Coolpad has tasted success in India with most of its budget offerings. In fact, all of its smartphones fall in the sub-Rs 10,000 range. The only exception is the Cool 1 that the company designed in partnership with LeEco and launched recently. And they all carry beefier specs for the price tag. Coolpad Mega 3, though, is not such a phone.
With the Mega 3, the top attraction that the company is offering is the support for three SIM cards. Now, it may sound a little preposterous but actually with free Jio around, it does make sense for a lot of people to go with a phone that has support for three SIM cards.
At Rs 7,000, Mega 3 is a budget device, built along the lines of Coolpad’s most successful smartphone — Note 3. But does it offer similar performance and Android experience or you would need to trade in with some of that for a privilege to run an extra SIM? Let’s find out.
Coolpad has overhauled the design of Coolpad Mega 3 compared to its predecessor the Mega 2.5D. This phone looks more like the Note 3 and not its predecessor. In fact, it looks like a bigger Coolpad Note 3.
So, if you are upgrading from your old Note 3 to the Mega 3, there is nothing new for you in terms of looks. The Mega 3 keeps the same old design having a golden accent around the front but just with a bigger screen and with only one stark difference — a striped back. There are same unlit touch keys below the display but the fingerprint sensor is kicked out.
The striped back may make the ergonomics better, something you would anyways need on a 5.5-inch smartphone. But I feel it is kind of odd to look at and you will want to wrap it in some funky phone cover. The back cover can be removed to access three micro SIM card slots and one microSD card slot. The battery is non-removable with rated capacity of 3050 mAh.
The Mega 3 also feels rather more plasticky and bulky compared to the Note 3. But Coolpad follows certain build standards as we have seen in most of its previously launched devices and Mega 3 carries on the tradition. Though, its physical keys could have been more tactile.
Compared to its predecessor, the Mega 3 packs a bigger screen, three SIM trays and a bigger battery which in the turns out to be its biggest advantage. But it doesn’t have the metal body the Mega 2.5D had at the same price.
The Mega 3 has a 5.5-inch HD display that has nice viewing angles. Although 720p may not look as sharp as a Full HD (720p) display, this is fairly in line with the price of the phone. In fact, the Mega 3 has an IPS screen that I find among the best in this price range. The colors don’t pop but they are punchy enough. So the blacks are deep and the colors look pleasant.
But not all is good with Mega 3’s screen. Once you move beyond the colours, it has some serious issues. The biggest problem is the touch response. The phone’s touch screen is not as responsive as it was on the Note 3 or even the Mega 2.5D that had the 2.5D curved glass. The finger don’t glide smoothly over the screen glass and you need to use more force to click around and get things done. Not a good experience there.
Secondly, take the phone outdoors and you can’t see a thing. The display has low brightness and is not at all legible under in bright sunlight.
Software and performance
Coolpad runs the Cool UI interface over the Android Marshmallow 6.0 OS. Cool UI is one of the most feature-rich Android skins in the budget segment but not everyone may like that. The interface takes most of its design cues from Apple’s iOS and melts it into Android — something that almost all Chinese phone makers do. There is a control centre — swipe up from the bottom edge similar to how you do it on the iPhone — that has the toggles (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.). All apps reside on the home screen as there is no app drawer and the drop down keeps all the notifications. Although, you can tweak almost every aspect of the interface looks, notifications, apps and app permissions.
Features on the interface part include gesture support — double tap to wake, drawing letters on lock screen to open apps etc — and scroll capture for screen, screen video capture, a one-touch utility app to clear up RAM and cache, and a “Cool Manager” that has an antivirus, ad block app, call blocker and app locker. Phew, lots of features. Some people will find some of these useful, some will feel overbearing and unnecessary.
But like most Android skins, the Cool UI is not as fast and smooth as the stock Android. Moreover, I felt Coolpad shouldn’t have put all the features in there to be carried on the small shoulders of the Mega 3. Its innards aren’t powerful enough to power all of that.The phone uses 1.2GHz Mediatek MT6737 chipset with 2GB RAM, which isn’t an improvement over the previous phone. It can handle light apps and occasional multi-tasking but cannot tackle heavy apps well.
Buy the Coolpad Mega 3 if you got to have all three of your phone connections at one place. But if you don’t, there are much better devices in the market
The phone has 16GB on-board storage which is fine and expandable to 128GB using a micro SD card. The battery capacity is also decent at 3050mAh. But while running three connections, it might not be ample to get you through the day on extensive use with full time 4G internet. A full charge gives about 7 hours of continuous video playback.
The Mega 3 has an 8-megapixel camera both in the rear and front. Though that is an amazing thing if you use your phone frequently for selfies, it may not be good enough for photography enthusiasts.
Although, the rear camera is not all that shabby. It works like an 8-megapixel camera should. The camera captures accurate colors and works well in low light situations, given its price. Its auto focus also worked consistently well in low light, which is quite a big deal at this price. But don’t expect the photos to have a lot of details so you could zoom in and be surprised.
I was surprised with the front camera though, which takes nice selfies. For a front camera on a Rs 7,000 phone, Mega 3 captures a lot of details, and captures them with good colors. It does support HDR on front camera as well, but it of no use as it ruins the color and texture of skin in the photo.
Should you buy?
Coolpad has a number of phones in the Rs 5000-11,000 category and there are generally no good reasons why you should choose one over the other. But that is not the case with Coolpad Mega 3. It comes with its own flaws and does not improve on ones posed by its predecessors. But overall, it doesn’t come close to the experience the Note 3 could offer in the same price.
But having said that, the Mega 3 is also the best phone you can buy to run 3 SIM cards. Not much of a win for the phone considering it is the only one in the ring. But buy the Mega 3 if you got to have all three of your phone connections at one place. But if you don’t, there are much better devices in the market. Xiaomi Redmi 3S would count as a better alternative with a more advanced chipset offering faster performance, easier ergonomics and smoother touch screen.
Coolpad Mega 36.5/10
- Good stuff
- It runs 3 SIM cards
- Nice front camera
- Easy to use, easy to carry
- Bad stuff
- Touchscreen not very responsive
- Some performance lag
- Poor legibility in bright light