Specs of the CloudFone Thrill 530qx (Price: P9,999 or about US$250):
1.2GHz quad-core CPU
PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU
4GB internal storage
microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
5.3-inch qHD IPS display (540 x 960 resolution; 208 ppi)
12-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash
5-megapixel front camera
Dimension: 152.6 x 79.2 x 11.8 mm
Weight: 200 grams
Android Jelly Bean 4.2
The locally branded CloudFone Thrill 530qx is a rather ambitious device. It's a single response to the three most valued features in the smartphone mass market: a quad-core Android that combines a large-enough screen with a tablet-grade, 4,500mAh battery that should deliver days of runtime. It's aggressively priced, too, officially retailing at P9,999 in the Philippines.
Which begs the all-important question: Is it a better buy than other phones in the bargain-basement price range? Read on to find out.
One thing we noticed about locally branded smartphones: Their China-based manufacturers have improved on their designs. There was a time when we could hardly tell bargain Androids apart, but nowadays you'd find a growing number of low-priced releases flaunt surprisingly good looks and solid builds. To some extent, the CloudFone Thrill 530qx is among them.
As you can tell, there's an abundance of plastic here, and most of the body has a soft-touch, matte finish on the surface. There's also a shiny metallic trim around the edges, presumably to liven up the otherwise predictable design. Brownie points also go to its above-average build quality; the casing is solid and there's no flex on the rear panel.
Obviously, our unit rocks a brown color scheme, and unfortunately for those who prefer other paint jobs, the Thrill 530qx comes in only one color.
It has a rectangular shape, with rounded corners and tapered sides to ensure a more natural and satisfying fit in the hand. And for a phone that's thicker, wider, and heavier than comparable models, any advantage in comfort is huge.
The device comes in at 152.6mm in length, 79.2mm in width, and 11.8mm in thickness, and weighs 200 grams. Take note that most of the bulk and weight on the unit is a consequence of packing a 4,500mAh battery, which is non-removable but still mighty impressive given this CloudFone's form factor.
On the face of the phone is a tiny LED notification light and a 5.3-inch touch display. Beneath that sizable screen real estate is a trio of capacitive navigation keys for menu, home, and back. The left edge and base are free of buttons and ports, and the right-hand side houses a lone volume rocker. Up top is where things get busy; the headphone jack, the power button, and the micro-USB port, which supports USB On-The-Go, sit on the top edge.
The CloudFone branding, speaker grill, and rounded metallic accent around the 12-megapixel main camera and dual-LED flash, allocated on the back side of the phone, round out the hardware tour.
Based on size alone, the CloudFone Thrill 530qx's 5.3-inch display is one of its major selling points. It doesn't toe the line between phone and tablet as much as Samsung's pair of Galaxy Mega devices do, but it is large enough to provide a comfortable movie-watching experience at an arm's distance. It also makes for easier typing.
That the screen itself is also large enough to accommodate two sets of eyes is definitely something we can't say for most smartphones. What is unfortunate, though, is that the panel suffers in terms of overall picture quality. The compromise is quite obvious that you can tell without closely examining the display.
The screen is qHD, with a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels. That equates to a pixel density of 208 pixels per inch, and that's below what most similarly priced 5-inchers offer.
Color reproduction is likewise not that good; the panel may be backed by IPS technology, but it has a noticeable bluish cast, resulting in inconsistent colors and weak contrast. Unsurprisingly, the Thrill 530qx exhibits faded black levels and so-so readability in direct sunlight.
In usual smartphone fashion, the CloudFone Thrill 530qx has two cameras: a 5-megapixel front-facer and as mentioned earlier, a 12-megapixel shooter round the back. Our experience with both sensors is mostly unflattering, as test shots reveal that the device isn't nearly as capable in a variety of shooting environments as its relatively high megapixel count suggests.
In general, photos taken with the Thrill 530qx, including those snapped during the day and in good indoor lighting, come out looking dark and underexposed and lacking in vibrancy. On the plus side, the default camera app offers intuitive controls and plenty of tweakable settings and shooting modes to make your shooting experience more enjoyable and less frustrating.
Here's a gallery of sample shots to further support our remarks on image quality.
The CloudFone Thrill 530qx ships with Android 4.2 out of the box, which is good news because Jelly Bean brings many performance-enhancing optimizations and bug fixes to the platform.
Underneath the screen, there's a MediaTek MT6589M chipset, along with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor clocked at 1.2GHz, PowerVR SGX544MP graphics, and 1GB of RAM. At 4GB, internal storage can be quite limiting. Thankfully, it can be expanded by microSD cards up to 32GB in capacity. That should be enough to accommodate an extensive collection of standard-definition movies.
The Philippine market is no stranger to phones with the same hardware configuration as the CloudFone Thrill 530qx, and by now we know what to expect from such devices—in the performance department at least.
Our loaner unit performs as admirably and is just as responsive as others packing identical components. There's hardly any lag when switching between home screens and browser tabs and jumping in and out of apps. The relatively low-resolution display, combined with the phone's respectable GPU, also makes for a fluid gaming experience for some graphics-intensive titles.
Here's where things get mighty interesting. The major reason for anyone to consider a device like the CloudFone Thrill 530qx is its mammoth 4,500mAh cell, which, according to standard battery logic, should make it the smartphone equivalent of the Energizer Bunny. It should keep going well past the first day of casual use!
True enough, when we ran our standard video-looping test, with brightness at 50 percent and WiFi turned on, we got 13 hours and 5 minutes of uptime. That's almost twice the number we get from similarly spec'd units with half the battery capacity and certainly more than what we've previously recorded on any smart device.
In more normal use, our unit lasted two full days. "Normal use" includes occasional browsing, texting, social networking, video watching, and light gaming.
With lighter usage, we found it can survive three days on a single charge.
Indeed, the CloudFone Thrill 530qx, with its sizable display, respectable performance, and long-lasting stamina, is an interesting proposition. It offers such great battery life that despite its shortcomings in the picture-quality and imaging departments, we're able to overlook its low pixel count and lackluster photos, especially if doing so leads to days of usage sans a nightly charge.