Friday, June 17, 2011

Gadget Review - Cherry Mobile Orbit

An affordable dual-SIM, 3G Android Phone is now one of my "babies."

Cherry Mobile Orbit (Internet photo)
Over a month ago, when I heard that Cherry Mobile was slashing in half the price of its new dual-SIM Android phone, Orbit, as an introductory offer, I was drooling. (Orbit is actually Gigabyte GSmart G1310. Cherry Mobile just re-branded it.) I told myself that I have to get that phone. It’s like my iPhone and my MyPhone B12 Duo combined. Through a good friend of mine who owed me money, I was able to have it. (I told my friend that I would forget about his debt if he would fall in line for me. I had work on the day of the sale. He was in line for four hours.) Is the phone worth it? Here’s my first ever in-depth tech review (after the jump).

Before that, check the phone’s specifications:
  • Android 2.2 (Froyo) Operating System
  • Dual SIM / Dual Standby
  • QualComm 528Mhz
  • 3.2" HVGA Capacitive TouchScreen
  • ROM: 512MB / RAM: 256MB
  • QuadBand GSM / GPRS / EDGE
  • Dualband WCDMA / HSDPA
  • 5.0MP Camera with Auto Focus and Flash
  • WIFI
  • Bluetooth
  • 3G
  • GPS
  • FM Radio
  • Standard Micro USB 2.0
  • 3.5mm Stereo Audio Jack
  • Expandable Memory Up to 32GB

Design - :-)

The phone’s casing is plastic, which makes it light. It is also compact because its screen is only 3.2 inches big. It fits in my pocket well, unlike my iPhone, which I find a bit bulky.  The design is simple. In front are the usual talk key and end key. The one in the middle is a shortcut for recently opened applications (at first I though it was the home or menu button). Above those are the soft keys (menu, home, search, and return). On the right side of the phone are the volume controls, camera shutter, and the Micro SD card slot. The camera (with flash) and speaker are at the back.  If there is something that I don’t like with the design, it’s the Orbit logo. They should have placed it somewhere less conspicuous, so it could look like one of those more expensive smartphones. Hehe. :P

Touchscreen - :-)

The Orbit’s touchscreen is capacitive and multi-touch, similar to that of the iPhone. Of course, the iPhone’s touchscreen is better, but I was actually surprised with the Orbit’s. I thought it was just like the touchscreen of my cousin’s Samsung Champ, but it was actually better than that. Way better. A simple tap on the icon will open applications. No hard press needed. The pinch-to-zoom works fine, too.

At first I had trouble typing text messages because the keyboard letters are small (I don’t have stubby fingers, mind you), but I got used to it. However, I noticed that when I try to type a message while the phone is charging, it acts up like it’s possessed or something. I don’t know why.

The latest addition to my gadget collection.
 Android Experience - ;-)

This is my first Android gadget ever, so I did not know what to expect. I know nothing much about the Android platform except that its versions are named after delicious desserts. Yum yum! My Orbit runs on Android 2.2 platform, Froyo (frozen yogurt). If you have experienced using an iPhone or even an iPod Touch, you should have no trouble with this phone because the Android’s interface is not so different from that of iOS. You just have to remember that there are more buttons or keys to press. What I like with the Android is that I can customize my phone. I can change wallpapers easily and add or remove widgets. I can do that with my iPhone too, but only because it is already jailbroken. Also, I can download free apps via Market.

Performance - :-\

The Orbit’s processor, powered by Qualcomm, is 528 MHz. In layman’s term, that is not so fast, especially for an Android device. One way to check the processor’s performance is to play games. Angry Birds is a bit slow, but it is not that obvious when the volume is turned off. Ninjump is slow though (see video below).

 (On the left is my iPhone 3G. Sorry for the poor video quality.)

However, when doing simple tasks like web browsing and video playing (as long as video resolution is not higher than 480p), the speed is okay. I guess this phone is not made to play graphics-heavy games.

Dual SIM - :-)

I bought this phone mainly because it is dual SIM. To send a message or make a call, just do as you would when using other phones, but you will be asked whether to do so using your SIM 1 or SIM 2. It is not complicated. I wish, however, that it had separate inboxes for SIM 1 and SIM 2. You see, only a small text below a message will tell if the message was sent to your SIM 1 or SIM 2.

Connectivity - :-\

The Orbit has Wi-Fi, so connecting to the Internet at home is easy. It also is 3G capable, but only for the SIM in the first SIM card slot. That means I can only connect to the Internet using GPRS or EDGE using the SIM in the second slot. I tried connecting to the Internet using Smart 3G. It was fine. On the other hand, I could not connect to the Internet using Globe. The phone said that I was already connected, but when I tried to open Facebook or the Internet Browser, an error message would appear. I tried placing my Globe SIM card in the first card slot hoping that it would solve the problem, but the same thing happened.

Anyway, through Smart 3G, I was able to try Internet tethering.Tethering allows me to use my device as a Wi-Fi hotspot. It works! However, connection is not so fast. I don’t know if it is because I am used to the normal Wi-Fi connection speed we have at home.

Audio - :-(

I was dismayed by the Orbit’s audio quality. Music sounded like it was coming from a cave or something. At first I thought it was because of the earphones that were bundled with the device. However, the quality is still poor even if I use my iPhone’s earphones or the original Nokia earphones that I found lying here in our house. I do not know if it has something to do with the bit rate of my songs (only 128 kbps) because the sound is fine when I listen to the phone’s FM player.

Music sounds better, however, when played through the phone’s built-in speaker, but it is not that loud even when the volume is at its maximum. You definitely won’t be using this as a music player in a house party.

Camera - :-\

The Orbit has a 5-megapixel camera with built in flash. However, for some reasons, the pictures that I took using my iPhone’s 2-megapixel camera look better.

Above is an actual photo taken using Orbit's camera. Image is grainy and yellowish. Below is an image taken using my iPhone 3G's cam. (I just cropped the photos for better comparison. Click images for full resolution.)

I think the Orbit’s camera is more suited for outdoor shots.

This is where I work. Not at Mini Stop or McDo. There at that building. (Image taken using Orbit's camera)
Battery Life - :-\

I almost regretted buying this phone because of its disappointing battery life. However, I was able to make the battery last longer.

On the first few days of using the Orbit, its battery lasted only for about 10 hours. I installed Juice Defender and Advanced Task Killer, which save battery by closing unnecessary applications and ending processes that are running in the background. They made my phone’s battery last for a day, which is not bad.

Then, Cherry Mobile released an update that would supposedly solve software bugs that drain the battery. When I updated my phone’s software, battery life improved only a little because applications that are hogging the battery, like Weather and People, were still installed. That’s when I tried rooting the phone, which allowed me to delete the applications that were draining the battery and others that I do not need.  Now, my phone can last for two days without charging, under normal usage.*

(Visit this website for tips on how to maximize an Android phone's battery life.)

The Verdict - :-\

Overall, Orbit is a decent smartphone, but do I recommend buying it? Not at its original price of 12,999php. I think that’s too much. I was lucky enough to have it at half the price (that’s 6,499php for math haters like me). It is also good that I have a defect-free unit (Cherry Mobile’s Facebook page has been bombarded with complaints from other Orbit owners.) If you really want to have a cheap Android phone but you don’t really need it to be dual-SIM, try Cherry Mobile’s other Android phones – Cosmo and Nova. Both cost less than 8,000php (Cosmo is 6,899php, Nova is 7999php). If you are not sold with the quality of Cherry Mobile products, Samsung and LG also have Android phones that retail for less than 10,000php.

My Orbit has one-year warranty, so I do not worry much about it dying anytime soon. Also, as with my other “babies,” I will take very good care of it to make it usable for a long time, or at least until my iPhone 3GS arrives. My sister said that she’ll give me her 3GS when Apple releases a new iPhone. :)


*I am not a heavy smartphone user. I send and receive around 5 to 15 text messages a day. I do not make calls, and people seldom call me.*Forever alone* I do not use the Orbit as a music player because I like my iPod Shuffle’s crisp sound quality better. I also rarely play games with it. At home, I connect to the Internet using my MacBook for I find mobile Internet browsing too difficult. In short, I use the Orbit just like a basic phone. However, when I did a battery stress test (I did a little of everything the phone can do), the battery lasted for almost 7 hours. That’s good enough since Android phones are known to have shorter battery life when compared to Symbian phones.


Anonymous said...

To connect Globe go to Access Point Names then set as follows:
Name: MyGlobe
MCC: 515
MNC: 02
Delete everything else to "none" or "not set"

I was able to make the Orbit sound even better than my iPod by installing POWERAMP Music

Player (trial) and setting the PREset to "Bass and Treble".

Karlow said...

Thanks! Will try your suggestions! :)

bell tower said...

still couldn't access the net on my orbit while using globe.. i hope u can post images on ur orbit while using globe internet to serve as my guide tnx.

Karlow said...

hi, bell tower! have you tried this suggestion of anonymous commenter above:

To connect Globe go to Access Point Names then set as follows:
Name: MyGlobe
MCC: 515
MNC: 02

di ko pa po siya nasusubukan kasi i use wi-fi when surfing. i hope it works for you. :)

Anonymous said...

Now priced at 5499...truly a value for your money for a dual android phone! So far there are only 4 dual sim android in the market. CM Orbit, CM Eclipse 2.2, Torque, and D890 Alcatel the last three are all resistive and run on a lower version