Coolpad Cool 1, the first smartphone coming out of the partnership between LeEco and Coolpad. LeEco has a majority stake in CoolPad. The sub Rs 15,000 smartphone sports a dual-camera and has a 4000 mAh battery. I had the unit with me for a few weeks, during which I used it with a Jio SIM. Here’s what I thought of the phone during the review.
Specifications: 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display | Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor | 3GB RAM+ 32GB storage/ 4GB RAM/ 32GB storage | 13 MP + 13MP dual-rear camera with f/2.0 aperture | dual-SIM | EUI 5.6 (Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow) | 4000 mAh battery with Type-C USB fast charging (QC 2.0)
Price: Rs 13,999
So what’s good?
Cool 1 sports a metal unibody design which feels good in the hand. The phone has slim bezels and looks sharp. The 5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD display is one of the best in the phone’s price range – giving good colour reproduction. However, the display doesn’t work so well under direct sunlight. Cool 1 features an IR blaster on top of the device, which will let you use your phone as a universal remote control for your TV, set-top-box, DVD, amplifier, air conditioner and other home appliances. The fingerprint scanner is on the back, and works as an active scanner while also doubling as a trigger for selfies.
Cool 1 is powered by a Snapdragon 652 processor, which might not be the most powerful but is not lacking in anyway. Running a standard set of apps including Facebook, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Google Maps, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter among others; there was never a moment when I got the feeling that phone was lagging or slow in any significant way.
Multi-tasking was a breeze, but if you are not used to the EUI 5.6 based Android OS – it might take some time to find your way around the device. For example, swiping the display from top to bottom does not open your familiar quick action menu; and instead just opens the notifications. The capacitive button on the right side is the one that will actually open your quick actions menu, and might take some getting used to as well. The quick settings menu is well designed giving a clutter free use.
Coming to the main highlight of the device, the dual 13MP rear camera does fairly well under all lighting conditions and was a delight to use. The dual-camera setup also makes it possible to take pictures with a depth of field that makes for some fun smartphone photography. Cool 1’s primary camera was also able to perform well in low light and night settings, making for some stunning shots that could shame devices with higher price tags.
The 8MP selfie shooter on the unit doesn’t disappoint either. The front camera was able to reproduce bright and detailed selfies, with a lot of options to play around in the native camera app. You can use stickers to personalise your selfies further, and also get the capability to make GIFs directly from it. However, the quality of the GIF is not too attractive, or funny.
The 4000 mAh battery on the device is also performed exceptionally well for me during the entire review. On light to moderate use, the phone will last you over a day’s use which is impressive because 4G LTE remained turned on the entire time. When I wasn’t using the phone as my primary, it was able to run anywhere close to 13-15 hours just as a Wi-Fi hotspot with the Jio sim. Needless to say, I was always confident to leave the charger behind when I started my day with the Cool 1. In terms of call quality, I never had any issue with the device. Cell reception and voice clarity was crisp, and clear on both ends.
What’s not good
The fingerprint scanner on the device is pretty fast at unlocking the device, but I found that it does not work close to half the time. Often I had to re-adjust my grip to get an accurate reading on the scanner.
Cool 1 takes sharp pictures with high level of detail and colour reproduction, but images taken indoors have a fair amount of noise. The phone does have some problem focussing on subjects occasionally.
Coolpad Cool 1 does not exactly feel premium to hold. The phone feels lighter than what you would expect it to considering the thickness, which is not necessarily a good thing – giving it a toy-ish feel.
The biggest disappointment I had with the device was with volume and sound quality. The phone has cut-outs for two speakers on the bottom, but only houses an actual speaker in one. The other speaker grill cut out is just to make the bottom of the device to look symmetrical is what I think.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow based EUI 5.6 OS is definitely not he best looking OS. The apps and overall design of the OS feels a lot more minimalistic than I like. The icons are small and look dated overall, reminiscent of what I would call the ‘Symbian’ era. The app switcher button also doubles as the quick settings access menu, which might take a little time to get used to as well.
Coolpad Cool 1 is solid buy at Rs 13,999 with the capability to outperform even more expensive devices. The camera and the battery are the biggest highlights of the device, with the crisp display coming in a close third. While I’m not a fan of the UI, if you’re looking for something different on a budget, the Cool 1 will be on my recommendation list.