Coolpad Cool Play 6: Brawny 6 GB RAM for Rs 15k but no software to match
Chinese smartphone maker Coolpad had a long hard rethink after last year’s Coolpad Cool 1. They took to the drawing board and had one goal in mind. To innovate in the price range – sub Rs 15,000 - that they feel most comfortable in.
Six months later, the Coolpad Cool Play 6 launched in India. On 20 August, at an event in Dubai, Coolpad global CEO James Du unveiled the device that is being marketed as a gaming device.
If you look at the competition in the most ruthless segment of them all – budget-range of phones – in the Indian smartphone market, Cooldpad stands out. It’s the only smartphone having 6GB of RAM in a price below Rs 20,000. OnePlus 3 has 6GB of RAM but that is almost twice as costly.
Besides the RAM, the Cool Play 6 touts dual rear cameras, Snapdragon 635 chipset and a 4,000 mAh battery. All of that adds up to just Rs 14,999.
In a segment dominated by the likes of Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo, Coolpad is looking for the competition to follow in their footsteps. Syed Tajuddin, Coolpad India CEO, said that he hopes other smartphone manufacturers take note of Coolpad’s innovation in the segment and push for better phones.
On 22 August, Micromax launched the Canvas Infinity at just Rs 9,999. The Canvas Infinity’s USP is the Full Vision Display. Basically an edge-to-edge display with close to no bezels. Micromax has gone all guns blazing on the display but has got not much else under the hood to back it up. Cooldpad, on the other hand, is building the smartphone the other way around. It’s got a design that is by no means unique – hello Redmi Note 4 – but under the hood it’s got all the means to takedown the competition.
Purely based on specifications alone, Coolpad would be the outright winner. In real world usage, we know best to throw the specifications out of the window. Coolpad is positioning the smartphone as a gaming device, courtesy 6 gigs of RAM. It should have instead positioned it as a camera phone as it outperforms every other dual-camera setup in its segment.
App crashes and overheating
Before I get into the main features of the phone, let me take a minute to talk about the unfinished software on the test units. The Coolpad Cool Play 6 has got a Snapdragon 653 chipset under the hood, and whilst that’s good, it is hindered by poor software. The smartphone has the latest version of Android – Android Nougat 7.1.1 – with a promise of Android Oreo by December.
Again, all of that is good, on paper. While testing the device through the streets of Dubai, I encountered frequent crashes while playing Need For Speed and FIFA Mobile and even while simply trying to read a message from the messaging app. Even the built-in dialer prevented me from making calls a couple of times.
The charger got extra hot while plugged in and some of the devices were overheating in the harsh Dubai sunlight. All of this got me slightly worried. Coolpad did accept these issues and is working fast towards a fix. Hopefully, by the time the phone launches exclusively on Amazon on 4 September, the update will be pushed and the review units will provide for a better experience.
With the phone relatively light on apps, and the usage mainly for capturing photos and under an hour of gaming, I didn’t need to charge the phone until the evening of the second day. Once I install my full set of apps, I’ll be able to better tell just how long the phone lasts in real world usage.
What’s the use of that extra RAM?
Now that the negative is out of the way, I want to discuss gaming and camera, the two standout features of the smartphone.
Gaming on the device was a pretty smooth experience, despite the frequent crashes, and the device didn’t overheat to a point where I would have to stop gaming. The problem is with the 6GB of RAM. There are no games out there that take advantage of all of the extra RAM on such a device.
Similarly, it’s the same with the dual camera setup. The dual-cameras on the Coolpad Cool Play 6 are the best in its segment – here’s looking at you Moto G5S Plus that launches next week – and far better than the Honor 6X that a lot of people liked and the recently launched Lenovo K8 Note.
The bokeh effect does a good job in blurring out the background, thought I got a little bit inconsistent performance. The photos in the daylight sun were a little bit overexposed and the night time photos had a little more noise than usual. It isn’t anything unseen in the price range and a far more capable shooter than when I first glanced at the phone.
The problem comes in the night mode. When shooting on night mode, the shutter becomes slow – as it is processing the image – and that sometimes leads to blurry and out of focus photos. If only the phone would use the extra RAM in the phone to speed up the processing powers. The cameras can get it right, and when it does, the results are impressive.
Coolpad wants to be the leader of the brigade and it has ticked most of the boxes. On paper it has it all, but in the real world, there are some rough edges. Coolpad has promised to polish the smartphone in the near-future. I really hope they stick to their promise as the Cool Play 6 is a phone that can be so much more.
Good dual cameras, decent gaming performance, good battery life and a phone that is easy to hold. It’s also relatively free of bloatware. The nagging issues are just a tad bit too problematic in just a few days of usage. Only time will tell whether or not the nagging devices remain problematic or if there is a way around it.