The Cherry Mobile Defender is built for tough love

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

THE Cherry Mobile Defender (click for complete specs) is the company’s first truly rugged smartphone featuring a metal frame and rubberized plastic bumpers. The battery is fixed into the assembly, and all ports are covered with rubber flaps to seal the body. It doesn’t look off-kilter to us — which is not what we expected when we first heard about it. (The list of fairly attractive rugged phones gets thin after Samsung’s Galaxy Active series.)

And yes, it’s worthy of its namesake. This phone is IP68-certified, so you won’t have to worry about dropping it in the pool, bath, or a puddle. In fact, from a reasonable height, you can drop it onto just about any hard surface, and it will probably live to tell the tale.

But it gets better: Tough as it is, the Defender doesn’t skimp on specs. It packs an octa-core chipset to go along with a decent amount of memory and onboard storage that can be expanded up to an extra 32GB by way of a microSD card.

However, expanding the storage is not as easy as you’re used to with other handsets, because the SIM and SD card slots are hidden beneath the section where the Cherry Mobile branding is present. A precision screwdriver is required to access the expansion slots.

Cherry Mobile Defender

Perhaps the best way to describe the Cherry Mobile Defender is that it’s a midrange smartphone that slaps on an OtterBox or a LifeProof case for toughness and durability. But we don’t need to tell you that. Just take a look at it. The casing would have been enough to suggest this phone could take a hell of a beating. And of course, it can!


The Defender is about as thick as two phones stacked on top of each other. And as you’d expect, it’s on the heavy side, what with all that’s going on with its exterior. But it’s not too thick nor too heavy, so operating the phone with one hand isn’t going to be problematic.


The thickness of the outer shell makes the ports harder to reach for standard charging cables and headphone plugs. It shouldn’t be a problem unless you lose the accessories that come with the unit. For private listening sessions, we recommend a good set of wireless headphones.



There’s a camera shutter button and dedicated SOS key on left side of the Cherry Mobile Defender. Holding down the SOS button for a few seconds sends a distress message to a pre-determined contact. (It goes without saying: Don’t use it to order pizza on the phone.)


The right-hand side features a power button and separate volume up and down keys (and more screws for aesthetic considerations?). You can press either volume key to wake the device.


A 4.7-inch IPS-LCD display with 720p resolution fronts the Defender. It offers good colors, generous viewing angles, and ample brightness. It also supports glove touch and off-screen gestures. But while the rest of the phone is built for tough love, its screen isn’t. It doesn’t have an uncrackable display like the Moto Droid Turbo 2, which is a totally understandable concession to keep the price down.

The only real chink in the Cherry Mobile Defender’s seemingly impenetrable armor is the non-fortified cover glass on the rear camera. Naturally, we advise you against torture-testing the device for fear of a shattered camera glass.


Under the screen, you’ll find backlit capacitive keys, as opposed to physical ones that are commonplace on many rugged phones. We actually prefer this setup, as capacitive buttons are far easier to press. Plus, they’re less likely to deteriorate with use.


The back is rubberized, and the texture and slightly elevated portions of the panel should help with the grip. An 18-megapixel camera is featured on the rear, while the front-facer is an 8-megapixel affair.

Both are nothing to write home about, really, though out of the three upcoming Cherry Mobile devices we tested during the day — the Taiji (click for our hands-on of this Android-phone-slash-ebook-reader), the Cosmos Three, and the Defender — the latter came out with the best results. We’ll have more about camera quality once our review unit is in.



Inside, a 2GHz Helio P10 chipset from MediaTek keeps Android Marshmallow thrumming along nicely, assisted by Mali 860 graphics and 3GB of RAM. Storage is at 32GB. The fixed battery is 4,200mAh, which ought to last up to two days on a single charge, given the Defender’s modest specifications.

Cherry Mobile will be adding the Defender to its stores starting this December with a price tag of P9,999. That isn’t a lot of money for a rugged daily driver with midrange specs. While it is obviously going to be pitched to consumers who enjoy active lifestyles, it can be enjoyed by anyone looking for a capable Android that can withstand some rough treatment every now and then.

Learn About This Author

Ramon Lopez

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Reviews editor: Ramon "Monch" Lopez has 16 years of professional experience creating and editing content for print and digital publications such as Yahoo. He headed the gadgets-merchandising division of one of the Philippines’ largest retail operators somewhere in between.