Mobile Reviews

Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt: quad-core tablet for everyone

Who could imagine that for PhP3999 (USD85) you could get a quad-core tablet with a high definition display? That was the very reason why I did not think twice when I purchased the Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt when it was released early last year. However was it really worth my penny? Read the review to know more about this very affordable tablet.

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Build and display:

The first nice feature that I noticed when I unboxed the tablet was its gorgeously thin profile. Although it was not as thin as the Nexus 7, at 10.8 mm it is already amazing considering that other tablets, at its price point (or even a bit more expensive), are almost twice as thick!

The back of the tablet is made of plastic however its diamond pattern gives it an illusion that the material is made out of rubber. I really appreciate the back design as it will provide you with a good grip on the tablet and will eliminate fingerprint nightmares as well. The diamond patterned back also gives the Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt a sort of premium feel to it.

When you turn on the Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt, you would immediately be greeted by the 7-inch HD screen. The screen has a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels or that’s 215ppi. The color reproduction is good and it has a wide viewing angle thanks to the IPS LCD that the Fusion Bolt is using. I would say that during its time, the Fusion Bolt has one of the most beautiful displays in a tablet.

Given the Fusion Bolt’s thin profile, nice build, and beautiful display, it would usually fool people thinking that it’s a high-end product and they would usually be very surprised when I disclose the price to them.

Connectivity:

The Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt has very limited connectivity options. This may have been one of the strategies to keep the tablet’s price as low as possible.

Only wireless connectivity option that you get on the Fusion Bolt is Wi-fi b/g/n. There’s no cellular connectivity and even Bluetooth is absent. The tablet also doesn’t have a built-in GPS.

There are various wired connectivity options though which could somehow fill-in the very limited wireless connectivity options of the Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt.

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First is that the micro-USB port of the tablet has USB-OTG functionality. This means that your flash drive, USB mouse, and USB keyboard should work when you connect them to the tablet. I have tried connecting a mouse and a flash drive and they work perfectly on the Fusion Bolt.

The Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt also has a micro-HDMI port. This should be the answer when you would like to show the media contents of your tablet to a larger screen like your HD TV.

Storage Options and Camera:

The Fusion Bolt comes with a built-in 8Gb storage but you should not worry if you need more space for your media contents as you could expand it up to 32Gb via micro-SD.

The tablet sports a VGA front facing camera and a 2MP main camera at the back. The picture quality produced by the cameras is really not great and it should only be used in capturing moments if you really don’t have a choice anymore.

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Performance:

Now comes the most interesting and important part; the performance. After just a week of using the Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt, I could really notice that there’s a significant lag. It seems that Jelly Bean’s Project Butter was not well implemented on this device since even just navigating it is not a pleasant experience.

I did some benchmarks on the Fusion Bolt and I was surprised that it only scored around 5900 on Antutu and around 2700 on Quadrant. I conducted some research about this and learned that the Fusion Bolt is a rebranded Ainol Venus 7 Lite and that the Venus 7 Lite’s firmware was compatible with the Fusion Bolt. There were some instructions on how to port the Venus 7 Lite’s firmware to the Fusion Bolt and the steps were even made easier since the Fusion Bolt is already rooted out of the box. After porting the Venus 7 Lite’s firmware to the Fusion Bolt, I could see a little improvement on the tablet. When I did a benchmark again, Antutu increased to around 11,200 while Quadrant increased to around 2,800.

The poor performance of the Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt must have been caused by a combination of firmware and hardware. For the hardware part it must have been due to its chipset. The Fusion Bolt is equipped with an ATM7025 by Actions Semiconductor. Actions Semiconductor does not ring a bell to me but after some research I found out that it uses a quad-core Cortex A9 processor clocked at 1Ghz. However as one chipset manufacturer says, it’s not really about the number of cores that matter but rather the quality of the cores.

Another hardware culprit that’s may be causing the lag is the GPU. Just like the processor, the GPU used on the Fusion Bolt is not that popular. It uses a Vivante GC1000. The Vivante GC1000 only has two cores clocked at 630 MHz. To give you a clear picture on the quality of this GPU, the Mali-400 GPU, which is being used by Samsung’s Exynos chipsets, has 4 cores while the PowerVR SGX-554 and ULP GEForce, the GPUs used for iPad 4 and Tegra 3 chipset, have 12 cores.

Conclusion:

Reducing a device’s cost would naturally come with sacrifices. On Cherry Mobile’s Fusion Bolt’s case, it was able to significantly reduce its price to the point that it also sacrificed important factors such as connectivity and performance. I would not recommend this tablet if you are into high-end gaming and heavy multi-tasking.

But to be fair to the Fusion Bolt, the tablet is still usable for light uses like e-book reading, web browsing, and social networking. Also with its beautiful screen, watching videos and pictures on the Fusion Bolt is very pleasurable.

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