Cloudfone Excite 470q Review
The same time last year, the MTK6577 was being phased out by the MTK6589. The MTK6589 had three flavors which catered to the lower-midrange, upper-midrange and high-end devices of Chinese OEM rebranders, like our local mobile phone companies. Performance-wise, it was adequate until 720p resolution and it absolutely bombed at 1080p where playing graphically-intensive games on MTK6589T (top of the line MTK6589, aka "turbo") devices with 1080p screens wasn't viable.
Last year, 5,000 to 7,000 Php got you an MTK6577 device with 512 MB of RAM, usually with a WVGA or qHD display and a 5 to 8 megapixel auto-focus camera. As the demand for better performance ensued, there was sort of a mid-life cycle refresh in the product line of local brands later in the year and they started offering devices with the MTK6589 at lower price points. Unfortunately, many of them had drawbacks you wouldn't associate with an MTK6589 device such as a low quality WVGA display, 512 MB of RAM and even worse cameras, worse than what you'd find on many MTK6577 devices being phased out. In short, it was a sidegrade at best, not an upgrade.
This year, MediaTek doesn't have just one but three line ups to significantly improve the experience held back by performance deficiencies, especially on devices with a higher resolution screen. The MTK6582, MTK6588 and MTK6592 are now phasing out the MTK6589-line in the same areas it used to cover. The expanded SKU provides a greater performance range which allows each SKU to tackle specific price points with better price/performance efficiency. It also increases the price range, but in the case of the MTK6582 being the slowest of the three SKUs, its average selling price is lower than the MTK6589, relegating it to a lower price tier which lowers the BOM (bill of material) for the OEM. Greater performance aside, the screen resolution on phones also appears to have hit a ceiling at 1080p so resolutions at their respective price points will hold for the foreseeable future. This means even greater performance gains at lower manufacturing cost, which may translate as lower cost to the end user. This Cloudfone Excite 470q appears to be a sample of that.
Design and Build Quality
The Excite 470q is practically a rebranded Jiake S820 Plus, and the S820 Plus is more or less a physical copy of the Lenovo S820. To differentiate the Excite 470q from the regular Jiake S820 Plus, there are some cosmetic alterations which include a different loudspeaker grille, more generic design for the capacitive touch keys, and an oblong LED flash. Overall the physical design is almost identical to the Lenovo S820, except for the location of the volume buttons and microphone, and the body's finish. On the Lenovo S820, the volume buttons are located on the right and the microphone is just below the screen. On the Excite 470q and Jiake S820 Plus, the volume buttons are on the left and the microphone is on the bottom of the phone, to the right of the USB port. The Lenovo S820's finish is also matte while it's super glossy on the Excite 470q and Jiake S820 Plus.
The Excite 470q does away with any accents and maintains a curvy, tapered design all throughout. The tapered edges actually makes the overall profile of the phone thinner. Its dimensions are 139.5 x 69.7 x 9 mm, but it's 9 mm thick at its thickest point which is the raised screen. Taking a look at the thickness comparison between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 which are pretty thin phones, the Excite 470q manages to be just about 1 mm shy.
The screen measures 4.7" and is narrower than most 5.0" phones out there. There's a bit of bezel on the Excite 470q because of the tapering, so it physically looks almost as wide as the 5.0" Galaxy S4 which admittedly isn't a fair comparison due to its very thin bezels. But in terms of handling, the tapering makes the Excite 470q feel narrower and easier to handle with one hand as the tapered edges squeeze on the thumb's base while the Galaxy S4 is angular to the edge and has a flat bumper making it less comfortable to use with one hand for extended periods. People with large hands will find the Excite 470q very easy to use with one hand.
Overall ergonomics isn't bad though I wish the volume buttons remained on the right side like on the Lenovo S820 as the typical landscape orientation rests on the left side of the phone where the volume buttons are placed. Some apps won't rest on the right side even if auto-rotate is enabled. The super glossy finish also makes it a bit slippery although the tapered edges will give you a good grip with one hand. The tapering on the screen also makes it easy to slide in and off the screen for apps that have certain gestures which require interacting with the edge of the screen. It should also be noted that the capacitive keys below the screen are not backlit.
The LED notification light isn't very common on lower priced phones and luckily, the Excite 470q has one which can light either red or green to signify certain things such as unread SMS, missed calls, fully charged battery, etc. which can sometimes save you the hassle of having to turn on the display. The slight nudge on the loudspeaker grille is a good design cue as to prevent the loudspeaker from being completely covered while resting on a flat surface. The loudspeaker on the regular Jiake S820 Plus and Lenovo S820 would be completely covered while resting on a flat surface. Lastly, you should also be mindful of the surface you place the phone on as the camera is protruding slightly leaving the lens unprotected.
The entire phone is made out of ABS plastic and the super glossy finish doesn't help much in making it feel less cheap. A matte finish would've provided contrasting textures to enhance feel and appeal as well as reduce the number of fingerprints, because this phone is a huge fingerprint magnet in black. Despite this, it doesn't necessarily feel shoddily built. Although there are a lot of phones that feel more solid, it feels more than solid enough in hand with its 143 grams of weight. Honestly, it doesn't feel any better built than cheaper Samsung phones like the Galaxy S Duos. There are no creaks even when you squeeze the Excite 470q tightly with one hand though the flimsy power button makes a subtle rattling sound when you shake the phone. The saving grace would be the faux glass screen that's ever so slightly rounded and it adds a touch of class to the phone.
The Excite 470q accommodates one regular mini SIM and one micro SIM card. Together with the micro SD card slot, they are not hot-swappable as their insertion points are blocked by the battery.
The Excite 470q comes with a screen protector installed out of the box, just peel the plastic covering off the screen and there should be a screen protector underneath it.
Here is a checklist of what comes inside the box:
- 1x Cloudfone Excite 470q
- 1x 2000 mAh battery
- 1x 1000 mA charger
- 1x USB cable
- 1x Headset
- 1x User's manual
- 1x Warranty card
The Excite 470q is equipped with a 4.7" qHD (960x540) screen that supports 2 point multitouch. Oddly enough, the Excite 470q uses a FocalTech FT5206 touch controller which supports up to 5 point multitouch. I surmise 5 point multitouch can be enabled with a firmware update as it currently uses generic drivers. This was also the case on the Cherry Mobile Titan, where an update was eventually released to enable 5 point multitouch.
The spec sheet also lists that it uses an IPS panel. Seemingly enough, the display appears to use an IPS panel to those with an untrained eye. The viewing angles are good at any angle and the wide color gamut is evident. You'd be forgiven to think it's an IPS because it's uncannily similar. However, I noticed the superior contrast, very mute color grading, minor contrast shift midway when checking the viewing angles and slightly slower response times. I cross examined it with the displays on my various devices. A shot of the sub-pixel structure also shows that true enough, it's one of the more advanced VA-type panels, not an IPS-type. Turns out, the Excite 470q actually uses an AHVA panel.
The mute color note is apparent next to most IPS panels which have boosted saturation, but this underlies the superior contrast on the advanced VA-type panel used on the Excite 470q. It may not completely show in the display contrast test below due to the limitations of my camera and photography skills, but in actuality all the shades of white and black are distinct. There's virtually no white or black crushing on this display. Every single color detail in each pixel is represented succinctly whilst retaining a relatively lush look, even at lower brightness.
Colors are very neutral with color temperature leaning towards cold. Hue and gamma are spot on. Brightness levels are excellent, equaling or besting most phones with an IPS panel. The great contrast level remains at maximum brightness and more importantly, the AHVA panel allows it to maintain that contrast at the lowest brightness setting. However, I feel the screen's brightness should be able to go even lower for better ease of use in pitch black conditions.
To give you an idea, the Excite 470q at lowest (0%) brightness is as bright as my iPhone 5 at 40% brightness and Galaxy S4 at 50% brightness. To match the iPhone 5's already über bright screen at 100% brightness, the Excite 470q only needs to be at 80% brightness. To match the Galaxy S4's not-really-so-bright AMOLED screen at 100% brightness, the Excite 470q only needs to be at 50% brightness. In addition, Excite 470q's brightness at 50% is easily brighter than every phone I've reviewed that uses a TN panel at 100% brightness.
First impression is that it doesn't have the same "pop" as AMOLEDs and most IPS displays. But frankly, some of us like me value and appreciate accuracy more and the Excite 470q's display is quite revealing. Take for instance the default display setting on the Galaxy S4 where blacks are crushed. If you have an image where some adjacent pixels have different shades of black, the detailing as a whole is monotonous on the Galaxy S4's display while each pixel is distinctly of a different shade on the Excite 470q's display.
The downside to this is if you zoom in on lower quality content, the imperfections become more apparent -- not surprisingly since it's quite revealing. On the upside, it's a treat to view high quality visual content on this display despite its not too high resolution.
The Excite 470q's screen isn't OGS, but the gap between the glass and the panel is quite small. The glass layer of the screen tapers as it reaches the edges creating an impression of flushness as well as body. Together with the small gap, it looks and feels just like models with a OGS screen. The glass doesn't seem to have any special treatment applied to it, but it's clear and provides excellent light transmission.
Due to the lack of special treatment on the glass, glare can be a problem in outdoor, sunlit conditions. However, what it lacks in fancy glass it makes up for in sheer brightness. Sunlight legibility is above average for an LCD display at 50% or higher brightness, only being untolerable under very intense, direct sunlight. Setting the brightness to auto under sunlight is advisable. The light sensor poll rate is also fast and gradually and very subtly adjusts brightness in as fast as 1 second.
The 4.7" display's qHD resolution translates to 234 PPI which is fairly sharp considering the screen isn't too big and the great contrast helps in fleshing out the pixels. Desktop webpages are easily readable in landscape mode while fully zoomed out.
Overall, the Excite 470q's display is definitely one of the best in its price range, offering very good color reproduction and accuracy, excellent brightness, good viewing angles, decent sunlight legibility, decent resolution.
Like the Cherry Mobile Fuze I recently reviewed, the Excite 470q is also powered by a MediaTek MTK6582M which has four Cortex A7 cores running at 1.3 Ghz and dual core Mali-400MP graphics running at 416 Mhz. It's also manufactured at 28 nm like all of MediaTek's current offering. The natural comparison would be between the previous gen MediaTek quad core, the MTK6589. As addressed in the Fuze review, the MTK6582-line is noticeably faster than the MTK6589-line in both CPU and GPU performance.
The difference is much bigger in terms of GPU performance, although there's also a sizable gain in CPU performance as the Cortex A7 cores on the MTK6582-line are of the newer r0p3 revision while those on the MTK6589-line are of the older r0p2 revision.
AnTuTu Benchmark 4
Linpack - Single Threaded
Linpack - Multi Threaded
Vellamo - HTML5
Vellamo - Metal
Epic Citadel - High Performance
Epic Citadel - High Quality
Basemark ES 2.0 Taiji
Basemark X 1.1
3DMark - Ice Storm v1.2
GFXBench - T-Rex (Onscreen)
GFXBench - T-Rex (Offscreen, 1080p)
The difference in the number of raw pixels on the Excite 470q also isn't big compared to the Fuze. The Excite 470q's display is 960x540 which is 518,400 pixels while the Fuze's display is 854x480 which is 409,920 pixels. It's only 26.4% more pixels and it isn't enough to make a significant impact in fillrate to create a bottleneck. As a result, gaming performance is almost as fast on the Excite 470q.
The dual core Mali-400MP graphics on the MTK6582M absolutely crushes it at this resolution and it will allow you to play graphically demanding games at higher settings compared to MTK6589 devices and deliver better frame rates at the same time. If there's a lot of headroom to spare (i.e. games that run well over 30 FPS), you can enable anti-aliasing via developer options to smooth out the jaggies and suffer only a minimal hit in performance as the Mali-400 GPU provides generous bandwidth.
Like on the Fuze, I tried my most punishing test on the Excite 470q by running Real Racing 3 on 'extra high' settings via the 'RR3 Graphics' app. Luckily, it's still playable like on the Fuze although the Excite 470q finally succumbed when I threw in anti-aliasing, constantly dipping below 20 FPS in most races. Dialing down to medium settings on most games will provide very smooth gameplay which should delight more hardcore gamers who value speed and response over graphics. In Real Racing 3 on 'medium' settings, frame rates were constantly running at the cap of 50 FPS (since the Excite 470q's refresh rate is 50 Hz) and it was buttery smooth.
To give you an idea how much faster the Mali-400 is compared to the PowerVR SGX544 when it comes to shader performance, the Arc Mobile Memo which has the MTK6589 and a 960x540 display struggles to keep Real Racing 3's frame rates in the upper 20s on 'medium' settings. I had to put it on 'low' on the Memo just to ensure the FPS stays above 30. Since the frame rate is capped at 50 FPS, running games on low settings if available is a very good idea if you want to save battery while gaming since the GPU doesn't have to work too hard.
The Excite 470q also has 1 GB of RAM (972.4 MB to be precise) which should allow you to run any application, including very RAM hungry ones such as graphics benchmarks without it being forcefully closed due to critical RAM levels. Free RAM after a fresh boot is around 600+ MB and should be more than enough for the average user's multitasking. For instance you're having a hard time with a game. You could safely leave your game to check some tips on your browser, change the track on your music player and check your SMS and return to the game you minimized. Or you watch a video on a floating window while you run through your email, SMS, spreadsheets, browser, documents and have several downloads running in the background. There's more than enough RAM for general multitasking.
Lastly, the MTK6582M on the Excite 470q is able to play 1080p60 H.264 content with reasonable bitrate and encoding with its hardware decoder. The hardware audio decoder cannot process beyond stereo audio so multi-channel audio streams like 5.1 will be handled by the software decoder.
1920x800 @ 24 FPS, AVC High Profile L4.1, with CABAC, 3 reference frames
1920x800 @ 24 FPS, AVC High Profile L4.0, with CABAC, 5 reference frames
1920x1080 @ 60 FPS, AVC Baseline Profile L3.0, with CABAC, 1 reference frame
317 Kbps, 6 channel AAC
306 Kbps, 6 channels, AAC
132 Kbps, 2 channels, AAC
Plays via hardware decoder:
Plays via software decoder:
(HW) Has dropped frames:
(SW) Has dropped frames:
The Excite 470q is equipped with an 8 megapixel auto focus camera with single LED flash. The camera sensor used is an Aptina MT9P012 which is a 5 megapixel 1/3.2" FSI sensor with a pixel size of 1.75 µm. Lens aperture is f/2.8 which is pretty much standard fare.
Like most locally branded phones, the phone's camera interface is stock Jellybean where the still shot and video recording modules share the same interface. This means framing video may be a bit tricky since the FOV (field of view) is different when recording video as there is a crop factor where only a portion of the sensor is being used during recording.
The Excite 470q's camera has the most common features you'd expect on a smartphone camera. You can adjust common image properties such as brightness, sharpness, contrast, hue, saturation; change white balance, ISO (100 to 1600), exposure (+/- 3 steps) apply color effects/filters. There's also face detection that automatically tracks faces that enter the viewfinder and ZSD (zero shutter delay) that captures the image the moment the shutter is pressed. Without the ZSD option enabled, I measured shutter lag to be between 400 and 550 ms in decent lighting depending how quickly the auto focus disengages, though I find the auto focus to be relatively fast in decent to good lighting.
While the camera has auto focus, I'm stumped that there are no options to adjust metering. The default metering option is center weighted average which is also retained even if you touch a point on the viewfinder to focus. Taking pictures against harsh light and softening outside the focal point can be problematic with this metering.
Shooting options include panorama, which can done from left to right or up to down and vice versa; face beauty, which does additional post-processing specifically to enhance facial features when it detects a face; smile shot, which automatically shoots a picture when it detects a smiling face on the viewfinder; EV bracket shot, which generates several shots at different exposure values; and best shot mode which does additional post-processing on the shot to make it look better though I found the post-processing applied by the Excite 470q is minimal. HDR shot mode is also available although the shutter lag to initiate the HDR shot is a bit lengthy at 800 to 900 ms while the delay between the low and high range shot varies from 150 to 400 ms. It's also advisable to disable ZSD when using HDR to prevent defocus softening.
I also noticed a weird bug involving ZSD and night mode where night mode wouldn't work properly if ZSD isn't enabled. After some inspection, I found that the zero shutter lag is achieved on the Excite 470q's camera by initiating a rolling shutter where the sensor runs at full sweep 15 FPS. The global shutter when ZSD is disabled appears to limit the exposure time so night mode cannot be engaged properly since the typical night mode implementation on Android cameras involve longer exposure times to capture more light.
Interestingly, it also appears that enabling ZSD on auto mode improves picture quality on the Excite 470q because the raw sensor readout is immediately sent to the ISP, devoid of any processing. You are still able to do everything normally with ZSD enabled, including focusing. Resolved detail up close is better defined with ZSD enabled, most likely because of the rolling shutter allows the photodiodes to maintain a full-well capacity at all times. The images are also slightly soft as a result of the interpolation from 5 megapixels, so it's best to set sharpness to 'high' within the camera. It's better to apply the additional sharpness at this stage because it's the ISP that's applying both the sharpness and interpolation on the raw data, so details are better preserved.
In good lighting, the Excite 470q can take relatively sharp shots with decent detail and acceptable noise on auto mode with ZSD enabled with plenty of ease, even when there are moving objects. I just wish there was an option to enable encoding with JPEG 100% for reduced compression artifacts and better detail as there is smudging at the micro detail level. Shots taken by the Excite 470q weigh in around 1 MB which is pretty small for 8 megapixel images.
For those who wish to manually control their camera, images in good lighting have a sweet spot at ISO 200, while ISO 400 is great for just decent or artificial/indoor lighting. Anything higher is almost unusable as the details are noticeably reduced at ISO 800 regardless of lighting. I'd say use ISO 800 or 1600 as a last resort when you really must capture something in very low light. To be honest though, in good lighting, auto mode with ZSD enabled simply takes better shots.
In true low light conditions, things suddenly go downhill. The main problem is that pictures end up either too dark or too bright. The relatively large 1.75 µm pixels makes the camera shine in good lighting, but the FSI architecture, f/2.8 aperture and limited exposure time in auto mode ensures that not enough light is being captured in low light in auto mode. You end up with an image that's filled with crushed blacks.
Enabling night mode with ZSD allows the exposure times to go as long as 1/5 second. The problem is night mode also artifically increases brightness (within the ISP) and the accompanying problem is that the sensor also increases sensitivity. As this is an FSI sensor where the circuitry sits atop the silicon in the photodiode stack, the threshold is low and crosstalk and diffraction become a problem and SNR drops significantly if exceeded. When taking shots with the said configuration, light sources appear to "blind" or overwhelm the sensor easily -- and it isn't just overexposure I'm talking about. I wish the sensitivity increase was toned down so the camera can produce a cleaner image.
The flash also doesn't help much as its strength is below average. It's bright enough to be used as a torch, but considering the low light deficiency of the camera you won't be able to take usable shots in very low light conditions. With some light though, the flash will allow you to take usable shots of subjects up to 1 meter distance with night mode and ZSD enabled.
Lastly, the Excite 470q is surprisingly decent at macro shots, being able to focus on subjects as close as 5 inches away.
Please note that all images aside from the low light shots were taken on auto mode with ZSD enabled and sharpness set to 'high'.
Excite 470q Sample Shots (Good lighting)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Excite 470q Sample Shots (Low light, Auto mode)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Excite 470q Sample Shots (Low light, Night mode)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Excite 470q Sample Shots (LED flash + Night mode)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Excite 470q Sample Shots (Macro)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Excite 470q Sample Shots (HDR)Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Excite 470q is able to record videos at 1080p25 (1920x1088 to be precise). Videos are encoded in H.264 with a variable bitrate up to 17 Mbps while the audio is encoded in AAC with a constant bitrate of 128 Kbps. The framerates are steady at 25 FPS in decent to good lighting though they drop significantly in low light conditions as can be seen in my sample video below. For those expecting industry average 1080p video from well-known brands, the Excite 470q may disappoint as the overall quality is more representative of 720p -- and from the looks of the video it does look more like a 720p capture from the sensor upscaled to 1080p in the ISP. Compression artifacts smudge any fine detail and the moire and additional sharpness muddy up the image. Given the phone's price though, very few phones will perform better in decent to good lighting. You can also tap the viewfinder to change the focal point while recording.
It's a whole another story though in low light as the fixed shutter in video recording mode again stresses out the camera's inherent deficiency in low light. Videos shot in low light are filled with crushed blacks which makes them unusable. A minute of 1080p footage ('Fine' setting) will consume about 120 MB in good lighting where bitrate is up.
Below are video recording samples taken by the Cloudfone Excite 470q:
Sample 1 (outdoor):
Sample 2 (low light):
Sample 3 (indoor):
Here's the lowdown on the Cloudfone Excite 470q's camera:
- Average still shots in decent to good lighting, with decent sharpness and detail around focal point. Very fine detail is smudged due to compression, but otherwise performs better than most competing phones in this price bracket. More than good enough for small prints and web use.
- Above average macro shooting.with generous shooting distance (up to 5 inches close). Can also make a usable bokeh for creative emphasis.
- Below average 1080p video recording in decent to good lighting with steady framerates and lacking in fine detail. Still better than most competing phones in this price bracket, many of which cannot even shoot in 1080p or maintain steady framerates.
- Poor low light performance for both stills and videos. Extreme black crushing in both still shots and videos makes them unusable. Night mode in still shot mode make produce usable shots, but it's normally too aggressive in very low light conditions creating unwanted artifacts.
- Below average LED flash combined with the camera's inherent low light deficiency makes it impossible to take decent shots in pitch black conditions.
Lastly, the front-facing camera is VGA (0.3 megapixels) only and upscales still shots to 1.2 megapixels. It's advised to use the front-facing camera in decent to good lighting.
The Excite 470q is equipped with a 2000 mAh battery and I believed that it would at least outperform both the MyPhone A919i and Cherry Mobile Omega HD. When the tests were over though, I came out disappointed. So I decided to see what was consuming what. Not surprisingly, the extremely bright screen eats up more battery than the chipset itself at full load.
I wish I had a spectrophotometer or colorimeter so I can calibrate brightness to a fixed level on the devices across my reviews for a far more accurate assessment. Take for instance Cherry Mobile Life which did great in my battery tests. In terms of relative brightness, the Excite 470q at 20% brightness is actually as bright as the Life at 100% brightness.
The following are the test conditions for the three tests. Note that brightness is set to 30% for all tests and that the battery has been calibrated prior to testing:
- Looping video - a 1 1/2 hour 480p XVID/H.263 video is played on loop until the battery level reaches below 20%. Hardware decoding is used for the video and software decoding is used for audio. Earphones are plugged and volume is set to maximum.
- 3D gaming - a graphics-intensive 3D game is run on loop until the battery level reaches 15%. Built-in loudspeaker is used and volume is set to 50%.
Battery Test - Results
5 hours 5 minutes
4 hours 46 minutes
2 hours 9 minutes
I'm seriously starting to question the efficiency of the MediaTek MTK6582M chipset. To be honest, the Cherry Mobile Fuze actually performed below par considering the size of its battery (4000 mAh). It scored 13.5 hours in my looping video playback test, which doesn't look that good when you consider the Cherry Mobile Burst 2.0 with its 2000 mAh battery did 10 hours. Yes, the Burst 2.0's screen at 30% brightness is dimmer than the Excite 470q at 0% brightness, but still. I actually decided to repeat the looping video battery test on the Excite 470q at 0% brightness and only got half an hour of additional playback time. I even called in a favor from a friend who owns a MyPhone Cyclone to do the looping video battery test. Note that the Cyclone also has a MTK6582M and a 2000 mAh battery, but a 5.0" qHD IPS screen. The Cyclone was already at 44% battery at the 4 hour mark and the trajectory on the battery meter was pretty even, so at 20% battery it would have lasted about 5.5 hours at most which is only slightly better than the Excite 470q's 5 hours 5 minutes.
Despite my issue with the MTK6582M in action, the standby time is good, losing just 1% overnight while an hour of music playback with IEMs on should cost just 5%. For actual usage time, between 3 to 4 hours of screen time is doable on a charge with a single SIM. On my usual usage pattern, at 50% battery I net between 1 hour 40 minutes and 2 hours of screen time. That includes at least 30 minutes of browsing with 3G data connection, a few texts, a call or two and two hours of music playback with IEMs. Screen brightness is set to 0% indoors and on auto mode elsewhere.
Charging times with the stock 1A charger are a bit slow and I have doubts about how much amperage it's actually providing. It takes a little over 3 hours to fully charge the Excite 470q with the stock charger from 20% battery while it only takes 2 hours on my high quality 1.3A charger, a genuine Nokia AC-50U.
Battery Test - Looping VideoClick thumbnail to view full-size
Battery Test - Wifi browsingClick thumbnail to view full-size
Battery test - 3D gamingClick thumbnail to view full-size
For the rating of audio quality, I will go by the following rubrics:
- Dynamic range - this determines how well the source is able to reproduce varying differences of sound, particularly their degree of quietness and loudness. How clearly a ringing of a cymbal and the boom of a drum is heard and how well-defined each is defined by how high the range is. Perceptibly, this governs the clarity of both low and high frequencies, and sound stage.
- Power output - this determines how much power the source is able to provide to your equipment (i.e. earphones and headphones). The better the power output of your source, the higher the resistance of the equipment you can use on your phone without suffering detail loss, in which event you will be forced to use an external amp. In my ratings, 4 stars defines that the phone is able to provide adequate power with only some detail loss to equipment with a resistance of up to 64 ohms, provided that distortion is also 4 stars. Perceptibly, higher power output allows you to lower preamp in the equalizer for cleaner detail. It also governs bass impact.
- Stereo Crosstalk - this determines how much leakage or interference is occurring between the left and right audio channels. Lower stereo crosstalk means more accurate sound from their respective channels and less mixing. In my ratings, 4 stars defines a low enough stereo crosstalk to provide a soundstage that only suffer minimal distortion when several instruments play simultaneously. Perceptibly, a better stereo crosstalk rating provides less distortion in poorly mixed tracks and to a lesser degree, affects how wide and defined the sound stage is.
- Distortion - this determines how much power can be delivered by the source without altering the signal. In my ratings, a better distortion rating perceptibly means your phone can playback at higher volume without suffering detail loss through distortion. In my ratings, 4 stars defines that the phone is able to play at 9/10 of the volume bar with minimal detail loss.
- Noise - not to be confused with SNR (signal-to-noise ratio), noise in my rubrics simply defines how clean the signal is when the frequency is at rest, or perceptibly how much hissing there is when there is quietness. In my ratings, 4 stars defines that there is virtually no hissing when there is silence in the track during playback.
This is how the Cloudfone Excite 470q does against phones I have or have reviewed before:
When it comes to output, the Excite 470q is quite limp because its power output is not particularly strong and it suffers some distortion at maximum volume for loud tracks. However, it boasts impressive dynamic range that noticeably elevates soundstage and imaging on gear that emphasizes these qualities. i.e. most balanced armature IEMs. It's sonically rather flat, neutral and slightly warm which makes picking out details in music enjoyable on this phone. My only caveat with this is they traded bass impact for much better soundstage which may leave bass addicts feeling thin, though I personally don't find this a problem as the bass is smooth and detailed.
Due to possible distortions at maximum volume, subtractive EQing is recommended especially on sensitive gear. The power output should be enough for most IEMs and smaller, lower impedance headphones (40 mm or smaller drivers and impedance of lower than 48 ohms). For those that like their volume deafeningly loud, the Excite 470q won't suffice unless you attach a portable amp. But for those that don't mind listening at lower volumes with less demanding gear and enjoy nitpicking details in the music with a large soundstage, it will suffice as a replacement for common dedicated audio players like the iPod.
Lastly, the 3.5 mm port on this phone is OMTP-compliant, which means newer headsets (earphone/headphone with mic) which follow the CTIA-standard will not work.
There's a 4 GB ROM on the phone, of which 2.73 GB is usable. To bypass the small storage for apps, normally you'd either have to swap the internal and micro SD card mounts by modifying the vold.fstab, or use an app like FolderMount to be able to put large app data on the micro SD card -- and both these methods require rooting. Thankfully, the Excite 470q is just like the Cherry Mobile Fuze where the micro SD card is already mounted as 'sdcard0' on the system. This means the phone sees the micro SD card as the default write disk and any extraneous data needed by apps will automatically go to your micro SD card -- not the phone's actual internal storage. Now the user isn't limited by the phone's internal storage for apps, which has been a common complaint for many users of locally-branded Android phones.
The call quality on the Excite 470q is unexpectedly good, being able to fend off overwhelming background noise with ease which allows the person on the other end to hear you clearly. There doesn't appear to be any secondary microphone for noise cancellation, but it still works well in very noisy environments without the need to cover the mic and your mouth. The earpiece also has good volume so hearing the person you're talking to is equally easy in a noisy environment. The loudspeaker is reasonably loud, not alarmingly loud. Chances are you won't hear it in a noisy environment like the supermarket or down the road.
Wifi performance on the Excite 470q is average, with average range and average pickup when faced with physical obstructions such as wall. Nothing outstanding and nothing terrible. Wifi pickup is strong and stable as long as you aren't too far and don't have too many walls in the way.
For GPS performance, the Excite 470q unfortunately has a bug with its GPS. Even with preloaded EPO data, the phone is unable to lock-in to any satellites in sight. Location services required by apps will still work with wifi or 3G though. I have also contacted Cloudfone regarding this matter and they've informed me that an update will be released to fix this.
I had high hopes that the Cloudfone Excite 470q would be a jack of all trades. In a sense, it is. It manages to remain competitive or better than the best phones within its price bracket in several key areas. I identify this price bracket to be between 4,000 and 6,000 Php as the Excite 470q sits right smack in the middle. These key areas are performance, display and camera.
In terms of performance, the MTK6582M and 1 GB of RAM is currently the best in its price range, offering more than enough grunt to run through the latest games and apps with ease. As for the display, the 4.7" qHD AHVA screen is beautiful and very bright and easily competes with IPS-equipped competitors. The camera is also capable in decent to good lighting conditions and is a big step up from cameras on Android phones in the 4,000 Php price range.
All is not perfect though as the low light performance on the main camera and the VGA front facing camera can be a deal breaker for some, and the battery isn't very good either. To be fair, the battery performance actually isn't much worse than competing MediaTek quad core phones with similar battery capacities in this price range. Those that offer better battery life are equipped with a TN panel which doesn't look as good and a MTK6589M which is noticeably slower for gaming. On the other hand, it's clear that the MTK6582M consumes more power than the MTK6589M.
I could argue that going up the price ladder just a bit more can mitigate these deficiencies, although to be honest there aren't any MTK6582 devices with a substantially bigger battery aside from the Fuze. But this is a price sensitive market and having a price tag just below the psychological barrier of 5,000 Php keeps many interested. If I were forced to pony up more dough, I'd be back in the same conundrum as last year. Did things really improve in this price bracket and can I get a completely better phone than last year? Or is this just another sidegrade?
Almost. For 4,999 Php, you get performance similar to a Samsung Galaxy S3, which is a flagship device from 2012; a reliable still shot and video camera during the day, and a display you wouldn't be ashamed to show other people. For that, I believe the Cloudfone Excite 470q is a great bargain and a true upgrade in this price bracket.
+ MediaTek MTK6582M processor and 1 GB of RAM provides best in class performance; very suited for gaming
+ Beautiful 4.7" 960x540 AHVA screen has excellent brightness and contrast as well as good viewing angles
+ Camera offers very usable shots and video in good lighting; big step up from most 4,000 to 5,000 Php Android phones
+ Slim design
+ 4,999 Php only
- Camera has poor performance in low light; videos in low light are almost unusable
- Mediocre battery life
- GPS function does not work (Cloudfone says it'll be fixed by an update)
- Super glossy finish is a fingerprint magnet
Official Cloudfone Excite 470q Specs
4.7" qHD (960x540) IPS capacitive screen
1.3 Ghz MediaTek MTK6582M quad core processor
4 GB ROM
microSD card slot, expandable to 32 GB
1 GB RAM
8.0 megapixel auto focus camera with flash, 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera
2000 mAh battery
Wifi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Wireless Display
Android Jellybean 4.2
SRP: 4,999 Php
Below are select comparisons of alternatives to the Cloudfone Excite 470q. Do note that the alternatives listed below also use the MediaTek MTK6582M.
Cherry Mobile Fuze
Current price: 5,499 Php
The Cherry Mobile Fuze has a 5.0" FWVGA TN screen with very poor viewing angles and a fixed focus still shot camera. Oddly enough, the Fuze's camera does better in low light conditions although it's no match for the Excite 470q in adequate lighting. It's also thicker but better built than the Excite 470q. The most important point of the Fuze is that it has a very big 4000 mAh battery and will easily last twice as long as the Excite 470q because it has a dimmer, lower resolution screen though it is quite bright for a TN display. It also has USB OTG so you can charge other devices and plug in a variety of USB accessories like flash drives, keyboards and mice.
MyPhone Agua Cyclone
Current price: 6,988 Php
Almost a spec doppelganger of the Excite 470q. The Cyclone has a slightly bigger 5.0" qHD IPS screen and a much brighter f/2.0 lens which performs much better in low light and the lower compression (the Cyclone's shots weight around 3 MB) allows for more detailed shots in good lighting. The Cyclone also has USB OTG. However, everything else is pretty much similar including the battery performance. You're basically paying more for a slightly bigger screen, a superior camera with good low light performance and USB OTG.