Coolpad Dazen X7 Review


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Coolpad entered the Indian market late last month with the Dazen X7 and the Dazen 1. In this review, we’ll be focusing on the Dazen X7. At a price of Rs 17,999, the phone is going head to head with two very reputed smartphones, the Xiaomi Mi4 and the OnePlus One. We will be letting you know our detailed impressions during our time with the phone and let you know whether or not it puts up a good fight with the other two.

Unboxing

We have already done the unboxing of the Coolpad Dazen X7. If you wish to view it, do watch the video below.

The contents of the box are:

  • Coolpad Dazen X7 smartphone in Titanium White color
  • 2-pin charger (5V-1A)
  • Micro USB cable
  • SIM ejector tool
  • User guide and warranty card

Design, Materials and Build Quality

The first thing you notice when you see the Dazen X7 is its similarity to Sony smartphones. The X7 makes you reminiscent of the first generation Sony XPERIA Z smartphone. The X7 has a similar industrial design, comes in White color and has glass on both sides. The sides of the smartphone also are quite flat like the earlier phones in the Z series. There is a small ridge in between though since both the halves sort of raise up together to join at the center. The X7 does feel quite heavy and that adds to the smartphone’s premium feel. It doesn’t feel too heavy that you feel uncomfortable handling it but just enough to make it feel solid. The sides however would’ve been better if they were rounded as your hands do kind of hurt a bit if you are holding the phone for long durations. The ridge in the middle that we mentioned earlier does help minimize the effect but it is still apparent.

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The device looks really similar to the Z series of phones save for the earpiece which kind of looks out-of-place and cheap due to the fake chrome finish. Below the earpiece, you have the front facing 8 Megapixel camera along with the usual set of sensors. Up front, you also have the 5.2″ full HD SuperAMOLED display which also has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. The Gorilla Glass 3 does a good job at protecting the phone from scratches. While it does look good, the phone is actually quite big in terms of surface area. In fact, it is bigger than the XPERIA Z3 as well which has a similar sized screen. The bigger bezels become more apparent due to the sides which are mostly flat. Despite the Z3 being thicker, the rounded edges make it easier to grip than the Dazen X7. The sides of the Dazen X7 aren’t slippery but aren’t as comfortable to grasp the phone with. The build quality of the phone is really solid especially due to the metal sides.

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At the right side, you have the power/lock key along with the Dual-SIM card slots. One is a microSIM slot while the other is a hybrid nanoSIM slot that also doubles up as a microSD card slot when needed.

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On the left side, we have the volume rocker key which like the power/lock key is made of metal and feels good to press. It offers satisfying clicks and good feedback when pressed.

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At the top, we have the 3.5mm audio jack as well as the secondary microphone.

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The bottom looks very similar to the iPhone in terms of design. You have the microUSB port here as well as the loudspeaker. What appears to be a second loudspeaker is actually a dummy grille which actually houses the primary microphone.

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The back is also flat and is made of glass. There is a nice dotted pattern beneath the glass that reflects under certain angles. The 13 Megapixel camera is here as well along with the Dual-tone LED flash. The entire unit is raised quite a bit so do be careful when placing your phone on a surface as it can cause scratches. The camera lens itself will be fine as that is recessed. But the metal portion surrounding it could potentially get scratched. The device will be available in Champagne Gold as well as Titanium White colours. We have the White colour variant in our office. The only difference between the two is the colour of the metal accents and sides. On the Gold variant it is Gold and on the Titanium version it is silver.

Screen

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The Dazen X7 has a 5.2 inch SuperAMOLED display with 1080p resolution and it performs really well. We loved the contrast and the vibrant colours that it produced. The brightness is more than sufficient for both indoors as well as outdoors under direct sunlight. The display is a bit reflective so it does hamper the outdoor performance a bit but the brightness and good contrast ratios makes up for it. The screen feels good to use and the Gorilla Glass 3 does a good job at protecting the display from getting scratched. In our time with the device, we didn’t really have any scratches occurring due to daily use cases.

Since there are no capacitive navigation keys, the Dazen X7 makes use of on-screen navigation keys but considering the 5.2 inch display size, you should still have ample space for the rest of your content on the screen. We wish the bezels of the device had been slimmer and that the black borders around the screen weren’t present. If they weren’t there, the display would’ve looked even better. The sharpness of the screen is quite good and we didn’t observe any issues with pixelation when reading or otherwise.

Software and Performance

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The Coolpad Dazen X7 runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box with their very own Cool UI 6 layer on top of it. Despite running on KitKat, the navigation keys have received special treatment to look like the device is running on Lollipop. Like other UIs from Chinese manufacturers such as Lenovo, Meizu etc, the Dazen X7 also lacks an app drawer. However if you do want one, you can install any 3rd party launcher.

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The lockscreen looks quite good and has shortcuts for your dialer, messages as well as camera at the bottom. It shows you the time and date as well as the battery and cell reception data. The homescreen contains all your app shortcuts over a number of screens. If you don’t like too many screens and apps cluttering them, you can choose to group them together into folders as well. The phone comes with a lockscreen shortcut that essentially locks the phone and brings up the lockscreen. You also get a rock wallpaper shortcut icon which basically changes your wallpaper randomly when you press it after showing you some animations.

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Pulling down the notification bar gives you a list of toggles as well as the brightness slider. Overall the UI is quite similar to any other Android phone. There is some customisation in terms of looks but the overall functionality remains pretty much the same. We would’ve preferred to have Lollipop running on the device out of the box especially since it claims to be the flagship model for Dazen and also considering the time of release. But then again the Xiaomi Mi 4 doesn’t have Lollipop either and only the OnePlus One has received the update to Lollipop. We hope that they do release an update soon preferably directly to Android 5.1 Lollipop.

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What is good is the multi-tasking screen/recent apps screen which also offers users a few quick toggles along with a brightness slider. You can choose to close one app at a time or click on the ‘X’ mark which will kill all apps that are currently running. The phone performed well in our day-to-day activities. We didn’t really have any issues with the phone heating up or hanging. It did get hot when we were running benchmarks or charging the device but other than that it was pretty fine. Below are some of the benchmark tests that we performed on the device. If you want to see the full list of benchmarks, you can do so by checking this post.

Coolpad Dazen X7 Quadrant Benchmark

Coolpad Dazen X7 AnTuTu 5

 

Calling, Messaging and Connectivity

Call quality is pretty good on the earpiece and thanks to the secondary noise cancelling microphone, your speech is also clearly audible by the party at the other end. The volume is also good enough for most situations. The loudspeaker however lacks volume especially in noisy environments and even the clarity seemed a bit poor at times. We also tried connecting the phone over Bluetooth for calls and the call quality was quite good. We didn’t face any issues with call drops and the phone is quite good at picking up the cell signal. The dialer app has three tabs – one for the dial pad, one for contacts and a third one for favs. The dialpad is well spaced and easy to read. You can use it to enter a number or search for a contact. You can then make a call using shortcut for either of the SIMs or choose to save it as a contact onto your phone, SIM or Google account.

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Messaging is good on the 5.2″ screen thanks to the large screen estate. It comes pre-loaded with Google Keyboard which is quite user-friendly and something that most of you will be familiar with. If you aren’t a fan of Google Keyboard, you are free to install and use any other 3rd party keyboard of your liking. Typing on the phone is fine in portrait mode but does feel a bit difficult to get used to typing in landscape mode primarily due to the large bezels at the top and bottom.

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The Dazen X7 supports 4G LTE connectivity as well as two SIM cards, a nanoSIM and a microSIM. The nanoSIM slot can also function as a microSD card slot when needed. Of course, you lose one SIM slot but it helps even if you want to urgently backup your data to a microSD card especially when you don’t have access to a computer. It is better to have an option rather than to not have it at all. The phone managed to mount a 64GB microSD card without any issues. The phone supports all the Wi-Fi standards including the latest ac standard as well as Wi-Fi a/b/g/n. There is 16GB of on-board storage and users can even connect external flash drives, hard disk and other peripherals using USB OTG. Out of 16GB of storage, the user gets around 10.49GB of free space at his/her disposal.

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Music and Audio Quality

The quality of sound through earphones or headphones is pretty decent. The volume is more than sufficient and the highs and lows are quite audible. Thanks to the 3.5mm audio jack, you can plug-in any of your earphones without any hassle. There is slight stereo crosstalk and distortion at higher volume levels but not too noticeable. The quality and loudness through the speaker is quite poor though and it can hardly be considered as a good source for listening to music especially in a noisy environment.

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The smartphone makes use of Google’s Play Music app for accessing and playing music. You can access both songs on the cloud as well as local songs on your device’s storage. The tracks can be grouped according to genre, album, artists or song titles. It is pretty much the same Play Music app available to all other Android phones. Nothing special to see here.

Camera

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The Dazen X7 has a 13 Megapixel camera with the Sony IXM 214 sensor and an f1.8 aperture. The camera renders quite good details and the colours are quite vivid without risking being too artificial. The white balancing is good too but the photos tend to be a bit underexposed generally. The dynamic range is also a bit less and that’s where the HDR mode really comes into play. In a way the HDR mode does give more vivid and brighter images but it overexposes the highlights in such a way that it looks almost pure white. It does work at time while at time it doesn’t work. When it does, you get some good photos. If you see the photos below, you will understand what we are talking about. The image on top is the regular photo and the one on bottom is the HDR one. What is good however is that there is hardly any noise on the photos.

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Here are a few more samples from the Dazen X7 camera. You can click on any of the images to view the full resolution image.

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And here are two samples from the back camera and the front camera respectively. You can see that the front camera doesn’t renders as much detail and the image is softer on the whole. However for most occasions and selfies, the camera does well especially if sharing on social networks is your final objective.

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Overall the camera quality is pretty good and while it isn’t the best in the league, it still does a fairly good job. This applies to both the front as well as rear cameras. The camera UI is quite basic. You have the shortcuts for the flash toggle or the camera switch on the left/up based on your phones orientation. On the other side, you have the shutter key, filter key as well as the shutter/video key. There are 3 modes namely photo,video and pro. Pro mode allows the user to set the shutter speed and ISO levels.

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You have several modes to choose from including HDR, PIP (picture in picture), all in focus, refocus etc. The user can choose to set a timer to auto-take the picture, enable/disable touch to capture, add location etc as well.

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The video quality is pretty good. At the maximum resolution of 1080p, it manages to capture good detail at 30 fps. The colours are quite good too but despite packing OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), the videos are really shaky. The implementation has not been done well and it seems to have a warp like effect when moving. You can check the video quality in the video below.

Battery Life

Coolpad Dazen X7 FA One Charge Rating

The Coolpad Dazen X7 achieved a One Charge rating of 8 hours and 41 minutes. The battery life isn’t as good as the Mi 4 which achieved a One Charge rating of 9 hours and 47 minutes. The OnePlus One has a One Charge rating of 10 hours and 12 minutes, which is the best out of the three and the X7 is way behind the OnePlus One and marginally behind the Mi 4. It won’t last a heavy user a full day of use but an average user might be able to manage a day. Since the 2700 mAH battery is non-removable, you are limited to recharging your phone either with a power bank or using a wall socket. It will also take a while for it to fully charge your phone as fast-charging isn’t supported. Despite being bundled with DRAM (Display RAM) technology that Coolpad claims will improve battery life, we feel that it disappoints to perform well under real life conditions. Check out the complete set of battery life test results here.

Conclusion

Overall the Coolpad Dazen X7 is a pretty decent phone. However it is priced at Rs 17,999 which is in the same league as the Xiaomi Mi 4, OnePlus One (although the 64GB variant is pricier) and even the Zenfone 2. That’s where the problem lies. There is nothing that I can think of that gives the Dazen X7 an advantage over its competitors. It may match the competition in some aspects but the others beat this out in many aspects. So I wouldn’t really the recommend the phone to you over the other ones that I’ve mentioned above among which the OnePlus One is still one of my favorites nearly a year after its launch. Had the device been cheaper, I would’ve perhaps recommended it. Hopefully Coolpad decide to slash the prices soon. The only reason you would probably want to get it is to stand out and have something that is a bit rarer to find. If you want it, you can get it for Rs 17,999 on exclusively on Snapdeal however I would recommend thinking it over properly before making the dive.

Pros

  • Good Camera
  • Brilliant Display
  • Solid Build Quality
  • Decent Audio Quality

Cons

  • Feeble Speaker
  • Bulky and Non-erognomic Design
  • Average Battery Life
  • Bad OIS Implementation (Especially on Videos)
  • Pricey

Siraj and Srivatsan contributed to this review


Author: Sandeep Sarma

Sandeep Sarma is a blogger and a freelance photographer. Apart from gadgets and phones, he also has a passion for movies and cars. He currently uses the S7 Edge as his main phone. Catch him on twitter at @sandeep9sarma