CloudFone Next Review - World Class Performance Under 10K!

Last week, we received the Next by CloudFone, a new local flagship that promises to change the game once more. Why? It sports the highest specs for the price yet with a seemingly refined software in a complete package.
CloudFone Next Review - The New King Of The Hill!
CloudFone Next full review

So we took it to a spin to fully explore its capabilities, weaknesses, and. etc. Here's the rest of what we discovered.


Display Quality

At 5.2 inch, the Next has a rightly sized screen
At 5.2 inch, the Next has a rightly sized screen

Flaunting a rightly sized 5.2 inch IPS OGS screen with FHD resolution at 424 ppi. The CloudFone Next has one of the nicer screens in the local market scene today. The images has sharpness with slightly punchier colors (warmer) and deeper black production compared with usual local phones with IPS panels we tested in the past.
Screen quality is comparable to higher-end phones!
Viewing angles is excellent, the 2.5D glass looks awesome in the eyes, sunlight legibility is decent, and brightness levels can go really high. As a matter of fact, it was always toned down to around 20% brightness to prevent eyes from hurting during long period of use.
5 points of touch
5 points of touch

On the features of the screen, it has an accurate adaptive display option and 5 points of touch. To be honest, I'm expecting it to have 10 points of multitouch, but 5 is okay which can provide fine touch and typing experience.

Audio Quality

The loud single speaker below

At first, we thought that the Next is equipped with a dual speaker setup below the phone. However, just like most phones we tested in the sub 10K range, the other speaker hole has no purpose at all. Fortunately, the quality of its single speaker is loud, can produce light bass punch, and has decent level of clarity. It can be airy at times, but grains and slight distortion is distinguishable on high volume levels.

On the headphone audio out, bass lovers will like this. It provides proper emphasis in the lower region where sub-bass is prominent. It's warm sounding with acceptable levels of clarity, vocals, and overall audio resolution. What I like here is its highs doesn't provide that much hiss even on some of my sensitive earphones. Soundstage isn't big, though its "in your front" approach would be enough for most. Driving capability is good too where it can make most of my IEMs shine on 60% volume only.

If you want more bass, there's a Snapdragon Audio+ equalizer in the settings of your music player with bass boost and surround sound. There will be just loss of clarity, that's why I can't recommend using it if you are an audiophile. For movies, that would be great though.

For calls, microphone quality is average where there's really nothing spectacular, but it just works. In terms of recordings, its single microphone below performed above our expectation as it was able to capture even some of the some details even if there's some understandable noise.

Battery Life

Over 9 hours and 30 mins score!
Over 9 hours and 30 mins score!

Given that this handset only has 3,000 mAh paired with a 5.2 inch FHD display, many expected that the battery life of the Next will just perform averagely. However, its use of a power saving Snapdragon 430 chip clocked at 1.4 GHz is  a life saver.
Battery life is decent, close to great as a matter of fact!
On our benchmark test, we got over 9 hours of score using PC Mark's Work Battery Life test. In real life scenario, we recorded an impressive screen time of 8 hours and 10 mins on casual usage. It includes social media most of the time, data or WiFi, playing NBA 2K17, and taking good photos.
Eco mode and battery saver
Eco mode and battery saver

In the built-in Phone Assistant, there's a power saver option where you can manage your background apps and activate Eco mode in the notification to turn off the activate basic phone functions and save more power.
Charging time is extremely fast!
Quick Charge 3.0 tech has an fluctuating average charging time of around 45 to 50 mins from 0 to 100%!

Camera

The real 16 MP Samsung main camera located at the back
The real 16 MP Samsung main camera located at the back

One of the major aspects that makes the Next extra special is its use of higher-end camera sensors on an entry-midrange phone. There's a real 16 MP f/2.0 Samsung S5K3P3 ISOCELL sensor w/ PDAF and LED flash found at the back and an 8 MP f/2.4 Samsung S5K4H8 sensor w/ BSI, wide angle lens and LED flash in front.
Numerous camera options at the back!
Numerous camera options at the back!

Then CloudFone combined that with an good type of camera software that's feels modern and easy to use. It's complete with different modes such as easy brightness adjustment, normal, face beauty, panorama, HDR, night mode, sports, and scene frame.
One of the better camera software found on a local phone!
Then it has manual mode with either grids or levels, spot metering (seamless ), manual focus, up to ISO 1600, exposure levels, white balance, sharpness, and saturation adjustments.

For the price, it is a quick and capable shooter with good post processing. Auto-focus is less than a second, manual focus is fast, and saving time is really quick. Another thing that we like here is it can do macros (around 3 inches near) with ease. It makes this shooter great for close-up shots for food, products, and etc.
Image-quality is arguably the best on this price range!
Why? It is good enough to be a main phone camera. For this price, the colors are rich and details are great. It's has above-average color balance that can produce pretty good dynamic range when properly used. There are minimal noise, discoloration, and loss of detail in daylight. Occasional overexposure occurs, but can be fixed by either using the manual mode or lessening the brightness of your stills.

At night, there are obvious struggles, but it can take brighter photos with less noise than most sub-13K phones that's readily available in the market today. Worst case scenario, it has a brighter and whiter than expected single LED flash at the back that can help make your images look better.

Rear Camera Samples

HDR mode was able to bring the highlights out from this against the light shot
HDR mode was washed and grainy, but it was able to bring the highlights out from this against the light shot
Normal daylight
This photo on auto mode is a tad darker against high-end phones, but it was able to show details nicely and the ability to capture moving objects
Color accuracy
Color accuracy is on point in this image, it is close to what we saw at that point in time
Random indoor photo, check how sharp the corners of the horse is
Random indoor photo, check how sharp the corners of the horse is
Another proof that it can take sharp images (1.5x zoom)
Another proof that it can take sharp images (1.5x zoom)
Macro with background blur sample
Macro with background blur sample
Normal mode vs night mode (more visible, but exposed)
Random HDR at night, it is brighter than my other entry-midrange phones
Random HDR at night, it is brighter than my other entry-midrange phones
A better night mode shot
A better night mode shot
Flash in the dark
Flash in the dark

For selfies, there are less modes, but those are the type of what most will only need. There's normal mode, different levels of face beauty, wide selfie mode, and scene frames that you can play around with. There's just no autofocus here, but as long long as you have steady hands, your images will still look good. There's also a bright type of dedicated screen flash that anyone can use in the dark.
The selfie camera modes
The selfie camera modes

In front, its use of an 8 MP f/2.4 Samsung S5K4H8 sensor w/ BSI, wide angle lens and LED flash is a good choice. It can shoot highly detailed images in daylight with decent color accuracy (slightly blueish w/ less saturation than its main camera). Most of the ladies (even gents like me) will also like this as it has as an adjustable and customizable Face beauty mode. You can even add make-up, adjust the size of your eyes, and make your face smaller.

Selfie Camera Samples

Check how detailed my eyebrows is
Check how detailed my eyebrows is
Wide angle selfie test
Wide angle selfie test
Tried the flash to correct this dim light shot

For videos, this handset can take slightly software stabilized 1080p videos in 30 frames per seconds. In front, at least there's an up to 720p option that shoots decent selfie videos for your Snapchats and Instagram videos.

Video Samples


Performance

It performs better than these numbers suggest
It performs better than these numbers suggest

The CloudFone Next is equipped with a power efficient, 64 Bit Snapdragon 430 octa core chip paired with Adreno 505 GPU, large 4 GB RAM, and 32 GB of storage running on a clean type of Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS to give speedy performance that can handle heavy multitasking.

CloudFone is correct, this arguably has the smoothest performance found on a sub-10K phone that's officially in PH yet. The difference in speed against most higher-end phones are hardly noticeable, it can switch easily from app to app, and can simply open anything you throw at it.

It runs NBA 2K17 on all high-settings with ease!
The best part of its performance is it has the ability to handle heavy games that even some high-end phones can't run properly. NBA 2K17 is close to lag free on all high-settings unless you switch to closer camera modes. It's also stable and throttling rarely happens as it doesn't heat-up to alarming levels.
CloudFone's own UI
CloudFone's own UI

On the software side, the Next has a different aesthetics compared to most of its local counterpart. It has its own drawer-less skin with clean looking icons / widgets, and easy to use interface.
Notifications and the Phone assist
Notifications and the Phone assist 

What most will surely appreciate here is this skin is functional, feature packed, and gesture rich. It has a its own Phone Assist app that enables you to manage your battery, power, and optimize your system to keep it clean and fast. This device also has smart actions like double tap to wake, flip to mute, and etc. Then you can even customize your shortcut gestures by drawing the letter of your choice.
Smart Action and Smart Gesture
Smart Action and Smart Gesture
Fingerprint options
Fingerprint options

To complete the experience, this handset has a dedicated expandable memory up to 128 GB, OTG connectivity works, LTE connection is stable, GPS is accurate (tried it with Pokemon GO and Waze), and there's a gyroscope sensor for AR and VR. During our test, we also rarely had problems in doings calls and SMS.

Pros - Solid construction, great ergonomics, beautiful display, powerful performance, very fast charging, feature rich skin, good cameras, OTG ready, has gyroscope, best specs for the price
Cons - Speaker output could be cleaner, mini bug in the gallery app, manual has no shutter speed adjustment, might be better without on screen keys

Verdict

This year of 2016, our home grown brands stepped it up even more. They provided us with much better build and design, higher specs for the price, and new innovations such as fingerprint scanners and dual camera setups.

If you'll ask us who among the rest impressed us the most, it is this CloudFone Next. Okay, we know some of you will put good arguments like it doesn't have a deca-core chip, dual cameras the back, or a even full metal frame, but for us this is clearly the most refined among them all.
Why? The Next is a rare example of a locally branded phone that has world class style and performance with great affordability!
At just PHP 9,999, this handset is beautiful, speedy, can run heavy 3D games, barely heats up, can take good photos, feature rich, and simply works. Given all those traits, we are confident to say that the CloudFone Next is the affordable phone to beat today!

Will this be your next purchase? Let us know in the comments below!

GIZ Rating: 4.85/5 Stars
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