For reasons that should be obvious by now, the Cherry Mobile Desire R7 mini (click for complete specs) looks mightily similar to an iPhone 5, or should we say iPhone SE? Small, perfectly pocketable, and easy to handle, the R7 mini sports a 4-inch touch display and a boxy frame that looks as though it’s straight off an Apple Store. Not only that, the front makes use of rounded glass not found in the iPhone 5, which makes for a smoother touch-and-swipe experience.
But before you get too excited, there is a catch: The Cherry Mobile R7 mini is neither a solid alternative to the small iPhone nor a capable option for upgraders who bought a smartphone two years ago. However, at P2,299 (around $46), it has incredible mass-market appeal. And again, it looks charming and desirable.
As for the chassis itself, it’s made of plastic — you know, to keep the price low. The R7 mini doesn’t feel cheap and flimsy in the hand, though. The sides, by design, are thicker than we’re used to seeing. Which is fine, because the smaller screen size allows for a smaller phone, too.
The corners are curved quite a bit, in a familiar fashion to an iPhone, while the backplate doesn’t come off to let you access the 1,500mAh battery and SIM and SD cards; there’s a tray on the left-hand side for SIM and SD card placement.
The perimeter of the glass over the screen curves down into the frame almost seamlessly for ease of use and convenience. A round earpiece perches above the display instead of a more traditional-looking, rectangular one. All good, as far as call quality is concerned.
There are non-backlit navigation buttons on the chin of the device, among them is the recent-apps key, which is essential to the modern Android experience. Jumping in and out of apps feels more organic and precise when you’re not required to hold a button like in the old days. The Cherry Mobile R7 mini also has a headphone jack and a standard microUSB connector located at the top as opposed to the bottom.
And while it may feel limiting that the display only spans 4 inches across, especially while gaming or watching video, it does make the phone much easier to operate with one hand. The 800 x 480 resolution is decent for something this size, but the quality of the display isn’t good. Images on the screen look flat, and viewing angles look narrow. But you probably weren’t expecting much more from a bargain phone — and understandably so.
Camera quality on both front- and back-facing units isn’t going to stack up compared to those of more expensive smartphone models. For what it’s worth, the sensors on the front and back are rated at 5 and 2 megapixels, respectively. The rear-facer comes with an LED flash for shooting under tricky lighting.
Under the hood, the Cherry Mobile R7 mini features a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek chipset coupled with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. Those are not encouraging numbers by today’s standards — even for a budget phone. But surprisingly, the R7 mini handles the Android Marshmallow-based system fairly well, and input lag isn’t unbearable.
However, the kind of computing that can be done on this phone is limited by the amount of memory it contains. So if you’re looking to do some serious gaming or multitasking, you may want to consider other options that cost more than this one. The R7 mini is an okay performer if you can keep your expectations in check.
To simply label the Cherry Mobile Desire R7 mini as a modern iPhone clone isn’t misguided. Its exterior is attractive, and using it feels ergonomically right. Beyond the inspired look lies another perk: It’s ultra cheap at P2,299, making it one of the lowest points of entry for longtime iPhone hopefuls. But it’s also ultra-low-tech — which is expected given the price.
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