Coolpad disrupted the Indian smartphone market back in October last year when they launched the Coolpad Note 3 in the country, priced at Rs 8,999. It offered a fingerprint sensor along with 3 GB of RAM. It was a game changer in terms of specs to value for money ratio. Coolpad India has done it, one again! A smaller variant of the Note 3 dubbed as Coolpad Note 3 Lite was launched this January. It costs just Rs 6,999 (around $100) but still retains 3 GB of RAM and the fingerprint sensor. We have used this compact smartphone for quite sometime now and hence bring you the Coolpad Note 3 Lite Review. Does it have the potential to become the best compact budget smartphone of the year? Let’s find out!
Coolpad Note 3 Lite Review : Hardware & Build Quality
Lets have a look at the overall specifications once again, in case you are not aware of it. It rocks a 5-inch HD IPS display, powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6735 chipset, 3 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage with room for expandable storage (up to 64 GB). It runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop OS with Cool UI 6.0 on top. On the camera front, it packs in a 13 megapixel rear camera along with a 5 megapixel front-facing camera. It supports Dual SIM (4G LTE on both), comes with a fingerprint sensor at the back and rocks a 2,500 mAh battery under the hood.
The Note 3 Lite has a no-nonsense design but looks a lot better than its elder brother because of the fully laminated floating display and the chrome band running around the body. It might not have a metal body but it is sturdy and well-built. The plastics used doesn’t feel cheap and the matte back finish gives it a good grip. It feels very light considering it weighs 142 grams and is 8.9 mm thick. The chrome ring on the rear camera and the fingerprint sensor adds a touch of premium feel, that too at just Rs 6,999.
To give you a tour of this compact smartphone, let’s start from the front top. We have the 5 megapixel front-facing camera on the right, followed by the earpiece on the center and LED notification on the left. Then we have the gorgeous 5-inch HD IPS display that has been fully laminated and appears to be floating. Below it, we have the three physical soft touch buttons that are not backlit. Since, the background is white, they are easily visible. We get the power/unlock button on the right and volume rocker on the left. At the top left, we have the 3.5 mm audio jack. Now, moving on to the back, the secondary microphone sits on top of the 13 megapixel rear camera with the LED flash on its right. The fingerprint sensor sits just below that and is very fast and accurate. At the bottom, there is a Coolpad branding in silver color followed by the speaker grill (60 machine-drilled holes), similar to the Coolpad Note 3. Now, opening up the plastic back cover, the users get access to the SIM card and microSD card slots. We also find the 2,500 mAh battery under the hood, however, you cannot take it out as it’s sealed.
Coolpad Note 3 Lite Review : Display
The Note 3 Lite comes with a compact 5-inch display that has a resolution of 1280 x 720 (HD) pixels. It is a fully laminated IPS display with a pixel density of 294 ppi and 178-degree viewing angle. It does not come with Corning Gorilla Glass protection but does have a similar scratch-resistant glass. Coming to the quality of the display, it is immersive due to the laminated screen and users would love to consume content on it. The color reproduction is very good along with adequate brightness levels. At this budget, it is one of the best display panels out there in the Indian smartphone market. The pixel density might be on the lower side but it performs quite well. There is no issue when it is being viewed under bright sunlight as well.
Coolpad Note 3 Lite Review : Performance & Gaming
The Note 3 Lite comes with the tried and tested quad-core MediaTek MT6735 chipset being clocked at 1.3 GHz. It is accompanied by the Mali-T720 GPU in the graphics department. We have tested the same processor in a lot of smartphones last year and it is certainly a reliable mid-range chipset. Well, it is no different when it comes to the Note 3 Lite. The smartphone is able to handle day-to-day tasks with ease and there is no lag when navigating around the Cool UI. Also, the multitasking performance is comparatively better than any other smartphone in this range, since it comes with 3 GB of RAM. The device does heat with heavy usage that include using the camera, playing games, watching high-definition videos but does not have a ‘heating issue’. The call quality on this phone is good as well along with above average sound output from the speakers. Hence, there is no issue with the performance of this smartphone but do not expect it to perform like a flagship device as well. It will have some occasional frame drops when running multiple and CPU-intensive apps. Fingerprint sensors on most smartphones and phablets are exceptional these days, be it Android or iOS or Windows. Thus, we get a fast and accurate fingerprint sensor on the Coolpad Note 3 Lite as well. It is placed at the back and due to the smartphone being compact, the index finger (any hand) naturally sits on it.
Let’s talk about gaming on this phone. Looking at the price of Rs 6,999, we do not expect the users to expect much in terms of high-end gaming. However, you can play most games on this device at medium settings without any issue. It will not be the best experience but it is certainly better than many other smartphones in this price range, specially due to 3GB of RAM. We were able to play Temple Run 2 and Subway Surfers without any lag and it was a pleasant experience. Hence, it is certainly a great device for occasional gaming.
Coolpad Note 3 Lite Review : Camera
Coming to the camera department, it rocks a 13 megapixel rear camera with LED flash. The camera comes with a f/2.0 aperture, 5p lenses and can record Full HD 1080p videos. It does click sharp, colorful and vibrant images outdoor but is a bit disappointing indoors, despite being equipped with a f/2.0 aperture. Users can take images with the LED flash indoors or in a low lit situation to compensate the noise and grain. The camera UI is not the fastest around but is pretty minimal. We get few modes like Normal, face beauty, HDR, dimlight shot, smile shot, panorama and gesture shot. We also have a Pro mode, where we can set ISO, white balance, exposure and aperture as well. The camera can get better with some software tweaks. However, it is certainly better than the one found on the Coolpad Note 3. We get a 5 megapixel front-facing shooter with 1.4 micron pixels where we can use the face beauty mode to take beautiful selfies. It may not be the best camera smartphone in this price range but will be within the top three positions for sure. The video recording capability of the device is above average.
Coolpad Note 3 Lite Review : Camera Samples
Take a look at the unedited camera samples taken in various lighting conditions.
Coolpad Note 3 Lite Review : Software, Battery Life and Connectivity
It runs on Cool UI 6.0 based on Android 5.1 Lollipop. The UI does not feature any app-drawer like most custom UIs nowadays. It is quite smooth and fluid with no major bugs. Check out our Coolpad Note 3 Review to read the software part in detail.
Check out some screenshots of the Cool UI 6.0.
Now coming to the battery life, we get a 2,500 mAh non-removable battery under the hood. It is above average at best and charging it from 0 to 100 will take around 3 hours, which is really slow. We have to take it as a trade-off considering the price point and other goodies (RAM, fingerprint sensor) Coolpad is offering. An average day of usage will force you to charge the device by the end of night but if you’re a heavy user, do keep the charger with you, as you might need to charge it twice a day.
Talking about connectivity on this phone, we have Dual SIMs and 4G LTE works fine on both of them. It also has the usual WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 LE and GPS. Around 10.5 GB of internal storage is available to the user out of the 16 GB. You can expand it using microSD card and USB OTG pendrives as well.
Coolpad Note 3 Lite Review : Final Verdict
We asked a question at the beginning of our review, “Does it have the potential to become the best compact budget smartphone of the year?”. Well, it does have the potential and according to us it is the best current budget smartphone in the Indian smartphone market. However, this year has just started and we are sure of this segment being more competitive in the near future. The position might be with Coolpad Note 3 Lite at this moment but might get challenged any day, hence, the game is on.
The Coolpad Note 3 Lite is being sold exclusively by Amazon India via flash sales and has been priced at Rs 6,999. The next flash sale is on February 25 and you can register for it here.