The market entry barrier for Android is gradually lowering as new technologies penetrate the price chain even further. We recently saw good, inexpensive phones like the Realme C2 (test) and the Redmi 7A (test) that offer decent performance without spending a lot of money. Coolpad is trying to survive in this area with its latest market launch, the Cool 3 Plus.
This phone starts at a relatively low price of only 5,999 rupees and offers a dewdrop display, a fingerprint sensor and a battery of a reasonable size. Given the large number of entry-level Android phones we've tested recently, we don't expect the Coolpad Cool 3 Plus to offer a flawless Android experience, but we hope it is at least good enough for occasional use. Let's see if it can deliver on this front.
Coolpad Cool 3 Plus design
The Cool 3 Plus is light with only 135 g and easy to use thanks to the relatively small display and the thickness of 8.2 mm. All corners are rounded, and despite the glossy back, this phone offers a good level of grip. The Ocean Blue color version we have looks good, but our device caught stains very easily and they are not easy to wipe off. Coolpad tried to get a premium look with the glossy surface, but we're not sure if this worked in its favor.
The 5.71-inch display of the Cool 3 Plus offers an HD + resolution and noticeably thick bezels all around. There is a dewdrop notch at the top, which makes the phone look relatively modern. The upper corners of the display have a much larger curvature than the lower corners. As a result, status bar text and the battery level icon almost touch the edges of the screen.
You get a hybrid dual nano SIM compartment on the left and the Coolpad Cool 3 Plus supports dual 4G VoLTE. The second slot can also be used by a microSD card for memory expansion. With only 32 GB of storage space in the top-end version, we would have preferred a dedicated slot for a microSD card. The power and volume buttons on the right have good feedback and are easy to reach. The speaker and micro USB port are on the bottom, while the 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top.
On the back is a single camera with an LED flash and a fingerprint sensor in the middle. The latter does a good job of authentication and there have been no failed attempts to recognize the finger, but it takes a good second for the screen to wake up. Face detection is also available, but slower and not good in low light.
For a budget phone, you get a decent number of accessories in the box. In addition to the 5W charger and USB cable, you also get a transparent silicone case and a screen protector. However, you do not receive a headset in the box.
Coolpad Cool 3 Plus specifications and software
The Cool 3 Plus is powered by the Quad-Core SoC MediaTek Helio A22, an entry-level processor. We recently saw it in Nokia 2.2 (review). The Cool 3 Plus is available with 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage (for Rs. 5,999) or the version we offer with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage (for Rs 6,499). The connection options of the Coolpad Cool 3 Plus are Bluetooth. Dual-band Wi-Fi; Accelerometer, light sensor and proximity sensor (no gyroscope or compass); USB OTG; FM radio; and GPS.
The Cool 3 Plus uses a customized version of Android 9 Pie. It's a single-layer interface with no app drawer, and you can customize the look of the icons and background with the Themes app. There are also some gestures and shortcuts for navigation, taking screenshots, etc. Some apps like the dialer and SMS app look Android-based, others like the Settings app have been optimized.
One thing that we didn't like so much is that to uninstall an app, long press the corresponding icon, select "app info" and then uninstall it instead of having the "uninstall" option in the pop-up bubble itself The Android security patch on our device dates from April 2019 and is a little out of date.
There are some third-party apps like Opera Mini, Opera News, UC Browser, etc. that can be removed, however. Share apps like Game Booster automatically free up memory and block notifications when you start a game. With Clone, you can create a second instance of an existing app. and there's a Health Guard that keeps track of how often you pick up the phone and how much time you spend on calls. It also offers relaxation exercises for the eyes and neck in case you get tired.
Coolpad Cool 3 Plus performance and battery life
Even with 3 GB RAM in our test device, the Coolpad Cool 3 Plus did not run very smoothly. Small animations and delays often occurred in the animations when navigating through the system menus. Apps didn't load very quickly, mostly because of the limitations of the entry-level SoC. This poor performance is also reflected in the benchmark scores. In AnTuTu, the Cool 3 Plus only reached 65,882 points, while the GFXbench T-Rex test only showed 20 fps. The vibration feedback for typing also feels hard. It is best to switch this off.
The area around the fingerprint sensor gets hot when you use stressful apps like heavy games. We launched PUBG Mobile Lite, which went well and delivered very playable frame rates. A couple of consecutive games with a total duration of around 40 minutes led to a 10% drop in the battery charge level, which is not a bad thing.
The display becomes bright enough for outdoor use, although the ambient light sensor has not always adjusted the brightness precisely when using this phone indoors. The quality of the display is only average and the colors can be a bit subdued. The color scale is also not very wide and color stripes are also visible in some standard phone backgrounds. For this reason, watching videos is not very fun. The speaker sounds soft and doesn't get too loud.
The Coolpad Cool 3 Plus has a 3000 mAh battery, which is not a lot, but is enough to last a whole day with one battery charge. With low to medium usage, we managed to work almost a full day before charging, although using games or cameras takes up a lot of your battery life.
In our HD video battery loop test, the Cool 3 Plus ran 9 hours and 3 minutes, which is frankly not very good. Fast charging is not supported and you will only receive a 5W charger in the package. This allows the phone to charge from zero to 21 percent in half an hour. about 41 percent in an hour; and up to 100 percent in about two and a half hours.
Coolpad Cool 3 Plus cameras
The Cool 3 Plus has a single 13-megapixel rear-view camera with a very narrow aperture of 1: 2.8 and an 8-megapixel front camera with the same aperture. The phone uses autofocus for contrast detection, so it generally takes a while for the focus to be locked in good light. In low light conditions or in bokeh mode, the recording takes much longer.
There doesn't seem to be an HDR implementation that would have caused terrible imbalances in exposure in normal daylight landscapes. The dynamic range is also very poor because darker areas had almost no details and bright areas were often overexposed.
You can enable the camera's AI in the viewfinder, but apart from being able to recognize basic objects and scenes, this hasn't done much to improve the image quality. You can take some useful close-ups if you are patient enough, but the colors look oversaturated again and the details are average.
The camera has a really hard time fixing the focus in low light, and if you're not very stable, you'll often experience slight motion blur. The details of the usable recordings we took were strictly average, although the noise wasn't that bad. The phone's bokeh mode is terrible. The blur effect is artificial and the edge detection is weak. Selfies are also fairly average, even those taken in daylight.
The shooting modes in the camera app include FaceCute, which allows you to insert expressive stickers on or in people's faces. Beauty with which you can smooth the skin; and also GIF, watermark, time lapse, beauty video and QR scanner. Strangely, there is no way to take a panorama. The camera app feels a bit chunky and switching between shooting modes is a bit sluggish.
You can record videos with a resolution of up to 1080p, but the picture quality is below average and the videos are not stabilized.
Coolpad tried to put together a decent low-cost package, and that at Rs. 6,499, the high-end variant of this phone, is one of the few options on the market that has 3 GB of RAM and a fingerprint sensor. However, the overall system, camera and battery power leave a lot to be desired. With only 32GB of onboard storage, we also expected the phone to have a dedicated microSD card slot instead of having to do without two SIM cards.
If you're not picky about design, the 32GB version of the Redmi 7A (Review) is a better deal at Rs. 6,199. You get 1 GB less RAM and no fingerprint sensor. On the other hand, you get a much longer battery life, better performance and slightly better cameras. If your heart is set for a dew drop display, the Realme C2 (Review) is another good option at Rs. 6,999 for the variant with 2 GB RAM and 32 GB storage.