Chinese smartphone maker Coolpad faced an interesting challenge this year as it partnered with LeEco after Jia Yueting, CEO of LeEco, took over as Coolpad's Chairman in August. LeEco also became Coolpad's largest shareholder.
The partnership did result in two smartphones and one of them is the Coolpad Cool 1. It is now officially available in India for Rs 13,999. So let us get started with the review.
Build and Design: 7 / 10
It offers a strikingly similar design as the LeEco Le 2, if you discount the dual rear camera module on the back. In fact, I doubt Coolpad designed the smartphone at all. Having said that, it is a good looking device. It comes with a solid metal back and a glass panel on the front.
Having a metal build is not a big deal today though. Even a Rs 7,000 smartphone offers a metal finish. This smartphone is just like any other budget offering. I did like the chamfered edges but there isn’t anything that sets it apart.
The headphone jack sits on top with an infrared port, while the volume and power buttons are on the right edge. The SIM tray is on the left and at the bottom the USB Type-C port is placed right at the centre and flanked by two speaker holes. As it is with many handsets only one of them is the speaker and the set of holes are, well, just there for symmetry.
The back houses the dual-camera setup placed vertically along with the dual-LED flash on the side. The glossy fingerprint scanner (again, a LeEco design reference) sits right below the cameras.
Features: 7.5 / 10
Talking about the specifications, the smartphone features a 5.5-inch, Full HD IPS LCD display which translates to a pixel density of 401 PPI. Inside, there is a Snapdragon 652 chipset (quad 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53 cores and quad 1.8 GHz Cortex-A72 cores). An Adreno 510 GPU takes care of the graphics and there is 4GB of RAM, which sounds pretty good. In terms of storage, you get 32GB of internal memory, but there is no microSD card slot to expand it further. There is also a 3GB RAM variant.
There are a pair of 13MP cameras at the back with an f/2.0 aperture, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash unit. On the front there is 8MP unit with an f/2.2 aperture. The rear camera can record 4K video while the front unit can record 1080p videos.
Connectivity options include 4G VoLTE, dual-SIM support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, USB Type-C port and GPS/A-GPS.
Display: 7 / 10
The smartphone features a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD panel. It offers a 401 PPI which makes it sharp. The bezels around the display are fairly in check with a black border all around. Overall quality is good. Colours look accurate, although there is a slight shift when viewing from an angle.
Contrast could've been better but isn’t all bad. It does come with options to customise the tone of the colours so you can bump up or down the tone on the screen to your liking. I was quite satisfied with the touch response as well.
Software: 7 / 10
The Cool 1 utilises LeEco’s proprietary EUI on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The only difference being the absence of all the LeEco services like LeVidi and LeView.
It does, however, come with a built-in FM radio app, a 'system tools' app, Yahoo Weather, Amazon India and an infrared remote control app. We’ve seen the same UI in a bunch of LeEco handsets so it did seem very familiar.
Swiping from the top down reveals the notifications while the quick toggles and settings can be accessed by tapping on the multitasking, square, capacitive key.
It’s quite snappy and I was happy with how fluid it felt. Of course, if you are coming from a stock Android smartphone, you will need some time to get used to everything.
Performance: 7.5 / 10
Powering the smartphone is a Snapdragon 652 processor which was also seen on the LeEco Le 2. There is 4GB of RAM to handle multitasking and an Adreno 510 GPU to take on graphics. The combination provides an excellent experience considering the price point.
Watching videos, scrolling through your mails, browsing through numerous social media apps was a breeze. I managed to open about 10 apps at the same time and it didn’t stutter.
It did, however, disappoint while I was gaming. Ten minutes of Pokémon Go led to a very strong heating on the left of the fingerprint scanner. Surprisingly, it was fine while I was playing Asphalt Nitro.
In the benchmarks, the results were quite good though. I compared the results to the LeEco Le 2 and both came to be pretty similar.
As for call performance and network performance, everything works well. I wish the loudspeaker had a punch to it as it offered a bit too much of the highs. The fingerprint scanner worked well, although I didn’t like the glossy finish. It wasn’t always accurate in detecting, but when it did, the lockscreen opened very fast.
Camera: 6.5 / 10
LeEco, umm Coolpad, has used a dual-camera setup here. There are two 13MP cameras with an f/2.0 aperture each, phase detection autofocus (PDAF) and a dual-LED flash. Now this dual-rear camera setup is becoming popular, and we should be seeing a lot more phones across budgets in 2017 with this setup. As for the front camera, there is an 8MP camera with an f/2.2 aperture.
The image quality is just average. I wasn’t very impressed with it. Pictures taken outdoors, in the evening, are grainy. So you can imagine the quality of the ones taken in low light. As for the dual camera setup, it allows you to add digital shallow depth of field, which is very gimmicky. The purpose here is to blur the background to give a DSLR like shallow DoF. But I was left with blurs on the main subject. You can check the two picture of the BB8 model I took.
The front camera is also average and sometimes manages to over sharpen your face.
The camera app offers a few modes to play around with. There is a manual mode to control your exposure, a night mode and a beauty mode which is good for taking portraits. You can also shoot 4K video with the rear camera, although it wasn’t very impressive and turns out to be grainy, just like the pictures.
Battery: 8 / 10
I was very happy with the battery performance. The handset comes with a 4,060mAh battery. It lasted me all day without any hiccups. I used a Reliance Jio SIM for tethering, played some games and even watched a few YouTube videos and still ended with about 25 percent battery in the night. Even the Work battery life benchmark results proved that it can last for a good 10 hours straight.
Verdict and Price in India
The Coolpad Cool 1 is officially available in India for Rs 13,999 for both the variants. The 4GB RAM model will only be available online via Amazon India from 5 January while the 3GB RAM model will only be available offline. This puts the smartphone against the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, Moto G4 Plus and its partner brand’s LeEco Le 2.
It’s strange that the company has launched this smartphone which looks and feels just like a LeEco smartphone but has a different badge. Everything from the design to the software screams LeEco. I don’t think the absence of the LeEco entertainment package will make a huge difference.
The camera was a huge disappointment but other than that I like how swift the UI was and that large battery on the inside keeps the smartphone running for a full day. So is it better than the LeEco Le 2? Well its a close match. The performance is almost similar but you do get a 4GB RAM variant on the Cool 1. Then there is the bigger battery which will make the handset last longer. The inclusion of a 3.5mm audio jack is also great, considering the CDLA technology on the Le 2 wasn't exceptionally good. Now you don't get LeEco's free entertainment package, but I don't think that its a deal breaker.
One major thing to consider is the brand. Coolpad is still not a well established company in India, of course it is being backed up by LeEco but that doesn't change the consumer's perception. Considering market giants Xiaomi, Lenovo and LeEco itself, the Coolpad Cool 1 won't be a big hit.
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