Coolpad, a Chinese smartphone brand has just marked its entry back into the Indian market, after being known as a manufacturer for rebranded devices for companies like Micromax. The first device from Yu Televentures, i.e. the Yu Yureka was also a rebranded Coolpad F2. Later, a subsidiary brand from the company, Dazen, was brought to India and then both got separated, thanks to the investor relations.
The budget range Android devices have been a victim of specs-to-price ratio war, but the brands have been trying their best to deliver on the same lines. Coolpad’s recent launch, the Note 3 seems to have more than just the specs for that price of Rs. 8999. But does it deliver the performance one would expect, keeping aside the good inclusions like the fingerprint scanner? let’s find out.
Coolpad’s designs are not something one would be fond of, but the Note 3 is designed to look and feel good. The smooth back panel doesn’t attract fingerprints and the smudges could easily get removed, and after a few days of usage, there was not even one scratch or smudge noticed.
The fingerprint scanner stays right below the camera on the back, and the 13-megapixel camera is assisted with a secondary microphone and a LED flash. Towards the bottom is Coolpad’s branding, well noticeable if you have seen the Dazen Note 3, and just below it is the speaker grill.
The front of the phone is intelligently made to show as if the screen extends from one corner to the other, while otherwise there is a wide bezel that shows up when the screen is on. The navigation buttons are not a part of the screen, having a silverish border for each, and these aren’t backlit. The area above the display has a set of sensors, earpiece, and the camera.
Even the Coolpad Note 3 has a similar button placement to the Yureka, which makes the user accidentally press the volume button while pressing the power button, but the usage is now lesser, thanks to the fingerprint scanner that does the unlocking.
The back cover of the device is removable, but that doesn’t let the user remove its battery, and there is access only to the two SIM slots and a MicroSD card slot. Overall, the Coolpad Note 3 is wide, thick and not easily comfortable in every hand, but it still is something I am happy with, thanks to the curved design that doesn’t give the awkward feel of holding a large phone in the hand.
The 5.5-inch HD display (1280 x 720 pixels) on the Note 3 isn’t any sharp. It in fact, does easily show the pixelation, although the colors aren’t highly saturated, neither they are dull. Reading text under sunlight wasn’t the easiest, since the display is quite reflective and the brightness wasn’t enough even at maximum brightness.
The CoolUI interface for the Note 3 is based on Android 5.1, and is said to be customised for the Indian users, though it doesn’t seem great, or any different from some other Chinese ROMs. Just like MIUI, you can see all apps on the home screens, and enough customisable options for the user to feel comfortable while using the phone. Customizing the UI means adding few more apps to the list, and a widget of CoolStore, showing a few apps that can be downloaded out of the Play Store.
There’s a CoolShow app that helps user switch between themes, and even let the user change wallpapers, incoming call and notification ringtones, font style, as well as the lock screen style. Except for the one that comes set as default, none are actually good as the icon packs are weirdly cut to look bad.
A Rock Wallpaper app lets you shake the phone to change wallpaper, but is very strict and gets frustrated if you are shaking it very frequently. The options to set fingerprint locking and locking apps with fingerprint, are available in a couple of apps, and you don’t have to look into the Settings section for that.
There are some good gesture features in Coolpad Note 3, and these include even the much-needed double tap to wake function, since that removes the need of pressing the physical buttons to activate the screen.
Let’s talk about the fingerprint scanner. It was a premium feature until now, and one would see it available only on top-end devices. Coolpad’s changing it big time with an actually good fingerprint scanner that does the recognition pretty well most of the time.
The only problem with it is the placement, since someone who has the phone placed on the table, has to either lift the device or have to type-in the password, since the scanner is on the back of the device. That is still okay if you are happy with the way it works and recognizes the fingerprint, and one can actually save up to five fingerprints and have a function assigned to each of them.
The performance is snappy, as the Coolpad Note 3 doesn’t slow down even after extensive use of fingerprint scanner, multitasking and playing heavy games. There was rarely any frame drops or lags noticed on gaming, and the device has 3GB of RAM, of which over 1.8GB was available for multitasking all the time. Switching between the apps was also at ease. In short, it is all good a strong device when it comes to performance.
There are a couple other devices, from Lenovo, which are similar with the chipset configuration, and the K3 Note didn’t do as good as the Note 3, since it had a higher-resolution display, and the graphic rendering took up much more load, to ultimately slow down the performance.
The camera capture quality should’ve been better than what it is, and one expects a decent color arrangement and contrast from a smartphone camera in this price range. Other than being a good 13MP resolution, there are some flaws that are actually bad due to the default camera app in the device.
The shutter speed is great, as it almost instantly focus and captures, readying itself for the next capture, but the post-processing of the images is a bit poor. Video recording quality isn’t great either, since the video comes out to be shaky at times and the exposure changes too quickly for one to get adjusted with.
The battery is commendable, except for the fact that its standby is not great. The device is able to get over 4 hour and 45 mins of screen-on time on average, and sometimes pushing it even to 6 hours when you start the day with a fully charged phone. Otherwise, the drain of about 7% is what was seen on average overnight.
Coolpad hasn’t included any power saving modes, so it is on the user to do anything to optimize and squeeze more time out of a single charge, though the overall battery performance is great.
The speakers are a bit of disappointment, since the audio quality is not good, and the output level isn’t high as well. The output on a standard earphone is good though, and it is a bit of problem with only the external speakers.
The Coolpad Note 3 could connect to 4G on the first SIM slot, and the signal reception was good, while the Wi-Fi performance was good as well, with the device swiftly connecting to one of the available networks. There is also support for USB OTG connectivity.
So, the Note 3 has a good fingerprint scanner, a decent design and a great battery life. Is that still enough to justify the price? or is the competition in this price range so fierce that the Coolpad’s entry will face some heat? We feel that the company has done enough to justify the price, although the camera and display could’ve been a little better. At this price, getting a security feature that was meant to be a premium one in flagships not long ago, is already quite an attraction.
Everything said and done, the Coolpad Note 3 has enough to stand tall against the likes of Lenovo K3 Note, Xiaomi Mi 4i, and Honor 4x, with the battery that performs great, and a fingerprint scanner that actually works accurately.