you’re greeted by a 6.8-inch Full HD+ AMOLED screen. The display features curved edges, which I’m personally not too fond of. But it does make it easier to hold the phone with one hand. Your fingers won’t accidentally hit any buttons too.

Cherry Aqua Gr 9

The AMOLED screen on the Cherry Aqua GR looks great with rich and vivid colors out of the box. You can even adjust the colors of the display to make it even more vibrant in the settings. Although even in normal mode it already looks nice. At the same time, you can also change the color temperature to your liking.

What surprised me about the display is that it comes with a 120Hz refresh rate. You can set it to be permanently at 120Hz but it does use battery much faster. Dynamic mode is set as standard though, ensuring a balance of smoothness and battery life.

Cherry Aqua Gr 8

With that, going through the menus is smooth, and the same goes for watching videos. But the ones that will benefit the most from the 120Hz display are the gamers. You get nice smooth gameplay, making it a lot more enjoyable to play. But we’ll discuss more about that later on.

As for the speaker, there’s a single mono loudspeaker at the bottom. It’s decent at best, but it’s enough if you’re not OC about sound quality. For a better listening experience, I would suggest pairing the phone with your favorite Bluetooth headphones or earphones.

Cherry Aqua Gr 14

Interestingly, there is a warning that pops up called mistouch prevention if you cover the top portion of the screen. Although you can easily cancel it out.

Cameras

One of the highlights of the Cherry Aqua GR are the cameras. As mentioned earlier, the triple rear cameras are positioned in a unique manner unlike other smartphones in the segment. The main shooter located at the center features a 50MP shooter.

Cherry Aqua Gr 18

Surrounding it are two other cameras, the one on the right of it is an 8MP ultrawide, while the one on the left is a 2MP depth map camera. There’s also a dual-tone flash below the lenses which is slim as opposed to the usual circular flash we see every so often. At the front, there’s a pin hole cutout at the top center that houses a 16MP selfie shooter.

But wait, didn’t Cherry Mobile say it comes with a 108MP shooter? Well, it seems the 108MP isn’t the sensor of the camera but rather a shooting mode. According to DevInfo app, the main shooter is a 50MP shooter. If you open up the camera, you’ll find a 108MP mode to give you higher resolution photos which you can use instead of having to use zoom.

I did have my reservations about the camera at first, but surprisingly the images came out sharp and vivid. I even got good bokeh without having to use Portrait mode. I only turned on AI mode and auto HDR and let the phone’s algorithm do its thing.

Cherry Aqua Gr 10

From my experience, the photos turned out the best when shooting in 1x zoom mode. 2x zoom is also decent, but beyond that, the image quality goes down quite drastically. 4x zoom mode is usable, but you do notice a lot of AI enhancement going on. The photos end up being smoothed out and details aren’t as sharp.

The same can be said when shooting at night or in-low light. You can work with it, but the camera really shines when shooting in the daytime or in well-lit environments. If you’re not too OC, you can even upload the photos directly to social media without having to edit them in post.

In terms of video, the Cherry Aqua GR can record up to 4K video, but 2K shooting and 1080P are also available if you want to save on space. There is no EIS available when shooting in 4K, meaning you need to have very steady hands.

Cherry Aqua Gr 13

But at 2K, the phone’s EIS function is already available, which was a great surprise. Usually, in-body stabilization found in phone cameras in this segment only work when shooting in 1080P. So good job for Cherry Mobile in making EIS work even at 2K.

Check out some of the photos and videos we were able to take in the gallery below.

Like the photos, the videos are great during the day or in well-lit environments. But once you start losing light, expect the quality to go down. As mentioned earlier, 4K is quite shaky especially if you’re trying to shoot tracking video. EIS helps a lot and the difference is like night and day. Even at 2K, the video is still good.

Performance and Benchmarks

Under the hood, the Cherry Aqua GR is powered by a 2.6GHz Octa-Core MediaTek Dimensity 7050 paired with 8GB RAM which can be expanded by up to 8GB. It also comes with 256GB UFS 2.2 internal storage, which I find lacking. There’s no microSD slot to further expand storage, so if you plan on shooting a lot of 4K footage and installing a bunch of apps, your space might be gone soon.

Cherry Aqua Gr 11

For daily use, the Dimensity 7050 handles your usual day-to-day task very well. Browse social media, check emails, and even work on documents all while having apps running in the background. There was no lag or slowing down, making it great as a daily phone.

But what really surprised me is when it comes to gaming performance. As expected, light games such as Mobile Legends and CoD: Mobile ran really well on this phone. However, when playing Genshin Impact, I was able to max out the graphics settings and the game didn’t lag or slow down. Gameplay was very smooth and enjoyable especially with the 120Hz display.

Cherry Aqua Gr 1

The phone did heat up after around 15 minutes with the graphics set to highest, but nonetheless, it’s still an impressive feat. With that, I decided to tone down the settings a bit so that the phone won’t heat up as fast. But if you want the best graphics and 60FPS while playing Genshin, you can with the Cherry Mobile Aqua GR.

To give you a better idea, check out the benchmark scores below.

Antutu Benchmark v10: 531,243
Antutu Storage: 1,063.7MB/s (read), 887.3MB/s (write), 454MB/s (Random Read) & 338MB/s (Random Write)
PCMark Work 3.0 Performance Score: 13,583
GeekBench 6 CPU: 1,079 (Single-core), 2,613 (Multi-core)
GeekBench 6 GPU: 2,483 (Vulkan), 2,501 (OpenCL)
3DMark Wild Life Extreme: 642
3DMark Wild Life: 2,313
Sling Shot Extreme: 4,317
Sling Shot: 5,428

OS, Apps and UI

In terms of software, the Cherry Aqua GR runs on Android 13 skinned with Cherry’s own UI. It’s a rather simple UI, which makes it easy to use even if it is your first time on an Android phone. What’s really great about it is that there is no bloatware.

Cherry Aqua Gr Ui

While there are some pre-installed apps when you open up the phone, these are built-in custom ones such as change wallpaper, cleanup acceleration, lens case, and flashlight. Change wallpaper makes it easier to change the phone’s background. Meanwhile, cleanup acceleration is the best one there is since it automatically frees up space and memory.

Cherry Aqua Gr 15

You also get most of the accessibility functions you would find on other Android phones. These include the three finger swipe down to screenshot and the like. But there doesn’t seem to be special functions aside from the usual. Although you can change the color of the notifications on the side too, which is pretty cool.

What I did find interesting about the Cherry Aqua GR is that it comes with its own version of Dynamic Island. It’s called Dynamic Capsule, and it shows up when you are playing music (works even with Spotify), charging battery, pairing Bluetooth headphones, and more.

Cherry Aqua Gr 17

However, the Aqua GR’s Dynamic Capsule appears to be an app called Dynamic-Box-dynamic island by Dobest Mobile. If you’re not fond of it popping up, you can turn off the feature in the settings.

Battery and Connectivity

In terms of battery, the Cherry Aqua GR is equipped with a 4,700mAh battery pack. From my experience using it for daily use, it does last the entire day despite the smaller size. Thankfully, a 66W fast charging does make up for it when using the supplied power brick and cable. Once plugged in, you’ll also notice a blue ring at the back around the camera housing.

Cherry Aqua Gr 16

However, you will notice the battery draining quite fast when you end up playing games, especially the graphic intensive ones. Specifically, I went through around 25-percent of battery after playing Genshin Impact on the highest setting for around 35 minutes.

For reference, we did run our video loop test and got a result of 12 hours and 57 minutes, which is still a decent result given the smaller battery pack.

Cherry Aqua Gr 7

In terms of connectivity, the Cherry Aqua GR comes with 5G connectivity, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS, NFC, and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax.

Conclusion

With a suggested retail price of just PHP 11,999, the Cherry Aqua GR definitely is one phone to look out for this 2024. It has really great performance, a nice camera, and a beautiful minimalist design. The fact that it can even run Genshin Impact at the highest settings is perhaps one of the biggest surprises we had. For reference, some even more expensive phones have a hard time doing so.

You might still have your reservations given the old reputation Cherry Mobile has in the Philippines. But with the Cherry Aqua GR, they’ve definitely shed their old image, and made a great start to their comeback. And if this review hasn’t convinced you, then I suggest you try the phone out for yourself.

But are you convinced of the Cherry Aqua GR, and would you get one for yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

What we liked:
Really great performance
Beautiful design
Good camera

What we didn’t like:
Battery could be better
No storage expansion
Phone heats up when gaming

CHERRY Aqua GR Specs:
6.8” FHD+ AMOLED Display
120Hz Refresh Rate, 2400×1080 388ppi
2.6GHz Octa-Core MediaTek Dimensity 7050
8GB + 8GB
256GB UFS 2.2 Internal Storage (No Expansion)
Dual Nano SIM
5G / 4G / LTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/a/g/n/ac/ax
Bluetooth 5.2
GPS
NFC
108MP Super Pixel Camera
8MP Ultra Wide
2MP Camera
16MP front camera
USB Type-C
4700 mAh 66W Fast Charging
Android 13

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