Coolpad’s first…Note 3??
Aesthetically speaking, Coolpad Note 3 looks very familiar compared to many models that one would have seen from time to time. It has a reflective screen with the NEG glass protection that does tend to be a smudge magnet, there’s a chrome border and has a plastic white cover on the back.
But it’s a pretty big phone (feature wise and dimensions) for its price tag and it does come with a fingerprint sensor. A 5.5″ 720p resolution screen, but it’s an IPS panel. We ALWAYS hear the sentence ‘You get what you pay for!”. With an Indian MRP of IN Rs. 8,999/-, the question one needs to ask is- Do you get what you pay for this phone??
Packaging, Accessories and Specifications
Packaging is very important especially when a phone is exclusively sold online. Irrespective of the e-commerce site and the reputation of its delivery track record, the packaging of the phones should be good enough to take care of the unit and its accessories inside. Coolpad Note 3’s packaging is small and compact, with hard cardboard as its exteriors. Once you open it, you’ll see the phone right in front of you with a plastic wrap.
Though the hard cardboard will do a good job, I wish there was a foam sheet over the Note 3’s screen from within. That said, Coolpad Note 3 uses an NEG glass protection to protect the front section of the phone. Usually, online retailers do bubble wrap the box, so it’s all good!
What I did notice is that the model ‘Note 3’ is not mentioned anywhere on the packaging. It does have the model number ‘Coolpad 8676-I02’ mentioned on the rear packaging label though. The contents are mentioned, along with the colour of the smartphone. Coolpad provides a 1-year warranty on the device. As mentioned on the box, the phone supports LTE network.
Once you remove the phone and the plastic tray, you’ll find three essentials- the USB cable, the charger and an earphone. Note that the battery is built-in. Also, note that there are no variable ear tips with the bundled earphones. There is no user manual or any reading materials with it.
The power adapter has a voltage input between 100v to 240v, which means is that you can use this plug on any country with different voltage rating, as long as you have the appropriate socket converter for this. This is appreciated, considering I’ve seen China and India specific PC power supplies begin to cheap out by restricting it between 220-240v, including tier 1 internationally reputed manufacturers.
The specs are as follows:
|Model||Coolpad Note 3|
|Processor||MediaTek MT6753 octa-core 64-bit processor|
|Expandable Storage||Up to 64GB MicroSD|
|Rear Camera||13-megapixel with LED flash|
|Connectivity||Dual SIM 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
|OS/ UI||Android 5.1 Lollipop with CoolUI 6.0|
|Launch Price||Rs 8,999 IN|
The MediaTek MT6753 SOC uses 8x ARM Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.30GHz which can adjust its clock speed between 299 MHz to up to 1.30 MHz and can use or stop the number of cores depending on the workload. The phone relies on Mali-T720 for graphics.
The design is nothing out of the ordinary- rounded edges with a chrome border. The dimensions are 151mm x 77mm x 9.3mm. The phone is very lightweight and weighs 170 gms. Coolpad Note uses NEG glass protection so that the front display will be protected from accidental drops or damages. Towards the top, you’ll find the front-facing 5MP camera towards the right side of the speaker grill and towards the bottom, you’ll find the capacitive buttons. Note that these do not have any backlit.
The rear is a white plastic cover. Towards the top, you’ll find a flash, a 13-Megapixel front-facing camera and a fingerprint sensor. The camera does protrude a bit from the casing, and the fingerprint sensor is recessed. Both the camera and the fingerprint sensor has a chrome border. The top has an audio jack, and the base has a MicroUSB port for charging and data transfer.
As you would expect, the curved design lets you hold the phone with good enough comfort. The back cover is not textured, but the matte finish cover does make easy to hold a phone of this size. The screen size is too big for a single-hand use and you will use both your hands from time to time. I am sure many acknowledge that’s expected from a large phone, and that’s probably why some smartphone manufacturers make a mini version of the bigger brother.
The back cover can be removed easily and Coolpad did provide a small access towards the bottom right corner to take it out. The battery is non-removable. Towards the bottom, you’ll notice there’s a generously large speaker with a filter to prevent any dirt from getting in.
The phone lets you use up to two micro SIM cards and a single MicroSD card up to 64MB viz. inserted on top of the SIM 2 slot.
Notice that there is a small but easy enough access to eject the SIM 1 card. For the SIM 2 card, there’s a red lever where the user needs to push it in to eject the SIM card. MicroSD card can be removed easily because of the groove on the card itself, but there is no spring loaded mechanism where you find in certain phones that require you push the card in so that it can eject. Fair enough.
Viewing Angles and display impressions
Coolpad emphasized that this phone uses an IPS panel. Though I would have liked to see a 1080p panel, this phone has a pretty good viewing angles from all the four sides.
But with direct sunlight, that’s another story…
The phone does have a reflective surface when you’re looking at the screen from an angle. That’s annoying when you use the phone under the bright sun, or with some light source bouncing from the screen surface. You could avoid certain light source by moving away or looking at the screen with no tilt, if possible. Smudges on the screen can be easily seen as well.
- Rear-Facing Camera
The rear-facing 13MP Camera has twelve sets of colour effects seven photo modes. What caught my attention is the photo pro mode where you can set the white balance, the brightness, the ISO (100, 200, 400, 800) and the focal point.
The photos above were taken from two modes from two different locations- Landscape and Portrait.
The above shows the amount of detail in a cropped photo.
ISO 100 seems to be the cleanest of all. After bumping from there, you can observe there is a noticeable amount noise in the photo from ISO 200 and above.
The video quality for this phone is pretty good, and it records 1920 x 1080p resolution.
- Front-Facing Camera
The Front-facing 5MP camera could use some work. There’s no flash for the front so taking photos in a low-light environment wouldn’t produce a satisfactory photo quality. Having the least amount of blur could be tricky since it depends on the phone and the subject(s) to be stationary.
But in natural light, the quality of the image from the front-facing camera is pretty decent.
Most would be tempted to simply use the normal shot auto mode for the front-facing camera to get the best possible image quality in a natural sunlight. The following cropped images reflects the amount of noise reflects post crop:
Audio Quality Impressions
The recording is done with two modes: Least amount of noise in the background and second with a ceiling fan running at full speed as a background noise. The recording from both types of setup should give a decent idea of the voice recording quality.
The audio is recorded using the default .aac audio format. The phone’s onboard microphone is used for recording.
The recording without the background noise is a very clear quality audio. With the background noise, though it still very audible, the background noise sounds a lot less like a background noise and more as if it is coming from the subject.
Bundled Earphone Impressions
The cable length between the 3.5mm jack and the control is 31″ and the cable length between the control and the earphones are 11″ each. Both channel earphone cables are not of the same length. Excluding the 3.5mm jack, the control and the earphone housing, the total cable length is 42″. For some strange reason, there is no left or right channel indicator on the earphone housing or anywhere else. The only way you could know which is which is when you listen to either left channel or right channel specific audio. The 3.5mm jack is not right-angled.
The quality of the voice recording from the earphones are as follows:
As per Indian government’s DoT (Department of Telecom), a handset manufacturer requires to disclose the SAR rating during the point of sale- such as on the product page, e-commerce site and/or on the packaging. DoT (and US-based FCC) made it mandatory that all devices should have a SAR rating up to 1.60 W/Kg, measured over 1 gram of tissue.
I’ve informed Coolpad to make the necessary changes if possible. On this phone, the SAR rating can be accessed via the phone by dialing *#07#. There is also a section on the rear where although the rating section is present, the actual values are not mentioned.
Coolpad uses a 3000 mAh battery. What’s more important is that the Note 3 has a pretty good efficiency when it comes to a single battery charge. With Bluetooth and WiFi on, I can last with this phone’s single charge for a bit more than a day.
- Initial Setup
Initial setup of the phone is as user-friendly as you would expect, but this phone has only two language options.
- Fingerprint Setup
The fingerprint setup is very easy and the setup ensures accurate fingerprint recording. Half the credit goes to the fingerprint sensor. It’s as quick as other options to unlock the phone. The best part is that you don’t have to rely on a fixed upright position for the sensor to identify the saved fingerprint. As long as it’s the right fingerprint, you can place it over sensor from anyone of the four directions. The recessed placement of the fingerprint scanner does help a user to place their finger in the right position. Those with certain higher-end or flagship models with a fingerprint sensor would be pleasantly surprised at the response time of the fingerprint scanner.
You can place up to 5 fingerprint records.
- Pre-bundled Software
A lot of people are not a fan of bloatware- be it on a PC or something like a smartphone. Unfortunately, unlike on a typical Windows PC, you cannot uninstall the bloatware from the smartphone. Unfortunately, when it comes to Android phones irrespective of the brands, many of them cannot be uninstalled. At best, you can only uninstall it’s updated and disable it. Oh, joy!!!!
There are some pre-installed apps that most of the users eventually download and use- WhatsApp, Facebook, an Office suite which requires the user to use the fingerprint to get access to it, so that’s appreciated!
There are a couple of useful additions: C-Button and Multi-Task. Multi-Task creates an additional where you can expand or retract the list of the apps that you’ve prioritized for easy access. C-Button gives all the quick access phone options like a jog dial.
- Interface Experience
At the time of writing, this phone is using Android 5.1 (Lollipop) at the time when Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) is already out. The Android update is not yet available on this phone. Coolpad uses its own UI called Cool UI 6.0.
One thing I noticed is that during benchmarking, the upper section of the phone (both sides) does tend to heat up. In a real-world scenario, you’ll experience this when you’re running a movie in maximum brightness with the adaptive brightness set to off. I was running Big Buck Bunny 1080p movie via Video loop app, but the upper section started to warm up well before the first loop can be completed. There is a hidden LED light to notify its users about a particular activity from an app, such as from messenger apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.
For reading and watching, both view modes offer large space for reading thanks to the screen size. As one will expect, landscape view will require the user to use both of his hands. Portrait view typing can be done with a single hand just as easily.
- AnTuTu 64Bit Benchmark
With the Click and Go test suite, Antutu will comprehensively test all aspects of a device, including UX, GPU, RAM, CPU, I/O and more. Each item is individually assessed and given a score. These scores can be uploaded to the Antutu database, and then used to rank your device among all other Android devices.
User Experience (UX) – Overall device performance with detailed scores.
CPU Tests – Measures the power of the CPU, and gives hard numbers for its actual performance.
CPU Single Test– Measures the power of CPU by running CPU single test algorithms.
RAM Tests – Investigate the real processing capability of the RAM.
GPU Tests – Measure the performance of real graphics processing, 3D effects, games, and video playing.
I/O Tests – A direct score that reflects the actual input/output (I/O) performance your system permits.
- Futuremark Benchmark- PCMark for Android
PCMark for Android introduces a fresh approach to benchmarking smartphones and tablets. It measures the performance and battery life of the device as a complete unit rather than a set of isolated components. And its tests are based on common, everyday tasks instead of abstract algorithms.
- Futuremark Benchmark- 3DMark for Android
Benchmark your Android smartphone and tablet with 3DMark, then compare its performance with more than 2700 other devices. You can even compare your Android benchmark test scores with phones and tablets running iOS and Windows.
3DMark is used by millions of people, hundreds of hardware review sites and many of the world’s leading technology companies. It’s the industry standard benchmark for graphics performance measurement, a professional-grade tool available to home users for free.
Slingshot test was very heavy on the Note 3 to a point that the frame rates were flickering throughout the test. The test below is a lighter variant called ‘Ice Storm Extreme’.
- Geekbench 3
[toggler title=”About Geekbench 3″ ]
Geekbench 3 is Primate Labs’ cross-platform processor benchmark, with a new scoring system that separates single-core and multicore performance, and new workloads that simulate real-world scenarios.[/toggler]
- Performance Depreciation Test
Devices with multiple cores tend to heat up. As a result, there’s a CPU throttling just like it would happen to a desktop CPU, decreasing the clock speed and hence the performance. While desktop systems have the flexibility to allow the user to upgrade to a better CPU cooler, smartphones don’t have this option. This test will reflect the amount of performance depreciation you can expect from a constant heavy workflow. The test is done by running Geekbench 3 tests eight times in a row with a 5-second delay in between with 24 degrees Celcius room temperature.
Now understand that there will be a performance depreciation due to near-constant workload unless there’s a pretty sophisticated heat dissipation method while maintaining the slim profile. What’s important is that we know how much performance gets depreciation during a near-constant workflow.
When comparing 1st run with the 8th run, you’ll notice that the benchmark scores took a dive of 9.31% of performance depreciation. The difference between the first two runs shows a performance depreciation of 3.70% depreciation.
While the CPU and GPU performance isn’t really something to write home about, its expected for a phone under such price segment. It has a larger 3GB RAM that any user will eventually require in a long term even for the general day-to-day workload. 10.6GB out of 16GB of internal storage can be used by the user, but you can add a microSD card for a larger storage.
The coolUI 6.0 looks good, and using the fingerprint scanner is pretty flawless most of the time which is good enough. Initial setup is user-friendly. No complaints there. The phone by default is bundled with Android 5.1 Lollipop. I hope Coolpad rolls out Android 6.0 Marshmallow in the future.
The quality of the rear-facing camera is pretty good. Front Facing could be a lot better with a low-light setup. You can use the fingerprint sensor to take photographs as well, not that it’s unexpected.
Battery life is great- idle or on load. I wish it was a removable battery so that user can simply replace if they wish to do so at some point in the future. Of course, that would not be required if the inbuilt battery does not degrade in time, depending on the usage and the number of time one requires to charge the device.
But I really feel it’s about time that all smartphone manufacturers should unlock the ability to allow users to uninstall pre-loaded apps should they not require. I am used to seeing some type of documentation in any hardware or electronic items. Terms and conditions, troubleshooting guide, warranty information, etc are something that provides an overall assurance of a complete product. Not having its product name on the box is just something I haven’t seen or heard of.
The reflective screen can be annoying, especially under a bright light source like the sun. Sure, you can look at the screen with no tilt to avoid the reflection. but that’s just going to be awkward to hold and use the phone. The resolution of this IPS screen is 720p. 1080p screen resolution would have made this phone a much harder deal for people to resist. To be fair, phones like Lenovo K3 Note costs IN Rs. 1,000 more. It does have a 1080p 5.5″ screen, but it’s with 2GB RAM and no fingerprint sensor- and it can take MicroSD up to 64GB.
Its just weird that the main capacitive buttons are not LED backlit. It may have been a good idea if the capacitive buttons were within the screen (Like how Sony does with its phones, like the Xperia L and the Z3 compact) so that the buttons can be illuminated while using, if not backlit.
Let’s also not be surprised if people wished there was a black variant of this phone. Coolpad Note 3 is sold only via Amazon India at the time of writing, with the price tag of Rs. 8,999/- IN.