Coolpad Quattro 4G review: Bad battery life and old specs
At a Glance
If you've never lived in China, then chances are you've never heard of smartphone maker Coolpad. The company, which is a major mobile player across the Pacific (Coolpad outsells Apple there by a wide margin), hopes to make the jump to the United States with the Quattro 4G ($79 contract-free from metroPCS as of 10/2/2012), its first smartphone offering here. Though the phone has speedy 4G LTE and a good-sized 4-inch display, the Quattro 4G's clunky feel, outdated operating system, and poor camera won't make Coolpad a household name here any time soon.
On the top of the phone is where you'll find the Quattro 4G's power button and 3.5mm headphone jack, while the microUSB charging port is located on the bottom of the device. It may seem small, but the absence of an external notification and charging light was a big letdown for me. Volume control is on the left side of the phone, and there is a camera button on the bottom-right which is convenient for taking photos.The Quattro 4G weighs in at just 3.32 ounces, but its bulky 5 by 2.6 by 0.51-inch dimensions mean you'll still definitely feel this phone in your pocket. The 4-inch, 480 by 800 pixel display is big and bright, but I actually thought the plastic-y look and feel of the touchscreen took away a considerable amount of sharpness and detracted from the overall quality of the display. The phone feels sturdy enough, but the device's largely plastic construction makes the entire thing feel extremely cheap.
The Quattro 4G's speedy data connection makes browsing the internet and streaming videos a pleasant experience, and if you're upgrading from a phone with 3G data, the LTE on the Quattro 4G will be a noticeable and overdue upgrade. Using the FCC-approved Ookla Speed Test app, I recorded an average download speed of 1.05 megabits per second and uploads at 1.29mbps on metroPCS' LTE network in San Francisco. But, while I was satisfied with the Quattro 4G's data speeds, the phone's other specs left me wanting: A middle-of-the-road single core TI OMAP3 1GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM leave the phone feeling slow when it comes to navigating around its OS.
Apps like Temple Run and Netflix, however, had no trouble running on the device, and the phone launched most apps in a timely manner.
The Quattro 4G's 1600 mAh battery struggled to keep up with the demanding 4G data connection—you won't get a full day's use out of this battery, period. In my hands-on tests, the battery was completely drained after a little over three hours of streaming videos, browsing the web and testing apps. Even with light usage, I expect you'll want to carry around a spare charger or battery to ensure that the phone doesn't go completely dead in the middle of the day.
Call quality over the metroPCS network in San Francisco was quite good. I didn't drop any calls in my testing and I couldn't hear any static or hissing on the line.
It seems silly that a phone released this late in 2012 ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but Coolpad clearly disagrees. An update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is always possible, but with just 512 MB of RAM, I'm not even sure the phone could handle a more demanding operating system.
You'll find lots of apps with names like Metro411, myMetro and M Studio preinstalled on the Quattro 4G, but luckily the majority of them can be easily removed. Other non-metroPCS apps like Rhapsody, IntoNow and Yahoo Answers ship with the phone as well, but those can be quickly uninstalled too. It seems the only apps metroPCS has locked on the phone are its App Store, myMetro, a browser and a Wi-Fi app, to go with a few Google apps like Gmail and the Play Store.
Internal storage is practically nonexistent on the Quattro 4G, which comes with a trivial 133 MB. Luckily, the back cover slides off fairly easily to reveal a microSD slot which you can use to add up to 32GB of storage. The 4-inch screen and the phone's LTE speeds make it a good video player, and I was able to stream videos from YouTube and Netflix with no trouble at all. The speakers have the quality you'd expect from small smartphone speakers, and aren't the best for playing back audio . I heard a faint buzzing in the background when using headphones, and though it wasn't too noticeable with music playing, it's sure to be enough to make audiophiles head for the hills.
If you care about the way your pictures look, you need not consider the Quattro 4G. The 3.2-megapixel camera often produced images that looked foggy and lacked detail. The white balance also seemed erratic at times, giving me vastly different looking photos that were taken only taken seconds apart. The phone does have a front-facing camera for video chatting, a nice feature to have if you're into making video calls. The phone's camera records 640 by 480 video, which looked choppy and suffered from the same white balance issues as the still camera.
Coolpad's first mobile offering here in the United States was disappointing to say the least. The phone's dated specs put it at a significant disadvantage when it comes to running process intensive applications, and—while Gingerbread is a decent OS—it lacks the shine and functionality of Ice Cream Sandwich. At $79 the Quattro 4G is still a bargain, but you really do get what you pay for.