Coolpad Note 3 Lite first impressions: ‘Lite’ by name only

“Even though the Note 3 Lite falls in the competitive budget segment, it clearly manages to stand out”

Even after breaking off its partnership with Dazen for the Indian market, Chinese brand Coolpad managed to shake up the budget segment with just a single device, the Note 3 (review). The smartphone not only trumped the competition in terms of specs , but also packed in nifty extras such as a fingerprint scanner – making it the most affordable phone with a biometric module at Rs 8,990.

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Aiming to milk in the success of its debut offering, Coolpad has now introduced an affordable variant aptly named the Note 3 Lite. However, don’t be fooled by its name, as unlike other manufacturers who scale down most hardware specs to reduce the pricing, the Note 3 Lite is every bit as powerful as its pricier sibling. We got a chance to test out the smartphone briefly, and here’s how we will sum up our initial impressions.

Unlike the phablet-sized Note 3, the Coolpad Note 3 Lite is targeted at those who value one-hand usage, as it’s built around a display measuring 5-inches. Coolpad has also tried to add some interesting design elements to the handset such as golden accent around the edges and surrounding the rear camera. While the dual-tone finish is a good idea, we felt that the accent isn’t as prominent and fails to give the phone a distinct identity.

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The majority of the fascia is covered by the display, with the space above hosting an earpiece and a primary snapper and the space below sporting an array of capacitive navigation keys.

The phone is constructed with plastic, but seems quite sturdy. Towards the right, you’ll find the the power button, while the left edge features volume controls. The 3.5mm audio socket is present on the top, whereas the base features a micro-USB port for charging and data transfers.

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Interestingly, with the inclusion of a fingerprint reader, the Note 3 Lite seems to have stolen the tag of most affordable smartphone boasting this feature from its sibling. Along with the fingerprint reader, the back panel sports a primary snapper and an LED flash, with Coolpad branding and a speaker grille towards the bottom.

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Unlike the smudge-friendly finish at the back of its sibling, the rear cover on the Coolpad Note 3 Lite sports a patterned rear and thus manages to offer a good grip. Prying the rear panel open reveals the non-removable battery, a pair of micro-SIM slots and a microSD slot.

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Just like its sibling, the Note 3 Lite bears a 720p IPS display, but because of its smaller size, it’s sharper, thanks to slightly better pixel density of 294ppi. The display also gets a protective layer in the form of a scratch-resistant glass.

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In the camera department, the Coolpad Note 3 Lite shares its hardware with its bigger brother. A 13-meg snapper at the back takes care of all the shooting requirements, while a 5MP front camera is available for capturing selfies. The primary camera is accompanied by an LED flash to assist in low-light situations.

The Coolpad Note 3 Lite runs Cool UI 6.0 atop Android 5.0 Lollipop. The software isn’t much different from its sibling, and you’d find a ton of preloaded apps in the form of WPS Office, WeChat, Facebook, etc. The smartphone also supports various gestures that can work even when the screen is off.

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While specs have remained almost the same till now, the difference arises when we talk about the performance aspect. Instead of an octa-core processor found inside its more accomplished sibling, the Note 3 Lite draws power from a 64-bit quad-core MediaTek MT6735 chipset tuned at 1.3GHz. Complementing the CPU is a generous 3GB of RAM, which should ensure smooth usage. During the brief time spent with it, we found the phone to offer lag-free performance.

For memory, the phone sports 16GB storage on board, out of which approximately 9.2GB is available. If that’s not enough, then you can top it up further up to 64GB via a microSD card.

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The Coolpad Note 3 Lite supports dual-SIM cards with 4G compatibility. It also has the usual options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. The device draws juice from a 2,500mAh embedded battery.

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With the price tag of Rs 6,999, the Coolpad Note 3 Lite follows the footsteps of its sibling. It’s the most affordable smartphone featuring 3GB of RAM and a fingerprint scanner. While there are quite a few options in this price segment such as the YU Yuphoria (review) and Lenovo A6000 Plus (review), Coolpad’s offering clearly manages to stand out. However, whether it impresses us as a daily driver remains to be seen, so keep an eye out for our comprehensive review.