Coolpad Note 3S Review


coolpad-note-3s-12Coolpad has been on a roll recently. From the Mega 3 to the Cool 1 Dual, the Note 3S marks the third handset launched within the last month. The phone takes a renewed focus on design and well-balanced performance. Here’s our review of the Coolpad Note 3S. 

Coolpad Note 3S specifications

  • 5.5-inch (1280  x 720 pixels) HD IPS 2.5D curved glass display
  • 1.36GHz Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 415 64-bit processor with Adreno 405 GPU
  • 3GB RAM, 32GB internal memory, expandable memory up to 32GB with microSD
  • Dual SIM
  • Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) with Cool UI 8.0
  • 13MP rear camera with LED Flash, f/2.2 aperture
  • 5MP front-facing camera, f/2.2 aperture
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Dimensions: 154.5x77x8.6; Weight: 167g
  • 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, USB OTG
  • 2500mAh battery

Design

While at first glance, the Note 3S might look like most other Coolpad devices, you just need to take a closer look to notice the differences. The display area is covered by 2.5D glass that gently curves around the edges and gives a more three-dimensional appearance to the front of the phone. We particularly liked the dotted pattern above and below the display. Placed under the glass, it reflects light under the sun and gives the phone a very unique appearance.

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Below the display are three capacitive buttons that correspond to the multi tasking, home and back keys. Up above is a 5MP front facing camera with an f/2.2 aperture. On the other side of the earpiece lies the proximity sensor.

Over on the right hand side of the device lies the power button. The button has enough give but the feedback is fairly spongy. The volume button placed on the other side of the device lies flush with the body and there’s hardly any feedback here. The headphone jack lies at the top while the microUSB port lies off-center along the lower edge. The hybrid SIM slot lies along the top edge of the phone.

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The back of the Coolpad Note 3S is made of a soft touch material. The sides of the device curve over gently and make the phone feel really good in the hand. Up top is the 13MP rear camera that sits proud of the back. Next to it lies the single LED flash while below it is the fingerprint reader. The Coolpad Note 3S measures 154.5 x 77 x 8.6mm and with wider bezels along the sides, you’ll have to stretch your hand a bit to hold the phone comfortably. At 167 grams, the phone is reassuringly solid but not heavy enough to be uncomfortable.

Software

The software on the Coolpad Note 3S comes close to stock Android. There’s practically no UI customisation and pre-installed apps too are kept to a minimum.

The lockscreen displays the time and date and sports shortcuts for the camera and swiping from the bottom left corner activates Google Now. The phone adopts a Google Launcher like interface paradigm with the app drawer launcher placed in the middle of the persistent shortcut bar that lies along the bottom edge. There’s not much on offer here in terms of customisation and you can add widgets, app shortcuts or change the wallpaper.

As we mentioned earlier, the pre-installed apps include Amazon Shopping and Xploree keyboard. Compared to what we often see from devices in this category of phones, the Note 3S is virtually bloat free. The phone runs Android 6.0.1 and ships with the October security update right out of the box.

Performance

If you were expecting the Note 3S to be a scorching performer, you’d be sorely disappointed. The device sits entirely in the budget category and has specifications to match. You’ll get a 1.36GHz Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 415 64-bit processor with Adreno 405 GPU in addition to 3GB of RAM which are par for the course. Admittedly, these specs are lower than some of the competition like the Redmi Note 3 that is equipped with a Snapdragon 650 processor. Day-to-day performance is satisfactory but nothing worth writing home about. While the software is fairly well optimised and smooth all about, we noticed that there were a few occasions when there was visible lag in displaying icons. Games work alright but take time to load up. Frame rate drops are not very uncommon either. We’re including some benchmarks below to give you an idea of comparative performance.

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In AnTuTu 6, the phone scores 38194 points placing it towards the bottom of the test bench.

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Similarly in the Basemark OS II benchmark, the phone scores 796 points which is lower than most competing smartphones. Then again, as we’ve always mentioned, benchmarks are not the most ideal way to judge performance and for day-to-day use, the phone packs enough grunt.

Display

On paper, the display on the Coolpad Note 3S disappoints. 1280 x 720 pixels stretched across a 5.5 inch display makes for a fairly low pixel density. While it isn’t the sharpest display around, we’d be remiss to call it bad.

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The panel display high contrast levels and is great for media consumption. Brightness levels too go high enough for the display to be visible in sunlight. The glossy panel proves to be a bit of a hindrance though and you might find yourself trying to angle the display perfectly to view the screen. There is also a pretty evident color shift when viewing from extreme angles.

Camera

As we mentioned earlier, the Coolpad Note 3S is equipped with a 13MP rear facing camera along with an LED flash. Camera performance is average at best and is mostly in line with what you expect in the category.

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Dynamic range is very limited too and highlights get burnt out very easily. Images themselves are mostly washed out and a bit soft. The front camera in particular tends to apply a pinkish hue to the shot and struggles with the dynamic range.

Connectivity & Battery Life

Connectivity options on the Coolpad Note 3S are limited to 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and USB OTG. These are all standard options across phones and there’s nothing particularly extraordinary here. About 9.59 GB of the onboard 16GB storage is available at first boot. You’ll likely want to install a memory card but you’ll lose one of the SIM slots because of that. We’ve been quite vocal about our displeasure for hybrid SIM slots and that is even more important on a device in this category with limited storage onboard. You can also use USB OTG to expand storage.

The one aspect of the device that we were really let down by was the battery life. A small 2,500 mAh battery lags far behind the competition and because of this, the phone struggles to make it through a full day of extended use. Even with light usage, you’ll definitely have to charge up the phone overnight.

Conclusion

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The Coolpad Note 3S comes at a time when it faces a lot of competition, both externally and within the Coolpad family too. While we liked the design and clean software build, the small battery and average camera don’t give us much confidence. The specs too are somewhat weak. The Coolpad Note 3S is priced at Rs. 9,999 and is available exclusively from Amazon.in.

Pros

  • Design
  • Clean Software

Cons

  • Small Battery
  • Average Camera
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Author: Dhruv Bhutani

Dhruv loves technology & is passionate about travel, science in equal measure. Currently using a ZF2. Catch him on Twitter (@DhruvBhutani) / Facebook . The metal head down the block ;)