Cherry Mobile Zoom Review - A Sub 5K Smartphone With 3 GB RAM And Long Battery Life!

The trend of mobile phones for years are that the best specifications are reserved for the flagship devices. When we saw the spec sheet of the Cherry Mobile Zoom, we were excited! I mean 4,000 mAh, 13 MP camera, and the first phone with 3 GB of RAM for less than 5K is exciting!
Cherry Mobile Zoom Review - A Sub 5K Smartphone With 3 GB RAM And Long Battery Life!
Look at that HD screen!

Disclaimer: This unit was seeded by Cherry Mobile for an honest review

Cherry Mobile Zoom Specs

Display: 5 Inch HD IPS 1280 x 720 resolution at 294 ppi
CPU: 1.0 GHz MT6735 quad core processor
GPU: Mali T720
RAM: 3 GB
ROM: 16 GB expandable via micro SD card slot
Back Camera: 13 MP w/ AF and single LED flash
Selfie Camera: 8 MP
Battery: 4,000 mAh
OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, A GPS, dual SIM
Price: 4,999 Pesos

Unboxing / Accessories

Don't lose 2 ampere power brick
Don't lose 2 ampere power brick

We will find the usual Cherry Accessories of USB cord, in-ear monitors, and documentation and a surprise 2 ampere power brick upon popping the box open.
The new 2 ampere power brick is to help charge the 4000 mAh battery faster!
Each accessory is made of that durable but smooth to touch plastic that has been their selling point for years.

Build Quality / Design

The brushed metallic back cover
The brushed metallic back cover

One thing you'll notice right away is how well the dark gray textured metal look makes this phone stand out from the rest of Cherry Mobile offers. The textured metallic plastic gives it that premium look and feel that also prevents the phone from slipping.
The phone opened
Removing the back cover you can see the non-removable 4000 mAh battery, two mini-SIM slots and an SD card slot. There is no camera bump: which is great.
3.5 mm headphone jack on top
Micro USB port and microphone at the bottom
Micro USB port and microphone at the bottom
The volume rocker on the left side of the phone
The volume rocker on the left side of the phone
While the camera and the power button are on the right side of phone
While the camera and the power button are on the right side of phone

When hand holding the phone for the first time, you notice immediately the thickness of this phone and its weight because which makes the phone feel tough even if you drop it. The kicker is the fact that it is because of that huge bump that you are sure that your phone's battery will last for a while!

I praise Cherry for going against the trend of mobile phones by trading off a thinner body for a bigger body to fit that huge 4000 mAh battery! What makes it even better is how solid it feels in my hands although the square corners could be a concern for those people who like the curved/sculpted corners on the iPhone and on the Galaxy S phones.

The phone feels heavy but not as heavy as metal clad phones. The thickness is about a iPhone 5s with a thick case, and the back has smoothed corners for better ergonomics.

The CM ZOOM has 5 inch HD 720p LCD-backlit panel with on-screen button. Above that, is the speaker grill, ambient light sensor and the front facing camera. A green notification LED is hidden hear the speaker grill. There is no logo in the front and black bezels surrounding the screen.

The top of the phone has a 3.5 mm jack, the bottom has the 2A micro-USB port for charging and data. The right side has the power and the left side has the volume rocker.

Display Quality

Decent screen, even if there's thick bezels
Decent screen, even if there's thick bezels

For a 720P HD display, this is one of the better ones in the market right now in terms of color. The brightness however could be better. We found that when we compared it to other phones, it is noticeably dimmer than most of the higher-end phones with the same screen.

They are not a deal breaker but you'll notice the difference when placed side by side with a higher resolution and a brighter display. The colors are vibrant while the color reproduction are accurate. Images and videos at 720 are great to see. The viewing angles are also good.
This one of the best experience for a 720P HD cherry mobile display so far!
5 points of touch is decent
5 points of touch is decent

It sports a five point multi-touch display that is great for most productivity and phone activities like typing and calling. The panel was accurate and fast with detecting where my finger taps on screen. What it can be a problem with are the intense and sophisticated games that need more than 5 points simultaneously.

Audio Quality

The zoom has two speakers, one ear piece speakers for calls and one mono speakers for audio experiences from music and video. Both speakers can be loud enough and they barely get distorted at max level. The ear piece is clear and has great range that calling on this thing never was a problem. The main speaker for most audio experiences like music and video viewing is only okay. It could be louder and could use more depth and distinction for each note. Otherwise the speaker is a good all-rounder.

For headphone use, it's closed to balanced sounding which is great. While it doesn't have deep lows, its range in all the other frequencies did okay and has fair amount of details. Plus it can go loud enough to play your favorite low powered headphones or earphones properly. it can also play lossless formats effortlessly.

There seems to be third party audio boosters for lossless format but we barely could notice the difference. This is usually the case for software based audio boosters.

The in-ear monitors that come with it share most of the same characteristics of being able to get loud but not distorted at max level. Using it for calls is good too. The only concern I have is the outer plastic coating of the wires. It can get tangled quite a bit but otherwise this is an okay stock  in-ear monitor.

Voice recording using this handset is also good. Isolation of the voice and ambient sound is decent with barely noticeable distortion and noise unless you are in a noise polluted environment.

Battery

Over 12 hours under heavy battery test
Over 12 hours under heavy battery test

At 4000 mAh, it will last for several days without charging depending on use. My daily routine of calling, texting, internet browsing, social media browsing and YouTube video viewing was not enough to bring it to 20% at the end of the day.
The battery is the best thing about this phone!
We were surprised by this, and after we did the benchmarks and even PC mark showed that it performed well at 12 hours of work battery life! When it does reach zero, the 2A power plug makes charging this phone bearable. It only takes 2 hours and 15 mins to get from 0 to 100 percent with the fast charge power brick. So it isn't too bad.

The only concern we have is that the battery is sealed. Nothing still beats slapping an extra fully charged battery to get 0 to 100 with just popping off the back cover.

Camera

The camera at the back
The camera at the back

At this price point, and with that amazing build quality, you have to ask, how did cherry do it? Well aside from saving money on the display, it saved money on the main camera and the secondary camera.

The main camera is only okay. It can make good shots and it can make less than good shots depending on the situation though. Although I did find that with great lighting the camera is okay.

Given the Zoom moniker, others may think that this is a camera for Zooming like the ZenFone Zoom, but its not. It can do acceptable digital zoom for the price, but don't expect it to be that great in that department.

It is in low light where the main camera understandably falters. See the sample shots below. Both cameras produce washed out images that are noticeably soft and have poor contrast. This is the most underwhelming part of the phone.

The selfie cam on the other hand has decent performance for the price. It has average in daylight, grainy in lowlight, and has wide angle lens.

Both cameras can also take 720p videos properly as long as you're in a well lit place and have steady hand.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight capture
Daylight capture
Washed out photo
Washed out photo
Normal vs HDR
Normal vs HDR
Close-up shot
Close-up shot
Lowlight sample
Lowlight sample
Struggled at night in taking moving objects
Struggled at night in taking moving objects

Selfie Camera Samples

Normal vs HDR
Normal vs HDR
Selfie dim light
Lowlight grains
Lowlight grains

Performance

Benchmark scores show

The ZOOM is equipped with a power saving MediaTek 6735P CPU and a Mali T720 GPU. They perform much less than other phones at this price range. They play games at a lower graphics and lower frame-rates so gaming on this phone will not be the best. Surprisingly, It still plays most games and launch apps at a decent rate.
However, we believe that the ZOOM is built for the marathon, and not the sprint.
Cherry however didn’t skimp on RAM with 3 Gigabytes! Multi-tasking is doable. The latest 5 apps are almost guaranteed to launch back where you left off. Never once did I notice a slowdown due to lack of memory.


The ZOOM can still run most games. 3D game need their setting to be lowered to low or medium graphics to achieve play-ability. Asphalt 8 on mid, Temple Run 2 on good, Modern Combat 5 on ‘Better Performance’ for smooth game-play.

The ZOOM has near stock Android. It does come with some pre-installed apps which are Cherry related like warranty and newsletters. They can be uninstalled which is always welcome. There are also no duplicate appsHowever, it lacks smart gestures like double tap to wake and etc. Not a deal breaker though.

Connectivity-wise, you won't have a problem like most Cherry devices. GSM signals are strong, it can detect WiFi from decent distance, has Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, and NFC.

Pros - Camera has very fast focus speed, battery life is king, surprising gaming performance for its spec sheet, 3 GB of RAM, 2A power charger helps with the charging time
Cons - Camera understandably falls short in low-light, Display is dimmer than most in the price range, thick screen bezels, sealed battery, no OTG support

Verdict

At 4,990 Pesos, the ZOOM is a must have for its battery life alone! It is the perfect work phone if you don't use OTG. The battery will last for days and most productivity apps will work wonderfully. The camera, and dim display could be better, and the lack of OTG can slow down the work process but when you need a phone that can survive for days on end, then this is the phone for you. It will save the day, when you need a phone when power banks and power plugs are no where to be found, we promise.

However and as usual, nobody is perfect as there's still some understandable weaknesses, but that won't change our mind in recommending this to anyone who wants to best in class photography experience in a great phone package.

GIZ Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
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