Coolpad is yet another manufacturer to join the increasing brigade of Chinese vendors in India. However, this company has managed to grab some eyeballs with its competitive specs in the lucrative sub-Rs 10,000 market segment of India. The newest device to come from the company is the Note 3.
While the name may sound cliched as most companies now have a 'Note' series, but superior specs at Rs 8,999 is what makes Coolpad's device stand apart from the rest. On paper, the Coolpad Note 3 seems like a total value for money product with 5.5-inch display, 3GB RAM, 13MP camera and support for 4G. However, lets dig in a little deeper and see how it performs.
Design and build: 6.5/10
The Coolpad Note 3 sports a very simple design with rounded edges and a chrome ring visible from the front. On the front, you will find a large 5.5-inch display with ample bezel above and below it. The lower side accommodates three touch buttons while the upper side shows the front-facing camera. The right and left edges accommodate power and volume rocker respectively.
The upper edge comes with a 3.5mm jack and the lower edge gets a microUSB port and primary mic. Just turn around and the backside shows the rear snapper, LED flash and a secondary mic. Below the camera, you will also find the fingerprint scanner and glance slightly lower and you will find the speaker grille. The fingerprint scanner is well placed, just as we seen in some of the recent devices, which makes it easy to unlock the device using the index finger. However, the matte white back looks evidently plasticky.
Overall, the Note 3 is a considerably large device, and do not expect comfortable one-hand usage. It was particularly difficult (for me) reaching the last of the three capacitive touch buttons with one-hand usage. The company claims a metal frame inside, but tends to look slightly cheap.
Coolpad Note 3 sports a large 5.5-inch HD IPS display, but with disappointing 720 x 1080 pixels of resolution This gives it a pixel density that goes up to 267ppi. The internals include a 64-bit 1.3GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6753 processor coupled with whopping 3GB RAM. It has 16GB onboard storage, out of which 7.7GB is available for users. Besides, there is a microSD card slot to expand it up to 64GB. However, it should be noted that the dual SIM phone has one of its slot modified to be used as microSD card slot. This isn't something new, and we've seen many phone makers opt for such a design. So, one will have to compromise on a SIM for additional storage and vice versa.
The camera department comes with a 13MP rear snapper, which is a standard among phones these days. It is accompanied by LED flash and f/2.0 aperture. For selfie lovers, it offers a 5MP front-facing camera, which is again pretty standard in phones at this price. It supports 3G as well as 4G, and the other connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, microUSB, among others. Finally, a 3000mAh battery completes the package.
The Coolpad Note 3 runs on rather older Android Lollipop with a layer of the company's proprietary Cool UI. The UI is nothing unusual, and Coolpad is almost at par with most Chinese vendors that try to offer a forked and more customised version of Android. Like most companies, there is no app drawer and apps are strewn across homescreens.
The UI is presented in two forms – Traditional and Minimal. Long press on the homescreen and four icons will pop up on the lower side - Widgets, Wallpaper, Effects and Preferences. Under Preferences, you can select the traditional UI. To switch back just click on the first capacitive touch button and you will find minimalistic UI option under Preferences. Under Effects, you can choose the way the device lets you switch from one page to other. It seems more like a gimmick.
Just slide your finger downwards, and you will find the notifications. Besides, you will also find 16 shortcuts such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode, and so on. There's also a feature called the C button, and enabling it will bring additional options that can be accessed from any page. The image below shows some of the cool themes that you can download for free from its proprietary Cool Show app. Similarly, you will also its own Cool Store for apps, games and so on.
The fingerprint scanner took less than a minute to setup. Interestingly, there is a pre-installed app called FP Lock that lets you lock specific apps using the fingerprint scanner. This means, you can easily avoid access to your private data. It also comes pre-installed with the Xploree keyboard app that has Yahoo search integrated. Then there are smart gesture and smart call options, just like most other Chinese vendors.
The Coolpad Note 3 features a 5.5-inch display with 1280 x 720 pixels of resolution. With a pixel density that limits to 267 ppi, the display resolution comes as a disappointment compared to some of its rivals in the same or lower price range offering Full HD display. However, the viewing experience was decent. We tried watching a few videos and the large display and resolution together offer a decent experience, leaving us with nothing specific to complain about. Take a look at the screen grabs below.
The device features a 13-megapixel rear snapper with LED flash and f2.0 aperture. The photos taken outdoors in bright sunlight came across detailed and accurate, with good dynamic range. The colour reproduction didn’t disappoint either. We also got some decent snaps indoors taken in ambient light. However, we can’t say the same about photos clicked in low-light conditions. As you see in the sample below, the photo clicked outdoors in low-lit conditions appears to be very noisy and grainy. The camera is also capable of shooting decent 1080p videos.
PS: Image samples have been resized here. To check the full resolution, please click on the images
For selfie lovers, the Coolpad Note 3 also gets a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. It comes with the beauty option, which is almost standard these days but works brilliantly. The camera app is simple to use and loaded with features.
When playing music and videos, the sound clarity was good on speakers as well as with the bundled earphones. We tried playing several videos, and it didn't seem adept at handling 1080p videos, we must add. However, that was limited to the content quality as the video didn’t stutter while watching or even streaming. It also managed to ace at the little multi-tasking we did.
Browsing with multiple tabs open alongside some social media, was almost smooth. We played a few casual games, and the experience was again good. The device did warm up slightly, mostly on the upper side where the fingerprint scanner and camera sensor resides, but it wasn’t uncomfortably warm.
The Coolpad Note 3 is fuelled by a 3,000mAh battery. With replying to emails, social media, some browsing, messaging and phone calls, we easily managed to easily squeeze through the day. The Battery test result gave 10 hours 22 minutes, which is very good.
Verdict and Price in India
The sub-Rs 10,000 phone segment in India is extremely fierce. Coolpad is relatively newer Chinese vendor, but the company has ensured to bring together the best ingredients possible. The Coolpad Note 3 is a combination of feature set and pricing that would make one take notice even in the inundated budget price segment.
At Rs 8,999, it is a rare device to bring in a large 5.5-inch display, 3GB RAM, 13MP rear snapper and a fingerprint scanner that is actually quick and efficient. The user interface is more or less what most of these Chinese vendors have on offer. If you could let go the shoddy plasticky look and poor screen resolution, the device is a complete value for money package with a decent camera, good performance, efficient finger print scanner and a very good battery life. Some of its closest competitors are the K3 Note and Yu Yureka Plus.
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