Coolpad entered India less than six months ago with two models, the Coolpad Dazen 1 and the Coolpad Dazen X7 . Both grabbed quite a bit of attention for their low prices, especially the Dazen 1 which seemed like it would put a lot of pressure on Indian as well as fellow Chinese companies in the critical sub-Rs. 10,000 market. Following those two launches, however, the company went pretty silent.
Now, following a corporate restructuring, the company is leaving the Dazen name and identity behind. Here in India, Coolpad is making up for lost time with a dramatic new launch. Even though we should be used to companies throwing more and more features into low-priced phones, the Coolpad Note 3 really made us sit up and pay attention. For just a shade under Rs. 9,000, Coolpad is promising a huge screen, large battery, good looks, fast processor, 4G LTE, lots of memory – and as the icing on top, a high-quality fingerprint sensor. There’s a lot of hype to live up to, so let’s get started.
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Look and feel
This is quite a large phone by any standards, though there’s no denying the popularity of big screens. The 5.5-inch display takes up most of the front face, and Coolpad has done what it could to reduce size around it. The capacitive navigation buttons are placed on the narrow plastic chin, which makes them a bit hard to reach while maintaining a solid grip on the phone. On-screen buttons might have made more sense for this phone.
The volume buttons are on the left while the power button is on the right. The 3.5mm audio socket on top and the Micro-USB port on the bottom are some what masked by the way the Note 3’s edges taper.
The rear cover peels off with a little effort, but the battery beneath it is not removable. You only get access to the two Micro-SIM slots and the microSD card slot. Coolpad bundles only a charger, USB cable and headset in the box – no cover or adhesive screen protector like we’ve seen from some other companies.
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Coolpad Note 3 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with the company’s Cool UI 6.0 skin running on top. It features unified app launcher-homescreen navigation and a highly customised interface that supports themes. It comes with customized system apps and some third party apps are also preloaded.
The phone’s UI has no app drawer, and all the app icons are displayed on the phone’s homescreen. The phone comes preloaded with a number of apps including WeChat, WPS Office, Facebook, SwiftKey, among others. Some of these preloaded apps were specifically designed for Coolpad including FP Lock, CoolShow, Rock Wallpaper, and Cool store.
We’d like to specially mention the shortcut feature of the smartphone in the notification panel. This feature lets you use the most commonly used actions such as home, lock, auto-rotation, brightness control and even a screenshot with a single tap.
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Hardware & performance
Coolpad Note 3 is powered by a 1.3GHz 64-bit Mediatek MT6753 octa-core processor, the phone is the only one in this price range to come with 3GB of RAM. It offers 16GB storage expandable up to 64GB via microSD card.
In terms of connectivity, the dual-sim phone comes with support for 4G LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. Both sim slots support 4G LTE. The Coolpad Note 3 is backed by a 3,000mAh battery.
The Coolpad Note 3 is also the only device available under Rs 10,000 to sport a fingerprint sensor at the back that supports authentication and gesture functions to launch apps and perform functions like activating the camera shutter.
Setting up the fingerprint sensor is also very simple and found to be pretty responsive. The Touch ID is the USP of the CoolPad Note 3 and delivers what it promises. The phone’s sensor is as good as the Samsung Note5, the high-end smartphone from the Korean giant. It is capable of reading fingerprints in 360-degree, giving users the flexibility of placing their finger in any orientation.
The sound output through the phone’s speaker grill is also loud and clear. Call quality is very good and the phone works well even in weak signal areas. It is observed that the phone catches signal even weak Wi-Fi signals.
The 4G connectivity of the smartphone is not that great.
The phone comes with an FM radio tuner but lacks NFC connectivity. While the fingerprint sensor supports different authentication options, the lack of NFC may prevent the phone from being used for mobile payments at physical terminals. The phone comes with a non-removable 3,000mAh battery and lasts a full day with normal to high usage. This may differ depending on usage and the apps used.
Coolpad Note 3 has a 13MP rear camera with a 5 piece lens arrangement, f2.0 aperture and 1.4 micron pixel size. The camera is accompanied by an LED flash and supports full-HD 1080p video recording.
Priced at Rs 8,999, the Coolpad Note 3 smartphone offers hardware specs that are available in only high-end smartphones — fingerprint sensor, 3GB RAM, 3,000mAh battery, good camera and HD display.
In terms of features, the smartphone is quite unlike any other handset in this segment. Coolpad Note 3 is the only sub-10,000 smartphone that comes with a fingerprint sensor and 3GB RAM.
However, it has its set of downers — it’s heavy, lacks a Full-HD display and the design doesn’t really inspire.
But, all said and done, it won’t be wrong to say that it marks a big step in the evolution of the budget smartphone and sets a benchmark.
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