Is it the best budget Windows device to get this summer season? Cherry Mobile is set to release the Windows 10-powered Alpha Prime 5 sporting modest internals at a sub-Php5k price this quarter, and here’s our review.
Parts of our Hands-on and First Impressions were taken account into creating this review.
Table of Contents
Design and Construction
The device itself is a showmanship of a polycarbonate and metallic affair. The front has the screen, the call speaker, three non-lit capacitive keys at the bottom, and the microphone sits right at the bottom edge. Both the top and bottom parts of the front of the device have been carved in a way that it would look flat. As a result of the screen guard’s factory application, you may notice several bubble gaps on the screen which can be easily removed.
All of the sides of the device are embodied with chrome and are most prominent on the top and bottom parts. On top lay the 3.5mm headphone jack and the microUSB port that is located far into the back part. The volume rockers and the power/lock button are all subtly hidden at the thin chrome accent at the right side of the device.
.Located at the back are the huge ‘Windows Phone’ moniker which may be outdated since the Windows 10 inception, Cherry Mobile’s logo, a small speaker grille at the bottom left near the center, and the protruding 8-megapixel rear camera that sits at the top with an accompanying LED flash beside it. There’s also a noticeable bevel at the top of the camera, stemming from the microUSB port at the top. The back plate’s bearing a thin polycarbonate with a smooth, matte finish and hints of mineral all over.
Bearing a 2100mAh battery, the Alpha Prime 5 does not have that heft when being carried around and touts a slim profile than other 5-inch contemporaries. It has a good grip, but it does get slippery at times especially when your hands are a bit humid. The back plate can be a hassle putting back due to its rather unusual coverage, which ends right at each vertical end of the device. Overall, the device looks a bit uninspiring due to its all-black color, save for the chrome-colored frame.
Display and Multimedia
The 5-inch IPS display has good viewing angles, vibrant colors, and a good amount of brightness that may be viewed in broad daylight. A thing we noticed, though, is that the device bleeds light on some of its edges which are only noticeable if you have a pure black image viewed on the phone.
The speakers have a moderate volume at its loudest settings, and it can fill up the sound nicely over a medium-sized bedroom. Listening to music via the built-in Groove Music app through headphones is a pleasant surprise as the beats are nicely covered with misses on a few synths. Nevertheless, the device is a great multimedia companion for everyday listening and episode catch-up viewing. CM’s default ringtones are also embedded in the device, so you may want to change those in favor of more pleasantly-sounding pre-installed ones available.
The eight-megapixel rear camera is capable of producing good photos with decent amount of color, sharpness, and contrast on outdoor locations. Exposure can take a hit at times, but a few can be remedied easily by taking the autofocus point to another area. Grains start to appear on indoor and low-light scenarios. Here are a few sample photos:
Videos also do well, as the colors look good even when zoomed in. Sadly, only you can only record videos up to 720p HD at 30fps. Here’s a sample clip:
OS, UI, and Apps
The Alpha series has been known to bake Redmond’s Windows mobile operating systems right out of the box, and the Prime 5 is no exception. It has the latest Windows 10 OS for mobile, which consistently looks and feels like a mobile version of the desktop OS. Navigating through the device feels great. It’s fluid, it’s snappy and it’s responsive — save for a few bugs encountered when using apps or the system in general. Using it on a daily basis feels like a scenario with your newfound love — you start to hate it at first but eventually become attached to it as the days go by.
There are a few nifty features one can use such as the Kid’s Corner, wherein a dedicated home screen can be accessed with kid-friendly apps and an Apps Corner for restricting apps other people can use when they borrow your phone. Other than that, apps on the phone upon first boot are the default ones, and the only other pre-installed apps are those from the Microsoft Office series and Cherry’s own Fun Club App, leaving you at least 5.5GB of internal storage space for other apps. We’ve also had a few OTA updates installed over the one-week use of the device.
The dedicated apps for SIMs 1 and 2 for both calls and SMS are actually a good choice for those who want to use a preferred SIM right away without any frills. It’s worth noting that there’s no clock nor calendar app pre-installed. It’s easy downloading on the Windows Store, but those who might want to use those apps right out of the box might feel a little confused. The whole ecosystem still suffers from prominent apps still unavailable in this platform as compared to both Android’s and iOS’ stores, but we’re seeing improvement as we noticed that more free apps are being launched.
Perfomance and Benchmarks
Bugs in the Windows 10 for Mobile do have an effect on how you interact with a few apps, and the good thing is that these are minimal interference and does not hamper much on general use. As equipped with a 1GB and a quad-core Snapdragon processor, games do work well with some graphic-intensive games available with noticeable slowdowns and zero to a few lags. Here’s what we’ve got from the benchmarks available:
AnTuTu 6.0 – 27,642
WP Bench – 187.56
Basemark OS II – 452
PhoneMark – 641
Connectivity and Battery Life
Connectivity is great on the Alpha Prime 5. Mobile data connection is swift, and the options to connect another device via the hotspot feature is good as well. The same goes with all other basic connectivity functions such as calls, texts, Bluetooth, and GPS. You might find yourself using more of your headphones when you call, as call speakers are really weak and are not conducive to use in noisy, outdoor environments.
As expected, the 2100mAh battery on the device can last for up to a day of light to moderate calls, texts, music, and internet surfing over both WiFi and mobile data. Battery Test from WP Bench clocks the phone at 3 hours and 11 minutes. Video loop test at 0% volume and 50% brightness lasted longer as it gave 6 hours and 49 minutes result. Our verdict: You’d probably need a power bank if you’re looking at the Prime 5 to be your daily driver.
Cherry Mobile is one of the very few brands in the country to bring in Windows phones, and the Prime 5 is the successor to the company’s Alpha offerings in the past two years. It’s simple, it’s affordable, and it simply stands out over other devices offered along the Php3,999 price it’s asking for. The device has Windows 10 which may be ridden with a few bugs but generally is a joy to use for everyday activities — the camera is decent, the display is good, and sound quality is great.
On the other hand, there could be those deal-breakers: that short battery life, the weak call speakers, and maybe the fact that it’s actually baked into Windows 10 may be deciding factors. I personally don’t mind the Windows 10 — it’s a refreshing OS that takes a more user-friendly approach to things, and it may be something that first-time smartphone users may like. App growth may be slow, but at least we’ve seen the progress these past few months.
Nevertheless, the Alpha Prime 5 is a promising inexpensive Windows 10 device, and could be that smartphone you need in case you switch over to all of Microsoft’s services.
Cherry Mobile Alpha Prime 5 specs:
5-inch HD IPS display, 294ppi
1.1GHz Snapdragon 210 MSM8909 quad-core processor
Adreno 304 GPU
8GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD
8-megapixel rear camera w/ LED flash
2-megapixel front camera
What we liked about it:
What we didn’t like about it:
*Short battery life
*Weak call speakers