Launched late last year, the Coolpad Note 5 was the Chinese company’s attempt at taking on the competitive sub-Rs 15,000 smartphone segment in India. Now, while Coolpad isn’t considered a significant player in India, it still has its fans. In an effort to take on the sub Rs 10,000 segment, Coolpad is back with the Note 5 Lite.
While it does look and feel a lot like its larger sibling, the Coolpad Note 5 Lite cuts certain corners in order to achieve its price of Rs 8,199. But is it still worth it at this price, and are you getting enough from this phone to make it worth your while? Find out in our review.
Coolpad Note 5 Lite: The Good
The Coolpad Note 5 Lite looks good, and sticks to the same design as the Note 5. It also feels great, thanks to its metal rear panel. It isn’t a unibody design; the sides, top and bottom are all plastic, with metal only used for the back plate. The glossy accents also contribute to the look significantly, although it’s entirely subjective how you might feel about these.
The front of the phone uses 2.5D curved glass, which gives the impression of a curved screen. And with a 5-inch screen, the phone is compact as well. It’s a comfortable size for one-handed use, although this does defeat the ‘Note’ moniker to some extent.
As has been the case with Coolpad’s offerings in the last couple of years, even affordable smartphones from the brand come with a fingerprint sensor. The Coolpad Note 5 Lite has its fingerprint sensor at the back, which can be used to unlock the phone, and secure specific apps. Additionally, the sensor can be used as a gesture-friendly capacitive key to capture photos, lock the device and record calls, among other functions. The sensor isn’t the quickest I’ve used, but it’s fairly accurate and pleasant enough to use.
As with other phones in this price category, you get dual-SIM connectivity through a hybrid slot that also allows for storage expansion, 3GB of RAM and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. Although the 16GB of internal storage might run out quickly, this phone is ideal for users who keep their usage simple and uncomplicated.
Another key feature of the phone is its front flash. Although we’ve seen a lot of phones launching with front flash recently, this is one of the most affordable options to tout this feature. If you take a lot of selfies or use your front camera often for video calls, you’ll find the presence of front flash to be particularly useful.
Coolpad Note 5 Lite: The Bad
For all the pros of the Coolpad Note 5 Lite, there are also cons, the biggest of which is the choice of SoC. The phone is powered by the MediaTek 6735 SoC, a now two-year-old chipset that helps the phone keep its low price thanks to its budget specifications. This is a quad-core chipset clocked at 1GHz, and keeps performance at strictly budget levels. The more affordable Xiaomi Redmi 4A is powered by the more capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 425, which leads me to question the choice of SoC here.
Performance is expectedly poor, as is battery life. Even with conservative usage, the phone struggles to last a full day. Charging is slow as well, with the included charging taking well over three hours to top off the 2,500mAh battery. Gaming isn’t the best, while multi-tasking struggles a bit as well. While 3GB of RAM might help a bit, the poor chipset is a significant blemish on this phone.
Additionally, the screen isn’t quite up to the mark either. Although we can’t really complain about the 720p resolution at this price, the screen itself is poor when it comes to color, contrast and brightness. The picture always seems a hint artificial, and I did not enjoy watching videos or TV shows on the phone during my time with the device.
Coolpad’s user interface is a typical single-layered affair that tries too hard to mimic iOS, much like other Chinese manufacturers such as Vivo and OPPO. As is also something I’ve seen before, there are some hilarious translation issues in the user interface, and the language can be quite silly. Additionally font colors and styling can be very random and sometimes hard to read, and there’s a lot to improve upon.
While the phone does boast a front flash for its 8-megapixel front camera, photo quality is poor. Pictures are fuzzy, lacking in detail and simply not up to the mark. While the flash does offer some illumination and brighten up pictures that would have otherwise been dull and absolutely unsatisfactory, it doesn’t do very much in the way of offering good pictures. The rear camera is also unsatisfactory, and this has a lot to do with the poor processing capabilities of the phone itself.
The Coolpad Note 5 Lite is, simply put, a disappointing smartphone. From the aging chipset to the poor camera, there’s very little going for the phone. Sure, you get good design and build, a fingerprint sensor and dual-SIM connectivity, but all of that doesn’t count for much when the overall experience is poor. Unless a fingerprint sensor is important to you, we recommend spending less and getting the excellent Xiaomi Redmi 4A instead, or alternatively spending a bit more for the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4.