A Questionable Proposition of Value
Despite the lackluster release of Cherry Mobile's Omega as a result of changing the final OEM, they offer a cheaper reprise in the form of the Cruize. The Cruize came out as a surprise as there were no prior announcements several weeks in advance, just like the Blaze. More startling was the price of Php 4,499. That gets you a 5.2" Android ICS phone of questionable capability. Again, the point of focus here is the value of Cherry Mobile, which consistently offers cheaper (and often times better) Android phones than other local competitors like MyPhone and Starmobile.
I was hesitant to purchase the Cruize at first because of my experience with the Cherry Mobile Flare. I also bought a Flare back in December to review, but it came with too many compromises. The most devastating of the compromises being the incredibly low volume output via the 3.5 mm port. Not to mention the panel on the Flare wasn't an IPS as advertised as the top-side viewing angle resulted in posturization. An IPS has perfect viewing angles, regardless of position and angle. The screen was perfectly forgivable at the price, but the volume problem wasn't. The volume problem immediately reduced the capacity of the Flare as a proper media player. It was a terrible compromise which led me to sell the Flare immediately and dropped my plans to complete the review. I was afraid that the Cruize may bear such a compromise. I personally believe that a compromise that severely impedes usability is grave, and I speculated that the compromise may come in the form of game (in)compatibility due to the use of a Broadcom SOC that uses a very uncommon GPU, the VideoCore IV.
I found out that the Gfive G95 was the OEM of the Cruize before it officially arrived in the market and I had high hopes the "Broadcom CPU" used by Cherry Mobile in their teaser ads was a typo since the Gfive G95 is officially listed with a MediaTek MTK6575, the single-core variant of the MTK6577. The MTK6575 would mean that game compatibility wouldn't be a problem. Alas, the Cruize was finally released and the specs are confirmed to be a Broadcom Cortex A9-based SOC. Despite this, I decided to take the plunge as taking an unfamiliar SOC through the ropes was going to be interesting.
Design and Build Quality
The design of the Cherry Mobile Cruize is a bit similar to the Titan, but with more rounded corners. The Cruize comes in black or white and while the black variant has an "executive" look like the Titan, the white variant looks a bit more plasticky due to the chrome bumper's lack of sharpness, not to mention the white plastic they used is evidently on the cheap side. Hence, I decided to purchase the black variant instead.
The Cruize has a design profile that's similar to the HTC Sensation, but with a wider bezel and taller frame. The front is relatively minimalist, with a front facing camera to the right and light sensor to the left of the earpiece. Below the screen are the backlit softkeys, which from left to right, are the menu/options, home, back and search keys. I personally would've preferred that the dedicated 'search' softkey be removed as it isn't used very often.
The back of the Cruize has this "carbon fiber" look and finish that not only looks good, but is also textured and matte to ensure that your fingers have a good feel and better grip of the phone. The back of the phone contains the 8.0 megapixel camera, the single LED flash and the loudspeaker. The top of the phone contains the USB port for charging and plugging to the computer, and the 3.5 mm port. The bottom of the phone contains the mic. The left side of the phone contains the power button. The right side of the phone contains the volume up and down keys. There is no dedicated camera button.
Depending on how you put your phone in your pocket, the volume buttons on the right side of the Cruize is easily accessible with the right amount of softness and 'click' to it.
The Cruize may not be as solid as the Titan in terms of build quality, but it is not exactly shoddily built either. Then again, at this extremely low price point, it is difficult to ask for more. The device feels solid in hand and perhaps the excess of roundness and that fact that the phone could be a bit more compact lends to the feeling of it being more flimsy when it is in fact, pretty solid. Despite being 212 grams, which makes it technically heavier than the Titan (205 grams), the Cruize feels much lighter because the weight is more evenly distributed across the larger frame. Also, the roundness also makes it easier to hold the Cruize with one hand compared to the Titan because it contours to the grip whereas the Titan's edges are sharper and much less round. This also gives the illusion that the Cruize is thinner than it actually is despite being 10.9 mm thick compared to the 10.5 mm thickness of the Titan.
As usual, don't abuse it and it'll last you a while. The phone also comes attached with a screen protector out of the box.
Here is the checklist of what comes inside the box:
- 1x Cherry Mobile W280 Cruize
- 1x Earphones
- 1x USB cable
- 1x CM-800 Wall charger
- 1x User's manual
- 1x Warranty card
- 1x 2500 mAh battery
There were significant compromises accompanied by the much lower price tag. While the Titan was very fortunate to still have a VA panel at its price, Cherry Mobile could no longer accommodate the same and stuck with a TN panel on the Cruize instead. The response time on TN panels are as good as on an IPS, but viewing angles are normally bad. On the Cruize, there are two good and two bad viewing angles. The left and top are the bad viewing angles while the right and bottom are the good viewing angles. I would also like to mention that the left viewing angle is nowhere near as bad as the top viewing angle.
Here are some shots of the Cruize's screen demonstrating the aforementioned viewing angles:
The screen on the Cruize has fairly low contrast and saturation at higher brightness and it is advisable to keep brightness at 60% and below, or keep the brightness on automatic. The general impression of the screen is washed out. Despite the lack of "wow" factor, the colors are fairly accurate and the screen is relatively sharp for landscape ebook reading. Portrait reading is also doable, but with the use of sans serif fonts like Arial or Calibri. But given the low pixel density, portrait reading is really pushing it unless you're gifted with 20/20 vision.
As I've stressed in my review of the Cherry Mobile Titan, sheer screen size is a feature in itself as there are very few phones on the market with 5.0" or larger screens. The Cruize officially dethrones the Titan as the cheapest 5.0" or larger phone. The 5.2" screen of the Cruize allows you to easily view whole webpages, overviews of documents, ebook reading, etc. as you have more space to work with.
Despite the shortcomings of the Cruize's screen on picture quality, it makes up for it in size.
Below is a screen comparison between the Cruize, the 5.0" Titan and the 4.0" iPhone 5: