Cherry Mobile Fuze Review
DAT BATT, Pt 2
When I first saw the Cloudfone Thrill 430x with its 4160 mAh battery in late 2012, I thought to myself: "That must be a typo!". I was wrong. It did have an absurdly huge battery and that's what made me decide to review it. I even decided to keep it as a backup phone because it took forever to die. Fast forward to early 2014, and its battery remains very strong and undying. The problem was if this were my main phone, it would be pretty much a pain in the ass to use simply because it's so damn slow. Yes, it was already relatively slow back then because the 960x540 resolution was too much for the Qualcomm MSM8225 processor. But it's even slower now considering all the new apps and how much more interactive webpages are. If you aren't the patient type you'd probably get brain hemorrhage from frustration while browsing desktop webpages and various games. Simply put, it remained unchallenged as THE big batt phone. Sure, Cloudfone also released the Thrill 530qx with a 4500 mAh battery, but it had a Qualcomm MSM8225Q processor which is pretty much dead-on-arrival with that 960x540 screen. *Update: I have finally confirmed that the Thrill 530qx sports a MediaTek MTK6589M chipset. I've led to believe otherwise by most sources, including Cloudfone sales personnel that it used a quad core Qualcomm chipset.
More recently, I heard news that Cherry Mobile would release a 5.0", 4,000 mAh phone with USB OTG. That piqued my interest. Then I found out it had a MediaTek MTK6582M processor and thought to myself: "Damn. The gamers would love this for sure.". More surprising is the price. "5,499 Php? Hmm... What's the catch?". Even if I bought it, I was doubtful it would replace my Thrill 430x as a backup phone, which is already sort of "battle hardened". But due to the sheer scarcity of reasonably price big batt phones, I also hoped that reviewing this will raise interest in bringing in more phones with higher capacity batteries, not just models with shrinking waistlines at the cost of battery capacity given that battery technology hasn't made any significant strides lately. Seeing as there weren't too many big batt phones, even amongst international brands, I finally decided to get one to review, exactly to find out the catch.
*While I have not yet identified the OEM of this device, Micromax of India has also released a virtually identical phone called the Micromax A96, difference being the A96 only has 512 MB of RAM.
Design and Build Quality
Personally, the Fuze is one of the better designed phones out there. Not just aesthetically, but in terms of layout and ergonomics. In terms of aesthetics, the Fuze is very executive by design. It's monolithic by stance, which is further characterized by the faux polished metal bumper rounding the phone and its flat surfaces. This also helps the phone visually maintain a slimmer profile. I would liken it closely to the Samsung Galaxy S4 as both are 5" phones and have similar design characteristics, albeit more macho and down to business due to the understated tone of the Fuze and the different materials used in the construction.
It is also surprisingly thin for a phone packing a big 4,000 mAh battery, measuring in at about 10.6 mm. In comparison, the 4160 mAh Cloudfone Thrill 430x is 14.2 mm thick and is noticeably thicker than the Fuze.
In terms of ergonomics, the Fuze puts both the volume and power buttons on the upper right side of the phone and both the USB and 3.5 mm port on top of the device. Having all the buttons on the right side allows the right hand thumb access, compared to other devices where the volume or power control are on opposite sides. This prevents having to switch between your thumb and index or middle finger when pressing buttons. Having both the USB and 3.5 mm port on one side also helps in handling the phone when both ports are being used. However, the location of the 3.5 mm port would've been better on the right side of the USB port so it doesn't intrude your resting fingers while holding the phone in landscape mode.
The recessed camera hole and the tiny nudge beside the loudspeaker are also well-thought design cues. It reduces the chances of the camera lens getting scratched and prevents the loudspeaker from being completely covered when placing the phone on top of a flat surface.
The slightly rubbery matte back cover is soft in feel and provides grip for resting fingers. The faux polished metal bumper also provides contrasting textures when holding the device. The Asahi Dragontrail glass that graces the display feels thick and provides a noticeable assurance of strength when tapping it with fingernails. The phone feels very solid too, with nary a flex or creak when gripping it tightly. Combined with its hefty 183 grams of weight, the Fuze impresses with its build and solidity which is personally, almost premium by feel. The Fuze is definitely one of the best built phones in its price bracket.
The Fuze's two SIM slots which sit atop each other both fit regular, mini SIM cards. The microSD card slot is directly above the battery terminals. Neither are hot-swappable since the battery covers the insertion points.
Here is a checklist of what comes inside the box:
- 1x Cherry Mobile Fuze
- 1x 4000 mAh battery
- 1x 1500 mA charger
- 1x USB cable
- 1x USB OTG cable (micro USB male to USB female)
- 1x Headset
- 1x User's manual
The Cherry Mobile Fuze is equipped with a 5.0" FWVGA (854x480) screen that supports 2 point multitouch. It also uses a TN panel. More depressing is that they used an even lower quality TN panel on the Fuze; lower than the usual. While other phones with TN panels like the Cherry Mobile Flare 2.0 enjoy a good viewing angle from three sides, the Fuze only has two. The top and right side viewing angle on the Fuze is bad. Only the left and bottom viewing angles are good. Heck, even the bottom side suffers from contrast loss when viewed from an angle, so I wouldn't call it completely good.
Here are some shots of the Fuze's screen demonstrating viewing angles:
Luckily, the Fuze's screen uses Dragontrail glass which improves clarity, light transmission and more importantly, reduces glare. The screen isn't a OGS (one glass solution), so there is a gap between the panel and glass, but the gap is rather small on the Fuze. The Dragontrail glass and small gap allows the Fuze to maintain decent legibility under sunlight as well as improve perceived brightness compared to other phones that use TN panels and inferior glass. At full brightness, the Fuze's display is almost as bright as many phones equipped with an IPS panel. Speaking of brightness, the light sensor on the Fuze adjusts the brightness very well as the sensor poll rate is high and the brightness update is quick and gradual. It can adjust the brightness in as fast as 2 seconds when going under a shade.
Another fortunate and important thing to offset the inherent deficiency of the Fuze's panel is how well calibrated it is. When looking at the screen dead center, you'd think the Fuze is equipped with an IPS panel -- no buts. Even the color gamut at first glance seems similar, although TN panels are just 6 bit and attempt to imitate 8 bit panels (16.7 million colors) via dithering. This can be seen in the color gradient test below, which also allows you to appreciate the calibration as there is little crushing between colors aside from blacks. The hue, contrast and gamma are done right as the color temperature is neutral with colors only very slightly saturated. Whites look white, not grayish white. And blacks look as black as far as the contrast can push, not blueish black.
In all, the Fuze's display is capable of churning out good looking images which look vivid, lush, yet accurate -- something you wouldn't expect from a TN panel. The display's refresh rate is also 60 Hz out of the box, so viewing moving images on the Fuze is smooth and blur-free.
Aside from the limited viewing angles, the other caveat with the Fuze's display is the FWVGA resolution which at 5.0" translates to 196 PPI. I expected it to be worse, but I can honestly say the level of sharpness is still usable even when displaying web pages fully zoomed out in landscape mode. The calibration on the display manages to trump the low PPI level.
The display on the Fuze is a mixed bag. They could've easily went away with any effort to improve the viewing experience considering this is a low cost device, but somehow I'd like to commend the manufacturer for thinking of ways to offset the lower quality panel being used.
The Cherry Mobile Fuze is powered by a MediaTek MTK6582M which has four Cortex A7 cores running at 1.3 Ghz and dual core Mali-400MP graphics. As with MediaTek's other current offerings, the MTK6582M is also manufactured at 28 nm. The "M" variants of MediaTek's SOCs usually represent a variant with a lower clocked GPU, and the MTK6582M's GPU runs at 416 Mhz, down from 500 Mhz on the regular MTK6582. Given that the Fuze's FWVGA resolution is relatively low, this maybe more desirable given how fast the dual core Mali-400MP already is. That way, power draw is lower while delivering a similar experience.
Despite the small 100 Mhz increase in clock speed over the MTK6589, the MTK6582M's CPU performance is noticeably faster -- up to 15% in some cases. I find this odd considering the MTK6582 line has half the L2 cache of the MTK6589 line. The performance improvement could be attributed to the MTK6582 using the new r0p3 revision of the Cortex A7 core. The MTK6589's Cortex A7 cores are of the old r0p2 revision.
Performance improvements from revision r0p2 to r0p3 have been officially documented under Section 1.8 'Product revisions' of the Cortex A7 MPCore Technical Reference Manual (revision r0p3) found here: <click here>.
AnTuTu Benchmark 4
Linpack - Single Threaded
Linpack - Multi Threaded
Vellamo - HTML5
Vellamo - Metal
Epic Citadel - High Performance
Epic Citadel - High Quality
Basemark ES 2.0 Taiji
Basemark X 1.1
3DMark - Ice Storm v1.2
GFXBench - T-Rex (Onscreen)
GFXBench - T-Rex (Offscreen, 1080p)
More exciting on the MTK6582 line is the dual core Mali-400MP graphics. It simply makes the PowerVR SGX544MP graphics on the MTK6589T (fastest in the MTK6589 line) look like a pushover, even against the MTK6582M and its lower GPU clocks. On newer graphics benchmarks where there is an emphasis on shader performance vs fillrate, the MTK6582M is up to 14% faster than the MTK6589T (i.e. GFXBench - T-Rex (Offscreen), 3.8 FPS vs 3.3 FPS) and up to 27% faster than the MTK6589M (i.e. AnTuTu 4 3D graphics, 4800+ vs 3500+). The real world performance difference is even bigger from experience.
Combined with the less demanding FWVGA resolution and the relatively potent graphics of the MTK6582M, this allows the Fuze to play graphically demanding games at higher settings compared to MTK6589 devices. Take for instance Real Racing 3. Whereas on the MTK6589 the graphics setting must be turned down to 'low' for smooth framerates, the MTK6582M can be set to 'high' yet remain as smooth. Heck, I was even able to turn it to 'extra high' via the 'RR3 Graphics' app and it still remains smooth on the Fuze. I surmise the farthest you can go with smooth frames would be 'high' if the resolution was 720p. Alas, the Fuze's display is only FWVGA so you can push even higher settings.
The Fuze also has 1 GB of RAM (971.5 MB to be precise) which should allow you to run any application, including heavy benchmarks without problems. All the benchmarks I've tried that closed on many phones with 512 MB of RAM, like Basemark X and 3DMark, ran without a hitch on the Fuze. Free RAM after a fresh boot is around 600+ MB. This is more than enough for general multitasking loads without causing your app in the background to stop. i.e you get stuck in your game, you open your browser to check GameFaqs for help, change song on your music player, go back to your game as if it were just minimized.
As with the MTK6589, I expected no less from the MTK6582M when it comes to its hardware video decoder. The Fuze is able to play 1080p60 H.264 video content with reasonable bitrate and encoding with its hardware decoder. The hardware audio decoder cannot process beyond two channel audio so multi-channel audio streams like 5.1 will be handled via the software decoder.
1920x800 @ 24 FPS, AVC High Profile L4.1, with CABAC, 3 reference frames
1920x800 @ 24 FPS, AVC High Profile L4.0, with CABAC, 5 reference frames
1920x1080 @ 60 FPS, AVC Baseline Profile L3.0, with CABAC, 1 reference frame
317 Kbps, 6 channel AAC
306 Kbps, 6 channels, AAC
132 Kbps, 2 channels, AAC
Plays via hardware decoder:
Plays via software decoder:
(HW) Has dropped frames:
(SW) Has dropped frames:
Yes, a few during fast paced scenes
The Fuze is equipped with a fixed focus camera that outputs 8 megapixel pictures interpolated from a 5 megapixel Omnivision OV5648 sensor. The OV5648 is 1/4" BSI sensor with a pixel size of 1.4 µm that can be fitted into fixed focus camera modules. The lens aperture on the Fuze's camera is f/2.8, which is pretty standard fare.
The camera interface on the Fuze is stock Jellybean where the still shot and video recording modules share the same interface. This means framing video may be a bit tricky since the FOV (field of view) is different when recording video as there is a crop factor where only a portion of the sensor is being used during recording.
As you can see from the video above, the Fuze's camera is well appointed although since this is a fixed focus camera, focus-related features are missing. I did wish though that tapping on the an area in the viewfinder would allow you to set metering focus. However, tapping on the viewfinder does nothing even if you set the metering mode to spot. Some of the phones I reviewed before with fixed focus cameras allowed this.
Aside from common manual controls such as brightness and contrast, there are a variety of shooting modes for most situations, although personally I find the default mode does the job fine except in low light situations. Other manual controls include white balance, exposure (+/- 3 steps), color effects/filters, and ISO 100 to 1600. There is also a zero shutter delay option which makes shutter lag virtually non existent, although the shutter lag is minimal even without it. Without the ZSD option enabled, I measured the shutter lag to be between 350 and 400 ms.
Shooting options include panorama, which can done from left to right or up to down and vice versa; face beauty, which attempts to enhance skin tones and whatnot when it detects a face; smile shot, which automatically shoots a picture when it detects a smiling face on the viewfinder; EV bracket shot, which generates several shots at different exposure values; and best shot mode which does additional post-processing on the shot to make it look better, though honestly the difference is minimal vs a shot taken in default mode. There is also HDR shot mode which is relatively fast as the shortest delay I was able to measure between the low and high range shot is between 700 and 800 ms, though this can take longer depending on the lighting conditions.
Shots taken by the Fuze can weigh up to 3 MB and they aren't trigger happy with the compression. Compression artifacts are minimal compared to some phones I reviewed before that used a MTK6589 processor + Omnivision OV36xx series sensor like the Arc Mobile Memo which had shots weighing in at 1 MB at most.
The sensor does well to keep noise down and details intact up to ISO 400 in good to decent lighting. Moving up to ISO 800 introduces too much noise and should be reserved only for low light shots. Despite this, I find the 'night mode' on the Fuze much more useful as you have no way to precisely control the exposure time. The lowest exposure time I was able to achieve is 1/10 seconds on default mode. But in night mode the exposure time can go as far as 1/5 seconds in genuine low light conditions, allowing for a much brighter picture. The downside is that subjects should stay perfectly still slightly longer due to the extended exposure time, and that night mode will automatically choose the sensitivity so images might have more noise than expected.
Surprisingly, you can enable the LED flash to fire even when night mode is activated. A lot of phones don't allow this. The flash performance on the Fuze isn't spectacular, but it's highly usable and it can adequately illuminate subjects up to 2 meters distance. Combined with night mode, shots taken of close subjects even in pitch black conditions are usable.
Since the Fuze's camera module is fixed focus, you will not be able to take macro shots. Although everything beyond 1.5 meters should be in even focus, the quality of the optics isn't very good and overall the images are devoid of sharpness. Applying additional sharpness doesn't help much since this is a deficiency in the lens.
While this isn't obvious at first, a quick glance at the sample pictures in my Cherry Mobile Flare 2.0 review makes the difference in detail and sharpness rather apparent despite the pictures in my reviews already downsampled. Regardless, the sharpness is more than adequate when the pictures are downsampled for web use or for small prints, just like the sample images you see in this review. Compared to the original Cherry Mobile Titan though, the Fuze's shots look better.
Besides the lack of sharpness, the lower quality optics also doesn't filter the camera from things like hazing and tinting when shooting in very strong sunlight. Many of these can be very easily corrected in Photoshop though, even just on the Android version of Photoshop.
Please note that all images aside from the low light shots are taken using auto mode.
All low light shots are taken using night mode.
Fuze Sample Shots (Good lighting)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fuze Sample Shots (Low light)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fuze Sample Shots (LED flash + Night mode)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fuze Sample Shots (HDR)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fuze Sample Shots (Panorama)Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Fuze is able to record videos at 1080p30, with a resolution of 1920x1088 to be precise. The videos are encoded in H.264 with a variable bitrate up to 17 Mbps while the audio is encoded in AAC with a constant bitrate of 128 Kbps. The framerates are a steady 30 FPS at 1080p in good to decent lighting conditions. In low light conditions, framerates can drop as low as 15 FPS. While this sounds good, again the low quality optics makes the video look unnaturally soft with smeared details, which is also partially the fault of the variable bitrate which can be conservative. The videos still look practically like 720p. The file size of the Fuze's 1080p video recording ('Fine' setting on the Fuze) can go as high as 130 MB per minute of footage in good lighting where the bitrate will remain up.
Below are video recording samples taken by the Cherry Mobile Fuze:
Sample 1 (outdoor):
Sample 2 (low light):
Sample 3 (indoor):
Here's the lowdown on the Cherry Mobile Fuze's camera:
- Soft, but usable shots in good to decent lighting. Good enough for web use and small prints
- LED flash + night mode combo can produce usable shots even in pitch black conditions
- No macro shots, no metering focus
- Can do steady 1080p30 recording in decent lighting, but overall quality is more representative of 720p
Lastly, the front-facing camera is VGA only and making video calls is advised in good lighting. Still shots by the front-facing camera are interpolated to 1.3 megapixels.
The highlight of the Fuze is its very large 4000 mAh battery. The MTK6582M is supposedly a rather efficient SOC, so I expected no less than half a day of continuous playback for video playback and wifi browsing. True enough, the Fuze was able to squeeze over 13 hours in both scenarios with a little left to spare.
However, when it came to the 3D gaming battery test, the Fuze only scored a little over 6 hours. 6 hours is actually pretty good considering the heavy 3D workload and the Fuze's bright screen. The thing is, my expectations have been raised considering the Cherry Mobile Life with its 1500 mAh but lower power SOC (MTK6572; dual Cortex A7 + single core Mali-400MP) was able to score 4 hours in the same test. Notwithstanding the dim screen of the Life and the weaker graphics, I still feel that the Fuze could've squeezed an extra 1 to 2 hours more especially given how big its battery is.
The following are the test conditions for the three tests. Note that brightness is set to 30% for all tests and that the battery has been calibrated prior to testing:
- Looping video - a 1 1/2 hour 480p XVID/H.263 video is played on loop until the battery level reaches below 20%. Hardware decoding is used for the video and software decoding is used for audio. Earphones are plugged and volume is set to maximum.
- 3D gaming - a graphics-intensive 3D game is run on loop until the battery level reaches 15%. Built-in loudspeaker is used and volume is set to 50%.
Battery Tests - Results
13 hours 32 minutes
13 hours 12 minutes
6 hours 9 minutes
The issue here is exactly that: the Fuze uses the MTK6582M which has double the CPU and GPU cores of the MTK6572, and a very big battery. To achieve the relative thinness of the Fuze despite its big battery, they crammed everything into the upper portion of the device which leaves less room for dissipating heat. Combine that with the big battery that acts as a heatsink and the MTK6582M being warm while gaming (goes up to 37C with an ambient room temp of 26C), you get a negative impact on battery life. This is the same issue with the Cherry Mobile Flare 2.0, although the MSM8225Q on the Flare 2.0 ran much hotter. The MTK6582M remains pretty cool though when not gaming, but I still wish they added an implementation to limit the framerates (like on the Nexus 7) when gaming so the GPU isn't always on full load. The GPU on the Fuze is relatively fast, so most games run well over 30 FPS on default or lower graphics settings.
The standby time is exceptional and you can leave your mobile data on the entire day without worrying about its impact on battery life. Overall, the Fuze should easily last several days with light use (calls, text and light browsing only), two to three days with moderate use (a little bit of everything), and a full day of pure, abusive use (high brightness, mobile data on, mix of everything).
Charging times with the stock 1.5A charger is good considering how large the battery is. It took 2 hours 30 minutes to charge the Fuze from 15% to 90% and another 45 minutes to reach 100%.
Battery Test - Looping VideoClick thumbnail to view full-size
Battery Test - Wifi browsingClick thumbnail to view full-size
Battery Test - 3D gamingClick thumbnail to view full-size
For the rating of audio quality, I will go by the following rubrics:
- Dynamic range - this determines how well the source is able to reproduce varying differences of sound, particularly their degree of quietness and loudness. How clearly a ringing of a cymbal and the boom of a drum is heard and how well-defined each is defined by how high the range is. Perceptibly, this governs the clarity of both low and high frequencies, and sound stage.
- Power output - this determines how much power the source is able to provide to your equipment (i.e. earphones and headphones). The better the power output of your source, the higher the resistance of the equipment you can use on your phone without suffering detail loss, in which event you will be forced to use an external amp. In my ratings, 4 stars defines that the phone is able to provide adequate power with only some detail loss to equipment with a resistance of up to 64 ohms, provided that distortion is also 4 stars. Perceptibly, higher power output allows you to lower preamp in the equalizer for cleaner detail. It also governs bass impact.
- Stereo Crosstalk - this determines how much leakage or interference is occurring between the left and right audio channels. Lower stereo crosstalk means more accurate sound from their respective channels and less mixing. In my ratings, 4 stars defines a low enough stereo crosstalk to provide a soundstage that only suffer minimal distortion when several instruments play simultaneously. Perceptibly, a better stereo crosstalk rating provides less distortion in poorly mixed tracks and to a lesser degree, affects how wide and defined the sound stage is.
- Distortion - this determines how much power can be delivered by the source without altering the signal. In my ratings, a better distortion rating perceptibly means your phone can playback at higher volume without suffering detail loss through distortion. In my ratings, 4 stars defines that the phone is able to play at 9/10 of the volume bar with minimal detail loss.
- Noise - not to be confused with SNR (signal-to-noise ratio), noise in my rubrics simply defines how clean the signal is when the frequency is at rest, or perceptibly how much hissing there is when there is quietness. In my ratings, 4 stars defines that there is virtually no hissing when there is silence in the track during playback.
Here is how the Cherry Mobile Fuze does against phones I have or have reviewed before:
*Do note that the scores for dynamic range and power output have been reevaluated, normalized and adjusted accordingly. Audio scorecards found in my previous reviews will apply only to those reviews.
The audio quality on the Fuze is decent. Power output is more than adequate even for lower impedance full-sized headphones, though I wouldn't use anything higher than 45 ohms impedance. With more sensitive gear like some of the better IEMs (such as balanced armature IEMs), there is distortion at maximum volume, so listening at 8/10 or 9/10 of the volume is best. The sound is relatively clean although I must say, the Fuze is particularly bright as a source. You'd initially mistake the lack of "punch" or "kick" for poor dynamic range, but the Fuze trades bass impact for better soundstage and imaging, although the treble can be shrill at times if you're already using bright gear like Vsonic VC02s and most Grados. The Fuze is better paired with gear that's dark and more bass oriented, though the equalizer should be enough to neutralize and add body to the sound if you use brighter gear. Overall, it should be able to replace most portable music players if you mostly use IEMs or smaller, lower impedance headphones.
It should be noted that the Fuze's 3.5 mm port is CTIA-compliant, meaning that newer headsets (earphone/headphone with mic) will work, such as those compatible the iPhone and newer smartphones. Very few phones by local brands are CTIA-compliant (most of them follow the old OMTP standard), so this is a plus for the Fuze -- especially with buyers of local phone brands who had issues before looking for a compatible headset. I have tested the Fuze to work with my stock Galaxy S4 headset, Apple Earpods and Sony MH1C which are all CTIA-compliant headsets. I only had a minor issue with my Earpods where the inline mic wasn't working. The inline mic works on my stock S4 headset and Sony MH1C though.
Lastly, the stock headset of the Fuze actually sounds pretty decent after at least 10 hours of burn-in. It sounds bloated and congested at first, but it really opens up after some burn-in. It has good synergy with the Fuze's bright sonic disposition.
Cherry Mobile's Android phones usually came with almost pure stock Android, but the Fuze comes with a modified lockscreen by Cherry Mobile that condenses the news feed from your social networks or other feeds into miniature tabs from your lockscreen. You can easily go through your latest Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, and other relevant feeds directly from your lockscreen. You can also access apps and call logs from the lockscreen, all of which is customizable. The video below is a short demo of the Fuze's lockscreen:
A highlighted feature of the Fuze is its USB OTG function, which allows you to use the Fuze as a USB host which means you can plug various USB devices on the Fuze and use them like you would on a Windows or Mac. With the included USB OTG cable in the box, you can plug flash drives, mice, keyboards, game controllers, portable hard drives, as well as power low power USB devices like USB lamps, USB fans, etc. You can even charge other phones through the Fuze's USB OTG. You can also use the keyboard, mouse and gamepad on touch-only games by mapping touchscreen commands to the peripheral inputs via apps like 'GKM Touch' and 'USB/BT Joystick Center'.
The only problems I encountered with the Fuze's USB OTG is the drop in current when the Fuze's battery voltage drops to below 3.8V (around or below 50-60% of the battery meter if properly calibrated). Some USB devices that require a higher current such as portable hard drives can't be used anymore due to the lower current. Mechanical drives can't function without enough power.
The video below is a demonstration of the Fuze's USB OTG function:
The Fuze is equipped with 4 GB of ROM, of which 2.65 GB is usable. The best part is that the micro SD is mounted as 'sdcard0' out of the box. Normally most people root their phones because of the tiny internal memory so they can either: 1) swap the internal memory and SD card; or 2) use an app like FolderMount so app data can be moved to the micro SD card. Since the micro SD card is the default storage on the Fuze, this means the extraneous data (usually found in Android/data or Android/obb) required by big applications such as graphics-heavy games are automatically put inside your micro SD card, not the internal memory. This is a welcome development as you will only need to insert a bigger micro SD card in the event you need more space for apps -- even if you don't root your Fuze.
The call quality is good on the Fuze. The volume on either end is smooth, with the microphone doing a decent job of filtering wind noise or the occasional spurt of saliva, and the earpiece dampening any sudden volume spikes. There's no secondary mic for noise cancellation, so it's advised to cover the earpiece when making calls in very noisy environments. The loudspeaker is also loud, but not alarmingly loud. There's minimal distortion and cracking at maximum volume although it does sound expectedly thin.
Wifi reception on the Fuze is average at best. In places with minimal physical obstructions, the Fuze picks up signal as well as most cheaper Android phones. However, introduce a wall or two and the range drops. It's able to hold on to a signal well despite the drop, but it'll remain limited nevertheless. With two (2), 1 foot thick walls, the farthest I could go was 9 meters away before the signal breaks. The big battery on the Fuze seems to be the cause of this as my Cloudfone Thrill 430x exhibits similar symptoms, although less worse as the Qualcomm chipset on the Thrill 430x has superior wifi pickup.
GPS performance is similar to that of devices using the MTK6589. Without A-GPS or EPO GPS data preloaded onto the Fuze, it was able to acquire a lock in 58 seconds under a clear sky. With data preloaded or a recent lock acquired, it can reacquire the signal in as fast as 3 seconds. There's no magnetic sensor on the Fuze, so you can't use it as an offline compass.
It's difficult to classify whether the Cherry Mobile Fuze is a niche product or not. The Fuze has two things going for it: 1) It has the gamer-oriented MediaTek MTK6582M which is the fastest you can get in these price ranges. 2) It has a very big 4,000 mAh battery for all-day stamina. The Fuze hits the mark on those selling points. So you ask, "What else is there?".
The Fuze isn't as ugly as one would expect a big battery phone to be. It's nowhere near as fat as its closest rival in terms of capacity, the Cloudfone Thrill 430x. In fact, the Fuze is pretty sleek and has a strikingly executive look. It doesn't look cheap nor does it feel cheap, relatively speaking. It even feels better built than the the far more expensive models being sold by local brands, Cherry Mobile's own models included. It also has USB OTG which very few phones have. Among local brands, normally only MyPhone had models boasting a USB OTG function.
Aside from those, there isn't much else in comparison. Despite the great effort to calibrate the display panel, the Fuze's great looks and more upscale feel is marred by the bad viewing angles. It's actually a nice looking screen, but only if you work with the limited viewing angles. Bottom line is, it's not a display you'd want to show off to friends unless you want them to get a headache when they look at it from an angle. The camera on the Fuze, while very usable even in low light, is fixed focus which is a death knell to wanna-be smartphone photographers.
Performance and endurance. Smartphone gamers particularly search for these qualities, but very few phones meet this demand and those that do are often very pricey. For those who value both performance and endurance above all else, the Fuze will definitely satisfy. In all other aspects besides its looks, the Fuze is average at best. As long as you consider the main selling points of the Fuze, you can easily make sense of its low asking price of 5,499 Php.
+ Very large 4,000 mAh battery offers all-day, non-stop heavy use
+ MediaTek MTK6582M is very fast and delivers a snappy experience throughout. Also very suited for gaming, even at higher graphics settings
+ Great build quality, ergonomics and design; upscale and executive looks
+ Great screen brightness for a TN panel
+ USB OTG support
+ 5,499 Php only
- Calibrated panel only looks good if you are willing to work with the limited viewing angles
- Fixed focus camera is a no-no for wannabe photographers; poor quality optics produce soft images
- Low display resolution for a 5.0" screen
Official Cherry Mobile Fuze Specs
5.0" FWVGA (854x480) capacitive screen with DragonTrail glass
1.3 Ghz MediaTek MTK6582M quad core processor
4 GB ROM
microSD card slot, expandable to 32 GB
1 GB RAM
8.0 megapixel camera with flash, 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera
4000 mAh battery
Wifi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Wireless Display
GSM 900/1800, WCDMA 900/2100
Android Jellybean 4.2
SRP: 5,499 Php
Below are select comparisons of alternatives to the Cherry Mobile Fuze.
Cherry Mobile Flare HD
Current price: 5,499 Php
The price stablemate of the Fuze. The Flare HD emphasizes its 4.5" 720p IPS display, iPhone 5C-like body and design and "12 megapixel BSI camera". While the Flare HD is also equipped with a MediaTek quad-core, it uses the older MediaTek MTK6589. Combined with the relatively high 1280x720 screen resolution, the Flare HD will feel like a Honda Civic in games while the Fuze will feel more like a Subaru Impreza WRX STi or Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. The performance difference will be noticeable, especially in games. The battery performance will be very different too as the Flare HD has a comparably tiny 1,800 mAh battery. The Flare HD lacks USB OTG too. However, you get a much nicer looking screen, a thinner, sleeker design, and a superior auto-focus camera. This is the trade-off Cherry Mobile asks and it's pretty clear.
Current price: 6,300 Php
Released 10 months ago with a SRP of 9,599 Php, the MyPhone A919i impressed with its well-rounded specs and lack of protruding weaknesses so to speak. Now at 6,300 Php, this phone is a bargain as it matches the more expensive MTK6589-equipped models from local brands in terms of spec and performance of their features. The A919i's bright f/2.4 lens will particularly give any phone below the 10,000 Php price bracket a drubbing in terms of camera performance, especially in low light. Like the Flare HD though, it also has a 720p IPS screen (but bigger, at 5.0") and a MTK6589. So the performance definitely will not be as fast as the Fuze, but more than fast enough for casual gamers. The A919i's battery is also only 2,000 mAh. However, spare batteries for the A919i are plentiful and relatively easy to find, so carrying spares is also an alternative. The A919i also has USB OTG. The A919i may not be able to match the raw power and battery capacity of the Fuze, but it makes up for it by being a well-rounded, mature product with more premium features.
Cloudfone Thrill 430x
Current price: 4,999 Php
The original "big battery phone" locally. Originally priced 7,777 Php, the Thrill 430x with its 4160 mAh battery remains the benchmark for locally branded phones when it came to endurance. 15 months later, the 430x I reviewed then still holds a mighty charge. It also has a beautiful 4.3" qHD (960x540) Sharp ASV screen that is more than a match for any IPS screen in this price range. It's also equipped with Asahi DragonTrail glass and is built like a tank, with my 430x surviving countless drops that would make a Nokia 3310 proud. It also has a nice 8 megapixel camera that takes very sharp looking shots, but is let down by poor video recording. The biggest dents on the Thrill 430x is its performance and dimensions. It's true the 430x consumes less power than the Fuze, but this is because it has an old, weak MSM8225 processor. The same one you'd find on the first Cherry Mobile Flare. The performance gap between the 430x's MSM8225 and the Fuze's MTK6582M is so big, it's like comparing a Suzuki Alto to a Ford Mustang. That big. Say goodbye to nice looking 3D games on the Thrill 430x. Also, while the Thrill 430x is smaller, it's noticeably thicker too. The Thrill 430x doesn't have USB OTG either. With the Thrill 430x, you get a smaller, but much nicer looking screen, a much better still shot camera, and just as much endurance -- but can you stand how slow it is?
© 2014 Kyle Lopez-Vito