Smartphone maker Coolpad recently launched the new Mega 5A to cater to the entry-level segment. Coolpad has had quite a few smartphones that have made a mark in the sub-Rs. 10,000 segment over the years. In fact the Coolpad Note 3 (Review) was one of the first smartphones with a fingerprint scanner at this price level. The Mega 5A is priced at Rs. 6,999 and sports modest hardware, but boasts of a dual camera setup on the back, and the face unlock feature that is now increasingly common. Does the Mega 5A stand a chance against its competition? We put it to the test.
The Mega 5A’s mid-frame is made out of metal while the removable back cover is made out of plastic. The cover material is quite thin and feels a little flimsy. We did fear snapping it in half when popping it out to put the battery in. The metal frame, on the other hand, feels premium and is rare at the given price point. Pick this phone up and you’ll notice that the back panel is curved at the sides which make it comfortable to hold. Thanks to its low weight, there were no fatigue-related issues either.
Coolpad Mega 5A sports a 5.45-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. While this aspect ratio was earlier available only on high-end smartphones, we have seen phones such as the Redmi 6A sporting it recently. The power and volume buttons are made of plastic and are easy to reach. Coolpad has positioned the 3.5mm headphone jack and the Micro-USB port on the top, and only the primary microphone is at the bottom.
The Mega 5A has a dual camera setup at the back but Coolpad has opted for unconventional styling. The two camera sensors are positioned one below the other — with a gap in between — and are not designed like a single module as we have seen on most phones. Further down the back is a big loudspeaker grille. The battery is a removable 2500mAh unit and the phone gets a 5W charger in the box.
The Mega 5A is a low-end smartphone and sports entry-level hardware. The big display has an HD+ resolution and has decent viewing angles, but visibility isn’t great outdoors. Powering the Mega 5A is a Spreadtrum SC9850K quad-core processor. The phone also has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage which is expandable by upto 128GB via the dedicated microSD card slot. The Mega 5A is a dual-SIM device and has two Nano-SIM slots with support for 4G as well as VoLTE.
Coolpad has opted for an 8-megapixel primary sensor along with a 0.3-megapixel depth sensor. At the front, it has a 5-megapixel sensor for selfies. The fingerprint scanner is easy to reach but it isn’t quick to unlock the smartphone.
The phone runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with a few visual tweaks. It looks a lot like stock Android and it was running the August security patch when we reviewed it. You also get a fair amount of bloatware preinstalled on the phone which includes Facebook Lite, NewsDog, Facebook Messenger, and a screen capture app among others. There are a few customisations to improve battery life and the phone gets three battery saver modes: Smart saving, Low power mode, and an Ultra saving mode. The first mode was active all the time by default and there’s no way to turn it off and it isn’t clear whether this actually does anything out of the ordinary. There’s also an App Clone feature that lets you run two instances of supported apps, for example, WhatsApp.
The Spreadtrum processor in the Mega 5A can handle basic tasks, but bump up its workload and you will see it slowing down. We did not notice any lag when scrolling through the menus but the phone feels sluggish when you try to do simple things such as unlocking it using the PIN. The Face Unlock feature is also slow.
Apps took longer to load than what we are used to, which did not help the overall experience. With just 2GB of RAM, the Coolpad Mega 5A isn’t the best multitasker, and we experienced apps getting killed in the background. If you are used to multitasking then this phone isn’t ideal. Strangely, our review unit also refused to connect to a MacBook Air causing issues when transferring data to and from the smartphone but worked as expected when connected to a Windows machine.
We ran a couple of benchmarks to assess how the Mega 5A fares compared to other smartphones. In AnTuTu, the phone scored 34,192, and it managed 473 and 1319 in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. It scored 3,928 in 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited and 12fps in GFXBench’s T-Rex test. These scores are lower than those of the Honor 7S, which we reviewed earlier.
The Mega 5A has a small 2500mAh battery and it falls short in terms of battery life. In our HD video loop test, the phone lasted for 8 hours and 59 minutes, which is sub-par. With our usage consisting of an active WhatsApp account, taking a few calls, an hour of navigation with Google Maps, and watching a few videos on YouTube, the phone just about lasted us 10 hours, which is far from ideal.
The camera app on the Mega 5A is basic and you have a couple of modes to choose from including a Manual mode that lets you control exposure, ISO, white balance, contrast, saturation, and brightness. There are quick toggles for HDR, Bokeh and Beautify mode. The Mega 5A also has face detection which helps it focus on faces when pointing it towards people.
Photos taken with the Coolpad Mega 5A were below average. In daylight, the camera fails to capture good details and lacks dynamic range, especially in darker areas of a scene, though switching on HDR helped to some extent. Macros were decent, but here too, the Mega 5A missed out on details. The performance dropped drastically in low light as the phone struggled to deliver usable shots. Since the camera drops the shutter speed and bumps the ISO up, these images were blurry. The Mega 5A puts the secondary depth sensor to use in Bokeh mode. You can simulate a lower aperture for a depth effect, but the edge detection could have been better.
Video recording maxes out at 1080p for both the cameras but there’s no form of stabilisation. The Mega 5A is slow when capturing selfies and takes even longer with HDR enabled. The output was average.
The Coolpad Mega 5A has metal in its construction which is uncommon at this price point. While it has a good feel in the hand, it fails to deliver a good usable experience. The processor is slow, and that coupled with only 2GB of RAM results in longer load times and slower multitasking. We also found its battery life to be slightly on the lower side, and you’ll need to plug it in by the end of the day. If you are on a strict budget, the recently launched Xiaomi Redmi 6A seems to have better hardware on paper, and we will be able to confirm that once we finish reviewing it. If you can extend your budget a little, the Xiaomi Redmi 5 (Review) offers better value for your money.