08-18-2016 01:41 AM
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  1. azcruz's Avatar
    My HTC 8s is showing its age and I’ve been looking at options to replace it. The first product I considered was the Lumia 1520. Got intrigued by the size, but decided to pass up on it.

    As new products trickle in, my “wants” in a phone specification has been defined- 1GB RAM, quad-core processor, 16 GB internal storage, SD card support, and 5” screen. The Lumia 930 almost fit in nicely, but the lack of SD card support is a big deal for me. When the Lumia 830 was announced, I thought it was the perfect phone for me. It’s got everything I’m looking for...

    ... but, the iPhone 6 has been announced and became available and yet, there’s no sign of the Lumia 830. I was hoping I would be able to buy it from Singapore on my last visit to the city-state, alas there was no sign of it.

    Since the Lumia 930 is available, I played with the units while I was at Microsoft Singapore. Sadly, it didn’t connect with me. I tried the second time the following day, and still I’m not digging it.

    I then decided to patiently wait for the Lumia 830 and be done with it. Then my director friend posted one of his recent work on his Facebook page and it was an ad for the local company Cherry Mobile. The Alpha Luxe model fueled my interest, and yesterday I decided to buy one.
    At PhP4,999 it’s got an entry-level quad-core processor (8212 chipset), 1GB of RAM, 5” LCD display, 8GB of internal storage, SD card support, and Windows Phone 8.1. I learned from sources that the device is an OEM from Tinno Mobile Technology Corp. The Shenzhen-based company partners with what it calls “Local Kings” or the top business brands in more than 30 countries, and in the Philippines, that is Cherry Mobile.

    Physical and build quality

    The device as measured is 144mm x 72mm x 9mm (11mm including protruded camera lens), making it even thinner than the Lumia 930. I don’t have a scale so I don’t know its weight. Here it is beside the 5s.

    CMAL-vs5s by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    The Alpha Luxe has a build quality I prefer over my Sony Xperia V that creaks when pressed on the sides. The body seems to have a monolithic frame with faux aluminum sides. The buttons have solid feel and not loose.

    CMAL-volume by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    CMAL-power by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    The removable pliable plastic back cover is shiny, smooth, and a finger print magnet. This is the part that would get a lot of beating. I purposely did not buy a case, as all my phones do not have cases, including my 5s. I did have a screen protector installed on it. I would have preferred the back cover to have the rubbery feel of the 8s or Xperia V.

    CMAL-back-cover by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    CMAL-usb by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    Sound quality

    One thing I am more critical over any other feature is the sound quality of the device. At this price point, I do not expect above average performance and I will be pleased with decent output from it. Unlike my Sony Xperia V where I can use the FiiO “Alpen” E17 DAC via USB-on-the-go, I’m out of luck here. Well, basically it’s not a device issue but an OS one.

    The in-ear monitors I always have in my bag are the Westone UM1 single-driver model. It has a sensitivity of 114dB/mW @ 25 ohms and I’m pretty sure it will be an easy drive for the Alpha Luxe. The UM1 use standard 3-pole (TRS) 3.5mm mini-stereo plugs so I don’t expect incompatibilities. Putting in Pat Coil’s Schemes & Dreams in the playlist gave me a smile. It’s not bad, it’s actually above average. The sound has good detail and texture, has enough dynamics and slam. I didn’t have to push the Alpha Luxe hard and volume remained at my usual listening level of 16.

    CMAL-um1 by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    Next in line for testing is the Urbanears Tanto, a small and lightweight on-ear monitor with microphone and single button controller. It uses a 3.5mm TRRS plug and has worked without an adaptor for the Xperia V, 8S, and 5s. After plugging it into the phone, I heard ticking sound and I knew at that point that I would need an adaptor. Fortunately, the Urbanears package includes a Nokia adaptor. With the adaptor in place, it played music and I was able to play/pause, go to next track and previous track using the button on the controller. The microphone also worked as it should. With 112db/mW @ 32 ohms specification, this should be possible to drive but being supra-aural will require more power. As expected, the volume level required is now 22 insead of 16. I pushed the Alpha Luxe to the maximum of 30 and I was pleased it did not distort. My observation is not a guarantee that it will never distort.

    CMAL-nok-adaptor by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    Finally, the third headphone I use with my devices is the Harman/Kardon SOHO. Being “Made for iPhone” the removable cord with TRRS plug also won’t work, like the Urbanears. Thankfully, Harman/Kardon includes another cord, with a standard 3.5mm TRS plug and it worked as it should, without the controls of course. Using the Nokia adaptor supplied with the Urbanears unit made the Harman/Kardon cord with the TRRS plug work.

    CMAL-hk by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    Over-all, I am happy with the sound quality of the Alpha Luxe.

    Display

    The 720p LCD display of the Alpha Luxe is good enough for me. The colors are rich and vibrant, but the black level is so-so, specially when compared to the 5s. What surprised me is the degree of angle at which I can still view information from its display.

    It doesn’t have the Gorilla Glass protection from Corning Inc., rather it features the Dragontrail Glass from Japanese company Asahi Glass Co. (think window glass of cars). This is an alkali-aluminosilicate sheet glass that is also used in the Sony Xperia Z1, Z2, and Z3 among other manufacturers. I wouldn’t want to go into Dragontrail vs. Gorilla war so I am contented that there was some protection at least.

    Camera

    Featuring 8 megapixel rear camera and 2 mega pixel front-facing camera, I don’t expect it to have stellar performance. Anything decent is acceptable for me, besides I have too many cameras already.

    CMAL-rear-camera by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    There is no f-stop specification for the cameras and the rear camera is supposed to have Auto focus, BSI Sensor, LED Flash, Face detection, and Smile Shot. The Smile Shot didn’t work though. From the EXIF data of photos uploaded to flickr, the f-stop is f/2.2 which should be sufficient for well-lit scenes.

    The good thing about the camera though is white balance. Based on the photos I took, it was able to get the white balance good enough in Auto mode. In good lighting conditions it takes nice photos, but as the light availability becomes scarce, the performance drops significantly.

    Here are some samples.

    CMAL-sample4 by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    CMAL-sample2 by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    CMAL-sample1 by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    Performance

    With an entry-level quad-core processor & graphics chip, this ain’t going to be a screamer. But as long as it gives a performance better than the 8S and Xperia V, I’ll be happy.

    The Basemark OS II performance of all my devices are tabulated-

    cmal-benchmark.png

    I was surprised at two things. One, the memory test is better than the 5s and the graphics was worse than the 8S. It goes to show that the Adreno 302 is much inferior than the Adreno 305 used by both 8S and Xperia V. Benchmark is one thing, the actual usage is another thing, so I can use these results as guidelines to my expectations.

    I am no serious gamer and I haven’t even completed stage one of Halo: Spartan Assault on my Surface RT since purchase, but I did play Halo: SA Lite and there was no lag.

    Connectivity

    With Wi-Fi b/g/n specifications, I am able to connect to all my networks at the office and at home. Streaming videos or music at home from my Sysnology DS413j via Western Digital N900 Central is without hiccup. At the office, connecting to our Cyberoam appliance presents no issues as well. Tethering from my 5s and Xperia V for LTE connectivity is a breeze.

    Its radio supports GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz, WCDMA 900 / 2100 MHz up to HSPA+ speeds. It is better than the 8S, and at par with the Xperia V in sensitivity. The Xperia V is better than my 5s.

    Dual SIM functionality will be good when I travel so I can have my roaming SIM and country of destination SIM in the same phone from now on.

    CMAL-dual-sim by arnold_cruz, on Flickr

    The Alpha Luxe also supports Bluetooth 4.0 and I was able to pair it with my Surface RT and transfer a 7.16 MB file in 30 seconds.

    There is no NFC or Miracast support.

    Experience

    In the end, it is the over-all experience that makes me love or hate a device. Having said that, I still miss my HTC Mozart that was snatched from me.

    So far, the Alpha Luxe is giving me a pleasurable new experience in all of its 5” of glory. Based on use, this is the biggest form factor I would go for as my thumb barely reach the other end of the keyboard when in swipe mode in one-handed operation. The phone also protrudes from most if not all of my shirt front pockets. I did sit on it, but it was more uncomfortable to me than for the phone.

    CMAL-sit-on-it by arnold_cruz, on Flickr
    Last edited by azcruz; 09-25-2014 at 11:02 AM. Reason: Add: dual-SIM photo
    09-25-2014 10:55 AM
  2. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    Nice, thorough review! I always like seeing reviews from regular users, not just tech bloggers.

    That looks like a nice device. Too bad it isn't available in the US.
    09-25-2014 11:57 PM
  3. azcruz's Avatar
    Thank you Laura for your appreciation and help!
    Laura Knotek and Guytronic like this.
    09-26-2014 01:14 AM
  4. prasath1234's Avatar
    K great review.what is price in dollars if you could tell me.anyway appreciate your effort in reviewing new oem.
    From Windows phone
    azcruz likes this.
    09-26-2014 01:59 AM
  5. azcruz's Avatar
    Here's the currency conversion to US$ - XE: (PHP/USD) Philippine Peso to US Dollar Rate
    Laura Knotek and prasath1234 like this.
    09-26-2014 02:18 AM
  6. alllies's Avatar
    K great review.what is price in dollars if you could tell me.anyway appreciate your effort in reviewing new oem.
    From Windows phone
    It will be between 110-115USD without a contract. Here in the Philippines we normaly buy phones outright since mobile data charges are high and data cap of 3.5MB per month crap.
    09-26-2014 02:41 AM
  7. WanderingTraveler's Avatar
    How's the battery? I couldn't find any info on the battery size thus far.
    09-26-2014 08:53 PM
  8. azcruz's Avatar
    Did you mean battery capacity? Its 2000mAh. If you meant the physical size, I have not measured it.



    Having said that, it lasts around 7 hours of heavy use. Heavy is defined as always connected, Facebook, messenger, Twitter, email, OneDrive, music.




    Sent from my Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe
    09-26-2014 10:39 PM
  9. MATRIX RELOADED's Avatar
    Thanks to cherry mobile, I can now see an ad about windowsphone on national tv (Kim Chu ad) and also on taxi roof billboards. Hopefully other local oems follow CM to increase WP marketshare here.
    09-26-2014 11:42 PM
  10. greedo_greedy's Avatar
    UNBOXING VIDEO Hahahahaha!!!


    Gaming Test
    09-28-2014 08:11 AM
  11. Ashalinia's Avatar
    The specs are nice for the price range and having an SD card is awesome... but not sure how I feel about that textured back cover, reminds me of the GS5.

    Great review though, maybe it'll convince some to take the plunge.
    09-28-2014 04:47 PM
  12. azcruz's Avatar
    <snip>... but not sure how I feel about that textured back cover, reminds me of the GS5.
    <snip>
    While there really is no texture as it is plain smooth, just a print design, but I do agree than just having a plain design might make it better. I actually want a new cover that I'll spray paint in pink :D
    09-28-2014 08:39 PM
  13. Raijin99's Avatar
    I wonder how this will fare against the Microsoft Lumia 535. Same size, same processor. Better rear cam 8MP, lower front cam 2MP, lower internal storage, lower expandable storage.
    11-11-2014 09:26 AM
  14. Raijin99's Avatar
    my guess is that the Lumia 535 will cost approximately PHP9,500????
    11-11-2014 09:27 AM
  15. Miguel Arcilla's Avatar
    Great review! I have a 1520, so I'm not too keen on picking this up (about to read your Alpha Style review though, it intrigues me more), but it's good to see that Cherry can put out some quality devices that don't break the bank. An Android at this price would pale in comparison, at least from my outsider's point of view :)
    azcruz likes this.
    11-12-2014 05:23 AM
  16. undulose's Avatar
    I like your review. It's very detailed, especially the sound test. Next time you can include testing battery life during a day of use. Looking forward to your reviews of local units. Btw, do you have a blog?
    azcruz likes this.
    11-12-2014 06:38 AM
  17. azcruz's Avatar
    my guess is that the Lumia 535 will cost approximately PHP9,500????

    I would not be surprised, when they finally get to our shores.
    11-12-2014 06:50 AM
  18. azcruz's Avatar
    I like your review. It's very detailed, especially the sound test. Next time you can include testing battery life during a day of use. Looking forward to your reviews of local units. Btw, do you have a blog?

    Thank you for your appreciation. This screenshot was from yesterday.

    Ok, Tapatalk still has the bug so the screenshot is in the next post.

    I do have a blog but there's no focus. Ha ha.
    11-12-2014 06:54 AM
  19. azcruz's Avatar
    Using it for SMS, Spotify on data H+, Facebook, and Twitter. Swarm is also on.
    Sent from my Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe
    Attached Thumbnails wp_ss_20141111_0002.png  
    undulose likes this.
    11-12-2014 06:56 AM
  20. azcruz's Avatar
    Great review! I have a 1520, so I'm not too keen on picking this up (about to read your Alpha Style review though, it intrigues me more), but it's good to see that Cherry can put out some quality devices that don't break the bank. An Android at this price would pale in comparison, at least from my outsider's point of view :)

    My friend got a Cloudfone at nearly twice the price.

    I'm tempted to put the Developer Preview on this phone, but my HTC 8S currently does that role.
    Miguel Arcilla likes this.
    11-12-2014 07:01 AM
  21. Raijin99's Avatar
    Damn! Based on the article here at Windows Central, seems that the Lumia 535 may be a limited edition phone like the Lumia 525.
    Oh well...
    11-12-2014 09:02 AM
  22. azcruz's Avatar
    You can always look forward to Hot Gadgets 😊
    Sent from my HTC 8S
    undulose likes this.
    11-12-2014 08:18 PM
  23. undulose's Avatar
    You can always look forward to Hot Gadgets 😊

    Sent from my HTC 8S

    That's where I bought my phone too. #greymarket
    11-13-2014 02:34 AM
  24. PBNkapamilya's Avatar
    About the sound quality, have you tried using the in-ear headset that the phone came with? I found it surprisingly good for a pair of stock headphones, but then again I'm not much of an audiophile.
    12-11-2014 04:47 PM
  25. azcruz's Avatar
    I tried it on store and while it has good low-end slam and top-end sparkle, the mids is lacking. Perhaps due to lack of break-in, but I'm not holding my breath.

    Cheers.
    Last edited by azcruz; 12-15-2014 at 07:50 PM.
    PBNkapamilya likes this.
    12-15-2014 07:39 PM
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