With the proliferation of multiple smartphone brands in the past few years there’s been a corresponding expansion of smartphone features. Some are useful, some are bloat depending on who you ask. Either way, it all boils down to one question: what does the user need?
That’s all well and good for most smartphone brands trying to tick as much boxes as they could to fill in their company’s next PR campaign. But Cherry Mobile asks a more interesting question: What does the user really need? To which Google has an answer, and the potential market is massive.
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CHERRY MOBILE OMEGA LITE 4 SPECS:
|Cherry Mobile Omega Lite 4|
|OS:||Android Oreo 8.1
Android Go Edition
|Processor:||MediaTek MT6580 1.30 GHz (4x ARM Cortex A7)
|Display:||5.0" 480x960 FWVGA+
|Wireless Connections:||3G support
WLAN 802.11 b/g/n
|Memory:||1 GB RAM
8 GB internal storage
microSD up to 64 GB
|Connectors:||Micro USB 2.0
3.5mm audio jack
|Cameras:||Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 5MP
|SIM Card Slots:||2x Nano SIM Cards
DESIGN & BUILD QUALITY
The first thing you’ll notice upon picking up the Cherry Mobile Omega Lite 4 is, well, how light it is. Coming from my usual mid-range to high-end smartphone, I almost tossed the Omega Lite into the air when I initially held it because of how light it is. That’s because of the all-plastic construction. No fancy metal unibody or glass back here, just good ‘ol fashioned removable plastic back and glass up front. That said, it feels sturdy in the hand and the back cover requires decent force (and strong nails) to remove.
Cherry Mobile has pre-applied a screen protector for you. If and when that does get scratched, you can always opt for some aftermarket tempered glass. Surprisingly, the glass curves around the edges which gives the device a more premium look.
The right-side buttons for the volume and power are hard to distinguish when it’s inside your pocket so. They actually have a fair amount of travel, more so than most other Android phones.
The 3.5mm jack and micro USB port are both located up on the top edge. That leaves the bottom solely for the single speaker. Don’t be fooled by the two flanking grilles because only the right one has a speaker behind it.
DISPLAY & SOUND
We welcome back an old friend: TFT LCD. With an FWVGA+ resolution (that’s 960×480 18:9 aspect ratio) at 5 inches, that equates to about 214.66 PPI. Not a high figure, but text and UI elements are readable. Watching videos isn’t too bad either, especially since the FWVGA+ resolution is just enough to enjoy standard quality YouTube Go videos.
Viewing angles on the Cherry Mobile Omega Lite 4 are understandably not great due to the TFT panel, but sunlight legibility is actually quite decent once you crank up the brightness.
The single bottom-firing speaker we mentioned earlier lacks clarity and bass, but does get fairly loud. For alerts and ringtones, it has never failed to wake me up and alert me. On that note, the vibration motor is decent and powerful enough that you’d notice it in your pocket. There’s also a notification light next to the earpiece. I’m always thrilled whenever budget smartphones include that tiny feature.
The camera app interface is as basic and straightforward as they come. Oddly, the rear 8MP camera by default shoots at 5MP. Autofocus is a tad slow, but easily snaps to when you tap the screen. For outdoor shots, there’s a tendency to overexpose. HDR mode fixes this, but using HDR for moving subjects led to ghosting and softer images.
In short, turn on HDR for landscape and scenery shots, turn it off for fast moving subjects. Macro shots turned out well, with only minimal oversaturation.
Surprisingly, there’s also a beauty mode and Panorama mode. Panorama stitching isn’t perfect, but are usable for when you need to capture more than what the 8MP shooter is natively capable of. Beauty mode does as it says and clears imperfections on your skin, albeit resulting in softer images. Videos go up to 720p, but are limited to 20 fps.
SOFTWARE, UI AND PERFORMANCE
We won’t be running most of our usual benchmarks because of the very entry-level price point we’re tackling here. But as I’ll demonstrate, yes, it can run Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. Very playable at its lowest settings.
In everyday use, there’s some lag scrolling through Android Go’s UI. But considering the lightweight hardware, especially the 1 GB of RAM, it’s all very impressive.
The Cherry Mobile Omega Lite 4 does daily tasks of going through emails, chatting, web browsing, watching videos really well. Google really deserves credit for the optimizations and diets they’ve implemented to get modern Android to run this well on relatively low-end hardware.
The Android Go apps put an emphasis on saving data and space. The YouTube Go app, for example, will prompt you to either download the video in data saver, standard, or high quality, or to just stream it.
Files, is a basic file manager with a built-in sharing function so you can share files with other users that have the Files app. It doesn’t use any data and instead relies on Wi-Fi to transmit data.
Gmail remains the same as the full app as far as I can tell. Maps Go saves data by omitting real-time navigation and opts for turn-by-turn directions instead. You can download the Navigation Go add-on to regain real-time navigation.
If the Go apps aren’t to your liking, that’s okay since you still have full access to the Play Store where you can get the full versions of the apps you need, in addition to more slimmed down Go apps.
Don’t judge the 2,000 mAh battery just yet. During the initial day that I’ve used it, there was a strong battery drain due to the app updates and installs that it had to go through. During the days that followed battery life significantly improved, eventually being able to last through my usual 10:00 am to 6:00 pm work & school days with some careful battery management. This meant having Data Saver turned on and pre-downloading videos on the YouTube Go app to save both on power and on data.
Overall battery life is adequate, but a few extra hundred mAh could’ve given the Cherry Mobile Omega Lite 4 top-notch battery life. The battery is removable though, so you could conceivably buy an extra battery and have it ready to swap when you run out of juice.
Starting at a humble price of just below Php 2,999, Cherry Mobile is in a good position to conquer the local sub-5000 peso smartphone market with their Android Go line-up.
There are only two points of improvement for the Cherry Mobile Omega Lite 4: a slightly bigger battery and faster image/video processing. The former of which is addressable by an extra battery, leaving only the latter to be addressed.
It’s a good step up from a feature phone in terms of functionality thanks to Google’s optimizations of its popular apps. Simplicity also comes as a corollary of these optimizations and the elimination of bloatware. Which means first-time Android users won’t have a hard time learning the ecosystem.
Price in mind, I can confidently recommend the Omega Lite 4 to anyone looking to move on from their feature phone.
- Very affordable
- Saves a lot on data
- Retains key functionality of Android
- Removable battery
- Video records at 20fps
- Battery could be a bit bigger