OS: Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean
CPU: 1.2GHz quad-core MediaTek MT658
Display: 5.0in. 1280 x 720 294ppi IPS
Dimensions: 143.5mm x 70.8mm x 8.8mm
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS/aGPS
Memory: 4GB expandable up to 32GB via microSD
- HD IPS capacitive display
- Dual-SIM, dual-standby
- Good battery life
- Stutters with games with heavy graphics
- Slight delay when launching camera
- Placement of loudspeaker
The fact that Cherry Mobile was able to equip this smartphone with an HD screen, a quad-core processor, and dual-SIM capabilities at a price point less than PHP 10,000 is enough reason to say that the Omega HD 2.0 is of great value to consumers.
The Cherry Mobile Omega HD, launched early this year, was a promising step for the brand with its Dragon Trail Glass-protected HD screen and dual-core chip offered at only PHP 7,999, making it the company’s most interesting and sought-after five-incher after the Titan and before the introduction of the Cosmos Z. The company released a second-generation Omega HD a couple of months ago, and here we talk about how it fares.
The Omega HD 2.0 has a screen five inches on the diagonal, toeing the border of phablet territory, but at a width that’s just right. My hands are a little smaller than normal so I had a bit of trouble with one-handed operation, but you should do just fine.
Build quality is impressive. The device looks and feels solid, while managing to stay thin and light. Bezel-to-screen ratio also looks good, and the satin texture of the plastic backplate is a nice touch. For those who are curious, the Cherry Mobile logo is located at the bottom of the backplate, etched faintly in gray.
The main attraction of the Omega HD 2.0 is the five-inch capacitive IPS display, with a 1280 x 720 resolution and a 294-pixels per inch density. As you would expect from a typical screen of such resolution, colors appear vivid, animations run seamlessly, and HD graphics come out with just enough oomph. Viewing angles are great, and color intensity and clarity under direct sunlight is laudable.
What’s also cool about the display is that it is protected under what is touted as Dragon Trail Glass, Cherry Mobile’s local answer to the world-renowned Gorilla Glass. This means that you can throw it around—heck, scratch it all you want with a sharp pair of scissors—and you’ll still be able to use the screen.
Ranking second in its list of top features is its dual-SIM, dual-standby capability. Almost all of Cherry Mobile’s principal smartphone models are equipped with this feature, so it isn’t really a new achievement for the manufacturer. Still, it’s an interesting addition and an efficient, invaluable feature that a great deal of professionals—especially in the Philippines—would prefer to have in their smartphones these days.
Running Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean, the Omega HD 2.0 is home to the features and upgrades that come with this version of the OS, including swipe input on the keyboard and widget support on the lock screen. Cherry Mobile pre-loaded the phone with its own apps: Cherry Fun Club and eWarranty. No surprises in the user interface; it’s merely stock Android.
Operating inside the smartphone, along with 1GB of RAM, is a 1.2GHz quad-core MediaTek MT658 chipset, which fared less fluidly than expected, but is a big improvement over the first-generation Omega HD, which ran on a dual-core processor.
Although common tasks like messaging and browsing go smoothly, the Omega HD 2.0 stutters when playing games or apps with heavy graphics, like Iron Man 3. Even Minion Rush couldn’t run without any hiccups. There’s also a slight delay when you launch the camera by pressing the button on the left flank.
The 12.0-megapixel main camera is able to capture scenes with good colors and shoots exactly on cue. What’s great about the rear shooter is that it has a backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor to improve low-light performance, and if that doesn’t work out, it has its own LED flash as well. Up front is a 2.0-megapixel snapper that, of course, isn’t capable of producing the same quality as the rear camera, but does its job well with regards to video calls.
I have no complaints as to the quality of audio produced by the loudspeaker, but its placement on the bottom of the backplate, in my opinion, wasn’t a well-thought out move. When you’re holding the phone, your palm covers the speakers and the sound comes out muffled. The same happens when you set your phone face-up on the table.
Battery runs for 12 hours on the average with two SIM cards active and maximum display brightness—pretty impressive considering that the device powers two radios and has a huge screen. It’s interesting, though, that as Cherry Mobile upgraded the processor of the Omega HD, it failed to improve the battery, reducing the power from 2,300 mAh to only 2,100 mAh.
Sure, it could use some tweaks here and there, but the Omega HD 2.0 gives you great value for money at a retail price of PHP 8,999. Despite the super-affordable price point, it does not look, feel, nor perform in any way like a cheap smartphone, and that’s good enough reason for you to consider getting one.
Words by Racine Anne Castro
First published in Gadgets Magazine, September 2013