Cherry Mobile: Nova Review

It’s been the buzz in the local webs for quite a while now: Cherry Mobile finally decided to enter the smartphone market and people have been asking around if their phones are worth buying. Of course, everyone is curious how this

it's a calculator

evolved into this:

then its a touchscreen phone

and without a doubt, I was caught. I originally had the Superion in my sights but since the two almost had the same specs and throwing away 20,000php was no joke, I decided to get the Nova first and decide from there if the Superion is really worth it.

Of course, I expected a cheaply made ‘chinaphone’ (since all phones are almost made from China nowadays but I’m talking about the clunky ones that don’t weigh anything and with the terrible GUI. You know what I mean) but I was actually surprised. I looked around and finally chanced upon one in SM Marikina which sells for roughly 11,500php. I played around with it and the phone felt solid. Of course, it’s not an iPhone but the hard plastic seems pretty durable. After much tinkering, I decided to let go of my old phone and just try this one out.

It’s been more than a week now and the phone, I can say for the time being, is very reliable and is definitely worth every buck. Even if it’s on Android 2.1 with 600MHz processor, 256 RAM and 512 ROM, programs are running smoothly. There are some stages of Angry Birds where the framerate drops for a couple of seconds but that’s about it. Most probably you can expect more of this when you’re playing games with lots of detail.

The capacitive screen is a pleasant surprise. I personally didn’t expect it to perform the way it is but messaging, browsing and even viewing images (yeah, the pinch zoom works perfectly even in other programs) has been pretty easy and hassle free. For the keypad, you can choose between different designs that suit whatever you want, be it the traditional one or qwerty. One weird thing about it though is when you turn off autocomplete, it also stops typing the first letter of every sentence in uppercase. A minor setback, but a big annoyance in my opinion since the suggestions and how it operates can be dismal at times (everytime I put ‘din’ it places dinner and pressing the spacebar selects the ‘corrected’ message. You won’t notice it until people keep on asking “What dinner are you talking about?”) and it takes some time getting used to it but if you activate autocomplete with autocorrect and just keep your presence of mind tiptop, you won’t have that much problems.

Of course the HSDPA & WiFi works. You can set both of these options on or off because your phone would keep on accessing details from the net since the Android is one of those ‘always on’ phones and if you’re running on a limited data plan, expect to rake up charges. And even if you do decide to turn these features on permanently, expect to be bombarded with Google ads for some programs that you can get off the market. GPS also works (surprisingly) and with the right programs, you can just load the map of the Philippines offline and navigate your way (manually, haven’t found any offline autonavigate programs yet) to your destination. Very handy most of the time not unless you’re looking for landmarks because of course, there’s a tendency for those details to be moved here and there. And the signal disappears once you’re under concrete so I don’t know if that’s normal or not but still, it’s pretty good.

The battery lasts me a good two days for normal eBook reading, sms messaging and calls (on Sun so that’s quite a number of calls made and messages sent). I already tried powerusing by browsing while I have my GPS on, played games and surfed for the most part of the day and the battery lasted for about 8 hours. Not bad since I’ve been told that other smartphones last for about the same time as this one. I still need to verify this one with more people though.

I’m not too big of a fan of cameraphones but the 5mp camera is pretty decent. There are different camera programs that would give you more control over the effects of your pictures but the stock camera is pretty so-so. There’s a lot of noise when you take pictures (will post samples) and you might need to tweak the settings a bit so you could get a pretty decent picture. The market camera programs are pretty awesome though so if you’re pretty happy with your camera but you want a toy camera, this one does the job pretty well.

One question I have in mind is if it upgradable to 2.2 Froyo. I was told at the shop by the main representative that eventually, it will be but until that happens, it’s pretty safe to expect that it will be stuck at 2.1. Good news then if they do decide to send an update to the users. And of course, since this has been released for only a few weeks, we need to know if the phone will last a user for more than a year. 11k is still pretty steep for an ‘unknown’ phone that predominantly leans towards negative user reviews so it wouldn’t be too pleasant if it bricks in less than a year.

So, I would still say that it’s up to you if you would risk it since of course, the durability of the phone plays a big part in the consumer’s mind if a gadget is worth purchasing or not. If you also think that the performance of the games would be a letdown, I would suggest that you wait for someone who writes a comprehensive review of the Cherry Magnum (which, ironically, packs more of a punch than the Superion. This, imho, does not make any sense at all. Feel free to enlighten).

Personally, this is by far the best phone that I’ve bought because of the features that it presents for the price.

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63 thoughts on “Cherry Mobile: Nova Review

  1. Nikki

    It will most probably be upgradable to Froyo considering the specs, and since it doesn’t have a separate UI unlike HTC Sense or Motoblur phones. Thank you so much for creating this post! Will look forward to your updates. I really hope someone does do a review of the Magnum, because I’m keeping my eye on that one. The OS is no big prolem, because I’m already in love with Android, just want to know if it will last me long, P18k is no joke.

    Reply
  2. Metatron's Word Post author

    @Nikki – sorry about that, turned off moderated comments. ๐Ÿ™‚ About the update, the person running the CM Facebook account also confirmed that the OS WILL be upgradable. Now we just need to know when that would happen. If ever you do see someone review the Magnum, kindly point me towards the site ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Reply
  3. sonny

    great review though I am looking for a magnum HD review. Im choosing between Magnun HD and Galaxy S for Christmas, if I buy the Magnum I can save 12k and that is a good thing ๐Ÿ˜€

    Reply
  4. Nikki

    @Sonny, Same here! I want the Galaxy S too, love the huge memory and the beautiful screen.. But they’re selling it at 36k in my town, so I’d be saving at least 18k and I can live without the Super AMOLED!

    @Metatron, in my experience working with Android phones, (I work as a tech for a US cellphone company who released the first Android phone) with every phone that’s been released it took about half a year to receive an update.

    Reply
  5. Metatron's Word Post author

    @Sonny – same here, it’s either no one has the guts to dish out 18k for an new brand in the smartphone market or the Magnum isn’t available yet. Well, it wasn’t when I bought my phone :p It also seems like they’re pushing for the Superion more than the other two (also kind of funny how they’re using the tablet’s feature of being a phone. 7 inch phone?) but if money permits, I’d get a Magnum.

    Donations anyone? Haha.

    @Nikki – I read somewhere that if the Droid is not part of a brand (forgot the term but basically, it’s sort of ‘generic’) then it would be easier to release updates because this would only depend on Google. I saw the Indian version of the Nova and true enough, they have an update to port Eclair over from the old OS(?) so it’s safe to say that that base is covered. Or did you mean that even for this case it takes that long?

    Reply
    1. Nikki

      @Metatron “I read somewhere that if the Droid is not part of a brand (forgot the term but basically, itโ€™s sort of โ€˜genericโ€™) then it would be easier to release updates”

      -Yes this is true, I will take into example two of our products. The HTC MyTouch 3G (Magic here), which is a “generic” android phone, released in July 2009, has been updated from Donut to Eclair and has been recently updated to Froyo this month. The MOTOCLIQ, which is an Android phone with the Motoblur UI, released in November 2009, is still stuck at Cupcake.

      Of course I cannot speak for anyone, but it probably won’t take long for the Nova to be updated.

      Reply
  6. Metatron's Word Post author

    @obiJUAN – nope, the Nova doesn’t have a built in radio.

    @leo – I got mine from SM Marikina and saw other users who bought theirs from either Ali Mall or SM North. Maybe the latter would be a better option since it’s only one MRT ride from Makati.

    Reply
  7. reJAM

    I believe that you can turn off the autocorrect settings by: Settings> Language and Keyboard> Android Keyboard> Uncheck Quick Fixes, Autocomplete and Show Suggestions. ^_^

    Reply
    1. Metatron's Word Post author

      Yup, I tried turning it off but I’d rather have all of the first words of my sentence in uppercase and thinking about it, autocorrect actually makes messaging with big hands and a tiny keyboard a little bit more sane. Thanks for the path though, I’m sure someone else will be glad to have seen it ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  8. ken

    FM radio?
    lahat ng android device can get AM and FM radio without the need for hardware tuner, worldwide pa
    search nyo lang sa appstore, program lang sya and using your internet connection to get the radio broadcast.

    my wife has a “generic” android unit and she can listen to all the FM station in our area (bicol) aside from station everywhere else, and the “generic” android unit DOES NOT have hardware radio tuner.

    Reply
      1. Metatron's Word Post author

        I’d say its very decent especially with the price tag that it comes along with but with the release of Optimus One and of course Galaxy 5 is still there, I’m expecting more users to lean towards the more popular brands.

        I, for one, would still go with this phone though. Having it on Froyo would definitely win my vote hands down.

  9. David Z

    Thanks for the review. I’ve been also eyeing this phone for quite some time.

    I’m just hesitant because my current phone, Cherry Mobile’s T85, has rather disappointed me on a few things. I’m sure it’s not really a big deal, but I thought its 2MP cam would be sufficient.

    Turns out it doesn’t take pics even decently at night, kahit na may flash. Is the Nova any different?

    I probably missed this but…dual sim din ba ito?

    Reply
    1. Totem

      Sir David, this is a not a dual-sim phone.. And I haven’t encountered yet an Android phone that supports 2 sims.. Issue with Android phones is the battery life.. So if they slapped in dual-sim capability, then expect your phone to drain up real quick..

      Sir Metatron, when are you going to post sample pictures taken with Cherry Mobile Nova? Quite curious about the quality.. Thanks sir ^^

      Reply
      1. Metatron's Word Post author

        Yup, I’ll be posting a new article in the next couple of days. Real life just caught up with me but I’m still happy with the phone.

        Expect sample pics, software that I’m using and some other stuff on the next post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. jeng

    I was also interested on this phone as my first android unit or the magnus, nagkataon nung nagkapera ako, sale ang motorola milestone for 19k sa megamall..so syempre yun nalang binili ko..hehe..

    but im glad for the review..i have a friend who is interested sa nova..suggest ko sa kanya yun..hindi naman kasi sya power user like me..ako kasi pinaglaruan ko na yung milestone ko eh..(root, overclock, etc..)

    Reply
  11. Nikki

    Hello Metatron I am currently posting this from the Cherry Mobile Nova I’ve had for a week now, (I got it on the 3 hour sale). I’ve been happy with it but I really cannot wait for a Froyo update!!! (So much that I already downloaded the froyo zip file for the Nexus One, I just didn’t have the guts to do it myself because I couldn’t afford ending up with a bricked phone I couldn’t figure out how to bring up the boot menu on this phone LOLZ) Anyway the thing is 256MB is really not enough space for the many apps I wanna get on my phone plus I want to be able to have Adobe Flash!!!!! I guess I’ll just have to be patient and wait for the update… Sigh.

    Reply
  12. Nikki

    OH and also I had dropped my phone but not really from up high and it made some dents on it which I’m pretty pissed off about abit, never happened to any of my phones before even if I had dropped them… What material is it made of anyway?

    Reply
    1. Metatron's Word Post author

      Yikes, sorry to hear about your phone. I think it’s made out of cheap plastic. I dropped mine though on the screen side and didn’t have any scratches. That’s always a good thing. And as of now, I wouldn’t exactly bet too much on Adobe Flash. Something to do with the type of our phone (z71 variant) not being compatible with their software… yet.

      Reply
  13. Marky

    Guys and Metatron pls help me, i want to buy an android phone kaso dio ako makapag decide kung cherry mobile nova ba ang bibilhin ko o LG optimus one p500 lalo di ko alam ang pagkakaiba ng 16 M ng samsung x8 to 256k ng screen ito kayang NOVA ano kaya.

    Dagdag pa na ano ang pinagkaiba ng froyo at eclair.

    Ano rin ang itsura ng threaded sms ng nova, pagkakaiba sa LG.

    Aano rin ang capacity ng INBOX kasi sa nokia you can put all the sms direct sa external drive kung saan kahit libo marecieve mo na sms ok lang.

    kainis lang di ko naabutan ang sale nitong dec 25 pls help me guys urgent i need help

    Reply
    1. Nikki

      PINAKA main na pinagkaiba ng froyo sa eclair is most apps na dinodownload mo may option to install or move to sd cardโ€ฆ syempre para di ma clog internal memory mo diba… tapos may adobe flash na ang froyo. Syempre dahil upgrade ang froyo, better battery life, fastwr performance, less space ang tetake niya.. la ko masyado alam as far as hardware ng phone eh. Yung sa sms naman, syempre depende din kung ilan memory space mo, sa phone memory sya na sasave kaso may gamit ako app: smsbackup, masasave sa sdcard ang msgs mo…. tapooos yung native threaded messaging ng nova mejo boring, kaya nagdownload din ako ng app na: handcent. Ok na nova promise, kinumpara ko nga ito sa phone ng pinsan ko na HTC Wildfire, mas maganda Nova!!!!!

      Reply
  14. boy topax

    @nikki

    favor naman po.gusto ko lang malaman kun pwede ko i-move sa sd card yung mga na download ko na apps kasi may nabasa ako habang nagda-download ako low phone memory na raw kaya nag delete na lan ako ng iba na apps na hindi ko masyado gusto.ganun ba pag eclair sa phone memory pumapasok yung mga apps na na-download.gaya ng sabi mo.dami ko pa sana gusto i-download.hindi ko rin naman makita sa phone settings kun saan pwede ko mailipat sa sd card yung mga apps.salamat,happy new year nikki

    Reply
    1. Nikki

      @boy topax
      What Jeng said.. takot ako magroot, maghihintay na lang ako ng update, hehe.

      @marky
      pinalitan ko na messaging app ko, GO SMS na lang, mas cool! Hehe

      Reply
  15. Jeng

    you have to root your phone then install an app called app2card or app2sd ata..unlike the froyo version, eclair doesn’t have the native support to move the apps to sd card..

    Reply
  16. Jarudet

    HI! Sa mga may gamit ng phone na to wala naman ba akyong nagiging problema so far? Nagbabalak kasi ako bumili ng android phone. First time ko yun if ever makaili ako. Ano po ba magandang android phone para sa katulad kong first timer lang? Nung una pala balak ko sansa mag samsung wave kaso nung nalaman ko na yun android nagbago bigla isip ko nung nakita ko yung mga apps sa android:) Salamat sa magrereply

    Reply
    1. Nikki

      I have had no problems so far, except nga ung part na nabagsak ko yung phone. Yung dating ng material is soft plastic. Dahil mejo bakobako yung sementong nabagsakan parang naukit sa phone ko, banda sa jack for headset, so hindi na pantay mejo yupi.. ingatan mo na lang phone mo if ever.

      Reply
  17. jarudet

    Pero other than that wala naman ibang problem so far? Ano po kayang maisusugest niyo saking android phone? Di pa kasi ako nakakapili talaga. Salamat!

    Reply
  18. burngianan

    hi! i have one๏ปฟ na..but, pano po๏ปฟ i set ang mga applications ma-save sa SD CARD?lagi kasing nasa internal memory nasi-save.please help poh.tnx

    Reply
  19. burngianan

    pano po๏ปฟ i set ang mga applications ma-save sa SD CARD?lagi kasing nasa internal memory nasi-save.please help poh.tnx

    Reply
    1. Metatron's Word Post author

      Hi sir, you need to have the firmware of the phone updated. I might write a guide on how to do it that speaks more human than the mod sites I’ve encountered.

      Reply
  20. Norman

    Ei, sa Megamall, 7999 na lang ang Nova uli… hi Nikki, Others,

    compare sa ibang android phones, you will prefer prin ba ang CM Nova?

    thanks,

    Reply
    1. Nikki

      I will prefer the Nova among the other Android phones that is similar to its price. Pero syempre mas gugustuhin ko parin magka Galaxy S or Moto Defy kung kakayanin ehe.

      Reply
  21. Juan

    There is no User manual with the Nova, only Quick start guide-really useless. How do novices activate HSDPA for instance?? My Nova came with a Lithium ion battery when I heard it should have been Polymer battery. I also heard that some sales staff in mall kiosks ‘use’ the phones for their own benefit and then pretend its a display model only???? My Nova had someone elses FB username already typed into Facbook!! I will return it for a sealed product and tell the staff that they mislead me.

    Reply
    1. Marlon

      I have to agee with you about the User Manual.. I read one comment on some webpages that the phone CM Nova is an Android phone built for an Android geek..Anyway, at first yes you’ll have countless hours of reading and surfing and researching on how to root and update the phone but when your able to do it it will be easy! Ang kaylangan mo lang is COURAGE! Kasi once you’ve updated your phone, void na ang warranty. Pero woth it naman! Just go here http://boston-mania.blogspot.com.

      Android apps and games are like the the one’s of the Iphone.

      About the battery it is Lithium Ion, 1230 mAh. And dun sa gumagamit ng phone for their own benefit and tapos ibebenta maging honest naman sana sila!

      Reply
    1. Metatron's Word Post author

      Ha, sorry I haven’t been able to visit this side of the web for so long (real life happened) but yes, the phone is still a pretty solid one. I dropped mine too on gravel but it still looks fine. I’ll do some other updates and perhaps spend more time on this site.

      Reply
  22. Marlon

    For those who wants to update their CM Nova go to this site
    http://boston-mania.blogspot.com/
    As for instructions just try to explore the site then you’ll know…

    Gingerbread and Froyo updates are available.. I wouldn’t recommend the Gingerbread updates coz the battery life will be short. I highly recommend Firetrap Jellybean. I’m using it now. Quadrant score is 950 and it is better than the Galaxy S. Battery life is one day, txt, call, wifi, games!

    Reply
  23. ron aldana

    froyo na po CM NOVA ko.bkit hindi po makapag-browse khit connected na un androidAP nya?ano po gagawin para gumana un portable wifi hotspot nya?salamat po metatron

    Reply
  24. rex

    my cm nova stuck to logo whenever i turned it on,,this happened after i uodated it to froyo,,how can i fix it and boot normally,,thanks

    Reply

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