Review: Coolpad Note 5 Lite defies limited specs with a convincing user experience
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It’s common for phonemakers to launch a smaller version of their popular big-screen smartphones. These smartphones are more compact in size because of the smaller display, with sometimes comparatively inferior hardware, and sell at a significantly lower price than their bigger siblings. Coolpad’s new smartphone Note 5 Lite, priced at Rs8,199, is a smaller variant of the Note 5, which was launched last year at Rs10,999. Available on Amazon.in, the Note 5 Lite is competing against the likes of Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime (Rs8,999) and Lenovo K6 Power (Rs9,999).
Design: Premium design, compact form factor
The Note 5 Lite’s design looks clearly inspired with its bigger sibling, the Note 5. It has a similar aluminium exterior, flat edges and a back-facing fingerprint sensor. The home button and navigation keys are placed on the lower bezel on the front. It is a unibody device which means you can’t take off the back cover or the battery. The SIM slots are placed on a metal tray on the right side panel right above the power button. We like the fact that the volume button is placed separately on the left panel so one won’t end up pressing the other when in a hurry.
The matte finish on the back and flat edges feel good in the hand, while the aluminium finish gives it a more premium look than the phone’s price indicates. Overall, it’s well designed and feels very handy.
Display: Small but looks good
The 5-inch IPS display has a screen resolution of just 1,280x720p. At this price point this is what most smartphones, including the Redmi 3s Prime, offer. The only device which offers a 1,920x1,080p resolution on a 5-inch screen is the Lenovo K6 Power. The Note 5 Lite’s display has a cool white tint about it. It gives the screen a more natural look. Videos and games look sharp and rich. Surprisingly, there are no display customisation options in the display settings. Visibility from wide angle and under bright light is good.
Software: Old Android with custom UI
The smartphone runs Android Marshmallow (6.0) with Coolpad’s custom user interface called Cool UI. It allows users to change the look and feel of the interface by applying new themes from the theme store. It has a number of shortcut features designed to improve user experience and reduce clutter. For instance, the notifications panel has been kept separate from the quick settings panel. The latter shows at the lower edge of the screen. Then there is a shortcut search bar which can save your time by instantly showing apps related to the keyword typed in it.
Performance: Steady with most tasks
Powered by an adequately powerful MediaTek 6735 quad-core chipset paired with 3GB RAM, the Note 5 Lite was able to handle multi-tasking and games such as Big Bash 2016 and Asphalt Xtreme without any major stutter or signs of overheating on the back. Barring the occasional lag that shows up while switching between apps, the overall performance has been niggle-free and at par with its rivals, including the Redmi 3s Prime, which runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core chip.
The Note 5 Lite provides only 16GB internal storage and allows up to 256GB via microSD card. The other limitation here is that the microSD slot is built on one of the SIM slots. So you can’t use the two SIM slots and the microSD card slot simultaneously.
The smartphone is powered by a modest 2,500mAh battery, which surprisingly lasted about a day of modest use.
Camera: Average picture quality
Like most budget smartphones, camera is not one of the strong points of the Note 5 Lite. The 13-megapixel primary camera is good with colours, but struggles when it comes to detailing. Even in daylight shots, the noise is clearly visible. The low-light shots look blurry and washed out. The camera offers a number of live filters and camera modes such as Beauty, Night, Pro, GIF, Panorama and Sound & Shot. The 8-megapixel camera on the front can muster clear enough shots for social media posts.
The Coolpad Note 5 Lite is another of those dependable budget smartphones you can’t ignore easily. Despite its modest specs, it works and delivers on most of the promises. The only reason to go for the Lenovo KL6 Power is its better battery backup, sharper display and feature-packed Vibe UI.