Cherry Mobile Defender Review
Cherry Mobile has introduced its Defender which targets the active users who are always out and about — either getting lost in the mountains or chasing down the rapids. Although, the company also made it attractive for those who want a tough and rugged device for everyday use by packing it with decent specs like 3GB of RAM and a 4200mAh battery. Is it the ultimate outdoor phone? Check out how it would fare in this full review.
Design and Construction
This handset (internationally known as the Blackview BV6000) has its outer shell is made out of matte rubbery polycarbonate with a touch of metal on the sides and a lot of screws — making sure that it could withstand the beatings of everyday use. The IPS screen of the phone measures 4.7 inches diagonally with a 720p resolution resulting to a decent 312ppi. The display is accompanied by three capacitive backlit buttons, 8MP front camera, and a couple of sensors up top.
Unlike standard phones, there are a number of buttons on this tough device. On its right are the usual power/lock button and volume rocker, while on its left are three additional physical keys specifically for SOS, PTT (push-to-talk), and camera.
With the phone built for the adventurous and not just for ordinary day-to-day usage, its SOS button sends a text message to a pre-set number which could come in handy when the user is in an unfamiliar place and has lost his/her way home. The push-to-talk button, on the other hand, functions like a walkie-talkie for communication and requires you to download and setup an account for Zello.
The open ports of the phone have protective flaps that can be opened with minimal effort. The 3.5mm audio jack is positioned on top beside an atmosphere pressure sensor while the micro-USB port for charging and wired connectivity is at the bottom. The ports are flushed into the body of the phone so not all cables can fit it properly.
The rear of the phone shows more of the rugged characteristic of the Defender. The back is secured by screws even for the slot for the SIM and microSD cards. No worries as a pair of screwdrivers are included in the retail package. The rear camera with its solitary LED flash is at the upper left corner while the loudspeaker is at the opposite end. There’s an NFC chip in the middle for contactless pairing.
The construction quality of the phone is surprisingly satisfying on hands. While the hefty 247 grams of weight is something you should shrug off with this kind of device, the confidence of just using the phone carelessly is genuine. Mind you, though, the display is Gorilla Glass 3 scratch resistant and not shatter-proof.
With a thickness of 16.6mm, the Defender is evidently not an easily-pocketable handset. Although, this is already to be expected due to the protection it offers. Users may think of it as having a smartphone with a heavy duty case on — only permanent.
Display and Multimedia
As mentioned, it sports a 4.7-inch display with IPS technology so viewing angles are decent for sharing content. This size also makes it possible for the images to appear detailed enough even though its resolution only maxes out at 720p. Although, glares are present when you use it outside but nothing that a quick brightness adjustment won’t fix.
Sound quality, for its single driver, could also go loud enough so as to fill a small room easily and is adequate for personal use.
OS, UI, and Apps
Software-wise, the Defender is running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and is pre-loaded with the usual apps and services Cherry Mobile stuff in its smartphones — these include the Cherry Fun Club, Cherry Play, Cherry Prepaid, etc. Although, we didn’t get the feeling to uninstall some of them right away as the handset carries 32GB of internal storage so there’s room for media content and more apps to install on the phone. Out of that 32GB space, about 24GB is usable as the rest has been used up by the software.
Navigation through its interface is a breeze and switching between apps is generally fluid. Having installed Android’s 6.0 Marshmallow, it benefits from the software’s bells and whistles that are pretty useful for everyday operation.
On paper, the camera department sounds impressive with its 18-megapixel sensor accompanied by an LED flash. However, it’s not all about the pixel count when it comes to producing great images. The Defender delivered decent ones but nothing outstanding and we noticed that it has a hard time focusing on the subject indoors. The results are numerous blurry photos that are unusable. Colors are also noticeably washed out. On the other end, its 8-megapixel front facing camera is sufficient for casual selfies and video calls.
Focusing while shooting video, for us, is more reliable than when taking photos. Using its tap-to-focus feature was spot on and focuses on the subject that we wanted — as seen on the sample video below. However, at night, the sensor finds it hard to focus on a subject. From these results, it seems like the camera is the weakest selling point of the Defender.
Performance and Benchmarks
The Defender is powered by a MediaTek Helio P10 chipset with ample 3GB of RAM. With that said, we were satisfied with its overall performance although playing resource-heavy games shows evidence of slowing down and even lagging at times. This shortcoming can be easily dismissed as it’s clear that the phone wasn’t built for heavy tasks. It can continuously browse and switch between numerous apps in between, though, and that’s already enough for us.
Check out the benchmark scores it got:
- AnTuTu: 49,469
- Quadrant Standard: 24,300
- Vellamo: 2,137 (Multicore), 1,391 (Metal), 2,798 (Chrome Browser)
- 3DMark (SlingShot Extreme): 426
- PCMark (Work 2.0): 3,578
UPDATE 1/29/17: The display of the Defender cracked after a 7-foot drop on a grassy lawn. This happened after all the stress test that we conducted as shown in the video below:
(Original) Since this is marketed as an all-out tough device, we subjected it to various stress tests to create an instance that it meets an untimely ‘accident’. We first did a series of drop tests and lightly threw/dropped the device on a grass lawn, street, and concrete walls.
Physically, you only get some light peeling on its rubber coating depending on how hard it hits a solid surface but we noticed that the device would shut down once in a while. It seems like the impact somehow makes the battery lose its contact, leaving the handset powerless for a split second. We could always turn the phone on right after without any problems.
We also tested how sealed it really is by submerging it in a barrel of water for a few minutes. The phone has an IP68 certification which means it’s protected against dust and water penetration up to a maximum depth of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes so we didn’t have any issues with that. To take it a notch further, I also subjected it to both mud and snow during my recent out of the country trip and was satisfied to see that a simple rinse and pat down made it look like nothing happened.
Connectivity and Call Quality
As for connectivity, this mid-range phone has got all the basics covered with dual-SIM slots, GPS with GLONASS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and 4G LTE for data usage. Using the device for voice calls was clear and audible as we’d expect them to be and had no problems establishing a connection.
A sizeable 4200mAh battery is encased in the phone’s thick body. Putting it to the test, we ran PCMark’sWork 2.0 battery benchmark and it was able to last an impressive 12 hours and 1 minute.
Meanwhile, as for our video loop test on Airplane Mode with 50% brightness and volume, the Defender got even a longer time of 15 hours and 53 minutes. Since it also supports fast charging, filling it up even from 0% only takes less than three hours.
The Defender does what it’s supposed to do which is to ensure protection so users would no longer need to be extra careful when handling the handset. Apart from a robust body, Cherry Mobile also packed it with decent specs like 3GB of RAM, an ample 32GB storage, beefy and lasting battery, and LTE connectivity. It has a standard camera and overall sufficient processing power.
It does need a special (longer) microUSB to be able to connect to the port which is buried deep inside the case so you couldn’t just use any cable for the Defender. Speaking of the port, we found ourselves no longer putting on the bottom flap since we charge the phone every now and then. We find it cumbersome to keep on opening the cover on and off every time we charge. This could be just us but there will always be that impulse which defeats the main purpose of waterproofing the phone.
The Cherry Mobile Defender is now available for Php9,999.
Cherry Mobile Defender specs:
4.7-inch IPS LCD @ 1280 x 720 pixels, 312ppi
2.0GHz MediaTek Helio P10 octa-core CPU
Mali-T860 MP2 GPU
32GB internal storage
Expandable via microSD, up to 32GB
18MP rear autofocus camera w/ LED flash
8MP front-facing camera
GPS w/ A-GPS, GLONASS
4200mAh battery w/ fast charging
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
152.3 x 81 x 16.6 mm
- Really tough, straight-up for outdoor use
- Rugged look
- SOS button
- Decent speakers
- Impressive battery life
- Not all cables and headphone jacks could be used to connect to the ports
- Phone sometimes shuts down when the device is dropped