Cherry Mobile SkyFire 2.0 at a glance:
*Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8225Q chipset
*1.2GHz quad-core Cortex-A5 CPU
*Adreno 203 GPU
*4GB internal storage
*microSD expansion (up to 32GB)
*5-inch qHD IPS-LCD display with scratch-resistant cover glass (540 x 960 resolution; 220ppi pixel density)
*8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
*2-megapixel front camera
*Android Jelly Bean (version 4.1.2)
Just a day after its official unveiling, the Cherry Mobile SkyFire 2.0 has already stopped by our desks. The SkyFire sequel is a mildly skinned Android Jelly Bean device (version 4.1.2) with a plastic housing; a sizable, IPS-backed display; decently sized camera sensors; and quad-core power. It's priced competitively at P7,999 and spec'd to please even picky bargain hunters.
But in an already saturated, "price is king" Philippine market, will it catch the eye of potential smartphone buyers? Has the Philippine brand churned out yet another great sequel? Find out in our full review of the Cherry Mobile SkyFire 2.0.
No surprises in the hardware department. The SkyFire 2.0 features a plastic shell with a smooth, glossy (read: fingerprint-magnet) coating. Despite its mostly plastic construction, it feels solid, with the right amount of heft to it. It's a pity, then, that the outer material is fairly easy to scratch, so we recommend that you buy a case for the smartphone.
In spite of its lack of a physical Home button, the Cherry Mobile SkyFire 2.0 looks a lot like a Samsung handset, especially from at least an arm's length away. Fortunately, its trio of capacitive navigation buttons provides a hint of distinction. As should be the case for all smartphones, the buttons seem to light up decently when touched.
Further differentiating itself from Samsungs and likewise most other smartphones on offer now (albeit in a subtle way), the second-gen SkyFire has an appealing but almost unnoticeable two-tone appearance. Our prominently black unit rocks a polished wraparound trim swathed in dark blue, reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S III Pebble Blue model's color scheme.
The side keys offer great feedback when pressed. It's a minor detail, but sometimes it's the little things that count—and as far as bargain-basement efforts go, small nuances earn big brownie points.
The Cherry Mobile SkyFire 2.0's backplate is removable, and underneath the thin mold of polycarbonate are your dual-SIM and microSD card slots and loudspeaker, which is barely audible even from across a quiet room.
As with some of Cherry Mobile releases with IPS screens, the 5-inch, qHD IPS-LCD panel on the SkyFire 2.0 is decent, not to mention sizable enough to consume video content and documents without really straining your eyes. The dimensions and pixels work out to roughly 220 pixels per inch, so display quality may not be as crisp as you'd want it to be.
Still, colors are accurate enough and text is rendered with great clarity, meaning it can be read from most angles. The panel offers a comfortable Web-browsing and photo-viewing experience as well.
The new SkyFire is said to have a scratch-resistant panel—a claim we can neither confirm nor deny because it isn't clear what kind of cover-glass technology is used here. Nevertheless, we'd like to believe the screen can indeed stand up to scrutiny.
There are two cameras mounted on the Cherry Mobile SkyFire 2.0: an 8-megapixel shooter with LED flash on the back and a 2-megapixel front-facer. Both sensors produce decent images under adequate lighting. It's good to know that the phone can also record 720p footage and that it offers users options. We would have wanted to see HDR and time lapse, though.
Our real gripe is that the rear camera is a bit slow to take photos. The SkyFire 2.0 generally takes two to three seconds to snap the first shot.
Thankfully, that lag can be cut in half by switching to Speedily. The only drawback to this particular shooting mode is that you can't use the rear-facing flash module.
Below are samples taken with the phone's cameras.
Specs and performance
Despite what its sub-P8,000 price suggests, the second-gen SkyFire is a capable phone through and through. It starts with Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 MSM8225Q SoC [system on chip] clocked at 1.2GHz, alongside an Adreno 203 GPU and 1GB of RAM. Oddly enough, apps like AnTuTu Benchmark and Hardware Info beg to differ; Qualcomm's Snapdragon MSM8625Q chipset is running the show, according to these tools.
There's 4GB of built-in storage, but at least the device offers microSD expansion of up to 32GB. Also taking up space on the inside is a 2,000mAh battery.
When it comes to daily operation, the phone runs Android Jelly Bean with minimal delays overall. The Cherry Mobile SkyFire 2.0's Snapdragon silicon is capable of breezing through most apps, transitions, and content-dense websites. Its multi-tasking and gaming prowess is better than average, too. For example, it maintains good frame rates on Temple Run 2 even at the highest graphics setting.
We've tested the handset using some benchmark suites, and the results compare quite favorably with other budget quad-cores on the local market.
The 2,000mAh battery is sufficient for one day of normal use on a full charge, with 14 percent of juice left after almost 12 hours. That particular cycle included 5 minutes of talk time, 15 minutes of camera work, an hour each of video watching and Web surfing, and 5 hours of music playback.
Under stress, though, the cell taps out very quickly, so we urge you to keep an eye on the power draw of processor-hungry tasks. When put through its paces using our battery rundown test, in which we play a high-res video on an endless loop at half brightness, with WiFi switched on and both SIM slots working, the SkyFire 2.0 managed to hang on for about four hours. That's a full hour and a half less than comparable devices we've used.
The Cherry Mobile SkyFire 2.0 is a solidly built hardware with a subtle two-tone design and side buttons which provide great feedback. It uses a sizable screen bolstered by IPS technology for improved picture quality. It has 8- and 2-megapixel main and secondary cameras as well. And did we mention that it delivers quad-core performance to boot? This phone is indeed stacked.
Retailing at the same price as the Cherry Mobile Omega HD, it's clearly the better value, particularly for those who put a premium on performance and day-to-day battery life. At P1,000 more, it's far superior than the Cherry Mobile Flame 2.0 in every regard except for the power drain when watching videos.
For a crazy-low price of P7,999—that is, given everything the smartphone has to offer—we say Cherry Mobile has another home run in their hands with the SkyFire sequel. We're very impressed.
*Decent IPS display
*Barely audible speaker