CloudFone Special Edition Review, More Than Just A Collectible Disney Phone?

Way back early this year, CloudFone's newly launched Special Edition caught our interest. Why? Aside from bringing in the first Intel SoFia quad core chip on a smartphone in the world and putting in stylish build, this is the first legit Disney Phone to hit our shores. As a result, there are Disney, Star Wars or Marvel themes that you can choose from whenever you buy a phone.
CloudFone Special Edition review
CloudFone Special Edition review

Disclaimer: This review unit was provided by CloudFone for an honest review

Fast forward today, we were finally able to finish our review to take a deeper look on it. Is it just a collectible or a capable daily driver too?

CloudFone Special Edition Specs

Display: 5 Inch HD IPS 1280 x 720 resolution 2.5D curved arc screen w/ Gorilla Glass protection at 294 ppi
CPU: 1.2 GHz Intel Atom X3 quad core processor
GPU: Mali 450
RAM: 2 GB
ROM: 16 GB expandable via microSD card slot up to 32 GB
Back Camera: 8 MP f/2.4 w/ LED flash
Selfie Camera: 2 MP f/2.4
Battery: 1,900 mAh
OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth, dual SIM
Price: 4,999 Pesos

Unboxing / Accessories

Accessories included in the package
Accessories included in the package

In terms of accessories, CloudFone was a little generous. Having this as a Special Edition Disney phone, we were able to get its great to hold plastic case and Mickey Mouse good sounding in ear monitors with mic aside from the regular 1A wall charger and cables.

Build Quality / Design

A look at the back
A look at the back

Materials-wise, CloudFone clearly put a lot of effort in making this phone one of best built devices in the sub-5K range. It's made out of high quality metal frame with well machined chamfered edges, 2.5D curved glass panel and a solid plastic back cover with brushed aluminum like texture. 
Back cover opened
Back cover opened, showing the micro SIM, micro SD slots and non removable battery

If I have to describe its design in one word, CloudFone's Special Edition is a "Stunner" for a phone priced this low. It's visually effective and gorgeous overall without the need of being too flashy. It's slim in nature has a sophisticated looking semi curved back cover. We also noticed that its brushed like texture at the back doesn't only add flare, but puts better grip and comfort to your palm.
Top view showing 3.5 mm port
Top view showing 3.5 mm port
The charging port and microphone located below
The charging port and microphone located below 
Power button and volume rocker on the right side
Power button and volume rocker on the right side

Going to the ports and button placement, we see everything in our preferred "standard" form where-in everything is easy locate and hold. We would just like the power button to be textured as a differentiator, but that'd just nitpicking on our side.

Normally, phones with this type of materials and design implemented is reserved for phones with much higher tag. Definitely a refreshing  scene to see.

Display Quality

Beautiful 2.5D glass
Beautiful 2.5D glass

Touting a 5 inch HD screen with 2.5D curved glass, we had a little bit of extra expectation with one. However, its display isn't its strongest point.
5 points of multitouch
5 points of multitouch

Yes it has acceptable sharpness and resolution. It also has good amount of brightness and has 5 points of multitouch for better touch accuracy, but we've seen better displays from CloudFone especially when they introduced the Excite Prime.

This phone lags in color accuracy and we find if a bit too warm / yellowish in my opinion that's a bit washed out too. It's even yellower than most saturated AMOLED panels. Normally, that type of problem can be solved by adjusting the color tone of your phone, but this one doesn't have that feature.

That type of color tone has one good triat though. The Special Edition is exceptionally great in reading e-books and articles in the dark as it doesn't strain your eyes too well.

Again it's decent, but we're just expected a little bit more from it.

Audio Quality

In general, the speakers sounds loud enough for me with fairly decent details when used to listening to music. Just make sure not to crank the volume all the way up to 100 percent and you'll hear good tunes mostly. Calls and notifications are hearable even from at least 10 meters afar as well.

When using your headphone, it's flat and neutral sounding to the delight of most. It has enough bass that doesn't overwhelm the mids and the highs stands out a little espeially on tracks with treble prominent tracks. Soundstage and imaging is average for a budget phone at best, but we don't find it that resolved and detailed. For this low price, who are we to complain, at least the managed to produce clear tunes here.

The surprising thing here is the bundled Disney (Mickey) earphones with microphone. It sounds full enough that doesn't have muddy bass surprisingly. It has deep and pretty controlled bass response, clear enough mids, bearable highs, acceptable soundstage and easy to drive. So far, based on what I heard, it's still not on the level of Gionee's free earphones, but it's two notches above the Spotify Edition earphones in terms of sound quality.

Microphone-wise, it's great for calls and can record voices clear enough to be fairly detailed and not to be noisy in general. Not superb as it is only using a single mic setup, but good enough for a smartphone.

Battery Life

PC Mark result
PC Mark result

Having a battery capacity of 1,900 mAh only, we're not expecting this phone to last an entire day of casual to moderate usage. However, Intel has a promise of battery optimization in its SoFia chip that made me think it can do a little better than other chips at least.

However and unfortunately, that's not the case here. This phone is one of the least performing in terms of battery. As a result we only got over 3 hours of usage of work battery life using our benchmark tool and 5 hours of normal usage.

At that rate, bringing your powerbank and chargers is a must most of the time.

Charging time is average at around 2 hours.

Camera

The CloudFone Special Edition's camera doesn't look too "special" on paper with it's 8 MP rear camera w/ LED flash and 2 MP selfie camera by default.

However, based on our time and observation with it, they used a "real" 8 MP rear camera here with f/2.4 aperture. It may not be the best in the price, but at least it isn't interpolated compared with others.

As a matter of fact, I was actually happy with most of the results I've seen here. It was able to give me good tonal balance, plenty of detail with superb sharpness on daylight shots, good type of saturation / exposure on HDR shots and has acceptable contrast.

In dark and places with challenging lighting conditions, it's expected that it will struggle with the use of just an f/2.4 lens. It's grainy, slow to focus and doesn't have that details at night. Fortunately, it has a pretty bright type of flash even if it has yellowish tone that can make you look visibly acceptable.

The selfie camera on the other hand kinda needs improvement. It has slow shutter, grainy even in daylight, not usable at night and ins't wide angle. But hey, we're talking about a low cost phone here so that's just nitpicking for us again.

It's software isn't the most feature packed and reminds me of the the stock Google camera, but at least it's post processing was decent at best considering that this is a budget phone.

In taking videos, the rear camera focuses nicely and can produce good 1080p videos. It's just a little shaky, but has good colors and performs nicely for the price.

Rear Camera Samples

Random HDR shot
Random HDR shot that shows a lot of warmth and saturation, in a good way though
Testing macro shot at Starfish island, it failed to blur the background but produced a sharp image
It will produce some nice blur in the background
If you take the shot closer, it will produce some nice blur in the background
Normal vs HDR
Normal vs HDR
Notice how the HDR made the image livelier
Could be good for some who prefers more pronounce colors compared with balance
It struggles at night as expected
It struggles at night as expected
Pretty strong flash that could really help in the dark
Pretty strong flash that could really help in the dark

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie with Angel
Daylight selfie with Angel
Indoor selfie with decent lighting
Indoor selfie with decent lighting

Video Sample


Performance

Antutu and geekbench scores isn't that high
Antutu and geekbench scores isn't that high

This is where I thought that the Special Edition would excel as it has double the RAM and ROM compared with sub-5k phones of old. However, even if there are times where it shines, we feel that the use of 1.2 GHz Intel Atom X3 quad core processor hampered its performance in some ways.

Yes it can open a lot of apps and multitask decently, but you'll feel that the phone was a little sluggish at times. When playing casual or pretty heavy games, it heats up fast and you'll feel frame drops immediately.

Don't get me wrong, it's still faster than most of the dated quad core MediaTek chips, but it isn't that refined specially in thermal management and battery life.
The Disney theme
The Disney theme

Software-wise, I was honestly thrilled when I found out that it will have custom Disney themes, sounds and animations. However, we find that it's Disney (Mickey) theme crashes a lot and really not that refined yet even if I got an update recently that "improves" its stability.

That scenario forced us in using the stock Android theme instead as it is more stable and maximizes the potential of the phone better.

Pros - Beautiful design, midrange grade build, decent rear camera, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB ROM, good amount of legit Disney collectible accessories
Cons - Battery life could be better, software needs improvement, Intel Atom X3 isn't ready for mainstream yet

Verdict

CloudFone's Special Editon is a phone specifically designed for collectors out there. We've seen a lot of good efforts especially with its freebies and build, but there are still other things that they need to iron out to provide a more refined experience. So if you really love the Disney franchise (Disney, Star Wars or Marvel), this would be a great addition to your collection.

However and for now, it will be hard for me to recommend this to regular budget power users, instead I'd suggest that you take a look at their excellent Excite Prime.

In the end, let us not count their Disney line yet as I'm sure they'll do better the next time around.

GIZ Rating: 3.75 / 5 Stars
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