Cherry Mobile Nova Review

The Cherry Mobile Nova is the first Android phone from local phone brand, Cherry Mobile, and it belongs to their Red Label collection (meaning not cheap). They’re known for affordable dual-sim phones but this time, they ventured into the world of smartphones.

Cherry Mobile Nova

The Cherry Mobile Nova is not exactly expensive, it’s affordable for an Android 2.1 phone with a price tag of Php11,490. But is it really worth the price? Can the Nova compete with other entry-level Android phones from big names like Samsung and Sony Ericsson?

I was able to play with the Nova briefly before they had to pull it out for unspecified reasons and here are my initial impressions about it.

Design

In terms of build, you should expect the typical build of Cherry Mobile phones. It’s plasticky, feels fragile and a bit slippery to hold. It’s also light (slightly lighter than the Galaxy 5) which can be a good thing for some people. The plastic silver band on the side gives the phone a less boring design.

Cherry Mobile Nova Cherry Mobile Nova Cherry Mobile Nova

On the left side is the microUSB port with a fragile-looking cover and on top is the slightly protruding 3.5mm jack for your earphones. The lock/sleep buton can be accessed by a tiny nub beside the audio jack. On the right side is the volume rocker that also functions as zoom control for the camera. There’s also a dedicated camera button that is weirdly placed near the edge making it awkward to press when taking photos. You also need to press it hard to take photos.

Cherry Mobile Nova

The optical trackball feels flimsy compared to HTC phones and the two physical buttons beside it doesn’t have a nice feel when you press it. I would say they’re like buttons that are not used to being pressed. The Nova has dedicated touch panels for the four Android buttons but pressing them don’t give any feedback at all making you wonder if you’ve really pressed them. Those Android buttons don’t have backlight either which makes it hard to use in the dark with no physical grooves.

Display

It has a nice, medium-sized HVGA 3.2” capacitive touchscreen with a 320 x 480 resolution which looks really good compared to the HTC Wildfire or the Galaxy 5’s QVGA screen.

Cherry Mobile Nova

The Cherry Mobile Nova has the bare Android 2.1 UI. It doesn’t have any fancy UI layer on top of it like HTC’s Sense UI or Samsung’s TouchWiz UI or Rachel from Xperia. With that, you don’t get any fancy widgets which might not be a drawback to some people especially those who are new to Android.

Performance

Cherry Mobile Nova

I got mixed results navigating the user interface. I thought it would be smooth and snappy with its Qualcomm 600 MHz processor considering that there’s no fancy UI on it. However, at times swiping feels smooth, but there are also times that it took half a second before it realized that I wanted to switch panels. Games somehow tends to play smoother. Small games that is. If you’re in a store, better try it out yourself.

Cherry Mobile Nova

You should expect the basic smartphone feature set on the Nova. WiFi, 3G, web browsing, social networking, thousands of Apps and Games from the Android Market, Google account integration, GPS, basic multimedia functions like music player and FM Radio.

Camera

Cherry Mobile Nova

The CM Nova’s 5-megapixel camera with flash but don’t bank on point-and-shoot caliber photos for it. The results are less stellar than other 5-mp camera phones out there. And as I mentioned earlier, using the shutter button requires a firm press.

An odd thing here is that CM Nova outputs incorrect date stamps on the photos although the date used on their filename is correct.

Here are some sample photos taken with the Cherry Mobile Nova:

[nggallery id=6]

Battery

The Cherry Mobile Nova has a 1270 mAh Li-Polymer battery which is better than the 1200 mAh Li-Ion of the Galaxy 5 and the Xperia X8. By how much? Regular use with some WiFi and shooting photos will give you around 2 days or even more. Charging is done via the micro USB port on the side by the way.

Conclusion

I’ve been showing the Cherry Mobile Nova around the office and a lot were impressed by it. It has the best specs among its peers in the same price range which Cherry Mobile badly need to compensate for their not-so high-quality build and them being a new player in the mobile Android game.

Cherry Mobile Nova

I can’t say much about the sturdiness of the Nova which is the most suspect of all its features. Anybody here owns a Cherry Mobile phone? How’s the build quality on those?

If you’re not particular with the design and build, I wouldn’t hold you from getting the Cherry Mobile Nova. Sometimes, inconspicuous cheap-looking handsets are better especially if you’ll be taking it out a lot in public places or when commuting.

Cherry Mobile Nova Specs:

  • Android 2.1 (Eclair)
  • Qualcomm MSM7227 600MHz processor
  • 3.2” capacitive LCD (320×480)
  • 512MB internal memory, expandable up to 32GB
  • 5mp autofocus camera with LED flash
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g
  • HSDPA 7.2 Mbps
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • A-GPS
  • Li – Polymer, 1270 mAh
  • SRP: Php11,490

Note: Like us on Facebook and be alerted once I updated this post with more performance, camera and battery info.


44 Comments

  1. Hi Calvin! Thanks for the review. Although I would have preferred you kept the language down a bit. I just feel it detracts from an otherwise good review. Thankfully it redeemed itself with the last paragraph. ;)
    I’m seriously considering this as my first Android phone since a lot of the big player offerings are just way out of my budget right now. Will wait to see an updated review if you get the unit back.

    • thanks for your comment patrick. I’m just calling it as how i see it. but yeah some points sound harsh and i’ve toned them down. hehe. I just don’t want to sound like a forgiving reviewer that might give users a wrong impression about the device. as for buying the nova, if status doesn’t concern you then go for it. :)

      • Yeah, the only reason I’m getting an Android phone is to learn how to develop for this platform. Now that I’ve thought about it more, the 320×480 screen here seems a bit limiting. I wonder though which Android phone will be most popular to Pinoys down the road. I think I’ll wait a couple more months before jumping to Android. I really, really like the Galaxy S though. I checked the Cherry Mobile booth in Gateway and they didn’t have the Nova yet.

        Anyway, thanks for being open to feedback. You don’t get to see a lot of reviewers around who like getting their reviews criticized. ;)

      • mfrens /

        Can you information regarding its capability to download app IN SD card? If cant, how does cherry mobile resolves this? It caters internal memory on apps for ELcar 2.1..If you have link to download the needed app to enable the system to download app to SC card, can you give the link?

        • when you’re in froyo, apps that can be installed in SD card are automatically installed there. unfortunately, not a lot of apps can do this still.

          • hi calvin, i cant access my wi-fi connection “error”

          • can you try other devices? baka kahit iba di rin makaconnect sa WiFi?

  2. raymond /

    why release an incomplete review? and you said that the camera will not be impressive but you haven’t tested it.

    • Because a lot of people are asking for a review already. Have you seen any reviews of the nova online? I’ve tested a lot of cameras on small phones already so I’m inclined to think that the one on the nova won’t be any different. Check back once I’ve taken some shots with the Nova to see what I mean.

      • You were able to find the FM radio? I wasn’t on mine but anyway, good to see another review of the phone. I haven’t seen a lot of users with this phone yet and have had less luck with other people’s user reviews. Check mine out at my site.

  3. is it dual sim also just like any other cherry phones?

  4. obiJUAN /

    totoo bang may FM radio to? sabi dun sa ibang review, wala daw sir.. salamat.. :D

  5. StephenTheGreat /

    This phone looks like the google ( nexus one ) :O

  6. Miguel /

    Which is better CM Nova or Lg Optimus One?? Can’t decide, yet!!

    • i would go for LG just because of the brand. but i can’t see any reason you can go wrong with either of the two.

  7. ser di ko magamit ung mga games.. may BIOS daw sa settings.. pano ba un?

  8. tarafanatic /

    oohh.. sir calvin.. your my forum mate in realityfanforum hahaha i just didnt notice that u were the owner of this blog.. ive been reading posts from here since i became addicted to lots of gadgets hehe..

    im still deciding if ill buy this phone.. it really has nice features though,,

    • hahaha yup it’s me. :) thanks for being a loyal reader here. :P

      the cherry nova is a nice phone for its price that’s all i can say about it. hehehe.

  9. Great review!

    Can you please also upload video samples taken with the nova with good lighting condition and low lighting conditions? Also, can you use the LED flash as a video light… Thanks….

    Looking forward for the update!

    • Or….. just the following information would be good, too.

      1. (video)The format it saves to (3gp, mp4, etc.)
      2. (video)The resolution (VGA, QVGA, etc.)
      3. (video)Can you use the LED flash as a video light?
      4. (stills and video)Are there other settings with the camera, ex: ISO, White Balance, etc.
      5. (video) Is there zoom? Is it smooth zoom or kinda like “steps”?

      Sorry for asking too much questions. LOL. I am not expecting much but would just like to know if it’s “decent” enough.

      • sorry we returned the unit already. :) all i know is that the zoom is not smooth. better go to a cherry mobile shop and try it out yourself. oh and bring a microSD because it won’t take photos without one.

        i would say just don’t expect too much from its camera.

  10. Abrylle /

    Hehe si Tito Ferlin pala yun.

  11. What i can say is i am a proud user of this Nova to my surprise i am enjoying it so much compared to my former Androids (htc magic, Acer Liquid) its fast and with my unlimited SUN internet plan its really a handy gadget to do all my stuff. Thanks Cherry Mobile. Am hoping to get a Froyo update or the Gingerbread perhaps?

  12. burn gianan /

    hi everyone!i have cherry mobile nova already…but, how can i set all applications will be save in memory card?help plz.thanks

    • nova say'e /

      @burn try to google apps2sd, but its hard to fallow for a novice likes us’better not to install many apps on your unit’

  13. The Nova is not a fun phone for (what-the-word?) “technically” challenged or inclined. If you like Android apps and lots of it or something a bit more “idiot” proof then I suggest you look at something else. I am saying that the Nova is not bad per se – but I feel that Nova is somewhat of a half-assed designed product for the average end user. The Nova (to me) is cellphone built and design by an Android techie for another Android techie. My case is the near bare Android 2.1 OS loaded with the default Android settings – it was not optimized, it was just slapped on and shipped out.

    To tell the truth when I got my Nova the first thing I did was I ripped out the 2.1 Android and flashed in the new 2.2 version. That probably voided the warranty but I get a better Nova out of it. Can your Nova take a picture and upload to a flickr photostream in one seamless flow? Mine can but then again I am not your average user.

  14. The Nova is not a fun phone for (what’s-the-word?) “technically” challenged or inclined. If you like Android apps and lots of it or something a bit more “idiot” proof then I suggest you look at something else. I am saying is that the Nova is a not bad phone per se – but I feel that Nova is somewhat half-assed designed for the average end user. The Nova (to me) is cellphone built and design by an Android techie for another Android techie. Take a look at the near bare Android 2.1 OS. It’s loaded with the default Android settings – it was not optimized, it was just slapped on and shipped out.

    To tell the truth when I got my Nova the first thing I did was I ripped out the 2.1 Android and flashed in the new 2.2 version along with a couple of tweaks. That probably voided the warranty but did I get a better Nova out of it. Can your Nova take a picture and upload to a flickr photostream in one seamless flow? Mine can but then again I am not your average user.

  15. Paolo Cruz /

    Does the Nova have an office app where i can edit documents and if it’s included already like that of the Superion? Can I connect a bluetooth keyboard to the Nova for creating documents? These are the two main reasons for me to buy a smartphone, big hopes for android phones.

  16. QWERTY keypad ba to?

  17. Andrei /

    Im thinking of getting a NOVA or ORBIT. Any advice? Thanks

  18. sechzehn /

    aftr reading all the posts by the author (calvin) and c0mments of viewer.. Actually I bought cherry nova last april 19 because it has 30% dscount from its original srp of 11,499. Well for me its a user friendly but like what calvin said little bit looks fragile. With respect to specs well its good enough based on its unit price .. :). Yeah its l0oks like nexus one as a matter of face when you are in facebook you will see at the bottom of the page.. ” Download facebook for your Nexus one” meaning an updated applicati0n of facebook for android.. But it sounds weird since it is a cherry n0va but it detects as NEXUS one.. Anyways about the user manual, since the package only includes quick start guide, you can browse and download the pdf user guide over the net, just search user manual for android… Hope it could help.. Finally i can say.. Cherry mobile Nova is good en0ugh and can compete other smartph0ne., ü

  19. janette tangal /

    please help me on how to stop it… my phones keeps on restarting every 5-15 seconds,, i can not use my phone because it will automatically on and off again and again… please do help…

  20. Considering the fact that Commtiva z71 a.k.a NOVA has been repackaged by Motorola as XT502 I would say it’s not the casing that matters its what’s inside that counts. Several other companies have purchased the rights to re-brand the unit and that fact alone makes me proud that I own one.

  21. jasmin /

    Is it worth it to spend P11,490 on this phone? because Im planning to buy a new phone.

    • this is way cheaper now. if you have 11k to spend there are other options including the new cherry mobile dragon (10k). or if you don’t mind buying from online stores, you can check out widgetcity.com.ph. they offer the lowest price on most branded phones.

  22. Scroll down to the music section and click on the edit
    link. Wi – Fi internet radio is a new handy device for all music lovers of this world, which is a gift of the technology to the entertainment world.
    Many think that having thoughts of supposed happiness that will never come is
    futile and that they are only giving false hopes to those who need them the most.

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