My journey into Photography, Horology, and Audiophilia
November 3, 2014
The Alpha Style. I thought I would never like this phone but it grew fast on me. Firstly, let’s get the published specifications out of the way-
• Windows Phone 8.1 OS
• 4.0-Inch IPS Display (800 x 480 Pixels)
• 1.2GHz Quad Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 Processor
• Adreno 305 GPU
• 512MB of RAM
• 4GB Internal Storage
• Expandable up to 32GB via MicroSD
• 5.0 Megapixel Main Camera with LED Flash
• VGA Front Camera
• Dual SIM/Dual Standby
• 3G HSPA+, 2G EDGE ad GPRS Networks
• Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Hotspot
• 3.5mm Audio Jack
• 1,500mAh Li-ion Battery
AlphaStyle01 by arnold_cruz, on Flickr
As a Windows phone running 8.1 version of the operating system, it is not much different from its big brother, the Alpha Luxe, in terms of operation or functionality.
AlphaStyle02 by arnold_cruz, on Flickr
So what’s likeable about this device? At first it looks pedestrian until I took notice of the subtle details such as the smoked transparent cover that gives a nice halo effect in different lighting conditions. At P2,999 retail price, it offers good build quality. No creaks when pressed firmly and it feels solid despite the over-all plastic material used. The back cover is a shell that should be replaceable if it suffers from damage. I’ve seen from Cherry Mobile’s store that there is a white variant but I prefer this black version.
While the device is smooth all around, it doesn’t seem slippery. It measures 120mm L x 67mm W x 12mm thick making it chunky compared to my HTC 8S.
In front, it has the usual capacitive buttons (with haptic feedback and lighted) in the familiar layout. The volume control is on the left side, and the power button on the right. On top, the headphone jack and USB connectors can be found.
Limited to 4GB of internal memory, it is left with 560MB free after loading my test applications including games. The microSD support of up to 32GB additional storage is a big boost to what this device is capable of.
AlphaStyle-back by arnold_cruz, on Flickr
Inside the box, there are the usual accessories- USB cable, USB charger, in-ear headphones, and manuals.
Sporting a screen at 800 x 480 resolution, it gives a real-estate experience similar to my HTC 8S. The black level is inferior compared to the HTC 8S. The screen is bright but the colors are not washed out. Display brightness can be set to either Automatic or Manual with low, medium, and high settings. I like it best at low when in Manual mode.
The quality of the audio reproduction is good and unless I enjoy stressing out myself on hearing the nuances in music reproduction between devices, the Alpha Style is enjoyable. My digital audio tracks are stored in my Synology NAS and ripped in uncompressed WAV format and I use Synology’s DS Audio for streaming. My reference monitors are the Westone UM1 in-ear monitors, but I also tried the Harman Kardon SOHO, Urbanears Tanto, and JVC FX-33. For TRRS-ended headphones, an adaptor is required just like the Alpha Luxe.
Despite having a widest aperture of f/2.4 and focal lenght of 4.2mm, the rear fixed focus 5 megapixel camera is definitely going to struggle and may become useless indoors or in poorly lighted scenes.
AlphaStyle-rearcamera by arnold_cruz, on Flickr
Thankfully, there is an LED flash. While I’m not a fan of using flash, it may be the best option with this device when lighting is poor. Using my Sekonic light meter, I measured one point in my room where it would need ISO 3200 and f/2.8 to get proper exposure, and the photo from the camera is obviously under exposed, without flash.
The VGA front camera is nearly useless in this scene.
With lots of light, i.e., outdoors, it can capture decent photos.
The fixed focus lens also means you can forget about taking close-up shots, such as a watch wrist shot, as it is only good for infinity focus.
WP_20141031_009 by arnold_cruz, on Flickr
WP_20141031_002 by arnold_cruz, on Flickr
Like its big brother, the Alpha Style is running on quad-core Snapdragon 200 with Adreno 305 graphics chip (an unusual compbination), but with half the RAM.
As a reference, here is the Basemark OS II comparison with other devices.
With only 512MB RAM in the device, I’ve loaded Subway Surfers, and Halo: SA Lite (not the full Spartan Assault, as I’m using a different account and not willing to pay again just to test) and the device performs well. General operations reveals fluid performance and I have yet to experience any lag.
The battery is specified to be 1,500mAh and so far has been showing a stamina of 14 hours continuous use from full charge with data always on. With light use, i.e., SMS, music, browsing via Wi-Fi, it lasted nearly three days on a single charge.
In addition to 7 days replacement, Cherry Mobile offers 15 months extended warranty when you register your phone.
The Nokia Lumia 530 locally costs P1,000 more and loyal buyers may prefer it over the Cherry Mobile Alpha Style. First time Windows phone buyers though, should give this device a shot. It offers more than the 530, such as proximity sensor, rear camera LED flash, front VGA camera, and a slightly beefier battery. Compared to the Lumia 630’s current selling price, you can buy three (3) Alpha Style instead.