Chinese smartphone vendor Coolpad is no longer using the branding Dazen after launching its 2 phones Dazen 1 and Dazen X7 earlier this year, both of which were reviewed by us. We felt Dazen X7 was priced slightly on the higher side while Dazen 1 was a spectacular starting smartphone for a company. Dazen 1 has also been received warmly by the customers and sold many units within the first few days of its sale. After disassociating themselves from Dazen, Coolpad has recently launched their new smartphone in India, the Note 3, the launch news of which can be checked at the below link:
Today we are going to review Coolpad Note 3 and check whether it has the features and quality to match the competition or even surpass it. Just before moving further, we would like to point out that this smartphone has 3 GB RAM and a fingerprint sensor to boot. The device is priced at an aggressive Rs. 8999 and is available exclusively on Amazon.in in a flash sale model beginning 20th October 2015. The pre registrations for the flash sale began on 9th October 2015, the day the model was launched in India. Strikingly, the company has sold more than 15000 units of Note 3 in less than 5 minutes of its first flash sale on Amazon India. This is something of a worry for other brands operating in India and the reception of Note 3 by the end consumer would ensure whether Coolpad is here to stay or not. Till now, the story has been hunky dory and you will know after this review whether Note 3 has the guts to stay afloat in the market as well.
Before doing the complete review, let us take a look at the specifications of the smartphone.
Video: 1080 @ 30fps
FM Radio: Yes
Colors available: White
Fingerprint sensor: Yes
Design and Build Quality
The front of the device seems to have an end to end display though if you'll look closely, you will find there is a very tiny bezel on all sides of the screen. At the top and bottom of the screen is half an inch of white bezel. The top bezel houses an LED light, an ambient light sensor, a small speaker grille and the front camera lens while the bottom bezel sports three touch capacitive buttons for recents, home and back. The buttons are clearly marked in silver and you do not need to light up the screen to see which side is the back button and which side is the recents button. Many Android smartphones we review miss out on this very simple point and end up losing brownie points from our side for improper design language. We always post this in our reviews that the buttons need to be clearly marked without leaving it to the user's memory to remember which button works for what. Full marks to Coolpad Note 3 designers just for this little aspect.
The device is strongly built with a lot of emphasis given to the end look of the product. We just love the fact that a brand has put in so much effort into designing a smartphone at this price point. We wish so much that the hardware buttons provided more feedback which would have made this smartphone the top notch designed phone but again, this is in no way a deal breaker and you definitely cannot expect any device to be perfect in each and every aspect. In all, as we wrote in our review of Dazen 1, we are spellbound by the designing of this smartphone too.
Looking at the images above, its quite evident that Coolpad has invested a good amount of money in the camera engineering and research. The first image shows clearly how well the camera captures the details of the plants and the walls in broad daylight. Even the color reproduction is very realistic when the camera has ample ambient light to play with. However, when the surrounding light starts getting lower as is the case with the next 2 images, grain and noise seeps in and the colors start getting washed out. But still, we would call this a good camera since it does not overdo the color application during post processing. None of the images above have any hint of being processed with an arbitrary color which makes us call this a decent camera if not a spectacular one. Now is the right time to reflect back on the price of the smartphone and doing us makes us feel happy to know that Coolpad has not taken the camera lightly. The front camera on this smartphone is an average run of the mill camera which is only usable at its very best, if you'll zoom the pictures, you'll start seeing noise, pixellation and lack of detail. Still, you do get 2 more than average cameras for a small price to pay for, in Coolpad Note 3.
Coolpad is promoting Note 3 as the most affordable smartphone with a fingerprint sensor and for sure it is. But there is no point in having a feature as your USP in case it does not work well, hence we reviewed the fingerprint sensor to see if it functions smoothly or not. Firstly, we are not really fond of having any user interactive buttons at the back of a smartphone, be it a power button, a volume rocker or a fingerprint sensor. The sole reason for this is it takes a precious moment for us to be able to locate our finger in the right place since the buttons are not visible at the back. So we would have liked it more if the sensor was placed below the display at the front, much like iPhones or Samsung flagships. That extra time taken to keep our finger in the right place without looking leaves us gasping for more. But in any case, now that the fingerprint sensor is there at the back, we checked how fast and accurate it is. And believe us or not, we are quite surprised that the fingerprint here is extremely accurate and exceedingly fast. And above all, it works full 360 degrees, which means you can place a registered finger in any direction and it works impeccably. Moreover, you do not need to press a button, you just need to place the end of your finger at the right spot and there you go, the phone wakes up taking you to the home screen. To have a fingerprint sensor at this price point is a big deal, but to have a sensor of this high quality at this price is even better. There is a fingerprint management app bundled in for easy registration of fingerprints that you wish to use to unlock the phone. You can add up to 5 fingerprints. We are very impressed with the fingerprint sensor on Coolpad Note 3 and we simply have no two thoughts about the same.
Coolpad Note 3 has a 3000 mAh battery which basically is the sweet spot of battery size that we find in budget to mid range Android smartphones these days. To check for battery life and battery time, we charged the battery to 100% and then started using the phone in medium use scenarios like real world usage. We used it for browsing the web, downloading and installing a few apps and games, some calling, Whatsapp messaging, playing a few games, watching videos on Youtube and throwing in some amount of standby time too just like a normal person would use a smartphone in moderate to slightly heavy use cases. The phone died on us after 13 hours with everything thrown in which is extremely good battery life. Particularly heavy users might need to charge the device twice a day while low to medium users can plug it once before going to sleep every night without any hassle. A full charge should suffice most of the users for a single day which does leave us happy and satisfied with the battery life of the phone.
Coolpad Note 3 ticks almost all the boxes right except for the color gamut used in the display and a lack of uniformity throughout the CoolUI operating system. But other than these 2 things, everything is done right. If you are in the market looking for a budget smartphone with a fingerprint sensor, this is the go get choice. Additionally, at this price point, you would not get 3 GB RAM either in any other smartphone. Coolpad Note 3 would compete directly with Lenovo K3 Note. Though the Lenovo offering lacks a fingerprint sensor and 3 GB RAM, it does have the brand name as well as backing of reviewers with it. But now, after reviewing Coolpad Note 3, we feel that Coolpad is here to stay, it is not an ordinary brand, it puts in a lot of research and effort into the engineering of its smartphones, all of which are evident with the quality of this device. This smartphone will definitely sell very nicely in the market provided Coolpad continues to market it properly. We would have called this a perfect device at its price if we found better colors and uniformity in the OS, but it is still an absolute steal for Rs. 8999.