GadgetsLab: Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt

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Specifications:

  • Screen: 7-inch IPS, 1280×800 resolution, 216 ppi
  • Processor: 1GHz quad-core Actions Semiconductor ATM7025
  • GPU: Vivante GC1000+
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Storage: 8GB internal, expandable via microSD
  • Camera: Main: 2mp, VGA secondary
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, miniHDMI, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Battery: 4000mAh
  • OS: Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean

What’s Hot:

  • Super affordable
  • Great screen
  • Handy size

What’s Not:

  • Not the best build quality
  • Stutters at times

Bottomline:

  • In terms of value-for money, this device is almost impossible to beat.

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Tablets have moved slowly but steadily from the “nerd gadget” end of the spectrum to the realm of  the common tech user. This is partly due to the fact that tablets are wonderful little things that allow you to take your music, videos and photos everywhere without having to compromise too much between viewing and carrying comfort.  I, along with many others, including certain fruit-themed manufacturers, believe that the perfect size for a tablet is somewhere between 7 and 8 inches. Another reason for the increased popularity of the tablet is the plunging cost of ownership. Manufacturers have made it so that devices can be owned by anybody with a little spare cash to burn. The democratization of technology is great for everyone, and leading the charge, as ever, is Cherry Mobile. Their latest seven-inch tablet has proven to be an excellent deal, with dealers scampering to keep the product on the shelf. I’ve spent a lot of time with the device myself, and I can say I completely get why everyone wants it so bad.

The Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt is a handy little device with a 7-inch IPS screen that runs at a resolution of 1224 x 800. This gives it a display density of about 216ppi. Not exactly Retina-quality, but nothing to scoff at either. It’s better than a lot of the tablets out there today, and blows away practically every other tablet at its price point in the market, but we’ll get to that later. The Fusion Bolt runs a quad-core, 1.0GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, which is more than sufficient for a regular user’s needs. On paper, it looks great. A quad-core device with the kind of screen it has certainly has my vote. We were excited to get our own device to play with, and we were impressed with what we saw. Out of the box, with the firmware that came with it, the device was a little slow to respond. A little while after the initial launch, however, Cherry Mobile made an update available. This greatly improved the user experience, which we will cover here.

The device is very simple. Based on the brand stamp on its nicely-textured back as well as the button placements, it seems like it is designed to be used in landscape mode. The front camera that sits squarely in the center of the wide edge reinforces this impression. On the same edge as the camera is a dedicated “Home” hardkey, along with a volume rocker and power button. All are very easily accessible and tactile. There is also a port for the charger, a micro USB port that can be used to charge, as well as take peripherals, a micro HDMI port for output, and a headphone jack for audio. The device does have internal speakers that are loud, if a bit tinny-sounding.

I have used the device almost constantly since I got it, using it to make posts, send email and lots of other simple tasks. Out of the box, I have to admit that using the device was a frustrating experience. It was slow to open apps, and even the keyboard would take a few seconds to load sometimes. After firmware update, though, the Fusion Bolt really shone. The way it performed was exactly as you would expect from an affordable, quad-core device. While it won’t break any records, it is a happy little workhorse that will handle tasks just fine. The stock Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean OS runs zippy, save for a few points during use. Overall, it is a pleasant experience.

The Fusion Bolt has a 4,000mAh battery that is capable of powering the device, with Wi-Fi on, screen almost on full brightness, for about a day. This is with quite heavy use, but at no point did I feel I was short on juice. It also comes with 8GB of internal storage, as well as a microSD slot for extra storage. It is an able multimedia device, capable of playing HD video, at least the 720p videos that I had, without stuttering, freezing or any of that unpleasantness. The device has two cameras, a main, 2.0-megapixel snapper, and a front-facing VGA camera for video calls. The main camera is not the best in the market, but does a sufficient job. The Fusion Bolt does a great job with video calls, and with a decent connection, can serve as your main online messenger.

The device does leave a little to be desired when it comes to build quality. It comes across plasticky, and the screen protector that came with it was quite easily scratched. The Fusion Bolt also creaks a little when pressure is applied, but the screen does not warp at all when pressed. It also does not come with Bluetooth, so connectivity options are limited. Still, Wi-Fi is really all most people will use, and with the right hardware, an external keyboard can and will work, giving you a great option for working on the road.

On the whole, the Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt is a device that gives amazing value for money. It might not have the most solid build quality, or the greatest connectivity options, but for just a hair under PHP 4,000, it is superb. It gives users a great screen, quad-core computing, and a handy 7-inch overall footprint that ensures you will carry it everywhere. While it isn’t the tablet for everyone, this is an affordable, cheerful tablet that, if you have a few bucks to spare, will make a great addition to your gadget line-up.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 3.34.44 PMFirst Published in Gadgets Magazine, May 2013

Words by Ren Alcantara