Launched late last year, the 4-inch Magnum HD Android phone is having a resurgence when Cherry Mobile started offering it at an incredibly low price. How does P14k sound? Not bad I would say considering this phone already has the latest Android update (Gingerbread). It’s closest competition would be the Samsung Galaxy SL which is still P3000 more expensive.
Been playing with a Cherry Mobile Magnum HD unit for a couple of weeks and overall impression is quite good. Read on for a review of the Magnum HD to see whether it’s a phone worthy of your consideration.
The CM Magnum HD is a big phone that doesn’t try to be stylish. It looks like a huge chunk of metal but it’s not that heavy at all. Not light as the Samsung phones so look elsewhere if you’re after featherweight phones. It does look sturdy though with its metallic encasing. The design doesn’t look sleek but the multi-tone metallic look gives it an industrial appeal.
It can be a bit more compact had they lessen the frame and bezel surrounding the huge 4.1-inch WVGA display. There are no physical buttons adorning the front but instead, dedicated touch panels for the Android buttons are located below the screen. There’s also a front-facing VGA camera on top of the display and a useful LED indicator for unread notifications.
Top side you’ll only see the 3.5mm audio jack. At the bottom edge you will find the microUSB port and a micro-HDMI port which can prove useful to some. On the right side you will see the volume control, no dedicated camera button here. And finally on the left side is the small Power/Sleep button.
I would like to point out that the Sleep/Wake button is a bit hard to press because it’s small and placed flat on the side. Whenever I press it with my thumb, my forefinger will accidentally press the volume button on the other side. Just a little annoyance that’s all.
At the back you will find the huge aluminum cover for the battery, SIM and microSD slot. The lens of the 5 megapixel camera protrudes from the frame so it will be first to touch a surface when placed face up. Better get a case or a pouch if you want to protect that lens.
Display and UI
The 4.1-inch display on the Magnum HD has a 480 x 800 resolution, same as most 4-inch phones out there like the Galaxy S and the 4.3-inch Desire HD. Nothing special here aside from its size which makes it ideal for watching videos, gaming and browsing the net. Display is not that bright to be ideal for outdoor use.
The lockscreen on this phone reminds me of HTC’s Sense 3.0 UI wherein you can unlock the phone and head straight to the call app, contacts or messages. I’m inclined to think that HTC got their lockscreen idea here and just made it more customizable.
Nothing special on the inside as it’s just plain vanilla Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The homescreens and the App view are regular Android screens making it hard to browse if you have plenty of apps already. But it’s one of the reasons why Cherry Mobile phones can get Android OS updates quicker than other brands.
The Magnum HD is powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm processor with the Adreno 205 GPU. Same setup as that of the HTC Desire HD, HTC Desire S and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc.
Out of the box, it comes with Android 2.2 Froyo. I used it under Froyo for about a week and had problems with it shutting down on its own, stuttering navigation, apps closing unexpectedly and sometimes they would hang or the battery will drain quickly. Good thing I installed the Android 2.3 Gingerbread update (quite easy) because all those problems went away.
I do experience a couple of instances when the phone resets on its own. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen while I’m using it. I will leave the phone on its own and then I’ll just hear the Cherry Mobile boot-up sound. Other than that, Gingerbread makes this phone worth every penny you will be paying for it.
Here’s the Quadrant score by the way (1,649) and it even reached 2,020 at one point!
It blasts the LG Optimus Black away and surprisingly even the HTC Desire S. Must be the lack of an extra layer of UI that’s making it perform better in Quadrant than other more popular phones. It doesn’t exactly equate to better real-world performance though. For example, I still find the UI navigation on the Desire S much smoother than this one.
Overall, Magnum HD running on Gingerbread is a delight to use. There’s still the slight lag when opening applications or unlocking the screen but the transition is much more smoother compared to when it was under Froyo. Just don’t expect it to be buttery smooth like those dual-core superphones.
Being a big phone makes the Magnum HD a decent portable media player. It can play DivX videos on its native player. It plays 720p MP4 videos without a hitch and if you have an HDTV, you can watch it on the big screen using an HDMI cable connected to this phone. The speakers are not that strong so you might want to plug in the earphones included when watching movies.
Your MP3 files will be scanned on your SD drive no matter which folder they’re located and they will be display on the music player including cover art and all the tags. It even mimics Apple’s cover flow layout for music. No problem with gaming here. Angry Birds, Plants vs Zombies loads quickly and gameplay runs smoothly.
Before you start viewing websites, I highly recommend you download the Adobe Flash Player from the Market or you will be seeing the No Flash plugin icon that’s plaguing Apple devices. Once installed, you can enjoy all Flash content on a page. Even live video/audio streaming is supported. Normal pages loads quick and renders as intended.
The camera on the Magnum HD offers a lot of shooting options including Panorama, Face and Smile capture. Somehow, I cannot get the camera to focus or maybe the color indicating that the lens has locked in is red instead of the usual green.
Anyway, the camera on the Magnum HD is not its strong feature. It produces over-saturated photos that looks drab and lacks sharpness. Here are a few samples.[nggallery id=18]
You might want to install those free camera apps from the Market to mask your photos with artistic styles and filters.
You can record 720p videos with the Magnum HD’s camera. There’s also a front-facing VGA camera for video chats or to use as a mirror if you download a mirror app.
Before upgrading the phone to Gingerbread, battery life on the Magnum HD was a bit erratic. Sometimes it will drain pretty quickly despite having 50% left on the battery indicator. Most I could get was a day out of it.
With the Gingerbread update though, I got 2 days out of my first full charge. Granted I didn’t do much except for SMS and calls and the occasional Foursquare check-in and FB status update. I would say one and a half day’s worth of battery is the average for this phone which is above normal for one with a big display.
The Cherry Mobile Magnum HD really surprised me. I thought it would be an ordinary 1GHz Android phone that will have it’s share of problems inside and outside. But it didn’t. Aside from the occasional but quick reboots (which I hope is isolated to my unit) and below-average camera quality, the Magnum HD would make a decent big phone with an updated OS, a 1GHz processor, and all features other phones in its class have at a very affordable price of Php14,000. Just don’t expect to earn style points from it.
|Cherry Mobile Magnum HD|
|1GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon|
|Adreno 205 GPU|
|Android 2.2 Froyo (2.3.4 Gingerbread update already available)|
|4.1″ WVGA capacitive touchscreen (480 x 800 pixels)|
|1GB internal storage expandable up to 32GB via microSD (4GB included)|
|3G, HSDPA 14.4 Mbps|
|WiFi 802.11 b/g|
|5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash|
|720p video recording|
|Front facing VGA camera|