Cherry Mobile FUSION BOLT Review: When Lightning Strikes Twice

When I first saw Cherry Mobile's "'s time to go four times faster" ad, I was not surprised since the company's direction seems pretty obvious, but I got excited. Yes, the local fruit company has the mysterious ability to draw massive amount of excitement in their launches. For quite some time now since the Flare's release, Cherry's been dropping some serious bombs that put some serious dents to both international and local smartphone/tablet companies. The latest newcomer is a tablet, a rebranded Ainol Novo Venus Lite, and is locally known as the Fusion Bolt. And the rock-bottom price? It's Php 3,999!

So we're talking about a 7-inch IPS display, 1GHz quad-core CPU, 1GB RAM and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) here. The specs certainly does give you a big-eyed smile, a tough competitor to the newly Jelly Bean-flavoured Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. The main course, ofcourse, is Cherry Mobile's "four-times faster" promise. So can Cherry Mobile snatch the crown in the local tablet department just like what it did in the CM Flare?

Design and Build

The tablet's price may be cheap but the the design is solidly built. Most of the materials are plastic but you wont get creaking parts in this slab. Once you get a hold of the Fusion Bolt, you'll definitely notice the plastic textured back - the effect of the design is to give additional grip. It really do feels good in your hands.

Flip it over, you'll see the 7-inch screen with thick bezels, a front facing VGA camera is fixed in the center of the bezel signalling the upper side of the slate in landscape mode. Bezels may be too wide but it could offer an ample space for your fingers while reading an ebook. I found myself lost at times when dealing with the parts of this tablet due to the fact that it doesnt have physical/virtual buttons on the front panel. But anyways, on top, in landscape mode, you'll find the essential buttons (Power/Sleep, Volume Rocker, Home) on the left portion. Few centimeters down the Power/Sleep on the other side (back panel) is the 2MP rear camera. The lack of LED Flash and sensor made the loner out of the shooter and it is easy to miss.

We go to the jampacked side of the slate - the right side on landscape mode. This houses the essentials: charger port, 3.5mm audio jack,  mini HDMI port, micro USB ports, micro SD slot and the mic slot. Cherry Mobile sealed the design by branding their name on the back panel which seems to be off for me.

There are few minor issues like the fact that I cant press the volume power/sleep button with ease, must be due to my big fingers. But all in all, the build is respectable. Visually, this tablet is more engaging than any other local tablets.


I'm certainly a "screen person," I would rather compromise a few sensitivity in speeds but not the display. And seeing the Nexus 7-esque display on this Fusion Bolt, I could say that Cherry Mobile has struck another lightning. For those of you who go by the numbers, the screen is packed with 213ppi density at 1280 x 800p resolution. The IPS moniker is certainly not a gimmick since texts and images looks crisp and clear. Ofcourse, it's not Retina quaity but it's nearly there. Color reproduction is such a breeze and if you're always looking at the screen off-centered, then Fusion Bolt is your girl.
I think the screen quality alone is worth more than your four grand. For those content monsters out there, the Fusion Bolt is a better alternative to your premium tablets. Furthermore, reading ebooks and watching movies seems to be a delight with this slate.

Internals and Performance

At the heart of the Fusion Bolt you'll find the quad-core Actions ATM7025 processor clocked to 1GHz on four cores, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal memory with an expandable option up to 32GB via microSD slot. A Vivante GC1000 GPU also acts as the main graphic worker. The device may be WiFi-only but you'll have the option to connect a compatible 3G dongle using a USB-OTG cable. And if you're looking for Bluetooth, you're out of luck.

Unlike other quad-core device that I've encountered, I might rank this Actions' processor on the bottom of the quad-core leaderboard. Despite the fact that it is treated with a newer version of the Android OS (Jelly Bean), the performance is still a bit sluggish for me. I was expecting more of a Nexus 7-ish performance but the slouchness is quite vexing if you're a quad-core or iPhone user. I guess Jelly Bean is not all about "buttery" performance afterall.

After running benchmarking tools in the device, results are legit enough. I ran a Quadrant and Nenamark benchmarks with Fusion Bolt and here are the results.


The device might be a quad-core but the optimizations with the CPU and GPU chips may have not been pushed to the extent. A software update might improve the performance of processors and OS.


 Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt is runned by the Android 4.1 codename Jelly Bean which has been primarily characterized with the "Project Butter" for its leap in improvement in UI responsiveness compared to the previous Android versions. However, the responsiveness is quite minimal when we're talking about this tablet. For the unitiated, Jelly Bean brings newer features to your device comapred to the previous versions of Android.
  • Keyboard and Voice Command - I can always say that Android has an edge over Apple with its keyboard software due to smart predictive input and dictionary. With Jelly Bean, the feature has never been this good. But the most important enhancement is that you can do Voice Typing even when you’re offline. This means that no data connection is required, with its performance independent of its speed. Google also taps Knowledge Graph and built-in voice recognizer for this feature.
  • Camera and Notifications - Jelly Bean brings new interface and gestures in the new camera environment. You can now swipe sideways to access gallery just like what you have in your WP smartphones, swipe left to jump to the picture that you just took and delete pictures by swiping away them off-screen. A revamped notification bar has been conceptualized with a more prominent looking clock. It also allows you to fetch notifications from various apps like Music, Gmail, etc. to be expanded without even opening the app. You can even do actions like +1 in the notification panel.
  • Google Search and Google now - This new improved search app poses a significant threat to Siri. The native Google search app now has a natural language commands. Google Now, another part of Google Search can show your public transport listings, flight information and sports results just the way you wanted it to be.
 Unlike any other Bolt unit, the one that I've got doesn't have pre-installed essential apps so I have to download then manually. The good thing is, bloatwares like Cherry Shop and Kabayan apps doesn't make it to the cut.

Battery comes pretty solid in the short span that I've played with the device. The screen might be bigger and the technology poses enough footprint, but the battery can manage a little more juice comapared to other local seven inchers - that's 4000 mAh on paper.
This fully charged Fusion Bolt could go roughly up to 6 hours with webpages loading up constantly (WiFi connected) with 50 percent brightness. That also include moderate gaming and a hour-long of music playback. Video playback and other CPU-demanding tasks will, of course, drain your device faster.
Fusion Bolt is not for mobile photography. First, it's awkward (for me) to take pictures using a tablet; and second, it only has a 2MP rear shooter. But if you insist, the outputs is not far like the one that you have several years ago when Sony Ericsson Walkman Phones were still hot figures. Pictures are washed-out especially when taken in bright environment.
One of the good thing that Jelly Bean brought to this category is the way photos are now viewed, it's like the Film Strip view that you have in Windows Phone. Check out sample shots below, it should be noted that these pictures are taken indoors with moderate lighting.

Multimedia and Gaming
Since it has a stunning display, you'll probably want to use this a your main multimedia device. The device comes with a pre-installed music player. Gallery contains all media taken from you camera and your installed movies in your tablet. I tried to play a 720p HD movie and it did stutter a bit. Full HD 1080p videos are plague with sluggishness while 420p videos run smoothly. You can even use the HDMI port to play videos in HDTV.

Despite the fact that Fusion Bolt is a quadcore device, I can say that it's not a gaming tablet. CPU-demanding games like Need For Speed Shift and NOVA have rendering issues to the extent that they are not tolerable. However, Temple Run Brave and Temple Run 2 runs zippy unlike what I've experience with Cherry Mobile smartphones. Gun Strike is also a good game to drool over.

You'll need to have an ample headphone to enjoy every media that you'll be playing in this tablet. Loudspeaker is a bit off.
The Wrap
Cherry Mobile proves that lightning could strike twice! The Flare phone has been a commercial success, and now Fusion Bolt will obviously steal the spotlight for a long while. It's a great tablet with an amazing price standpoint and specs footprint.
The device actually feels like more expensive than it is. Plus, the stunning screen could be the main reason that you're buying this tablet. And actually, it is the first local tablet that I actually recommend.
Eventhough there's still several issue that needs to be pointed out - underwhelming chipsets and poor camera sensor - there's a little to complain about Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt with it having a rock-bottom price of Php 3,999.
So if you're looking for a capable tablet with a practical price. Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt is a steal for you!
Previous Post Next Post