For many years, high-end phones were left only in the hands of those who can afford them. A typical Filipino would either be stuck using a cheap Nokia phone, or live in fantasies with an under-powered, but touch-capable smartphone. Does the Cherry Mobile Apollo bridge this gap? Read on and find out in this review!
The Cherry Mobile Apollo showcases a sleek and curvy design. The volume buttons are placed on a familiar spot to the left side of the phone which are actually made of just one long button.
The phone's dashboard is consists of the settings, home and back buttons which are beautifully presented by an LED light below the phone. They only light up when in use, making the phone appear very basic and gives that impression of "easy to use".
The phone measures 135mm high, 68mm wide and 10mm thick. The body is just made of plastic, and it feels so when you hold it. Somehow, you can feel that it's very fragile and there's a squeaking sound whenever you hold the phone too tight.
The back cover has this glittering effect on it. While the device is smooth and shiny, it's very easy to wipe off dust and smudges. There's a small opening at the bottom of the phone where you can slide your finger nail to quickly open the back cover and take the SIM card(s) or battery out.
Aesthetically, the only thing you probably wouldn't like with the design is where the power button and charging slot are placed.
The phone is significantly heavy compared to Samsung's Galaxy S4 and Apple's iPhone 5. However, you can still carry the phone comfortably by hand or in your pocket.
The battery lasted about 4.5 hours with me doing Facebook, and downloading apps. Charging the phone took about about 3-4 hours to reach 100 percent. With a capacity of 1800 mAh for the (Li-on) battery, the Apollo can get you by 5 to 6 hours on the road provided you try to conserve as much power as possible and you only use a little of everything the phone has to offer.
A blue LED lights up when charging and the same thing when low on battery. It's both helpful and annoying because the blue light is also used for alerts and notifications, there is no distinction in color which gives a very weak message on the action you have to take.
The Cherry Mobile Apollo's hardware incredibly marries the Android 4.2.1 Jellybean (4.3 is the latest as of this writing) operating system. I say that because sometimes, the Android OS bundled with some phone devices usually have problems at the Operating System level which you'll be lucky to resolve if the manufacturer still supports that version. With Android 4.2.1, it feels like the Apollo got it right the first time.
As for the specifications, the Cherry Mobile Apollo runs on a 1.2 GHz quad core MediaTek MT6589 processor, making the user interface scroll smoothly. Equipped with a PowerVR SGX544 graphics processor, it can play a lot of games at a very smooth speed. Some of the games that you can play at an incredible speed include Fruit Ninja, Robot Unicorn Attack 2, Temple Run 2, and Dungeon Hunter 4. If I were to give an estimate, this device is even more powerful than the Nintendo DS or the first iteration of the PSP.
With 1GB of RAM, you can open several apps at once without worrying of your phone crashing.
The Cherry Mobile Apollo has a 1GB internal memory, which should be good enough for most applications and games, but will come short for games like FIFA 2014, NBA, NOVA 3, and other apps/games that go over 1GB. The handset did not come packaged with any free micro SD Card, so you basically have to provide your own. The Apollo supports up to 32GB of expandable memory.
The Cherry Mobile Apollo uses a 4.5-inch HD (720 x 1280) IPS (Capacitive) display, which is bigger than the iPhone 4s or iPhone 5 when measured diagonally. The images and text looks very sharp, it can give you a surreal feeling that you are getting so much out of a seven-thousand peso phone.
The touchscreen is responsive enough although there are times when I'm in a cold room and my hands are too dry, or I'm in a warm room and my hands are a bit sweaty, the device fails to respond as expected. I'm not sure if this is at the Operating System level, but when I try to touch the screen very gently, I noticed that a little bit of pressure is required for the screen to respond.
The device supports stereo sound but the speakers sit so close together that it hardly even matters. The phone supports and comes with a 3.5mm stereo audio jack.
In the same old fashion as the phones of the early days, the headset is used for turning on the radio. The phone supports FM Radio. The headset has a small hole for the microphone, but doesn't have any volume control. The sound quality isn't very bad, but I'd say this peripheral can be easily replaced without feeling guilty.
The phone is equipped with two cameras - a 12MP back camera with an LED flash beside it, and a 5 MP front camera. The pictures you can take with the back camera are vivid compared to the front camera which were darker.
The BSI sensor (Back-illuminated sensor) which is said to help in capturing images in low-light conditions is evident when you try to capture a photo during daylight, in a room with with no lights turned on and curtains closed. Both the front and back camera has this feature.
The LED flash feels more trouble than it's worth. It seems to sit too close to the camera that the lower-part of the picture is often over-exposed. There are settings within the Android software to get around this problem, sure, but it's very hard to get it right. Not noob friendly.
The way the back camera is embossed at the back of the phone makes it easy for you to wipe off dust. And although you will probably want to rest the phone on a flat surface, the camera doesn't get in the way.
The phone's call quality is actually very good. The device also supports two SIM cards which lets you do multiple transactions on each cards at once. The phones support WCDMA 2100 bandwidth, which should get you by if you plan to bring the phone over to some parts of Europe, but might not work in North America.
Cherry Mobile boasts of providing affordable smart phones for every Filipino and while the Apollo might go a little bit over the budget (Php6,999) of a regular household, it gives that prestigious feeling of owning a sleek and powerful device. If you're all in for functionality but don't have enough moolah to afford high-end Android Smartphones such as Samsung's Galaxy S4, the Cherry Mobile Apollo is for you.
Note: The Apollo is the same handset known as Cubot GT99. Coming up next, we will be reviewing the Cherry Mobile Flame 2.0.
Cherry Mobile Apollo AnTuTu Benchmark Score: 13159
Rating for Cherry Mobile Apollo