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My take on the Cherry Mobile Alpha Neon

July 12, 2015

Cherry Mobile seems to be progressing with their Windows phone offerings and partnership with Microsoft. Two new addidions to its Alpha line was announced early this year at Mobile World Congress, and they were the Alpha Neon and Alpha View phones.

The Alpha Neon as the name suggests represents Cherry Mobile's colorful offering on the Microsoft platform. A departure from the traditional black and white colors that the Alpha Luxe and Alpha Style had. I have the blue and yellow, but since I like the yellow more, it is the subject of this review.

At PhP3,999 the Alpha Neon got an entry-level quad-core processor (8212 chipset), 1GB of RAM, 5” LCD display, 8GB of internal storage, SD card support, and Windows Phone 8.1. These are similar specifications to the Alpha Luxe.

Physical and build quality

The device is a little bit taller and wider than the Alpha Luxe at 144mm x 72mm x 9mm (11mm including protruded camera lens). Here it is beside the Alpha Luxe.

The navigation buttons seems like twice as big to that of the Alpha Luxe, and way brighter.

The Alpha Neon also has a removable cover but it's tighter and requires more care during removal. You need to lift the cover from the bottom edge where you find the slot, then run your fingernai around the edges to properly remove the cover. This is basically the same technique to remove the back cover of the Acer Liquid M220.

The phone comes with a screen protector and unlike the Alpha Luxe, a jelly case is already available at extra cost to protect the phone.

Performance

With a Snapdragon 200 quad-core processor & Adreno 302 graphics chip, it offers roughly the same performance compared to the Alpha Luxe.

I am no serious gamer and the usual games I occasionally play had good performance. These include Halo: SA Lite, Tiny Troopers, Overkill 3, and Subway Surfers.

Sound quality

With the same chipset, the sonic quality is again similar to that of the Alpha Luxe when used with the Westone UM1. My other headsets required the Nokia adaptor that came with my Urbaneasrs Tanto. With the adaptor in place, it played music and I was able to play/pause, go to next track and previous track using the button on the controller. The microphone also worked as it should.

This is one area where the Cherry Mobile Alpha line has not changed, as my Lumi 636 didn't need an adaptor anymore.

Over-all, I am happy with the sound quality of the Alpha Neon.

Display

The 720p LCD display of the Alpha Neon is the same as the Alpha Luxe. I am not sure if Cherry Mobile still use the Dragontrail protection from Asahi. At this price point, I somewhat doubt it.

Camera

Featuring 8-megapixel rear camera and 2-mega pixel front-facing camera, it offers decent picture quality.

The rear camera is slightly different from the Alpha Luxe. Here's a table to show the difference.

Feature Alpha Neon Alpha Luxe
f-stop f/2.4 f/2.2
focal lenght (35mm equivalent) 22 26
maximum ISO 3200 800
digital zoom Yes No

This means that the Alpha Neon rear camera is effectively wider and more sensitive on low-light scenes.

Like the Alpha Luxe, the white balance is well controlled and produces pictures that look "right."

Here is a sample taken at my office with dimly lit pantry.

The 2-megapixel front-facing camera will take selfies if one really, really want to.

Connectivity

With Wi-Fi b/g/n specifications, I am able to connect to all my networks at the office and at home. Streaming videos or music  from my Sysnology DS413j via Western Digital N900 Central is without hiccup. At the office, connecting to our Cyberoam appliance presents no issues as well. Tethering from my 5s and Lumia 636 for LTE connectivity is a breeze.

Its cellular radio supports GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz, WCDMA 900 / 2100 MHz up to HSPA+ speeds.

Dual SIM functionality will be good for travel so you can have a local roaming SIM and country of destination SIM in the same phone from now on.

The Alpha Neon also supports Bluetooth 4.0 and I was able to pair it with my Surface Pro and transfer photos easily.

There is no NFC or Miracast support.

Conclusion

So far, the Alpha Neon is pleasurable to use for a 5” phone, but I still prefer the size and feel of the Alpha Luxe. The enhanced camera and cheaper price is a good come-on for would be buyers.

In the looks department, the Alpha Neon is better with more color options but I actually want to see one with a 4.5" screen with softkeys as I despise the large over-lit navigation keys.

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