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Cherry Mobile M1 First Impressions - Local Phone To Rule Them All?

Earlier, Cherry Mobile dropped the bomb that sent shock waves across the local smartphone industry when they introduced the M1. It's the first handset in the Philippines with Helio X20 processor w/ 10 cores.
Cherry Mobile M1 first impressions
Cherry Mobile M1 first impressions

Apart from that, this phone also boast close to high-end configuration all over as it's also the first local phone to rock Mali T880 GPU and 4 GB RAM.

Gladly, we were able to grab a hold of the unit and explored it for quite sometime and share with you our discoveries and thoughts with it.

Cherry Mobile M1 Specs

Display: 5.5 Inch FHD IPS 1920 x 1080 resolution w/ Dragontrail glass protection at 401 ppi 
CPU: 2.3 GHz 64 Bit Helio X20 deca core processor
GPU: Mali T880
ROM: 32 GB
Back Camera: 21 MP IMX230 w/ PDAF, BSI, 4K video recording and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 8 MP w/ LED flash
Battery: 3,600 mAh w/ fast charging support
OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, LTE, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, OTG, GPS, A GPS, Beidou dual SIM (nano)
Sensors: Accelerometer, proximity, light, g, gyroscope
Others: USB Type C, Fingerprint sensor, Smart PA HiFi
Dimensions: 152.5 x 76.35 x 9.8 mm
Weight: 170 g
Price: 11,990 Pesos

Build Quality / Design

Slightly arching back cover
Slightly arching back cover

The striking resemblance in terms of design and build coming from the Lenovo K4 Note and Vibe X3 is very evident in this phone. It goes with nearly the same type of construction that's pretty well built and nice to hold in my opinion.
View on top w/ 3.5 mm jack
View on top w/ 3.5 mm jack

Mic below and USB Type C connector
Mic below and USB Type C connector
Power button and volume rocker on the side
Power button and volume rocker on the side

There's a metallic frame design with soft contours and curves, brushed plastic back cover with smooth patterns and Asahi Dragontrail glass protected glass in front. This we also noticed that this type isn't that prone to scratches, but prone to fingerprint smudges.

Going to the design, like what I said the striking resemblance with the K4 Note is evident, but it has its own personality. Anyway, the phone looks decent thanks to its rounded curves and contours. The bezels on the screen is on the slimmer side of things though we find the phone a little a little thicker than expected at 9.8 mm.

Ergonomically, Cherry did a nice job here. While it doesn't feel as good as full metal glad phones, the overall hold is great on the hands. It's not that hefty and something that gives great grip overall. Aside from that, all the ports and button were placed properly as they're easy to locate.

Specs and features analysis

On paper, this is the meatiest setup anyone can find on a local branded phone yet. It's powered by the beastly tri-clustered architecture of the Helio X20 chip clocked at 2.3 GHz, Mali T880 GPU that's designed to run even the heaviest graphics smoothly and 4 GB RAM to pair it with great multitasking.
This phone is designed to run any type of applications easily.
There's also a 32 GB internal storage that's sadly not expandable, but we can live with it as 32 GB is still large enough for most. The Cherry Mobile M1 also highlights that large 3,600 mAh of battery w/ quick charging support which charges your phone from 0 to 100% in 1 hour and 30 mins using a USB Type C port.

Note: Randolph of Pinoyscreencast tested NBA 2K16 and on max settings and it's super smooth. He'll post a sample video later.
Main camera sample
Main camera sample

Camera-wise, it's also a beast as it goes with a real 21 MP Sony IMX230 sensor that's equipped with phase detection auto focus (PDAF), BSI for lowlight and dual LED flash. What we like there is it can also record up to 4K videos too. From our initial observation, given that the lighting in this area is poor, the camera was able to take great photos.
The Cherry Mobile M1 comes with the best cameras on paper for the price.
However, while the focus is fast, the capture and saving time is very slow. I'm speculating that the reason behind that is this is just a pre-production unit (prototype) which isn't final yet. Let's hope that they'll be able to fix that issue once its out in the market already.
Selfie camera sample
Selfie camera sample

In front, there's an unknown type of 8 MP camera that takes great selfie shots. Then there's a dedicated selfie flash that you can use in very challenging conditions.
There's also a dedicated HiFi chip and dual front facing speakers.
Another highlight of this handset is its a rare locally branded phone that has a dedicated Smart PA HiFi chip to let you enjoy lossless music with great details. Apart from that from that there's a dual front speaker on top too.

Then it's complete with dual mic setup, good type of 5.5 inch FHD screen with miravision and clearmotion, slightly sluggish fingerprint scanner and smart gestures. The M1 also have an accelerometer, proximity, light, g and gyroscope sensors to complete the experince.

As of the moment

The Cherry Mobile M1 appears to be the real deal even if it's an over 10K phone. Why It's the most feature packed and powerful handset from any brand in the under 12K range on paper yet. Having said that, if Cherry properly tuned this set, it's poised to be the best local phone today.
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